Brass Transit brings horn-driven, rock music of Chicago to Grand Rapids Symphony's Picnic Pops, July 20-21

Chicago, the Grammy Award-winning band from the Windy City, never loomed large over pop culture the way that the Beatles or the Rolling Stones did.  Most people wouldn’t recognize anyone from the group if they happened to be standing next to one at a grocery store checkout.  

But from the first couple of bars of the hard-driving 25 or 6 to 4 or the power chords of You’re the Inspiration, you know the song before the lead singer sings a note.

It’s music that trumpeter Tony Carlucci fell in love with. And after decades of working with some of the best artists and top bands across North America, the Canadian musician decided he wanted to play the music of Chicago.

In 2008, Carlucci launched the musical group Brass Transit to play the music of his favorite band.

“I decided to put something together to just have some fun,” he told the Chicago Tribune last year. "It was going to be a local thing and every once in a while do a nightclub thing. Fortunately it just took off. We took a video of one of our first shows, and my son decided to put it on YouTube, and here we are.

“The ball was thrown in my court, and I decided to run with it,” he said.

The Grand Rapids Symphony’s D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops presents “The Musical Legacy of Chicago” at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, July 20-21 at Cannonsburg Ski Area, the second concert of the 2017 Picnic Pops.

Brass Transit, a crack musical outfit from Toronto, organized 10 years ago specifically to play the music of Chicago, join Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt for two concerts featuring hit songs including Beginnings, Saturday in the Park, Feelin’ Stronger Every Day, and If You Leave Me Now.

Check out Brass Transit on YouTube.

Chicago, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this summer, charted 50 songs from 1969 through 1997 on the Hot 100 chart.

Early in their career, Chicago toured as opening act to Jimi Hendrix, who extended the invitation personally after hearing the band at Los Angeles’ famed Whisky-A-Go-Go. Today, Chicago continues to tour each summer with four of the original seven band members, all in their early 70s.

Across six decades, the music of the most successful horn-driven rock band of all time has remained on the music charts and radio play lists with 21 Top 10 singles including three No. 1 hits on Billboard’s Hot 100 and eight on the Adult Contemporary charts,  and 15 Top 20 albums including five albums that reached No. 1.

“This music is timeless. Every time I play it I get chills. We all do,” Carlucci said. “You know you have the right people in the band when they all feel the same and can't wait to get onstage."

Brass Transit is the best in the business at what they do. The proof is several members of the group have occasionally subbed with Chicago. That’s as good as it gets.

Lawn tickets to The Musical Legacy of Chicago are $19 for adults, $16 for college students and seniors, or $5 for ages 2-18. Children younger than age 2 are admitted for free. All tickets are $5 more on the day of the show.

Call the Grand Rapids Symphony at (616) 454-9451 ext. 4 during business hours or (616) 885-1241 evenings or go online to

Gates at Cannonsburg Ski Area open at 5:45 p.m. each night for picnicking and pre-concert entertainment, including free, kid-friendly activities such as face painting, crafts, and a musical instrument petting zoo.

Pack your own picnic baskets and coolers or purchase food from the grill at the Cannonsburg concession stand. Alcoholic beverages are permitted on the grounds, and parking is free for concertgoers. VIP Parking upgrades will be available for a small fee beginning in June.

Coming next week to the D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops is Women Rock, a salute to songs of Carol King along with Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Pat Benatar and more, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 27-28.

Capping off the D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops in August are two one-night only, special events, both at 8 p.m. Join the Grand Rapids Pops for the audience favorite Classical Fireworks show on Aug. 3 with Music Director Marcelo Lehninger making his debut at Cannonsburg

The 2017 D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops concludes with mariachi music direct from Mexico. Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, which toured and recorded with Linda Ronstadt in the 1980s, tops off the summer on Aug. 5.

Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at 07:00
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