The Year 2015 was a much ‘easier’ year for the POWERHOUSE Band – and a welcome relief from the events that the band had weathered over the past few years. The only major change with personnel came with long-time trombonist, Don, retiring his horn at the end of 2014. He would remain with the band, however, as the second keyboardist – a position that was becoming more necessary with the changes in some of the band’s newer material. This left the door open for the other alumni band trombonist, Dan Elliot (pictured, above right), to step in as his more-than-capable replacement. Although much of the year was spent continuing to work with the new band, tightening arrangements, harmonies, adding newer material to the songlists, etc., the band did get out and play some excellent shows. Since our photo album – and this website – is beginning to get rather full, we will save our narrative photo stories for this year to a few of the more memorable shows.
The band started the year by taking their Chicago Transit and Rod Stewart Tribute shows on the road to Petrolia, Ontario and the gorgeous Victoria Playhouse Theatre. The shows were organized by the Petrolia Lions Club with all proceeds from a fully-packed second-floor theatre going to local medical and community projects. For the added benefit of the band and their entourage, there was a fabulous feast put on by the Lions Club between soundcheck and the opening Chicago Transit show. The evening closed with Doug Varty’s Rod Stewart tribute show in front of a very appreciative full-house audience.
During the 1900s, [Petrolia’s] oil industry [was declining]. By the late 1950s, the opera house fell into disrepair through disuse. In the early 1970s, a teacher and his students wanted to use it and decided to clean it up. This sparked local citizens to create the Victoria Playhouse Foundation to restore the building and once again make it a cultural and community centre. Victoria Hall became a National Historic Site in 1979. [Then], suddenly, on January 25, 1989, fire gutted the building -- leaving only its massive brick walls intact. After much debate, Victoria Hall was rebuilt at a cost of $6.5 million.Through grants, generous donors and countless community fundraising events, the town successfully raised its required portion of the cost; $750,000 -- very impressive for a town that was only 4,500 souls! The hardworking community celebrated with an opening gala on Sept. 26, 1992. For the entire summer (from mid-May to mid-September), Victoria Playhouse Petrolia brings in six shows, plus it books performances throughout the year. condensed from: http://town.petrolia.on.ca/visitors/heritage/victoria-hall/
Most theatre venues are very difficult for taking decent pictures during the shows -- either cameras are not allowed or if they are, using a flash is forbidden. Again, our best pictures were taken during soundcheck, with the guys (and girl) in their civvies. Above left is now-senior band member Nick on sax, and on the right, playing his first show back with the band again, Dan Elliot on trombone.
Left to right: Vince, Paula, Pete, Carlo, John and Steve
SHOWTIME -- after a very warm introduction from the Petrolia Lions Club, Chicago Transit took the stage.
Closing out the evening was Doug Varty, fronting the band with his Rod Stewart tribute show. Doug always manages to bring the crowd fully into the show with his impeccable and energetic Rod tribute act.It was a great day in Petrolia with a huge feast before the main events, two excellent shows in front of a very appreciative south-western Ontario crowd, with curtain calls and time for the band to meet some of the crowd afterwards. All in all -- a great way to start the year.
Later in the spring, the band was off to Delhi to the Backstage Capital Theatre with their Chicago Transit and Rod Stewart shows. Joining us this time was Frank Chiarelli and his Frankie Valli tribute. We were much too busy this time and the theatre was far too dark for pictures, but we do have to post a couple of internet pictures of this rather remarkable venue. From the outside, the Theatre looks like a nondescript brick ‘box’ building in the middle of southwestern Ontario tobacco country, but inside, the work done is immaculate – from the imaginative wood and brick work on every interior wall to the sparkle stars on the roof. It was a great night for the band – you’ll have to trust us on this one.
Apologies for ‘borrowing’ the title for this show from The Band’s 1997 Genuine Bootleg Series CD, but it seemed a good fit. The POWERHOUSE Band found themselves very early in the summer at a huge outdoor party behind a private home on Hamilton east mountain. The enclosure you see in the pictures is a huge back yard tent that just fit the confines of the property – a few feet to the property line on each side. In front of the stage area were hundreds of slate squares, pushed together to make an excellent dance floor. We knew it would be a good night when we arrived and saw the row of gas barbeques lined up in the alcove under the huge 2nd-level deck behind the house.We asked someone what the occasion was for such a large party. “The owner does this every year – he puts on a big party for all his friends to celebrate the beginning of the summer”, was the reply. That certainly seemed like a good enough reason to us.
The band played their full POWERHOUSE show long into the night, breaking only for the feast that was wheeled out early into the evening. The crowd was having a great time and the dance floor stayed well-used all night. It was a warm early summer night and a perfect night for a party, a feast and a lot of tunes.
The back row (left to right): Don, John, Pete and Vince
The horns (left to right): Dan, Nick and Carlo
... and Paula and Steve down front.
To the left, something new this week for Don, the band’s retired trombonist, as he accompanies Carlo and his trumpet for the opening of the band’s new Eagles tune.And to the right, band saxophonist, Nick, doing very un-saxlike things.
Yes, it was quite the party on Hamilton mountain -- a party that went on long into the night. It was a great way to start the summer season.
Through the summer, the band travelled – first, taking their Chicago Transit show to Mill Pond Park in Richmond Hill, ON on a very hot July evening, then north to the somewhat cooler temps of southern Lake Superior at the Bay Mills Casino in Brimley, Michigan. The Richmond Hill show was a redate, having taken our Powerhouse show there a few years ago, and at the Casino in northern Michigan, we were almost becoming regulars, having taken all the band’s shows there multiple times over the years. The band would close out the summer headlining Friday night on Labour Day weekend at the Burlington, ON Ribfest with their POWERHOUSE and Chicago Transit shows.
And what an excellent night it was. The weather was perfect and the crowd was huge -- as it alwaysis at this long-time end of summer Burlington tradition. As a bonus for the evening, our good friend (and occasional band fill-in keyboard player), Suzanne O and her band, ‘Up Front’ were on stage just before us. They definitely had the crowd well-warmed up by the time we were readyto go.
Long-time band trombonist, Don, in his new role with the band.
Newest (and returning) band member, Dan, on the trombone.
.... and Carlo doing the same.
Nick doing the things that Nick does best ....
The Chicago Transit horns, Paula’s Aretha and Gladys tunes and the guitars front-and-centre made for one great night of music.
Eventually, it was time to say good-bye to the Burlington Ribfest and to the summer months. It was great fun -- all of it.The band would play once more in Toronto at the Aquatic Park Sailing Club a few weeks later to close out the 2015 season.