With his seventy–sixth birthday celebrations just wrapped up in the last week or so, Sonny Del–Rio shows little signs of slowing down — especially around this time of year. With production also wrapped up on his Five Star Revue band’s new DVD, Sonny Del–Rio and company celebrate nearly two decades of celebrating a Hamilton Hometown Christmas with an opportunity for fans to grab a cool stocking stuffer.
“I was in the hospital around 1992 in Vancouver Island when I had a serious heart attack and I kind of made a deal with the Lord where I said, ‘I’d be satisfied if I could see the turn of the century’ and rather than 2000, here we are almost 2020 so it’s all a bonus,” recalls Del–Rio. “The party was a little quieter this year for my birthday but every day is a blessing and then this Christmas show — it’s been nineteen years. Where does the time fly? When I started this, I never would have thought we’d be doing it nineteen years later but I hope I can make it to the twentieth. I’m blessed with good health. I don’t look so good on paper but I still sing and dance, jump and play with the music so I guess I’m doing good.
“I should have copyrighted coining the phrase, ‘The Hammer’ as I see it everywhere I go now,” says Del–Rio as his lone regret. “While on a road trip with King Biscuit Boy, Kelly Jay and Paul Panchezak sometime in the spring of 1984, during that tour, I coined the phrase ‘The Hammer’. I remember saying “if you’re more than 50 miles outside of The Hammer, your camping out, Jack!” I wish I was getting some royalites from that but it’s enough to know that I coined it.”
With a myriad of stories to tell and even more songs to sing, Del–Rio (vocals, sax, percussion) alongside his Five Star Revue, featuring Catherine Goodrick (vocals, percussion), Robin Houston (vocals, drums, percussion), Dan Thomas (vocals, guitar) and Jason Colavecchia (vocals, bass) have a new DVD in store called “An Evening with Sonny Del–Rio Celebrating His Sixty Years of Rocking and Rolling On”.
“I'm pretty excited about it as we’ve been working on it for a while but it’s going to be ready for the Christmas show,” says Del–Rio. “It’s a two disc set with a seventeen song full show and five bonus tracks as well as an in–depth interview with Kevin Barber and me chatting about my sixty years of rock and roll. The show is just so great and I’ve enjoyed playing with these great musicians. They’re so tight when we play and I just wanted to capture the moment when we play live because I don’t know how long this will go on. I can’t say enough about the quality that Dave Beatty and Paul Vermaat at QED Media offered for this project and it’s turned out really great. It’s more of a legacy piece to document the band.”
Fans can pick up the new DVD but the real legacy of Sonny Del–Rio is the warmth, charity and music he’s shared with so many over so many years. The annual Christmas show is simply a reminder of that legacy and a great rocking time to kick off the holiday season for so many people.
“We’ve got a great show this year for the Hamilton Hometown Christmas with Robin Benedict and Steven Elmo Murphy opening it up,” says Del–Rio. “And then we have as usual Jude Johnson, who has been on every one of my shows, I believe, and she always brings on our special guest Santa Clause. Then the Five Star Revue will do about an hour show with Tom Adkins, Big Johnny Blue and my son, Tommy Gunn, as special guests. Then we have Powerhouse for the headlining act. They’re a great band that plays all over the country, all over the world but they don’t play Hamilton all that often so we’re quite thrilled to have them as part of the show. Finally John Atlee closing the show so we’re going to have a fun night of music.
“And this year we’re helping out an important charity — Astrid Hepner with the Music Collective group and An instrument For Every Child are really doing a great job and I think the government keeps cutting back on music programs and the arts don’t get as much consideration any more so we’re happy to help them out,” adds Del–Rio. “Music has been such a joy to my life and such a gift, I’m really glad to support that effort. Even after all of these years, the Christmas season and this party remains very special to me. I’ll have my red running shoes on ready for lots of singing and dancing. We hope everyone comes out for a joyfull night of great rocking music in The Hammer!”
The Nineteenth Annual Hamilton Hometown Christmas with Sonny Del-Rio happens this Sunday December 8 at the Leander Boat Club featuring Sonny Del-Rio and the Five Star Revue, Powerhouse / Chicago Transit, Tommy Gunn, Robin Benedict and Steve Elmo Murphy, Big Johnny Blue, Jude Johnson and friends, Tom Adkins, John Atlee Band, and more. Doors open at 6:30 pm and $20 gets you in with proceeds going to An Instrument For Every Child. Click on sonnydelrio.com