There’s no denying that the year 2012 was a difficult year for the band Powerhouse.  The previous year’s year-long battle of our guitarist, Phil Kott, with lung cancer weighed heavy on the band throughout the year.  And when Phil finally lost his battle on November 23rd, the Powerhouse band members were visibly shaken.  In addition to this, our drummer, Steve Negus, left the band to pursue his own musical interests.  And due to an increased work load with his day job, our piano/vocalist, Tony, had to take on a much- reduced workload with the band during the year.  All these things, combined with difficult economic conditions – the live music industry is dependent on personal disposable income, of which there was little in 2012 – yielded a much-reduced schedule for the Powerhouse band and its three tribute shows during the year. Each band member used the additional time off in different ways.  Some chose to expand their own musical interests.  Others took the time to enjoy much-needed extended holidays.  And some, simply, used the time to take a short break from 27 years non-stop with the band.  Nevertheless, the band regrouped with new members, the music continued on, somewhat revitalized from the new input, and in spite of a much lighter schedule, there were some excellent musical highlights during 2012.  We’ve listed a few below.
Powerhouse, from their CD
In mid-July, the band was off to Akron, Ohio to perform their Chicago Transit show at the Lock 3 Park in the centre of town.  Perhaps, one of the more interesting aspects of this trip was the band's lodging at the rather remarkable Quaker Square Inn in downtown Akron. In 1932, the Quaker Oats Company built 36 adjoining grain silos, each 120 feet tall and 24 feet in diameter.  When the company ceased production in Akron in 1970, a successive series of owner/developers converted the empty grain silo complex into a shopping and dining area, a hotel and, when the University of Akron bought the buildings in 2007, student residences and offices were added. The hotels rooms are perfectly round, 24 feet in diameter and built inside the converted silos.  It was an odd feeling of vertigo, getting out of bed in a round room, as balance seemed strangely off.  And without traditional 'flat' walls and 'square' corners, navigation throughout the hotel complex felt rather strange.
By mid-afternoon, it was time to make our way to Lock 3 Park for soundcheck.  Much of Akron's early history, including the founding of the town in 1825, was generated by workers building the Ohio & Erie canal system.  17 locks were built in the Akron area.  Preserving some of the original waterway behind the park added a nice touch. To the right, the large, rather impressive building that sits on a hill behind the park is the Akron YMCA building.  Completed in 1931, it is still in use today.
Set in a hollow in the middle of town, Lock 3 Park was rather nice, with plenty of viewing areas toward the stage.  And, of course, a mid-summer event in town brought out the best of the local 'hardware'.  By early evening, the park was beginning to fill up nicely. 
To the right, our new drummer -- who has played with us in the past -- Roger Banks letting loose a bit. As it is with most of our trips to the U.S., it was just the band members making the trip.  This left no one to man the cameras and performance shots were limited to crowd shots from stage or, if time permitted, side shots by band members during the show.  Nevertheless, it was an excellent road trip for the Chicago Transit show.  We so enjoy our trips south of the border.
From: By:   Rhiannon Russell Thu Aug 09 2012 00:01:00 Crowbar to play to honour member’s late wife It happened out of the blue. Kelly Jay Fordham, formerly of Hamilton and a Crowbar band member, was at home in Calgary with his wife, Tami Jean, on July 27 when she had a sudden, fatal heart attack. “She basically died in my arms,” Fordham, 70, says. “It’s been a sad week. We’re still trying to catch up and make sense of everything.” It was heart disease that killed her, although no one knew she was sick. She was 50 years old. Fordham was lead singer of Crowbar in the 1970s — which also featured for a time Hamilton’s renowned King Biscuit Boy (Richard Newell). Fordham moved to Calgary in 1986 and met Tami shortly after. They married in 2009 in Hamilton on a boat in Hamilton Harbour. “I’ve had people from all over Canada call me about Tami and tell me about how sorry they are,” Fordham says. “She was such a vivacious, outgoing person. No flies on Tami. She was always the life of the party.” Fordham and his wife were planning to be here this weekend to appear at This Ain’t Hollywood on Saturday afternoon and the Festival of Friends on Sunday. Tami was a big football fan, so they were going to catch the Thursday night Tiger-Cats game against the Calgary Stampeders. When Fordham performs this weekend, he says he’ll be wearing his Ticats jersey, emblazoned with the number 70. It was a gift from Tami on his 70th birthday last year. “I’ll be wearing it in tribute to my little football freak.” As a show of support, a group of Canadian musicians has come together to perform Monday evening at Leander Boat Club. Original Crowbar members Sonnie Bernardi, John “Ghetto” Gibbard and Roly Greenway, Trickbag, Tom Wilson, Ray Materick and Ian Thomas are lined up to play, among others. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. and the minimum requested donation is $10. “All of these guys, as soon as they heard it was happening, they wanted to come down,” Fordham says. “They want to raise some money and they want to celebrate Tami’s life. I’m just thrilled to bits.” Fordham is left with twin 17-year-old boys, and two girls, 19 and 21, and two grandchildren. A memorial for Tami will be held Aug. 18 in Calgary. “It was really sudden,” he says. “My message is hug the person closest to you. Take care of them and love them to death because you never know.” 905-526-3597
Kelly Jay Fordham of Crowbar in Dec. 1973 Toronto Star file photo
It was a great pleasure for Powerhouse to participate in this event.  Pictured above to the far right, Kelly Jay sat in with us for a while.  To the right, clockwise from top left, Powerhouse members:  Carlo & John, Mark LaForme, Suzanne O (who also sat in with us on keyboard, Nick and Danny Lockwood. We'd also like to thank our friends Suzanne O and Brian Rutherford from the local band UpFront for donating these pictures for our story.  Some pix are our own but most were taken by Suzanne and Brian.
Above right, from the local band, Trickbag, Sonny del Rio, Donna Panchezak and, in the background, Michael Hickey on guitar.
Brian Rutherford from UpFront and Bert Steen from the 905 Band
Ian Thomas
Suzanne O and Mike Eastman
Two more excellent local musicians, Dean Rose from UpFront and drummer, Dave King
From the band, Prairie Oyster:  Denis Keldie on accordian, Joan Besen on keyboard and guitarist, Russell deCarle.
From left to right:  Denis Keldie, Jesse O'Brien, Joan Besen, Lily Sazz & Suzanne O.
The always-entertaining Reg Denis and Patti Warden from the band Crackers.
Kelly Jay, Russell deCarle and Danny Lockwood.
... and front and centre for the evening -- the tribute to Tami Jean Fordham
It's always a pleasure to play at the Little Lake Musicfest in Peterborough's Del Crary Park.  The park itself is gorgeous, surrounded by the water of Little Lake and the Trent Waterway system.  In front of the open-air bandshell sits a large, grassed area, sloping upwards, away from the stage, offering excellent viewing from anywhere inside the spacious park. By the time the show started, the park had filled up nicely.  The band opened with their Chicago Transit show, went off-stage for a bit, changed their shirts (laughing, here), then came back on with their R&B Powerhouse show.  The people seemed appreciative and it was another excellent night in Del Crary Park.
The next stop for the band was taking their Powerhouse show for a return trip to the rather crowded Burlington Ribfest.  As is always the case with this festival, it was hot, it was crowded, the food was great and the band came to put on a show.  We had an excellent late Saturday afternoon time slot and the crowd was large and very receptive.
It was hot, it was crowded and it was a good show in Spencer Smith Park.  And, as is always the case when the band plays locally, it was nice to spend some time with old friends.
HOME NEXT BACK Home Calendar Band Bios Photo Album Booking Info Links Site Map
How could one think to have a benefit for Kelly Jay without Crowbar taking the stage?
Band members (from left to right): Ray Harrison (Hammond), Phil Gray (trombone), Larry Fuedo (in the back on guitar), Andy Graviis (trumpet), SonnyHow could one think to have a benefit for Kelly Jay without Crowbar taking the stage?
Above:  Carlo on trumpet, Don on trombone, (doubling on keyboards), John on trumpet, and Nick on sax
The band was back at the Gladstone for another show a few months later, but this time, the evening had a much different ‘feel’ to it.  Band trumpet player and one of the original founding members, John Willett, let us know in the early summer that he had been diagnosed with cancer and the doctors had given him just a few short months.  This early June 2013 show at the Gladstone Tavern in Hamilton would be John’s last with the band. The lighting was very poor in the Gladstone that night and that, plus the general mood in the room left little opportunity to take pictures.
It was a bittersweet night as many of John’s friends from 50 years in music shared the stage with the band.  Sadly though, it would be the last time John would take the Powerhouse stage -- a band he founded, 30 years ago -- as he lost his battle with cancer by Labour Day weekend.
A week or so after the second Gladstone show, the band was in East Hamilton’s Gage Park to headline the annual St. Anthony of Padua Summer Festival.  The band brought a number of shows to the park that day -- opening with their regular Powerhouse show, followed by a 7-song set of Italian favourites with Frank Rondell.  After a number of other acts took the stage, the band was back with Dave Battah and his Rod Stewart tribute show.  The band finished their shows with an evening set of Chicago Transit just before the evening-closing firework display.  All in all, it was an excellent and rather long day at the George R. Robinson Bandshell in Gage Park.
Once John Willett left the band, the decision was made to not replace him -- either his vocals or his trumpet.  The band vocal arrangements would be redone and from this point forward, the Powerhouse horn section would be the three-piece unit -- Don on trombone, Nick on sax and Carlo on trumpet.
Following the opening Powerhouse show and after a number of other acts took the stage, it was Frank Rondell’s turn (pictured, right) to ‘wow’ the somewhat biased crowd with his selection of Italian favourites. Next up was Dave Battah and his Rod Stewart trubute show (pictured, far right).  Dave always ‘nails it’ and this was no exception. It was far too dark to take pictures of the closing Chicago Transit show, but word has it that the players and instrumentation looked very similar to the players and instrumentation of the opening Powerhouse band.
A few weeks after the Gage Park shows, the band was off again with Dave Battah and his Rod Stewart show to, what was becoming one of the band’s favourite long-distance stops -- the Bay Mills Resort and Casino in Brimley, Northern Michigan on the southern shore of the rather cold waters of Lake Superior.  Since it was the July long holiday weekend, everyone travelled north in a different way -- some in the band truck, some went up a day early to do a round of golf at the Bay Mills G.C. Still others travelled with their families to put a mini-holiday around the Saturday night Rod Stewart shows.  We all linked up in the casino for soundcheck, then dinner, then the evening shows.  We do seem to be able to get some of our best band pictures during soundcheck when the boys are relaxed and in their civvies.  The lighting is certainly much better.
Above:  Roger behind the drum kit, Steve on guitar, Mike on bass and Tony on keyboard
2013 would turn out to be another very difficult year for the Powerhouse band.  To start the year, our guitarist, Mark LaForme let us know he would be leaving the band to continue his own very lucrative musical career.  In steeped long- time Hamilton guitar tradition, Steve King.   Steve brought an impressive resume with him and he played his first show with us a few months into the year as we returned to a favourite local club, the Gladstone Tavern. It was another great gig to open the year with our new guitarist at the Gladsone Tavern in Hamilton.  We would return here a few months later under much different circumstances.
Lighting in the room was a bit of a challenge for picture taking, but Dave quickly had the crowd rocking to his somewhat flawless Rod Stewart tribute act.  It was another great weekend up north at the Bay Mills casino.  The Michigan Upper Peninsula was becoming one of our regular band stops.
The band closed out the year by taking their Powerhouse, Chicago Transit and Rod Stewart shows down the road to Sparta, Ontario to the grounds of the beautiful Quai Du Vin Estate Winery.  This was a truly impressive venue.  Amid rows and rows of vines, a large concrete platform had been built  behind one of the barns.  Overhead was a rain covering and in front were laid hundreds of square floor coverings to form a rather huge dance floor.   Tents for the guests were everywhere with a beautiful lush forest behind.  It was a terrific place to spend the day making music.
From:  Every year, Spencer Smith Park in Burlington, Ontario, welcomes people from all over the world to sample some of the best ribs from some of North America’s top ribbers.  This year marked the 17th anniversary of Canada’s Largest Ribfest, an event that the National Post has dubbed “the Superbowl of Ribfests.”  In 2011, 152,000 people walked through the gates at Ribfest. Organized by the Rotary Club of Burlington Lakeshore, Canada’s Largest Ribfest is a community event that in the past 16 years, raised more than $2.3 million for local, national and international charities.
By the time the show started, the park had filled up nicely.  The band opened with their Chicago Transit show, went off-stage for a bit, changed their shirts (laughing, here), then came back on with their R&B Powerhouse show.  The people seemed appreciative and it was another excellent night in Del Crary Park. It was another great day of music and a great way to close out the year.