He and his band mates in the Kelowna-based rockabilly group The Dragstrip Devils often didn’t have enough money on the road for haircuts.
So guitarist Brett Kelly took up barbering.
Since then, the co-owner of Vernon’s highly popular The Gentleman’s Shop and Shave Parlour, when not laying down grooves with his magic fingers with the Devils, is slicking back, cutting and styling men’s hair.
To the point the 29-year-old with a barber pole tattooed to the left side of his neck, and rockabilly legends Stray Cats’ mega hit Stray Cat Strut sheet music tattooed over most of his body, has become one of Canada’s top cutters.
Kelly is a top-10 finalist for Canada’s Best Barber of the Year Award, which will be presented in February at the Manology Convention in Montreal, put on by BaByliss4Barbers.
“It’s pretty crazy, a complete shock,” said Kelly as he tended to customer Wade Barrett’s hair in Chair No. 1 (the shop opened with two in 2015) at the 31st Avenue facility, with the Devils’ LP (yes, vinyl) Hot Damn playing on the shop’s turntable.
Canada’s best barber will be determined in an online vote at pollev.com/manologyshow. Kelly is up against two other B.C. barbers – Matty Conrad of Victoria and Drich of Vancouver. The other finalists are from Mississauga, Winnipeg, Montreal (2), Toronto (2) and Ottawa.
“Matty is one of the most influential barbers in the country,” said Kelly. “To be nominated with him is quite an honour.”
Kelly, whose current hair is dyed platinum blond, went to a local barber to have his hair cut in a rockabilly style, ie, slick-backed or in a pompadour.
When the Dragstrip Devils hit the road, money was tight or, as they discovered, salons wouldn’t cut their hair.
“So I started cutting the guys’ hair,” said Kelly. “It wasn’t that good at first, but I fell in love with barbering.”
While working in Kelowna, he met fellow barber enthusiast Andrew Pye and, together, they opened their shop in Vernon two years ago.
“Our shop and town are so fortunate to have Brett work his magic and share his passion everyday,” said Pye. “Cast your vote for Brett and let’s show what he means to us for all he does for others. Big things for this man going forward.”
No argument there from Barrett.
“I’ve been coming to Brett ever since they opened,” said Barrett. “He’s the best haircutter ever. He pays attention to details, he’s friendly and he has a very good memory; he remembers everything.”
George Arambasich has been travelling from Kelowna to Vernon to have Kelly cut his hair.
“I saw him in Kelowna. He’s the best. It’s as simple as that,” said Arambasich.
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