POWERHOUSE has had many members from the local music community come and go through its doors in its 30-year history – many leaving to pursue their own musical interests, others (sadly) being lost prematurely through illness, and others being added as the band refocused its musical directions. The following musicians (listed chronologically) have all been members of POWERHOUSE or been with the band during their various shows.(Highlightedindicating current band members).
John Willett (trumpet)Morris Sardo (saxophone)Don Berryman (synthesizer)Gary Scott (drums)Greg Smith (bass guitar)Phil Kott (guitar)Mitch DeVeto (vocals)Brad Stone (sound production)Carlo DiBattista (trumpet)Dave Alden (drums)Randy Gallant (drums)Paul Augustyn (saxophone)Bob Franco (guitar)Glenn Higgins (saxophone)Danny Lockwood (drums)
Tony Aquino (keyboard)Steve Petrie (guitar)Alex MacDougall (guitar)Mark LaForme (guitar)Roger Banks (drums)Nick D'Amico (saxophone)Steve King (guitar)Pete Crolly (bass guitar)John Persichini (drums)Suzanne O (keyboard)Doug Varty (vocals)Paula Tessaro (vocals)George Behr (trombone)
The following are the bios of the current band members.
Nick D'Amico – Tenor, Alto, Baritone Saxophones, FluteNick has been a member of POWERHOUSE since 2010 and has played the saxophone for over 40 years. Originally from Vancouver, he developed his passion for R&B, Soul, Funk and Blues early in High School. “Basically, it was my father that forced me to take music in Grade 8 – I didn’t even want to play music. I wanted to take art, but he ‘strongly suggested’ that I play either the clarinet, saxophone or the trumpet. So I did what he said and took the saxophone. But soon, I started to really like it,” he says. And Nick has played the saxophone (and now, the flute as well) ever since. Soon, he found himself performing in various clubs in Vancouver's ‘Gastown’ district, as well as corporate functions and weddings in and around the greater Vancouver area.Moving to Hamilton in 1986, he continued with his passion for music, playing with various bands in Southern Ontario – of note, Oakville’s ‘Groove Hammer’ and Burlington’s ‘Upshot Johnny’. Along with other members of the POWERHOUSE horn section, Nick has also performed with ‘Night Fever’, a BeeGees Tribute, and the ‘ABBAMANIA’ Show in venues such as Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, The Burlington Centre For The Performing Arts, and the River Run Centre For The Performing Arts in Guelph.When not playing music, Nick can often be found on the open roads riding his Harley or on the links riding the golf cart.
Steve King – Guitar, VocalsSteve started playing the guitar around the age of eleven. “I never wanted to play anything else but the guitar,” he says, “and I did like every other kid back then, getting linked up with bands. By about ’75, I went on the road. I think the first band was ‘Kenny Isles & the Explosion.’” For the next 10 years, Steve worked with a number of touring bands throughout Canada and the U.S. – ‘the Platters’, ‘the Marquee Brothers’ (Stampeders horn section), ‘Funktion’, ‘Roger Trueman’, ‘Robbie Lane’, etc. “After that,” Steve continued, “I wanted to get off the road so I put my own 4-piece band together.” The ‘Steve King Band’ was a regular in the local music scene throughout the 80’s. By the 90’s, Steve was touring England and Holland with ‘Rapid Transit’ – another fixture in the local music scene. Most recently, in addition to being the POWERHOUSE guitarist since early 2013, Steve has played with Hamilton Blues tradition, ‘Harrison Kennedy’, local regular ‘Steve Strongman’, and has been the lead guitarist for ‘Groove Corporation’, a long-running local blues/R&B/funk band.Coinciding with his love of travel, when not playing his guitar, Steve “likes to chase the intricacies of Pinot Noir around the world.” The picture to the right is Steve (with the hat) sampling some of the local ‘pinot noir’ in the Tuscany area of Italy – an area known for its excellent red wines. And with family throughout North America, when he’s not performing on a stage somewhere, you might have to look a good distance to find him.
Pete Crolly – Bass Guitar, VocalsPete, a regular in the Toronto scene, started his musical life early. “I actually started by taking drum lessons as a kid”, he says, but he moved over to the bass guitar in high school. Then, in the early 70’s, he bought a flute from Morris Sardo, one of the POWERHOUSE ‘founding trio’, and added that to his musical repertoire. Now, he also plays the saxophone, as well.In his decades playing regularly, he has been with scores of bands from the area – far too many to list here. But of note, he was with Carlo, current POWERHOUSE trumpet-player in ‘Vehicle’ during the 70’s. By the 80’s, he had recorded with ‘Robert Connolly’ and ‘The Lee Aaron Project’ and was now working with ‘Frank Soda and the Imps’ – a regular in the Toronto music scene at the time. He’s played with rock band, ‘Sylum’, recorded with Toronto band, ‘Instructions’, played latin jazz with ‘Mondo Loco’ and was one of the early members of Hamilton-based R&B-funk band, ‘Groove Corporation’, who also has current POWERHOUSE guitarist, Steve King as one of their members.When not playing with the band, Pete can be found working with other bands like Toronto’s ‘STRAToS’, an instrumental-fusion band, Hamilton’s blues master, ‘Harrison Kennedy’, or just piloting his sailboat ‘Parlay’ out of the Toronto area. “Boating is one of my hobbies – cottage life in the city,” he says, with a smile.
John Persichini – Drums, VocalsLike all the current members of POWERHOUSE, John’s musical resume is multi-faceted. “I started with sax in the high school band, but I always liked drums and I linked up with part-time bands in the area back then,” says John. ‘Matrix’ was one of his early bands back in the 70’s, then after graduating university a few years later, he got a call from local band ‘Lightspeed’. John’s history with this band is extensive.The band stayed full-time and touring throughout the late 70’s, early 80’s with John as their front man. “We had two sets of drums set up on stage which I would go to occasionally, but we had a full-time drummer and I was the front-man/singer in the band,” says John. After the band broke up, it would reform again a decade later. “We got back together to record some original tunes we had from the band’s earlier years,” continued John. “Somehow, that recording found its way to England and Japan.” By the mid-90’s, Lightspeed had linked up with a Japanese record company, they had airplay and favourable reviews in England and Europe, they had recorded a second CD, and were playing larger local venues like Hamilton’s Studio Theatre and the Dallas nightclub. The next major stop for the band was in Wigan, England, in 1998 at the Gods of Rock Festival. The band continues on to this day (see their web link in our Links section), but mostly now just for recording new material. Other than that and sitting behind the kit as a major vocalist with POWERHOUSE, John spends his time in Grant Avenue Studio recording commercials and jingles and he’s recently worked with Hamilton’s ‘Harrison Kennedy’.When not playing music, John has a full family life, is an avid download skier, he plays water polo (as a hobby) and he’s built a recording/practice studio in his basement. “I have two boys and they kind of took over the basement studio over the last 5 or 6 years,” he says. They do clear out, though, when POWERHOUSE comes in to practise.
George Behr – TromboneLike many in POWERHOUSE, George’s musical start began as a child sitting at the piano for a few years. But it wasn’t until high school that his musical training began in earnest. “My father was very interested in music and he wanted me to play oboe. But my instructor in high school was a trombone player and he said ‘I’d like you to play the trombone’. That’s how I got started.” While still in high school, George joined the Mohawk College Jazz band, something that would continue for three or four years while George next moved on to complete a degree in music composition at McMaster University. While working on his classical-based music degree at McMaster, George continued to study jazz improvisation and harmony with Jim Howard at Mohawk College. “I was sort of the bad boy in the music faculty at McMaster because it was all classical and I played jazz,” says George, with a laugh.After university, next came a trip north to Thunder Bay to join the Thunder Bay Symphony. A general strike by the symphony meant George would return home after one year to begin a 29-year career teaching instrumental music with the Hamilton Board of Education. Throughout his teaching career, while starting up a number of instrumental music programs in area schools, George continued his own trombone career in a number of varied capacities. He’s played and recorded with members of Canada’s ‘Boss Brass’ and when Lech Wałęsa came to town, he was a member of the symphony orchestra that played ‘New World Symphony’ at Copps Coliseum with Anton Dvořák, the grandson of ‘New World’ composer Antonin Dvořák. George has been a member of the Jim Stahl Big Band for the last 25 years and has continued to play with the R&B group, ‘Backroom 11’, since 2007. When not involved with music, George is a busy man. He travels the world regularly with family – the picture to the right being from his latest European trip, sampling one of the fine German brews. He’s an avid downhill skier, has been a scuba diver (mostly in the Caribbean) for 30 years, and he played in the Canadian Masters Badminton Tournament in 2011. But mostly, says George: “My whole life has been about music. Some people did something else during the day. I just did music all day long.” And as of the summer of 2016, George is now a member of POWERHOUSE.
Don Berryman – Synthesizer, MandolinDon is the last remaining member of the original POWERHOUSE band – one of the ‘original three’ who sat down in a Hamilton basement in January 1986 and began work to recreate the horn band sound of the late 60’s. After 51 years of playing trombone in everything from rock bands to the Navy Band to Dixieland to Philharmonic Orchestras, Don retired his horn at the end of 2014. He remains with the band, though, in a background capacity – filling in as a second synthesizer player, occasionally bringing out his mandolin and acoustic guitar, and building and maintaining this website. “Although I’m quite happy to spend my summers riding around the country on my motorcycle, as long as there are places where I can help the band or the music, I’m in,” he says. Don began his musical life at age 5, sitting at a piano, moved to the trombone and other brass and woodwind instruments in high school, took up the guitar and mandolin during the 60’s hippy years and returned again to the piano about 20 years ago. “I love playing the piano,” he says. “The whole world of music is under my fingers. I just have to go find it.”When not involved with something musical, Don can be found riding around the country on his bike or writing and researching his lifelong passion – the hi-tech world of industrial energy production (nuclear, hydro-electric and alternate energy concepts).
Paula Tessaro – VocalsPaula Tessaro is a singer, and for the last 35 years she’s collected a wealth of experience. She began her career in 1980, studying ‘Classical Voice’ (Bel Canto) with the renowned Ed Johnson at his Academy of Voice. And now, she’s to the point where she’s a vocal instructor herself at Rayne Records in Hamilton, ON. “As soon as I opened my mouth, I knew that singing was what I wanted to do,” she says. “I was driven. I knew I was going to be a singer from 4 years old. It’s the only thing I ever wanted to do.” And this drive has taken her to a number of places – singing back-up with Canadian band, ‘Helix’, touring Canada and the U.S. with Juno Award nominee, Ray Lyell and the Storm, recording with ‘Neil W. Young & The Legendary Bear Creek Band’ and the ‘The Jim Italiano Band’. For years, she’s been a sought-after vocalist for jingle and background work. And for the last 25 years, she’s not only been working with Ray Lyell and his band but also teaching vocalists herself – for the first five years, privately, and for the last fifteen years at Ray Lyell’s studio in Hamilton. “I find it amazing, to be able to give people the skill and technique and then to see them improve,” she says of her teaching experience. “I just love my job.”In addition to her work with the POWERHOUSE band, she has her own local R&B band, ‘Escapade’ which performs regularly in local night clubs, outdoor festivals, and corporate and private functions. When not involved with music, teaching or her busy family life, Paula’s interests lie in the world of Interior Decorating – like designing and creating different paint techniques in the home, etc. “Ideally, I’d love to be involved with Home Décor on a more professional level.”
Carlo DiBattista – Trumpet, Flugelhorn, VocalsCarlo, a career musician and leader of the POWERHOUSE band, has been involved with just about every aspect of music over the years – performance, recording, production, booking, management, etc. “My dad and his brothers would have ‘jams’ in the house every weekend. My mom was a singer. I started playing when I was 8, appeared on local TV program ‘Tiny Talent Time’ shortly after and joined my first band, the 50-piece ‘Italo-Canadian Concert Band’ (pictured to the left) when I was 10 years old.” Carlo’s first rock band was with Gerry Doucette and the band, ‘Terry James & the Soul Generation’ and his first ‘road gig’ was at age 14 with local band ‘Brotherhood’. “I was in high school and had to ask permission for 2 weeks holidays to go with the band to the Electric Circle in Quebec City. We put ourselves and our gear on a train, went to Quebec City, played for 2 weeks, then came home.” He joined the band Vehicle in the early 70’s and for a few years played regular 3-month summer gigs at Wasaga Beach. Then after high school, he got a music scholarship from McMaster University, but left after one year to pursue his own musical path. By the late 70’s, Vehicle had released their first album, received a Juno nomination, and were playing theatres, arenas, colleges and universities regularly. By the early 80’s Carlo became the first musician ever to be granted a ‘booking license’ in Canada. While still playing with Vehicle, he travelled to England for meetings with Swan Song Records and Chrysalis Records as the band’s manager. Eventually, ‘Vehicle’ signed with United Artists in the U.S., and were in Billboard’s Top 100 with air play in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. After ‘Vehicle’ broke up in the 80’s, Carlo was booking POWERHOUSE, and when the band decided to go from a 3-piece to 4-piece horn section, he joined the band in 1990.Carlo is the longest serving member of POWERHOUSE and he is, basically, the backbone of the band. Besides his on-stage work as leader, trumpet player and vocalist, he books the band, manages all business aspects, and is the final say on all sound production and stage set-ups. Outside of music, Carlo is 20 solo-hours away from his pilot’s license. In keeping with his love of golf and his excellent abilities in organizing and managing, he has worked at ESPN for a number of years as a TVA (TV assistant) for the Canadian Open. In the picture to the right, he is standing on the links of the PGA Tour, Furnas golf course in São Miguel Island of the Azores during the POWERHOUSE tour of Portugal a few years ago. Carlo has recorded with ‘Brighton Rock’, Terry Brown (producer for Rush), local acts ‘Sonny Del Rio’ and ‘Jack Pedlar’, ‘Rick Emmett’, ‘Pavlo’, ‘Oscar Lopez’, ‘Gerry Doucette’, and ‘Roy Young’ (ex-Beatles keyboard player). He’s played Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto a number of times and performed in front of 20,000 at the Friendship Festival in Fort Erie with ‘Hall & Oates’, ‘Blood, Sweat & Tears’ and ‘Colin James’. There’s very little in music, production and management that Carlo has not had extensive experience. And when he’s not doing something involved with music, he’s doing something else involved with music. You can count on it.
Tony Aquino – Keyboard, VocalsTony’s music background started very early at the age of six, sitting at the piano and later, singing with his father in the local church choir. Unlike other ‘early-piano-lesson’ band members, Tony stayed with it, studying classical, pop and rock piano for the next sixteen years. In high school, he took up playing the French Horn for a few years. “The teacher said this is the hardest brass instrument to play. I said, then that’s the one I want.” Tony’s attraction to challenges continued on through the 3-year Mohawk College music program. In his final year he was asked to perform J.S. Bach's Piano Concerto in D minor – a grueling 25 minutes of piano aerobics – at McMaster University. “Oh yeah, that was something else,” he says. “I memorized the whole thing and was solo pianist with the McMaster University String Ensemble.” After Mohawk College, it was off to York University to begin a Bachelor of Music degree. “I went to York with a buddy and we did one year. But it just became ‘too much school’ and we said ‘that’s enough, let’s go to Europe’. So off we went to change the world,” he says with a smile. As finances ran low, Tony eventually found himself as a house pianist in Zermatt, Switzerland – a gig he’d keep for about six months before returning home. Once home, he finished his music degree, this time at McMaster, then went back to Toronto to get his teaching certificate. Finally, Tony began a career with the Hamilton Board of Education as a music teacher – a position he continues to this day.Tony first joined POWERHOUSE in 2001, then rejoined the band again in the summer of 2016 following a two-year break to complete and record his first CD, “Back By Popular Demand”. Tony has added excellent keyboard skills to the band as well as very strong lead vocals. When not involved with something musical, he is an avid outdoorsman, bicycling, and regularly traveling through Ontario’s northland. He also enjoys attending and participating in sporting events – the picture to the right was taken on a day off from one of the band’s trips to Northern Michigan. More about Tony and sound clips from his new CD can be found on-line at www.tonyaquino.ca.