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"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." “The New York State Freeway's closed, man. Far out!”
Were there any two events that would so define an era more than the landing of Apollo 11 on the moon and, less than a month later, the landing of a few hundred thousand people at Max Yasgur’s farm in northern New York State? If anything, the 60’s closed with a year of hope.  In January of 1969, Richard Nixon was inaugurated as the 37th President of the United States.  The world heard his proclamation to “end the war in Vietnam” and watched as the first peace talks began in Paris soon after.  Later in the year, the U.S. made their first troop withdrawals in what was now a very contentious war.  And who could forget ‘Broadway’ Joe Namath predicting victory for his underdog New York Jets in Super Bowl III, then promptly going out and beating the powerhouse Baltimore Colts.  The year gave us the first Concorde flight plus, of probably the greatest interest to what you are reading now, the first electronic link-up of four U.S. universities in what was called the ARPAnet (Advanced Research Projects Agency).  This was the initial foundation that would eventually be built into the internet.  In an interesting bit of trivia, the first four computers that were connected were at UCLA, Stanford, UC Santa Barbara and the University of Utah.  When UCLA first attempted to log into Stanford's computer by typing "log win", UCLA crashed their computer when they typed the letter 'g' – aaaahh, the joys … Of course, 1969 was not without its problems.  A brutal war in Biafra left 3 million people starving and in need of international aid.  Britain sent troops to Northern Ireland following increased violence.   Hurricane Camille made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi as a Category 5 hurricane, killing 259 people.  It was the year of Charles Manson’s infamous reign of terror.  Senator Ted Kennedy lost all hope of ever achieving the presidency when he put his car and his passenger, 29-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, into the Chappaquiddick River.  Following successful concerts in Woodstock, Newport, Atlanta and Atlantic City, tragedy struck at Altamont, California in December.  Organized by the Rolling Stones, filmed in the documentary “Gimme Shelter” and with the Hell’s Angels hired to ‘protect the equipment’, one homicide and 3 other accidental deaths were reported as ‘the Angels’ battled with the crowd. In the media, the year saw the release of the movies:  Easy Rider, Midnight Cowboy, the Wild Bunch and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  In January, the Beatles held their last public performance on the roof of the Apple Records -- broken up by police after only 42 minutes.  Paul McCartney married Linda Eastman in March, while John and Yoko staged their first “Bed-In For Peace” in Amsterdam.  And the Abbey Road album was released in September.  Construction of Walt Disney World began in May and television saw the airing of the first Monte Python episode, the creation of the Public Broadcasting System in the U.S., and the first episode of Sesame Street.  And finally, Brian Jones quit the Rolling Stones and was found dead from an apparent drinking/drugs binge, a few months later. Yes, 1969 was the perfect year to end the 60’s, full of hope in many ways, full of change in many others, and not without the problems that had plagued every year during this era.  And, of course, music was right there to tell the story. 
The band had made the most of its first two years and by the beginning of 1969, it had become quite well-known in the Hamilton/Burlington area.  The boys had played locally just about everywhere that could be played – all the local high schools and many of the surrounding universities, tobacco festivals down in Simcoe, the beach at Peacock Point and Crystal Beach on Lake Erie, Sauble Beach on Lake Huron (all favourite summer teen ‘hang outs’).  They’d played at McMaster University and had played the Royal Connaught Hotel in Hamilton for a few different special events.  They’d been in the Club Boogaloo (the former Chandelier Club in Hamilton), St. Nick’s (also in Hamilton), the Castle in St. Catharines (the same time that the Barbarians were playing), Sportsman’s Lanes, Mother’s Place, and they had also branched out the previous year to take in some of the northern Ontario towns, as well.  By 1969, the band had developed quite a large fan base – I know, as I’d heard of them myself, gone to see them, and was rather impressed with what I saw.  And with this popularity came more changes.  Although the band members continued to hold down day jobs or were still in school, all their remaining time was devoted to the band – either practicing or playing their shows.  And this heavy band focus yielded more personel changes during the spring.  1969 was a busy year for the Brass Union.
Hundreds of local teenagers crowded around the stage on Brant Street Saturday night to hear the top name group “Brass Union” perform.  Police said the kids were very well behaved and no drug arrests were made.  The young people did little dancing, but seemed to enjoy listening to the group.
The first change came front and centre.  Mike Lansbury decided to leave the band to pursue a career that would eventually lead him to CBC-TV, Canada, as a producer.  In stepped Dave Thrasher, or probably more accurately, in danced their new lead singer/frontman.  With Dave came not only a fully competent lead vocalist, but also the ‘gift of dance’ – as some have said.  Dave is shown in both the pictures to the left and right, in the centre, wearing the light-coloured shirt.  Of course, dancing abilities don’t show up that well in still photographs. Somewhat ironically, about the same time, Dave Balan, the band’s drummer and then leader concluded that he just wasn’t able to put the time needed into his work with the band, which opened the door for another excellent local musician, John Hannah – pictured to the left on the yellow drum riser.  John, like Dave, came as a two-package deal.  Not only was he an excellent drummer, but his voice was of ‘lead vocalist’ quality.  Within a short while, John and Dave had teamed together to perform what was one of the most memorable versions of Iron Butterfly’s “Ina Gadda Da Vida” that I have ever seen.  In what would eventually become the main focus of the band’s last ‘set’ of the night, when John started his extended drum solo, the lights would fade to black and Dave would start to dance, all over the stage, right to left and back, with just a strobe light for illumination.  It was just John’s drumming, Dave’s dancing, and a single strobe light which gave the illusion of watching a silent movie.  This would go on some nights for over 15 minutes, then the band would trickle back on stage and pick up the end of the song.  I can still see it vividly, 40 years later. The next person to move on to other things was Mike Thornton, the bass player – pictured below.  Mike, like Dave Balan before him, just couldn’t ‘do’ the amount of time necessary to stay in the band, so he gave his notice.  By 1969, Burlington Central Arena and Park were a great place to hear live bands.  And the boys from the band, not only played these gigs regularly, but also spent time watching other bands perform.  “I remember that we were there watching this group called ‘Din’.  They had this fabulous bass player in their band”, said John Willett recently.  “We made up our minds that day that if we should ever need a bass player, this is who we should get.”  So when Mike gave notice of intent to leave the band, the boys recruited Terry Bramhall as their new bass player. The pictures here were taken while the band was doing what they were becoming very good at doing – playing a local high school dance.  While the band continued to branch out to venues farther and farther away, they continued to play locally to what were becoming very large and loud crowds. With the addition of ‘yours truly’ on trombone a short while later, the Brass Union found themselves as an ‘established’ band, into their third year, fully booked – they played every weekend – and they had just replaced nearly half the band before the year was even half over.  One would think that this would slow a band down a bit, but I know from experience as I came on board the band, that this was not the case.  These guys knew what they wanted and knew how to get there.  The second half of the year would be rather memorable for the band.
John Willett and Darrell Nameth backstage durning one of the 1969 gigs.
Len Blum and Bruce Wilson, the resident guitarist/comedians.
By the time 1969 rolled around, I’d been playing the horn for about six years.  I loved music, and my high school time by this point was entirely spent in the music room – all day, every day – trying to learn, at least a bit, of every instrument in the band.  I spent my school days sitting in with each music class, playing something different with each.  I joined every band I could – the school band, the Navy Band, dance bands, small rock bands, even the city’s Philharmonic Orchestra for a while.  As I said, I loved music, and my high school marks showed it – (sorry, mom).  When John Willett told me from school band practice one night that the Brass Union was planning on replacing their trombone player, you better believe that I was interested.  My rock band at the time was opening a show for the Brass Union at Pillar Square in the basement of the Y.M.C.A. on James St. S. in Hamilton (one of the top teen clubs of the time) in a few weeks and John told me that they would be ‘checking me out’ that night.  When my band finished their opening set, Darrell, the leader of the band, walked up to me as I came off stage and said (and I’ll never forget this):  “Ok, you’re in.  Rule number one:  Don’t cut your hair.”  And that was it.  I was now a member of the Brass Union and showed up for practice the next week.  One would think that the events of the next few years would be quite clear for me as I was there, but not so.  The following few years for me were so intense and unbelievable (at times) that now, 40 years later, much of it has flowed together into a sea of indistinguishable pieces.  I do remember that one of my first shows with the band was at Burlington Central Arena in front of hundreds of fans, rows of young girls screaming as the band played their show.  It was there that I first heard the words that Dick taught the boys:  “Don’t go out into the audience between ‘sets’ for you’ll never live up to what they think you are” -- which was quite alright by me, let me tell you.  It was scary out there.
Top 40 Singles of 1969 1.   Sugar, Sugar - The Archies 2.   Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In - 5th Dimension 3.   Honky Tonk Women - The Rolling Stones 4.   Come Together/Something - The Beatles 5.   Everyday People - Sly & the Family Stone 6.   Crimson And Clover - Tommy James & the Shondells 7.   I Can't Get Next To You - The Temptations 8.   Get Back - The Beatles with Billy Preston 9.   Someday We'll Be Together - Diana Ross & the Supremes 10.  Dizzy - Tommy Roe 11.  Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye - Steam 12.  Leaving On A Jet Plane - Peter, Paul and Mary 13.  In The Year 2525 - Zager And Evans 14.  Wedding Bell Blues - 5th Dimension 15.  Love Theme From "Romeo And Juliet" - Henry Mancini 16.  Hair - The Cowsills 17.  Wichita Lineman - Glen Campbell 18.  Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond 19.  Suspicious Minds - Elvis Presley 20.  Crystal Blue Persuasion - Tommy James & the Shondells 21.  Build Me Up Buttercup - The Foundations 22.  It's Your Thing - Isley Brothers 23.  Proud Mary - Creedence Clearwater Revival 24.  One - Three Dog Night 25.  Down On The Corner/Fortunate Son - Creedence Clearwater Revival 26.  Take A Letter Maria - R.B. Greaves 27.  Hot Fun In The Summertime - Sly & the Family Stone 28.  Get Together - The Youngbloods 29.  Too Busy Thinking About My Baby - Marvin Gaye 30.  I'll Never Fall In Love Again - Tom Jones 31.  Eli's Coming - Three Dog Night 32.  I'm Gonna Make You Love Me - Diana Ross & the Supremes & the Temptations 33.  A Boy Named Sue - Johnny Cash 34.  Spinning Wheel - Blood, Sweat & Tears 35.  Green River - Creedence Clearwater Revival 36.  Bad Moon Rising - Creedence Clearwater Revival 37.  Easy To Be Hard - Three Dog Night 38.  And When I Die - Blood, Sweat & Tears 39.  Good Morning Starshine - Oliver 40.  What Does It Take (To Win Your Love) - Jr. Walker & the All Stars “TOP 10 AREA BANDS" 4/1/69    1.   BOBBY WASHINGTON & SOUL   	SOCIETY   2.   VILLAGE S.T.O.P.   3.   HARRISON KENNEDY & THE   	MASTER BAND   4.   BRASS UNION   5.   RAGGED EDGES   6.   JACKIE GRAHAM   7.   SMYLE   8.   KANDY KARNIVAL   9.   DIN   10. INCURSION/REVOLUTION
The band in late 1969, with Paul Goodrow on trombone and Terry Bramhall on bass
Two years ago in Burlington, Ontario, nine musicians and singers, from varied musical backgrounds began what is now known as the BRASS UNION.  These boys decided then and there that they would devote every spare minute of their time and energy to produce a new sound.  They first invested in the best equipment money could buy, they travelled in their own buses, and provided their own light show.  But they were never happy with their sound and performance, and not once did they sit back and say the job is completed.  Finally, in 1969, they decided as a group to give up their jobs and schooling to devote their full time to music.  Everyday they went into the Theatre Centre rehearsal hall and worked for hours on making their thing work.  They did work weekends to keep the boys in eating money, but every Monday morning it was back to the long hours of playing the same music over and over again.  They have just gone into the studios to record their own music, and the rest of the story will be history.  THE BRASS UNION is on its way, with proof that hard work and long hours are the only real way to make it to the top.  Both collectively and individually, THE BRASS UNION, create a with-it feeling on all those they meet.  Girls love them, and their guys admire their ability and professional decorum.  Both wish to be their friends.  Disc jockeys call them “a sensational group”, with a tremendous new sound, and bright and aware personalities.  Everyone calls them “groovy”.  Audiences across the country say they’re the best. Other groups admire their work and attitude towards their sound and their music.  Accolades from fellow musicians, makes all the hours of rehearsal, all the hard work in the beginning, worth it. According to Funk and Wagnalls Standard Encyclopedic Dictionary, a liberal translation of Brass Union, is hard unbreakable matter, joined in unity.  This definition most certainly applies to THE BRASS UNION.  However, THE BRASS UNION is also a group of nine extremely talented young men named, Lenny Blum, Bruce Wilson, Terry Bramhall, John Willett, Cliff Hunt, Darrell Nameth, John Hannah, Donald Berryman and David Thrasher.  Talented young men who got together in the fall of 1967, Canada’s Centennial year, with the intent purpose of becoming a top musical group, in both live and recorded performances.  To apply descriptive measures to their music would be non-sensical.  Let it suffice to say they are vocal, virtuosos, harmonically tight, and instrumentally instinctive.  THE BRASS UNION’S recordings are merely an indication of what their live performances are like.  On stage, they present a musical review … their endless string of original music interspersed with bits and pieces of fun humor.  Electric performers, they draw the audience together for a few hours of total enjoyment.  Each member has the personality to make everyone involved in the concert happy they are a part of what is going on.   ..30..
The Brass Union Band -- late 1969 Back row, left to right:  Darrell Nameth, Bruce Wilson, Terry Bramhall and John Hannah Front row, left to right:  Don Berryman, Len Blum, David Thrasher, Cliff Hunt and John Willett
With all the changes that happened in the band before summer, new promotion and pictures were needed, and it took the band no time at all to get them ready.  For me, as a new member, the first few months were intense.  Not only did I have to learn their show, but I had to learn the choreography – “Just follow me”, said Darrell before my first gig.  Yeah, right!  But everyone else had been through it as well, so I had lots of help and in no time, felt right at home. Meanwhile, the shows and concerts and dances just kept coming.  One of my earlier shows with the band was playing in front of Hamilton City Hall for the Annual Miles for Millions Walk in May.  30,000 people started that walk in the morning, myself and a few other band members included.  The black band truck (pictured below with Darrell, and its sister, the white equipment truck) drove around the route a few hours later, picking up the boys and taking us to City Hall to set up.  21,000 people finished the walk that day, and the Brass Union was there playing at the finish line.  I’d never played in front of so many people before.  Any stage fright I may have had was being erased rather quickly.
DARRELL NAMETH  The old man of the band, the father figure.  He was quoted as saying “tell the world I am warm and friendly”.  Plays a smooth saxaphone, and acts as leader of the Union.  Respected by all the group, makes the job of being boss all that easier.  BRUCE WILSON  An original with THE BRASS UNION, and the real spirit behind the band.  Bruce is always on, with his dead-pan comedy now a part of every show.  He doubles on lead and rhythm guitar and vocals, his music ability being second to none.  CLIFF HUNT  Mr. Calm is the tag on Cliff, another of the original members.  Nothing ever seems to bother this might of the trumpet, who also moves into the vocal department with ease.  Cliff comes from a good musical background, with his main ambition in life to make it as a professional musician.  LENNY BLUM  Our lead guitarist, and spiritual leader.  He is always involved in the arrangements for the band, as well as writing much of the original material.  Lenny sets the pace of the show, and looks a lot like Woody Allen.  JOHN WILLETT  John joins cousin Cliff as the trumpet section of THE BRASS UNION, and also doubles in the vocal duties.  One of the arrangers for the group, his personality measures his height and weight.  DAVID THRASHER  No, No Girls he married.  Our lead vocalist, who moves like Tom Jones on stage, adds a lot of good natured humor to the group, as well as a fine talent.  Dave dabbles in the song writing end of the business.  The boys feel he should work over a net because of his versatile dancing, continues to knock over mikes and expensive stands.  JOHN HANNAH  John auditioned for the group when their original drummer decided he couldn’t devote the same time and energy the rest of the group had decided to give.  John, is a fine musician who has worked with other groups, and his personality and friendly manner were an instant hit with his partners.  TERRY BRAMHALL  A new arrival to the group, after working with many three man bands.  Quiet Terry as he is known backstage, writes original material, plays base, and mean blues when the mood moves him.  A truly professional musician.  DONALD BERRYMAN  Bob Hope, Bill Cosby and a lot of Don Rickles make the fine manner of the resident clown prince.  He brought a background of seven years on the trombone to the band, as the newest member of the Union.  Excellent musician, and fine personality. “In a blunderous career move, manager Billy Fields turns down an offer to play Woodstock and instead books the band at the Boston Tea Party while offering the Woodstock slot to Rhinoceros' support band Sha Na Na. The group is devastated by the decision and after the Boston shows Alan Gerber quits. As a means to quell the discontent between the band and management, Rhinoceros gets to perform in September [1969] at the 'Freak Out' Festival held at Rock Hill Park, Orangeville, Ontario, Canada in front of large crowd of 30,000-50,000 alongside Lighthouse, Motherlode and many others .”  http://jam.canoe.ca/Music/Pop_ Encyclopedia/R/Rhinoceros.html
You can’t read it with such a poor reproduction of a 40-year- old poster, but the name Brass Union is right up there on the billing with all the other top Canadian acts of the time:  the Guess Who, Five Man Electrical Band, Motherlode, Lighthouse, Rhinocerous along with local favourites, Nucleus and Major Hoople’s Boarding House Band.  The festival started on August 29 and went until September 1st.  "We played that festival and I remember seeing The Guess Who for the first time and "Laughing", their second or third big single, was just breaking on radio", said Cliff, recently. The poster above is reprinted from Nicholas Jennings’ book, “Before the Goldrush”, and from the first page of his book, he says:  “My friend Peter and I missed out on Woodstock.  In the summer of ’69, we were simply too young to make the trek.  But we did get to go to an all-Canadian version of that historic festival.  Held in a campground near Orangeville, Ontario, over the Labour Day weekend, the Freak Out at Rockhill Park featured no fewer than twenty-one of Canada’s bands on three stages, including one on a small lake.
By WENDY HORRAX    A big band with a big sound – that’s the dynamic show of the Brass Union.  With nine dedicated musicians in the band, their sophisticated sound ranges from blues to brassy commercial, both well-known, and includes their own compositions.   A highly professional band with great showmanship, the Brass Union features a unique light show which is synchronized to the beat of the individual numbers to create moods, emphasize certain phrases and generally heighten the frenzied excitement created by their mixture of fast-paced and slow, easy music.  When you go to see the Brass Union, you are in for a well-rounded combination of sound of light – more than just a dance: a show!  Doing what they love   You can tell by watching the band on stage, that they are doing what they love by their total involvement in their on-stage appearance and sound.  Individually, the members of the band have different tastes, hobbies and philosophies but when it comes down to discussing music it is like talking to one person instead of nine.  The Brass Union is a hard-working, full-time operation which is striving for identity. – a sound that is totally their own and that pleases them as a band as well as being a successful sound.  They all take the Brass Union sound extremely seriously and all agree that “we’re playing music rather than common garbage” (At this point there was a loud outburst of laughter as someone started mumbling something about Dong Dong Diki Di Ki Dong).   The Brass Union are an ambitious and dedicated lot who live, breathe and sleep music; and with the amount of talent and determination they all possess, the Brass Union cannot fail to go far.  John Hannah   John, the drummer for band, is one of the members who quit school this year to become a full-time musician.  To finish out his high school John is taking a correspondence course, which he says is a good education without the school environment and without all the bull that goes along with school.  He is well known throughout the area for his amazing drum solo in In A Gadda da Vida, which the band uses to close the evening.  He really wants to make it as a full-time musician, and jokingly says that if he were part of the working class he’d sell Home Juice or vacuum cleaners.  Music is his life, and not being content to play just one instrument he has recently started to dabble with guitar.  When the band doesn’t have a gig he can often be found jamming at Middle Earth Coffee House along with some of the other members of Brass Union and other local musicians.  He enjoys all the benefits of traveling with the band, and especially likes the towns such as Welland, because of the response he gets there.  I can’t believe he’s only been playing drums for three years, but then I guess you can do anything with talent.  Donald “Fumbles” Berryman   The newest member of the band, Don is just a three-month member.  A veteran trombone player for six years, he has adapted very well to the sound of the band as well as fitting in personality-wise.  He chose the trombone as an instrument because he said it is different and he things that are different.  A comic at heart, Don is a very hard person to get a straight answer from.  He said if he couldn’t be a musician, he would be Catherine Deneuve because he wouldn’t mind looking like her or that he would like to be a shepherd because he likes things with four legs and lots of hair.  His goal is to make it as a full-time musician and to stay in music always, if at all possible.  What does he like doing best? CENSORED.  Terry Bramhall   Terry, the bass player for the band, has been a full-time musician since he got out of school last June.  A Veteran of several of the top local bands, he has played with the Family Dog, and the legendary DIN, with Maurice Bourassa and Richard Best.  He is thoroughly dedicated to music as a living and more so to it as an art form.  Terry enjoys listening to as well as playing most forms of music from heavy, heavy blues to classical and Indian music, all of which have had varying degrees of effect on his individual style.  He is now engaged in writing original numbers for the band by himself and in collaboration with several other members.  John Willett   John, Man of Soul, has been in the band for over a year and a half now.  He plays trumpet and shows the additioinal talent of being able to sing well.  A true musician, John has been playing trumpet for over eight years and his ambition is to continue and make a success of his talent as a profession.  Dedicated to the Brass Union as a longtime member of a year and a half, John was one of the band members who quite school this year to further pursue a music career.  A  real go-getter, he enjoys playing on stage, a fact very evident when you see the band in action.  He likes most types of music, but has a very warm place in his heart for Soul, hence his nickname the Man of Soul.  One of his latest goals is apparently to lose twenty pounds from his personality.  His theme for life is – if it’s there, take it, then it’s yours.  Cliff (Floyd) Hunt   Cliff tells me that he is a true musician at heart and that he wants to make his profession music.  Cliff also plays a mean trumpet and has a voice just right for filling in with harmony for the tough Brass Union sound.  Cliff is one of the original members of the band which is only two years and nine months old!  A musically gifted person, Cliff owes a great deal of his talent to his family, who are an active part of the Teen Tour Band.  Being a successful musician will keep him quite happy and contented, but he admits that if he made a lot, of money at it, he wouldn’t mind a bit.  With a secret love for places such as Welland and Fort William, Floyd the Shoeman admits that he has one rather band hangup – driving too fast!  Darrell (Grope) Nameth   Grope is the electric sax man of the band.  He is also one of the original three members of the Brass Union who sees quite a change from playing frat parties three years ago in the first edition of the band called the 4th Herd, to the places the Brass Union is playing now.  His taste for music is unlimited (to match his talent?) and he says that if he can’t be a musician he doesn’t want to be “anything in this world.”  Pleased with the direction of the band, he is sure it will achieve success in its endeavors.  As well as playing sax, he is also known to be a wizard on the keyboard, although as of yet, I haven’t heard him.  Talented in the field of writing and arranging too, he sits down with other members of the band and composes and collaborates on many of their original numbers.  Lenny Blum   Lead guitarist for the band, Lenny also does a great deal of arranging and writing.  A good guy to have around, he is sort of a comic relief to any minor hassles between band members.  He often livens up the crowd by throwing pictures into it, and by making funny comments during the show.  Mastery of the wah-wah pedal and singing and harmony parts, coupled with his writing talent and sense of humor make Lenny a neat guy to have in the band.  Bruce (Fingers) Wilson   A truly funny person, Bruce is the rhythm guitarist for the band, and also plays the occasional lead when the time calls for it.  A fine musician, Bruce has been playing guitar for just over four years.  He is another member who quit school this year, for he considered it generally a waste of time compared to his musical pursuits.  Born under a hi-test pump, Bruce wanted to be a street cleaner in Venice or a weatherman in Baffin Island (they get lots of weather) if he couldn’t be a musician.  He also told me, looking highly mischievous, that when he was just a wee lad in Brantford, he tried to burn his own house down.  (He said he always enjoyed the events of that day).  At the ripe age of 18 ½, he lists one of the high points of his life as puberty ’68.  And Lest We Forget   In order to keep a band of nine in working order, it takes a monumental amount of work by two highly skilled side men, George Hamor and Bill Hughes.  Bill is the man in charge of vehicular operation and the light show and is the road manager of the band.  He says he wants the band to buy a Greyhound bus and a 24-gear tractor-trailer with airhorns!  George on the other hand is an electronics genius who knows all the equipment inside out and is ready to make all major and minor repairs when the need calls for it.  A good man to have, George has been seen to solder and replace the end of a guitar cord in as little as thirty seconds on-stage between songs.  (He also does a great one-man impersonation of the entire Blood, Sweat and Tears band).  Between them Bill and George keep the sound of the Brass Union at the quality of a recording studio by spending hours setting the equipment perfectly to best utilize the acoustics of each gig-site.  Here to Stay   The Brass Union is here to stay as a popular band!  Through determination and talent the band has a winning combination for a bright future in the music business.  Personally, I think the sound as it stands is one of the hottest around right now.  They are a tight, hard-working band and deserve a lot in return for their labours. HOME NEXT BACK
Following the very successful show at Rockhill Park, the band packed up their equipment and headed down the highway to Grand Bend, along the shores of Lake Huron.  They had a date to play there the next evening and on the beach during the day. “Playing Grand Bend in '69, a year after the motorcycle riots, was a big deal for us, as was playing the matinee on the beach. I was talking with Paul Goodrow (the band’s first trombone player) recently and he heard a radio commentary about us back then with the owner of the dance hall where we played. I can't remember the name of it and it's since burned down. But the owner was recounting how nervous they were about that particular Labour Day weekend and weren't certain about this band that they had booked. But the band impressed enough that he remembered that time and how good the band sounded – even after all these years.” – recalls Dave Balan. Terri Citroen remembers:  “There was another band playing and the boys were on second. The moment they ambled on stage, one by one, picking up their instruments and playing as each member arrived on stage, the crowd went wild.  This was on the Saturday night.  Sunday was on the beach – a beach surrounded by 15,000 teenagers all waiting to hear The Brass Union. It was marvelous, I can tell you.  One of their best numbers was a slower, driving arrangement of "Love Potion # 9", rather in the style of “The Stripper”. The audience erupted and many of them started to strip their clothing off during the number!  It was hilarious. One of the security cops on duty told me that this was, by far, the best band he had witnessed during the Labour Day weekends and he hoped they would come back again. One of the reasons he gave me wasn't just because of their talent but because the crowds were so well-behaved and still having a great time.” A few weeks later, they were back home, playing another ‘combined gig’ with local favourites “The Five Man Electrical Band” and “the Jameson Roberts Blues Band” at Central Arena in Burlington.  Then it was off to the University of Western Ontario for dance put on by the Engineering students.  The band played another ‘combined gig’ that fall with the newly-formed Canadian band, Lighthouse and the Turtles and held their own quite nicely, if I remember right.  And while I’m on the topic of McMaster University, it should be mentioned that the year before, the band played on the soundtrack to Ivan Reitman’s first film “Orientation” – yes, that Ivan Reitman.  Of course, after the success of Ivan’s later work in the Ghostbusters and Beethoven movies, his first 23- minute film about campus life is largely forgotten, now. Nevertheless, with the success and the types of work that the Brass Union was finding for themselves in late 1969, a decision would have to be made about the members that were still attending high school.  John Hannah was the first of the ‘high school guys’ to find another way.  He showed up at a gig one night with this ‘package’ under his arm – a correspondence course to finish high school.  Yes, of course, we all had a great laugh about it, but he was determined, not only to finish his high school education (he was in his last year), but to not have to go back to a formal classroom to do it.  Within a couple of weeks in late 1969, the decision was made – we would all quit school and be full-time musicians. I remember the day I quit high school quite vividly.  I was in math class with John Willett.  I didn't usually visit any room in the school except the music room back then, but that day, I made sure I was there.  The band trucks pulled up in front of the school and Darrell came up to the classroom and knocked on the door.  When the teacher answered the door, Darrell looked into the classroom and said, “C’mon guys.  We’re all quitting school and going on the road.  The trucks are waiting out front.”  This let out a big cheer in the classroom.  I remember asking,  “OK, who wants some books?”  Hands went up and I passed text books one way and notebooks the other, then left the class to the cheering of the students, and walked out the front door of the school to the waiting band trucks -- talk about an 'exit' from high school.  With a quick stop at home to pick up my horn and stage clothes, plus a couple of other stops at some other high schools, we were off to a gig that night up in Northern Ontario.  We also did Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa, Ontario on that trip before we came back home. Unfortunately, being on the road with a rock band and trying to complete high school correspondence courses yielded rather poor results for everyone.  John Hannah did the best.  He completed 5 of the 24 or so lessons – but then, he had a head start.  I managed to do three before my high school education was officially over.  By the beginning of 1970, all the members of the Brass Union band were full-time musicians.  And for the moment anyway, this would be our life.
Defining an era