The big change for the band this year, personel-wise came on trombone. Dan Elliot, the band's trombonist for the last 15 years had just finished a gruelling 5-year course at Sheridan College and was ready to move along to other things. That opened the door for the band's original trombone player to rejoin the band in the early spring. The band's line-up during 2005 was Steve Negus on drums, Greg Smith on bass, Phil Kott on lead guitar, Tony Aquino on piano, John Willett and Carlo DiBattista on trumpets, Paul Augustyn on sax and Don Berryman on trombone.
Left to right (from August 2005): Steve, Paul, Greg, Phil, Tony, Don, John and Carlo
The band started January of 2005 on the road, traveling as Chicago Transit with Dave Battah and his Rod Stewart show to the Bon Soo Festival at the Memorial Gardens in Sault Ste. Marie. February saw the band taking their Powerhouse show to the Fiddler's Green Pub in Cambridge and the Wild Coyote in Stoney Creek. Before spring was over, they played Carmen's Banquet Centre in Hamilton with their Chicago Transit Show opening for Frank Rondell and his Ray Charles tribute. They continued to play local clubs around the Toronto/Hamilton area in the months leading up to the busy summer season as Powerhouse, Chicago Transit and backing both Dave Battah as Rod Stewart and Frank Rondell as Ray Charles. They performed at a number of 'dinner theatres' as well. By the time summer rolled around, they were already a very busy band.Although the band stayed within the confines of the Province of Ontario this year, all four of the Powerhouse shows were working regularly. The Rod Stewart Show played casinos in Sudbury, Fort Erie, Georgian Downs (nr. Barrie), the C.N.E. during the summer and a couple of banquet halls in Kitchener and Orangeville. The Ray Charles Show played the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival, the Royal York Hotel in Toronto and the Fort Erie Slots, the night after the band did the Rod show. The band’s Chicago Transit show would often play the same bill as both the “Ray” and “Rod” shows, often going back as a separate full Chicago Transit show a little while later. And the band’s regular R&B Powerhouse show kept the band busy playing corporate, ‘special’ gigs (i.e. Canada Day festival, New Year’s Eve bash, etc.) and every month or so in local bars.
Canada Day, Cockshutt Park, Brantford, Ontario
This was one of those 'odd' gigs, where the band set up on the back porch of the G & C clubhouse and played an evening of their R&B Powerhouse show to the club's regulars. It was a beautiful summer night and an excellent venue.
The first road trip of the year to a grand old theatre in Windsor, Ontario. The show opened with a set from the band as Chicago Transit, then Dave Battah took the stage for his "Tonight's the NIght" Rod Stewart tribute show.
For the band, 2006 was not only just as busy, but traveling expanded to outside Ontario, Canada to finally Europe by year’s end. All four shows worked solidly throughout the year, each in their own area.The standard Powerhouse R&B show continued to play locally, as they’ve done for over two decades now. They continued with their ‘regular’ local bar venues, occasional corporate events, the Canada Day festival and ended the summer with a rather ‘interesting’ gig down at Ipperwash Park – yes, that Ipperwash Park. As Chicago Transit, the band did summer shows in the park in the middle of Richmond Hill, Ont. and the Hess Village festival in Hamilton. When teamed up with Dave Battah and his Rod Stewart tribute act, the band played Ontario casinos and theatres in Windsor and Uxbridge, Ont. But I suppose, mostly, this could be called the year of the Ray Charles show. Frank Rondell (as Ray) and the band as Chicago Transit teamed up to play a number of excellent venues: Mt. Tremblant ski resort in Quebec, first as Chicago, then as Ray Charles the second night; the Gananoque Festival of the Islands in the middle of the summer; Hess Village in Hamilton; the annual Port Dover Fish Fest; and finally, a two-week tour through Portugal and the Azores Islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean to end the year.The following are a few pictures from some of the shows. As usual, when we're playing our shows, there’s usually little time or opportunity to snap pics, so many of these are from other sources, forwarded with our thanks.
What could be a better destination in the middle of the summer than beautiful Gananoque, Ontario, overlooking the Thousand Islands. The stage was set up so we could watch the boats travel down the St. Lawrence River as we played. Chicago Transit took the stage for the first set, with Frank Rondell (as Ray Charles) and his two lovely back-up singers closing the show.
Question: What do you do with a ski hill in the middle of the summer? Simple. Build a resort town, complete with shops, entertainment, above ground pool, open the nearby lake up for swimming and water sports and bring in the bands. We played the first night as Chicago Transit and backed Frank Rondell and his Ray Charles show the second night in this truly incredible venue.
Following a return home and stops at a few favourite local clubs, the last stop for the band this year would be a rather remarkable two-week tour through Portugal and the Azores Islands with Frank Rondell and his Ray Charles tribute show.
In the fall of 2006, six members of Powerhouse, 2 other musicians (to replace two members who couldn't make the trip), Frank Rondelle as 'Ray Charles', 3 back-up singers, a promoter, his wife and a road manager took a musical road trip through Portugal and the Azores Islands. We have included, elsewhere on this site, a full four-page pictorial done by the band’s trombone player. So here, we’ve limited ourselves to a few pictures of the venues and the music portion of this very incredible road trip.
The SingersSharon Musgrave, Heather Cadogan, Dawn Gibbs and Frank Rondell as Ray Charles.To the far right, the promoter, Carlos Santos and his wife SandraNot pictured is our tour manager, Sebastiao Salgueiro. 'Sabby', as we came to know him, kept the tour all together.
The BandBack row: Michael Stevenson on piano, Paul Augustyn on tenor & alto sax, Don Berryman on trombone and synthesizer, John Willett on trumpet and Phil Kott on guitar.Front row: Pete Grimmer on percussion (don't let the trumpet fool you), Carlo DiBattista on trumpet, and Greg Smith on bass.
Oporto, PortugalThe first stop was in the Oporto Coliseum, a beautiful, majestic old theatre. This room had hardwood on the ceilings and the sound reproduction was excellent. The above picture is the view from stage out into the hall. Once the show started, there was no opportunity to take pictures, unfortunately.
Estoril, PortugalAfter a rest and travel day, the next stop was at one of Europe's largest casinos at Estoril, Portugal, located on the Atlantic shore, just west of Lisbon. Unfortunately, casino restrictions were such that we weren't able to use our cameras inside the casino.
Portimao, PortugalThe third stop was in the beautiful Algarve area in the southern part of the country along the Mediterranean Ocean. The original venue was changed, replaced by a fairly unique semi-covered outdoor bandshell. The pictures to the left is of the bandshell during set-up.
The Azores IslandsThe last four days of the tour were spent in Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel Island in the Azores. This mid-Atlantic paradise was the perfect setting to end our tour. We played two nights at the 1st Ponta Delgada Coliseum. The pictures here are from our final night.
Final Curtain CallThe band waves good-bye to the audience, the Azores Islands and a fabulous Portugal tour. Many of us parted ways as well, as we all headed back across 'the pond', to our own musical projects.