Since early spring of 2011, the band has been playing with the knowledge that our lead guitarist, Phil Kott, was waging a long and difficult battle with lung cancer.   By the end of August, a group of Phil's friends and band members decided to hold a benefit to help Phil and his wife, Nancy, cover their ever-increasing medical expenses.  A hall was rented and the benefit was broadcast word-of-mouth throughout the Hamilton music community -- very little media coverage -- just the one poster to the right that appeared in a local free newspaper a few days before the benefit and one paragraph in Hamilton’s major daily newspaper, again, a few days before.  The following is a somewhat condensed pictorial on what turned out to be a very remarkable day. In what would turn out to be ‘a calm before the storm’, the day started slowly at noon with just the event organizers and close friends of Phil preparing for what we mistakenly believed would be a hundred or so people. To open the event, our good friend, Bill Hughes, brought his band, Burnt River, from Peterborough for an excellent mix of celtic and folk instrumental and vocal harmonies.  As ‘Doctor Bill’ had other appointments during the day, the band came early in the day to perform before they had to leave.  
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Recorded, Summer 2010, LIttle Lake Musicfest, Peterborough, ON
The Burnt River Band (left to right) Steve Heming (keys), John Lafferty (banjo), Bill Hughes (guitar), Glen Herbert (mandolin), Mike Thornton (bass)
There would be a lot of old friends and family meeting up today -- above:  Paul Lisac, Corrine Hunt, Barbara Lisac (John Willett’s sister) and Cliff Hunt (John Willett’s cousin)
Old friends: Russ Carter, John Willett and Greg Smith
Kenny Augustine behind the board
As the crowd began to build, the ‘Duo of a Thousand Songs’, Debi Ferguson and John McCullough, took over for a while to fill in the spaces between bands.
Paul Langille
By the time Paul Langille took the stage around 2 p.m., the crowd was already well past what was expected for the day -- remembering, of course, that there were no posters for this around town, very minimal local media coverage and word of the event transmitted mostly person-to-person throughout the Hamilton music community.  I suppose the one person no expected to see that day was the guest of honour, Phil Kott.  We all knew how sick he was.  But true to Phil’s closeness to his friends and musical families, he walked through the door with his wife Nancy about 2:30 p.m.
It’s hard to relate what it meant to everyone in the room -- a crowd that was now measured in the hundreds -- to see Phil, even in his gaunt condition, walk through the door.  It was difficult to get near him as so many wanted to sit down with him and talk for a bit.  Above left is ex- Powerhouse member, Martin Kling.  Above is Phil and Nancy Kott and above right, Phil and old friend Rick Hebert share a few stories. Next up performing (shown below left and centre) is Debi and Kim Lister performing a few numbers followed by the duo of Kim and Lance Kiernan.
Jack DeKeyser (pictured above with Nancy & Phil Kott and Brad and Hope Stone) had to play a show that evening in Toronto so he came in late afternoon with a 4-piece put-together band and wowwed the crowd for well over an hour.  The picture to the immediate left showing ex-Powerhouse sax player, Glen Higgins and Phil pretty-well sums up how much Phil wanted to be up on stage with his long-time Hamilton mountain guitar mate.  Phil and Jack go way, way back to the very early days.  I think everyone in the room knew how great it would have been to see Phil up there trading lines with Jack rather than Jack just up there playing for Phil.
Above, left to right:  Gord James (Hammond), Jack DeKeyser (guitar), Neil Nickafor (bass), Morris Sardo (sax) and Dave Russell (drums)
By late afternoon, the room was packed full, with people spilling outside to the front lawn, the parking lot and along the side of the building.
Above, left to right:  Michael Keys (piano), Dave Russell (drums), Greg Smith (bass), Russ Carter (guitar), Les Kadar (trumpet) and Morris Sardo and Glen Higgins on sax.
Next up was another of Phil’s old mountain guitar mates, Russ Carter and his group which included 3 horn players.  Morris Sardo, pictured above right on the left is one of the original three Powerhouse founding members.  Joining Russ and his group on stage for a few numbers was Frank Rondell (above left).  Frank took Phil and the Powerhouse Band on a 2-week tour of Portugal a few years ago. Next to the stage came Debi and John again -- this time with their full Burnt Rose Band (pictured below left), then following them, Old Chicago out of Caledonia (pictured below).
Above, The Burnt Rose Band, left to right:  Frank Orsi (bass), Bob Ferguson (drums), Debi Ferguson (guitar), Kim Lister (vocals) and John McCullough.
Brother and sister John Willett and Barbara Lisac
Above, Old Chicago (left to right):  Jim Windle (bass), Ron Lemke (behind Jim on drums), Jimmy MIller (piano), Cecil Sault (acoustic guitar), Lance Kiernan (guitar) and Paul Augustyn (sax). To the left, the two main keyboard players for the afternoon:  Gord James on the Hammond and Michael Keys on piano. Below, Michael Keys sitting with Harrison Kennedy - - in the two fedoras.
To the left:  Phil sitting with old friends, Reg Denis (on the left) and Greg Cannon (on the right).  Phil stayed the whole afternoon talking to all his friends before Nancy needed to take him home around dinner time.  For someone who was not expected to attend, for Phil to stay the whole afternoon was about as remarkable as the amount of people that showed up this day.
Far left:  Dave Beatty (left of picture) sitting in the sea of people.  And to the immediate left, there was a lot of hugging going on this day as old friends would reconnect and share stories and memories.
Phil’s band, Powerhouse, took the stage mid- evening to close out the day, complete with many guests.
Our two drummers for the evening:  band regular, Roger Banks (above left) and Danny Lockwood filling in (above right)
So many horns -- to the left (l to r):  Powerhouse alumni, Morris Sardo, Paul Augustyn and band regulars Nick and Carlo.
Above, left to right:  Band regular guitarists, Mark and Mike and band alumni guests Vince Rinaldo on his Nord Electro and Tom Forsythe on sax.
It was a good crowd to close out the night.  City noise by-laws dictated a 11 p.m. shutdown but the music kept coming and a crowd of well over 1000 stayed long past that time.
Above, left to right:  Band regulars John, Roger on drums and Tony on keys, Carlo and one half of the evening’s sax quartet, Tom and Nick.
Manning the video cam and the board, John Ricci and Russell Forbes.
The Powerhouse sax alumni, Morris, Paul and Nick and Suzanne O joining us to do a little ‘fluting’.
The evening closed with a full stage, an estimated couple thousand people who had come through the door over the course of the day and thousands of dollars raised for Phil and Nancy Kott. What something like this benefit and the unbelievable support that it garnered can do for a human being is quite amazing.  In the days after, Phil, who had been mostly house and chair-bound at home was up, walking the 4 or 5 blocks over to his friend, John Willett’s house to sit for an afternoon and chat – something that, until recently, had been a regular thing with them both for years and years.  For nearly two weeks afterward, Phil went through a huge mental and physical upswing.  Sadly though, just a few short weeks after that on November 23rd, cancer took our friend.
The band started off September at the gorgeous Knollwood Golf Club for a private wedding.  Following Phil Kott's benefit on the 11th, it was off to the London Delta Armouries for another private show for the Urology Nurses of Canada.  The next night, the Powerhouse and Chicago Transit shows were booked in the Backstage Capitol theatre in Delhi.
The New Knollwood Golf & Country Club
The Delta Amouries Motel in London, ON
The Delhi Backstage Capitol theatre has been bought by new owners and been completely refurbished to be an entertainment 'hot spot' in south-western Ontario.  The new owners have not disappointed.
The theatre was dark and flash was not permitted during the performance, so stage pics were next to impossible.  But there was time for a nice walk through the downtown Delhi after the aftermoon soundcheck -- a very pretty town, indeed.
Following a re-date at the Bay Mills casino in northern Michigan, this time with Dave Battah and his Rod Stewart show, our next stop was the beautiful Orillia Opera House.  We took both Dave's Rod show and our own Chicago Transit show to one of the nicest venues in southern Ontario.  The work that they are doing on this Opera House, both inside and out -- work that is still continuing -- is quite amazing. From their website at "In the very heart of Orillia sits a fairy-tale building, and inside that building, legends are born. For over 117 years, the City has dreamed, laughed, wept and fought inside the Orillia Opera House. Many of the City’s defining moments have taken place under its landmark twin spires. Since 1895 the Orillia Opera House has been bringing the best in local, national and international talent to its stages. From performances by living legends to our popular summer theatre series, there is always something happening that will entertain, educate and inspire. Now managed by the City’s Department of Culture & Heritage, the Orillia Opera House continues to inspire those that are great and those that will be, while renovations and capital projects continue to keep the fairy tale alive." Again, with the 'no cameras or videos' ban in the theatre during performances, pictures for this show were limited to the view out into the room from stage and one rather poorly-lit shot of the band during sound check. Below:  The attention to beauty and intricate detail in this Opera House could be found even in the dressing room areas
Next, the band was off for a show on Manitoulin Island.  The Tobermory Ferry was shut down for the winter, so the road to the gig was the long way around Georgian Bay through some of Ontario's more spectacular scenery -- even in early December.  As usual, many of the band members used the trip north to also enjoy a short vacation.
From:  [M’Chigeeng, ON] – Getting an early start on the holiday festivities and “We’re Having a Party” was the theme for the 340 guests of Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute’s 4th Annual Snowflake Gala held in M’Chigeeng First Nation on Dec 3, 2011. With sold out ticket sales, and an estimated $5,000 in profits ...2011 may have even topped and surpassed last year’s Gala success! “In previous years, the Snowflake Gala raised funds for the KTEI Capital Building Fund but with construction of the capital facility now complete and educational and skills development programs well underway at KTEI - the shift toward fundraising efforts for student financial needs was an easy decision”, said Stephanie Roy, KTEI Executive Director.
'Rod' was kind enough to share his table with the band.  He's very good that way.
It's always enjoyable to do a Dave Battah Rod Stewart show and the M'Chigeeng Nation certainly knows how to throw a gala party.  The good food, great people and knowing that proceeds were going to assist native education made this a very enjoyable trip north.
The band played a couple of December corporate shows then closed out the year with Dave Battah at Faloney's in Ancaster.  It was an enjoyable evening and an excellent year.
Set-up and Sound Check
Set-up and Sound Check