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With the heat of the Canadian summer comes the bikes and the rallies.  First stop this year was at the Thorold, ON Arena for the 22nd Annual Harley Owner's Group (H.O.G.) Rally.  I was a hot, sticky night in an echo-prone arena on the August 1st weekend.  Nevertheless, the crowd was good, the grills were fired up and the tunes were hot.
Powerhouse (from their CD)
People watchers, bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts descended on Port Dover today for the 50th Friday the 13th festival.  Elbow room was in short supply as a litany of sun-seekers came to look – and be seen.  Among them were an estimated 20,000 bikes sprinkled throughout the sun-drenched streets.   Although some took to the beach to escape the soaring temperatures, most were happy to stay in the crowded street where the action was.  Organizers, who estimated more than 3,000 garbage bags would be thrown away today, expected it to be the biggest gathering in the event’s history, topping 150,000 people.  This comes after the founding event took place with a party of 25 bikers.  Said Bill Dainard, who has made it out to every Friday the 13 for the past six years:  “The camaraderie is the best part.  There’s no pressure, there’s no schedule.  We just walk around, look at bikes, look at people and meet friends.”
This year, Friday the 13th landed in August in the heat of the summer.  And 2010 was a great summer for bikes -- lots of sun and very little rain.  Not only was this the 50th anniversary of the Port Dover events (50 Friday the 13ths, not 50 years), but the event was trying to establish Guinness Records for the most people and most bikes in one day at an outdoor event, which with an estimated over 20,000 bikes and 175,000 people, the records were indeed set.
Powerhouse brought their show in twice this year, fiirst on the Thursday night for a pre-Friday bash and back the next night to play in the very crowded, licensed Budweiser stage area.  Even on Thursday, the crowds were large and with the great weather, this year was looking like a huge event. It's not to be forgotten that Port Dover is a lakeshore town, complete with miles of sandy beaches on the shores of a rather shallow, very warm lake.  People were arriving at the event in all forms of transportation -- although bikes were the hands-down favourite.
After a full summer day on the bikes and/or in the sun, the crowds in the Port town were ready to rock ... and Powerhouse was ready to rock them.
The crowd was great.  The weather was perfect.  Ii was another terrific two nights in Port Dover.
Our summer of good weather came to a soggy end the following week.  The band was on the road to the west end of Lake Erie to the Leamington Tomato Festival.  We took our three tribute shows:  Chicago Transit, Ray Charles and Rod Stewart on this trip.  Unfortunately, the ride down was an afternoon ride through constant torrential rains.   Even as we arrived in Leamington a few hours before showtime, it was still raining and going on stage that evening seemed like an impossibility. Once we all met at the park and saw the situation, it was time to sample some of the local cuisine.  The food in Leamington, by the way (at least where we went) is excellent.
Finally, about 15 minutes before our scheduled start time, the rain stopped and we gathered the band together to perform 3 abbreviated shows totaling about an hour before the rains came back.
Unfortunately, a day of constant rain had nearly emptied the park and we played our show in rather chilly, damp weather to about 3 dozen people made up mostly of family and event organizers.  We felt bad for the event’s organizers as we played to an empty park.  Because judging by the amount of tents and facilities that had sat in the rain all day, their festival was well-prepared for anything but a day of torrential rain. Still, it was good to finally play some music after such a long, dreary day and, from what we could see, we noticed that the town of Leamington had done an excellent job with their waterfront area.
About a year ago, in July 2009, the band took its Chicago Transit show to Baldwinsville, New York for the Islandfest on Paper Mill Island.  After the show we were talking to a couple of new friends, Susan and Coleen, and they mentioned about a wedding they had planned a year later and would we be interested in playing at their reception.  Well ... to close out the month of August, the band traveled to the far east end of Lake Ontario, to the1000 Islands Winery near Alexandria Bay in northern New York State to play for that reception.   We drove down the day before, stayed the night near the winery and took in some of the local sights the next day before a late afternoon set-up and soundcheck. The 1000 Islands area of eastern Ontario is one of the most beautiful areas in this part of Canada and the U.S. and, as luck would have it, the nearest town, Alexandria Bay, N.Y. was having it's "Rockin' the Bay Festival" this weekend.  It made for an enjoyable trip to town on a hot late summer afternoon.
You’re bringing how many saxophones ??
The grounds at the Thousand Islands Winery were quite impressive -- well-kept barn buildings dotting the property everywhere, vineyards surrounding the main property and the 1000 Islands Bridge across the back yard a few miles away. Since it was just the boys in the band making this trip, pictures are limited to pre-show as there was no one to take pictures once the show started.  But rest assured, the 100 or so reception folks who attended and the band all enjoyed a beautiful late summer night in upstate New York State.  And we wish Susan and Coleen the band's best in their new life together.
The next stop for the band was a few days later at the Budweiser Midway Stage at the CNE in Toronto.  The boys had not been to 'the Ex' in a couple of years and this year, they were going back with their regular Motown/Soul show.  Other than a brief shower a few hours before the show, the weather held and it was a hot, sticky late summer night in Toronto. The Budweiser/Q107 Stage was set up right beside the Midway.  An earlier rain was brief enough that the crowd was still quite large for the evening show. The CNE Midway always looks rather spectacular at night and it made an excellent backdrop for playing a few Motown tunes
The band closed out the Summer '10 season at home, playing at Hamilton's 13th Annual Mustard Festival.  According to the Festival website at  http://www.mustardfestival.ca/ , Hamilton is home to the largest miller of dry mustard in the world.  The Festival, created in 1998, coincided with the opening of the first phase of a downtown renewal project, Ferguson Station, in the heart of downtown Hamilton.  Even though, once again, a downpour came in just as the band was about to go on stage -- clearing many of 'festivalites' from Ferguson St. -- the rain did let up long enough for the band to do a nearly-full-length show. The year finished off with a few local club dates, a Frank Rondell Ray Charles show at Xeno's Bistro in Ajax and a remarkably cold evening at the Markham Fair at the beginning of October.  With a combination of a very busy summer season, economic problems yielding few holiday corporate dates, the band decided to close out the year with some much-needed time off.  
Sound and Lighting Check