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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Trading his trombone for a wrench

By Steven Baldwick
Special to The Sun

The life of a professional musician can be a study in contrasts, literally, from one day to the next. Just ask Eric Landry -- a student in Centennial College's Motorcycle and Powersports Products Repair program -- about the contrasts involved in his appearance in the Harrison Ford cold war thriller K-19: The Widowmaker.
Centennial College student Eric Landry gets ready to ride his latest acquisition, one of 15 motorcycles he's owned and ridden over the years.

"One night we're an 11-piece big band playing in a nice, warm club," says Landry, a Halifax native and trombonist of the outfit. "The next day we're a marching band at Halifax harbour, playing the Russian national anthem in this movie and freezing our embouchures off."

It was a full day's work for "all of 10 seconds of screen time," Landry says smiling, or perhaps wincing, at the memory. "For a musician, that's a part of the life, a part of the ride."

The ride is an apt way to describe the double-dip of passions in Landry's life: music and motorcycling. For him, these are two passions that are not mutually exclusive.

"Freedom, creativity, expression: everyone can connect those things to music easily enough," Landry points out. "But ask a motorcyclist what his ride means to him -- he'll say the same things. I've never had a problem connecting the two."

Following his musical passion led Landry to a colourful career in the horn section of the Johnny Favourite Swing Orchestra -- culminating with the Holiday Romance CD and a Juno award for Best New Group in 1999.

Boom went bust

"The swing music thing was a wave, and we rode it. We had a lot of fun with that one," Landry says. "We toured it all over North America, graduated from ballrooms to soft-seater theatres. Even at the end of our run, we were still selling out shows in San Francisco and New York."

After the swing music boom went bust, Landry continued to freelance as a musician while managing a music store in Halifax. After a while he glanced in the rear view mirror and saw something overtaking him: his love of motorcycles.
  • Centennial College's Motorcycle and Powersports Product Repair is a one-year program that prepares technicians to service motorcycles and powersports products such as all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), snowmobiles, personal watercraft, outboard engines and other small powered products.
  • Manufacturers keep Centennial's lab well-stocked with the latest motorcycles and powersports products.
  • The program complies with national industry standards set out by the Canadian Automotive Repair and Service Council (CARS).
  • For more information, visit

  • "After music, the only other thing that made sense was fixing motorcycles," Landry says. "I'd ridden, tinkered, owned about 15 different bikes in my time. More and more I felt the urge to get in deep with motorcycles, that it was now or never."

    For Landry, getting in deep meant going back to college to train for a career as a motorcycle technician. He did his homework, and his research led him to the Motorcycle and Powersports Products Repair program at Centennial. A special trip from Halifax to Toronto last summer to see Centennial's motorcycle labs for himself sealed the deal.

    "I was impressed with the equipment, the vast amount of late-model machines to work on," Landry says. "An instructor discussed the curriculum with me, the timeline for meeting my specific goals in the trade, how the course would get me there. Now here I am completing the final semester of the program. I've learned an incredible amount of stuff. This was definitely the right place to go to learn it."

    Landry's goals include apprenticeship as a motorcycle technician, certification as a motorcycle mechanic and eventually establishing his own motorcycle repair business in Nova Scotia.

    "I've traded my 'bone for a wrench," Landry says. "Music just seems to always keep itself alive for me, it'll always be there. Now my skills as a technician can gain me some currency in the motorcycling community. It is a community, and I'll be in a position to make a contribution, to give something back, and I like that."

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