Brass Transit brings Chicago’s hits to Mendel Center

Published 5:58 pm Thursday, January 30, 2014

Brass Transit will perform several of Chicago's greatest hits at a concert at LMC Feb. 21. (Submitted photo)

Brass Transit will perform several of Chicago’s greatest hits at a concert at LMC Feb. 21. (Submitted photo)

BENTON TOWNSHIP—“Our patrons told us they want to hear more of the hits that they grew up with,” said Laura Kraklau, executive director of marketing and communications at the Mendel Center. “So, when we heard Brass Transit playing Chicago’s hits of the 1970s and 1980s, we knew that they’d be a perfect fit in our season.”

Brass Transit will perform the second of three shows that make up the Mendel Center’s Classic Rock Series for the 2013-2014 season. The eight piece band will be performing on Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. A cash bar will be available one hour before show time.

The Little River Band, which performed late last year, and the Pink Floyd Experience, which will be performing on March 8, are the other two acts in that series.

“When the audience hears Brass Transit’s recreations of some of Chicago’s greatest hits, like ‘25 or 6 to 4’ and ‘Saturday in the Park,’ they’re going to be blown away by the musicianship and vocals of this group,” Kraklau said. “They bring a real authenticity to those songs.”

Other favorites that the audience can expect to hear include “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” “Old Days,” “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” and “You’re the Inspiration,” just to name a few.

The band is based in Toronto, Canada, and it is comprised of eight of Canada’s most sought-after musicians and singers. Many of them have won numerous awards, including an Emmy, a Juno and a Socan Award, as well as having been nominated for many other awards.

“The lead singer has been dubbed ‘one of Canada’s most-recorded voices,’” Kraklau said. “Chicago had three singers featured in its various songs, and Neil Donell is able to sound just like any one of those three singers. It’s amazing.”

The band is led by Don Breithaupt, who plays keyboards and supplies backing vocals. Backing vocals are also supplied by guitarist Bob McAlpine and bass-player Jay Speziale. The band also includes a horn section that enables it to capture Chicago’s distinctive sound, with Tony Carlucci on trumpet, Doug Gibson on trombone and Phil Poppa on saxophones. Paul DeLong is the band’s drummer.

Although none of the eight musicians ever sat in with Chicago, Kraklau said that they formed the tribute band out of their common love for the music of Chicago.

“Some of the musicians in this group have worked with a long list of the premier names in the music business, like the Drifters, Aretha Franklin, Ben E. King, Frankie Valli and the Mamas and the Papas,” Kraklau said.

Tickets for Brass Transit are $29, $34, and $39 and are available by calling the Mendel Center Box Office at (269) 927-1221 or visiting Special rates are available for groups of 10 or more. More information about the band can be found on their website at

“I’m sure that people will walk away really having enjoyed this show and their recreation of songs that everybody loves,” Kraklau said.