50th anniversary is focus of American English show

Where were you in ’64?

Fifty years ago The Beatles came to America and their movie, “A Hard Day’s Night,” was released in the United States in August of that same year. The Beatles tribute band American English will acknowledge these two momentous events in their concert on Aug. 1 at the RiverEdge Park in Aurora. The show is part of the City of Aurora’s Downtown Alive! concert series.

“For the Aurora show, we are concentrating on the early years,” said Eric Michaels, who appears as Paul McCartney in American English. “The first part of the show is devoted to ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ era and the movie ‘A Hard Day’s Night.’ So we added a few of the older songs for the first part of the show. It’s a celebration of the 50th anniversary of The Beatles coming here.”

American English performs the songs of The Beatles from 1963 to 1970, complete with costumes and vintage instruments from every Beatle era. The show is presented in chronological order, beginning with the early years on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” followed by the psychedelic Sgt. Pepper years and continues through to Abbey Road and their final roof-top concert.

In addition to Michaels as McCartney, American English features Tom Gable as Ringo Starr, Frank Canino as John Lennon and James Lynch as George Harrison. There is also a “fifth Beatle,” as the group likes to refer to Ken Zemanek. As the keyboardist and sound architect for American English, Zemanek performs all the orchestrations and special effects live, without any tapes or recordings. The current members have been together for the last four years.

The 50th anniversary of The Beatles coming to America has meant good business for American English.

“We have never played this much,” Michaels said. “We are playing 70 times this summer, June through September, and about 140 dates for the year. We’ve done four nights in a row, six shows in four days, and we’ve done Wednesday through Saturday and then three shows on Sunday. Sometimes I have to rest my vocal chords. I take a lot of honey.”

Performing familiar music by a familiar band is not always easy.

“Beatles fans know their stuff,” Michaels said. “They know every rif. They sing along with every song. People probably scrutinize a Beatles tribute band more than every other band. When we’re performing, there’s no easy way out. We’re always being scrutinized.”

But Michaels welcomes the challenge.

“I do not get tired of the music,” he said. “Whenever I play, it is another chance to do better than the night before. I give 100 percent all the time.

“If you do anything with passion, people will like it,” he continued. “For me, it’s ageless music. If people want me to play, I’ll play. When that stops, maybe I’ll go duck hunting or grow flowers. But right now, I don’t see an end in sight.”

Audience members are welcome to bring blankets, folding chairs or bag chairs into the park.

Food and drink are available for purchase inside RiverEdge Park. No outside food or drink (except sealed bottled water) is allowed in the park during events.

No pets are allowed on event days.

Tags:

American English

8 p.m. Aug. 1

RiverEdge Park, 360 N. Broadway Ave., Aurora

Tickets, $3

(630) 896-6666

riveredgeaurora.com

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