I first saw ETA Mike “Hounddog” Calamusa perform at last year’s Flaming Star Festival competition in October. When Mike finished performing his last song, my photographer Lori-Anne and I had the same response, "Wow! That was amazing!" Handsomely dressed in the black butterfly jumpsuit and gold lined cape, Mike gave a powerful performance.
Several months passed before we would see Mike perform again, this time at the 2018 2nd Annual Niagara Falls Elvis Festival competition that took place on the April 20-22 weekend. Again, we were blown away by his stage presence and vocals during round one of the competition. Mike competed in the top ten, brilliantly singing “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”, “Bridge over Troubled Water”, “Tomorrow Never Comes”. As the first performer of round two, Mike, dressed in a white jumpsuit with black eagles, set the bar very high.
Mike’s memorable performances from the NFEF were the reason why ETA fans, Sandra and Sandy, came to Flamboro Downs last Friday night, April 28th. The NFEF was the first time the two ladies had seen Mike perform, and they wanted to see him again. It was Mike’s first time performing at Flamboro Downs, and the Friday night regulars were there to support him and enjoy a fantastic evening of entertainment. The stage at Flamboro, although small in size, encourages big performances. Maybe it is the intimacy of the venue, or the enthusiasm of the audience, but every ETA I have seen perform at Flamboro Downs seems to thrive in the atmosphere. Dressed in black leather, and addressing minor costume issue with humour, Mike entertained in his first set with songs from the 50s and 60s.
Two ladies celebrating birthdays on May 3rd, Dot Farr and Frances Taylor’s sister (sorry, I did not get her name) were given teddy bears and a happy birthday wish from Mike. In his second set, dressed in a crisp white ‘Chain’ jumpsuit with a white macramé belt, Mike continued a musical journey by singing Elvis songs from the early 70s. In his last set, Mike, looking splendid in his black and red 'Cisco' jumpsuit with a gold belt and scarf, spectacularly sang songs from the concert years, including “American Trilogy”. It was during this set that Mike gave out gold scarves to lucky audience members. Meredith, Mike’s fiancée, was in charge of the soundboard, and in a very touching moment, Mike placed a scarf around her neck and gave her a kiss.
As with all ETA shows, there were some special moments last night that came courtesy of the fans. A lady of Italian background, who connected with Mike because of his last name, wanted to give him a big hug. ETA fans Sandra and Sandy’s enthusiasm and humorous comments during Mike’s show made sharing a table with them so much fun. Barb, a long time ETA fan with whom I have great conversations, drove from Brantford to see Mike’s show. I took some great photos of Barb and Dot enjoying a wonderful evening. A couple from Mike’s past, who came to see their favourite ETA perform, surprised Mike with their presence. Mike gained some new fans at last night’s show—most notably the man (pictured below with the lady in yellow) who told me that he would like to join Mike on stage for a duet, since he, too, sang Elvis songs. Thank you, Mike, for including us all in your show.
Friday night's show at Flamboro Downs will be the last under OLG. As of May 1st, 2018, Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, in partnership with Clairvest Group Inc., will handle the operation of four local casinos, including Flamboro Downs, Mohawk Racetrack, and Brantford Casino, where we have seen so many wonderful ETA performances these past few months, and Grand River Raceway. As of yet, there is no word about entertainment listings for May. If the new operators have been paying attention to the positive response to ETA shows, we can look forward to many more Friday nights at Flamboro Downs and Mohawk Racetrack with fantastic performers, such as ETA Mike Calamusa. If I find out information about future shows, I will post an update. Until then…cheers! Carolyn.