The 2011 year was an extreme mix of highs and lows for the Powerhouse Band. As is usually the case, the band was on the road a great deal, playing excellent venues, concerts, casinos, theatres and many different special events from eastern Ontario, Canada to as far west as Minnesota in the U.S. The band played all four of its shows spread nearly equally between new dates and returning redates to generally very appreciative crowds. But in spite of all this, there was a great low that hung over the band for the entire year.January and February, being the usual ‘down time’ for bands, was spent close to home playing a number of local clubs. By the end of the February, the band received the news – our guitarist, Phil Kott, had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer and would probably not be able to do many more shows as he’d be spending most of his time with treatments. Phil played his last show with the band in mid-March with Frank Rondell and his Ray Charles tribute show at the Trafalgar Castle School in Whitby, Ontario at a benefit for the Charles H. Best Society for Juvenile Diabetes.
Trafalgar Castle School, built in 1859, was gorgeous inside and out. Since the nature of the show was an 'A-list' dinner/auction/fundraiser, there was little opportunity for taking pictures or videos during the show. Instead, we have added an edited YouTube video (above) that includes footage shot of Frank Rondell's tour with us through Portugal in 2005.The interior of Trafalgar Castle School was every bit as opulent as the exterior, with no corners cut in preparation for the fundraiser and according to the Charles H. Best website, the fundraiser was deemed a big success. And, as you can imagine, it was a very enjoyable show for the band.
The next stop for the band was a redate at the 6th Annual Food & Drink Fest at Copps Coliseum in downtown Hamilton. As in other years, the place was packed and the band played to an appreciative and attentive crowd. The lighting in the converted arena was very bad for picture taking, but we were able to capture a few pictures of what was a fun evening for everyone in attendance.
Above: Our newest band member, local career musician, Mark 'the Chief' LaForme, sitting in for our regular guitarist, Phil Kott.
The band spent the next month playing some favourite local nightclubs, then on May 13th, it was time to do a double gig. We had an evening gig near Toronto, so first stop was Port Dover for a noon hour slot at the year's Friday the 13th bash. By the time we took the stage with Dave Battah's Rod Stewart show, the streets were full of people and some very fine machinery. Below, from left to right: Carlo, Don, Mike, John and Nick.
Dave (Rod Stewart) even rode his own bike to this show (above left). To the right of that, our good friend, Suzanne O filling in with us for this show on keyboard, our sound man, Russell and newest band member, Mark on guitar.The Port Dover bash is always a great time and Dave Battah's Rod Stewart show was no exception. The crowds were huge, even for so early in the day. The band then packed up quickly and headed to Toronto for the evening show in what would be a very different venue
'Opulent' wouldbe the word thatwould come to mindand we arrived at Le Parc ConferenceCentre in Markham for an evening Rod Stewart show to a shirt-and-tie dinner crowd.
Tony (above) was back at his regular place behind his piano for the evening's show. And from all indications, the Unionville Home Society's reception, dinner and dance appeared to be a great success. The band definitely enjoyed their day.
The summer brought the band to the Ancaster Fairgrounds -- the new home of Hamilton's Festival of Friends -- for a redate with the Rodmasters Car Club. Being a mid-summer date, the parking lot was full of some mighty fine machinery -- (pictured above).Joining us for the evening was our good friend, Alex MacDougall. Alex is the lead guitarist for another excellent local band, Groove Corporation, and as expected, he 'nailed' the show.
One thing can be said about the good folks at the Rodmasters Car Club -- they know how to enjoy themselves ... whether it be in the garage, on the road or on the dancefloor. It was a great evening for everyone.
The next stop for the band was a redate at the Brockville Arts Centre, this time with Frank Rondell and his Ray Charles tribute show. As is usually the case, a number of the band members used the mid-summer date and the beautiful eastern Ontario scenery to make a mini-vacation for themselves.The Brockville Arts Centre is a grand old lady, done up in full theatre tradition. But with the 'no pictures' ban during performances, the only pics taken were during afternoon sound check (above) and, of course, a shot of Ray & the Roulettes (to the right) in the dressing room before the show. Probably most remembered by the band during this trip was the extended heat wave. By showtime of the afternoon show of the second day, the thermometer had soared to 41C (106F) -- far more than Canadians are used to withstanding. In spite of this, all three shows were packed as the band enjoyed another excellent trip to Brockville.
During August 2011, the band took two road trips. The second was back to Bay Mills, MIchigan with our Powerhouse show. We'd been there many times before, so we left the cameras at home and just enjoyed the end-of-summer show in northern Michigan. But first, we were off to Morton, Minnesota, to play our Chicago Transit show at the Jackpot Junction Casino outdoor stage. It was a 'fly-away' gig, so our drive this time was just to Buffalo Airport. We would do a lot of waiting in airports today as we bounced from Buffalo to Chicago's O'Hare airport, to Minneapolis, then finally, by courtesy shuttle to the casino.More shuttles, more waits, then finally a late, late night arrival at the casino -- total trip, approx. 16 hours. Coming back, fortunately would not have the long waits for connections.
Jackpot Junction is a Sioux Nation casino and as such, some of the decor, both inside and out was very nice to look at. But probably the best part of this show was that the full proceeds were going directly to the Angel Fund."Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel and supporters of the Angel Fund are proud to be able to make a difference in the lives of children from the surrounding communities. Now in its 9th year, the Angel Fund has donated over $100,000 to assist 16 children with serious medical conditions by funding dream vacations, and in some cases providing much needed necessities to the families.”-- Brian Pendleton, General Manager
The stage was huge, with an excellent sound system. But because it was just the 8 band members travelling on this trip, there was no one to man the cameras during the performance. Pictures were thus limited to sound check and some quick pics from stage during the show.The evening closed off with a very impressive fireworks display. All in all, it was an excellent show and a very pleasant stay for the boys in Morton, Minnesota.
Next morning, we were up early and off, through rural Minnesota farmlands and towns, to Minneapolis airport. From there we flew to Chicago, then took another connecting link to Buffalo before our drive home from Buffalo airport. It was another excellent road trip for the band.