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Interview:
Yesterday and Today plays your favorite Beatles songs, by request
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

» See more SOUND CHECK

The Beatles tribute group Yesterday and Today has figured out how to know exactly what its audiences want to hear each night.

It asks them.

At each of its shows, the group -- founded in Omaha, Neb., by Billy McGuigan and his younger brothers Matthew and Ryan -- issues index cards for fans to write down their requests. The caveat, however; They also have to reveal the reason why, and McGuigan uses that as a criteria when he makes the set lists.

They've been doing it for nine years, and Yesterday and Today's process insures each show is unique, and that the long and winding road never gets boring for the band or its fans...

The request idea is an outgrowth of the McGuigans' upbringing, according to Billy. "We grew up in a military family; Our dad was in the air force, and we didn't have much money so we couldn't afford to go out on weekends or to dinner or movies or anything like that," he says. "So out of necessity my dad would break out his Beatles records and his guitar and Beatles chord books and my brothers and I would sing background harmonies. A few years ago I was asked by a theater to develop a show, and I'd always had this idea in my head of doing a Beatles show -- without the wigs or the accents or anything -- and people would send up requests. Before long I realized this was the kind of show we could do anywhere."

Singing Beatles songs is also a way of honoring their father, who passed away from leukemia in 1996 at the age of 42. "We'd kind of gone our own ways, but the music is what brought us back together," says Billy, 41. "A few years after he passed away we started singing those songs together, and it was just a great feeling. For us it's about more than them being jsut a group from the 60s. It's a very personal thing. I truly brought us back together, and when we would sing the songs it was as if he was with us again."

McGuigan says his favorite song requests tend to be the most poignant. "We were in Wisconsin this weekend and somebody requested 'Yesterday'," he says. "Obviously that gets requested a lot, but the song said, 'I want to hear it for my best friend, who passed away this morning. Can you please play 'Yesterday' in his honor?' I started playing it and you can look out and see the person crying, and then the people sitting around her, who don't know her friend, see her crying and they start crying...That's when you see the power of this music. There's this beautiful, communal effect that happens. There's a collective love. So those are always my choice." McGuigan has kept the requests over the years and is considering collecting them in a book.

Yesterday And Today

8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15.

Heinz C. Prechter Educational and Performing Arts Center, 21000 Northline Road, Taylor.

Tickets are $25,

Call 734-374-3200 or visit wcccd.edu.

Web Site: www.wcccd.edu

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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