By the mid 90’s, they added a couple of Chicago Transit Authority songs to their repertoire. With the band’s instrumentation and vocal abilities, these seemed like a ‘natural’ for the band to do. These went over so well that it was decided that the band would do an entire Chicago Transit tribute show – the first of its type anywhere. With the band’s multi-lead vocalists, four-piece horn section, then trombonist, Dan Elliot’s impressive horn arrangements and the ability of most band members to play secondary instruments, they managed to create an entire Chicago Transit tribute show – all live without the aid of any additional trax.The tribute show idea was going over so well that, when approached by a friend to do another tribute show, the band soon found themselves working on a Rod Stewart show with Dave Battah, one of the best Rod Stewart impersonators around. That was followed by another show with Frank Rondell and his Ray Charles tribute. Both Frank and Dave have moved on from the band, Dave to fairly heavy international touring commitments and Frank with his own work impersonating other artists. But Powerhouse continues on with their Rod Stewart show, now with Doug Varty at centre stage, another excellent Rod Stewart tribute artist.With now, two solid full tribute shows in their repertoire plus their original soul/Motown/R&B Powerhouse show, the band moved into their third decade, solidly booked and well-travelled. By 2006, they had taken their Ray Charles tribute show across the ocean for a two-week tour of Portugal and the Azores Islands. They were now regularly playing festivals and casinos throughout Ontario, Quebec, northern and midwest United States – this, on top of their regular local bookings in everything from nightclubs to Christmas parties. And in spite of recent difficult events for the band – losing founding members to serious disease and illness – the band, as it gets ready to enter its fourth decade together, shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. With rebuilt vocal harmonies, restructured horn arrangements and extensive new additions to the material in their Powerhouse R&B show, the band is now as dynamic and energetic as they ever have been.The POWERHOUSE Band
The POWERHOUSE Band– a brief history of the last 30 years–The band began in early January of 1986 when three 60’s horn players sat down in a basement in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and decided to put together a Soul/R&B horn band. The first Blues Brothers movie had been released a few years earlier and rebuilding a 60’s horn band for the southern Ontario area seemed like a perfect idea.They took their time with their project, collecting the needed players, deciding and working on their songlist, collecting equipment, a place to practice, etc. Their lead guitarist of choice was still living in B.C. at the time, so while they waited for him to return to Ontario, they proceeded ahead with the horn section – choosing the songs for their project and charting the horn arrangements. While one person worked on the charts, another was scrounging up needed practice equipment and preparing a place to work. Still another was on the phone, scouting venues for when the band was ready to play. By June of 1986 (six months later), the band was ready to go and booked themselves as a 7-song ‘guest spot’ at Oliver’s Nightclub in downtown Hamilton, Ontario during a break in another local band’s show.The early POWERHOUSE band was a 7-piece unit, made up of a 3-piece horn section (trumpet, sax & trombone), a 3-piece rhythm section (lead guitar, bass guitar & drums) and a front man/lead singer. The band immediately took over a ‘home base’ at an east-end Hamilton Roadhouse owned by the band’s saxophone player. Within a year, they had moved uptown to become the house band at one of the central city’s hottest roadhouses. Within a few years, they had played nearly every major venue in the Hamilton/Burlington and surrounding area. There were band personnel changes during the first few years, but as the band was in full weekly practice mode, the changes were seamless and the band didn’t miss a beat. At the end of their third year together, the band made a major personnel change.In 1989, it was decided to replace their lead singer/frontman with a good friend from a sister band in the 60’s. With him came a fourth horn player (trumpet), a lead-singer-quality voice, plus a booking agent – all three of which were great assets to the band. The horn section could now remain solid and full even during full vocal harmonies. The years following this addition would see the band develop what would become known as their trademark ‘wall of sound’.The band stayed very busy during the next years. With a booking agent now as part of the band, their scope expanded to the Quebec border to the east, the U.S. border to the west and into northern Ontario. They played everywhere from outdoor festivals, nightclubs, corporate events and every private function one could think of. There were many personnel changes, as well, as band members would move along to other projects and be replaced by more of the best musicians the area had to offer. With each personnel change came new musical influences and progressively more difficult and intricate arrangements of material. Their original songlist of Wilson Pickett and James Brown-dominated tunes was now mixed with those of Blood, Sweat & Tears, different blues bands and Tower of Power. By the mid 90’s, the band had added a keyboard player and was into their second decade and ready for their next major change.