You provide the setlist for Mount Dora's Interactive Beatles Experience
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Yesterday and Today
Billy McGuigan, center, fronts Yesterday and Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience. McGuigan's band will perform Friday in Mount Dora.
You may say Billy McGuigan is a Beatles freak, but he’s not the only one.
Millions of all ages claim this status, and night after night Billy and his brothers, Matthew and Ryan, entertain them with Beatles tunes at sold-out shows as they sing and shout along.
But this band of brothers isn’t just another tribute company. They don’t wear mop-top wigs, and they don’t feign British accents or dress like they never made it out of the ’60s. They do, however, “have the ability to sound just like (the Beatles),” said McGuigan.
Eight years ago, the McGuigans pooled their deeply sentimental connection to the Beatles’ music and their penchant for theatrics into Yesterday and Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience, a live show that changes every night based on the audience's wishes.
Before each show, guests fill out a card with their name, their favorite Beatles song and the reason why it’s meaningful. The band reads the request cards and creates a setlist tailor-made for the evening.
The brothers McGuigan
From left, Matthew McGuigan, Billy McGuigan and Ryan McGuigan provide the vocals for their Interactive Beatles Experience live show.
The band will bring the Interactive Beatles Experience to Mount Dora Friday.
Their unique concert format caught the eye of Nancy Howell, executive director of the Mount Dora Music Festival, for which Friday’s event will serve as a fundraiser.
“How many times have you been to a concert thinking, ‘I hope they play this song’ and then walk out disappointed?” Howell said.
At a Yesterday and Today show, on the other hand, “most people who come in and put in a request get to hear their song that night.”
And that’s what sets McGuigan’s band apart.
“The reason why freaks like us go to these shows is that we want to hear somebody do it well and feel that feeling,” said McGuigan.
“That feeling” is the warmth of nostalgia. Or the fond recollection of a poignant memory. Or a moment indefinitely linked to a particular Beatles melody.
It’s different for everyone.
For McGuigan, the Beatles’ music conjures images of his father, who made the band an integral part of his upbringing. “It’s sort of been my whole life,” he said. “And when Dad passed away it became even more important.”
The memories of his dad that he associates with the Beatles — and, in particular the one connected to his favorite song — inspired the idea for audience-based setlists.
In the McGuigan household, the Beatles’ catalog was so sacred that you didn’t dare utter the title of your favorite song. “It was like picking a favorite child,” McGuigan recalls.
But for his high school graduation present, McGuigan’s dad took him to a Paul McCartney show. When McCartney began singing “Let It Be,” “(my dad) turned to me with tears in his eyes, his hands bruised from clapping so hard, and he told me, ‘This is my favorite.’”
McGuigan looked at his father in disbelief. “I can’t believe you told me.”
“I was waiting for the right time,” his dad replied.
From that moment, McGuigan said, “Let It Be” has “sort of by de facto become my favorite.” It’s also the song he and his brothers played at their father’s funeral.
McGuigan figures he’s not the only Beatles freak with a deep emotional connection to the music, either.
“They tapped into something that most bands wish they could. As a songwriter, I wish I could write something half as good as ‘Yesterday’ or even ‘Octopus’s Garden.’ Ringo (Starr) wrote that one, but it’s still a great song," he said.
“They came along at a time when they had a lot of influences, and where they were from they got a lot of Motown, country, Elvis, Buddy Holly. They kept growing, and they never stopped growing until they quit (the band).”
The Beatles’ message of peace, love and understanding makes their music attractive to every generation that has followed.
At a recent show in Colorado, McGuigan said, a boy named Drake, about 7 years old, asked the band to play “A Hard Day’s Night.” On his request card, he stated the reason as “because it’s loud.”
When McGuigan announced from the stage, “We’re going to play your song, Drake,” the boy stood up on his chair and yelled, “Hell yeah, that’s my favorite song!”
That kind of fan reaction happens at his shows all the time, he says.
As for McGuigan’s favorite, he, like his father, waited for the right time to share the secret with his daughter, Cartney. That moment arrived a few years ago when he took her to see McCartney in Milwaukee.
“When he started playing ‘Let It Be,’ I said, ‘This is your dad’s favorite Beatles song. It’s important that you know that.’”
McCartney and Starr — the last remaining Beatles — are nearing the end of their rock star reign, but if Drake and Cartney are any indication, their music won't follow any time soon.
The Interactive Beatles Experience will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Mount Dora Community Building, 520 N. Baker St. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Concessions will be provided by Magical Meat Boutique, including snacks, soda, water and wine.
Tickets are available for $25, $32 and $40, priced according to proximity to the stage. Groups of 10 or more will receive $5 off per ticket using the promo code GROUP10. Tickets can be purchased at mountdoramusicfest.com, by calling 352-385-1010 or at Barrel of Books & Games, 128 W. Fourth Ave. in Mount Dora.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Yesterday and Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience, a live performance of Beatles songs in which the audience chooses the setlist
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. on Friday
WHERE: Mount Dora Community Building, 520 N. Baker St.
TICKETS: $25, $32 and $40 at mountdoramusicfest.com, 352-385-1010 or at Barrel of Books & Games, 128 W. Fourth Ave. in Mount Dora. Discount available for groups of 10 or more.
CONCESSIONS: Snacks, water, soda and alcoholic beverages provided by Magical Meat Boutique