By Jenny Burr
The year was 1964 and the date was Feb. 9 when The Beatles made their first appearance in the United States on the Ed Sullivan Show. The Beatles had already topped No.1 on the American music charts. The audience seating for 700 had sold out. By the time 8 p.m. arrived people were glued to their T. V. sets across North America and The Beatles did not disappoint.
That was the same year that Michel (aka Mitch) Gallant learned how to play the guitar. Recently, Gallant has been interested in filling two aspects of his bucket list, which happen to be related to The Beatles. Making a home recording tribute of some of The Beatles songs is the first item and the second is this — “I’ve been playing The Beatles music for 50 years,” says Gallant, “and doing a live Beatles tribute has been on my bucket list for quite a while.”
A few years ago, Gallant reconnected with a former co-worker and fellow musician Ian Jones. In 2013 the pair decided to do a duet called Straight Up for about three years. During this time Gallant and Jones began exploring the idea of making a home recording of some of The Beatles songs.
“We played a fair number of The Beatles songs so we began working on The Beatles tribute recordings in December 2014,” says Gallant. They began by recording 15 songs with Jones as the lead vocalist. “Then we decided to record 50 songs. With me celebrating my 64th birthday, we thought why not record 64 songs. We finally settled on recording 108 songs which is a little more than half of The Beatles standard songbook of 211 recordings.”
As they worked on the recordings, Gallant began working on the next part of his Beatles bucket list, to form a Beatles tribute live band. He would need to locate a drummer and a bass guitarist. The new members had certain requirements to fulfill. Each needed to be interested in learning The Beatles music and they had to have the time and discipline to commit to learning 30 to 35 songs required for a live gig.
“I met Evan Sauve about a year ago last Christmas and thought that he was a really good drummer. So I talked with Evan and asked if he would be interested in playing with a band and he said, ‘absolutely,’ and he just clicked with us. He’s our youngest member and is very talented and disciplined.”
Then, six months ago, Gallant heard Chris Must playing the guitar in a band at the Waterfront Festival, but Must was already a member of another band. Must says, “I was ready for a challenge and had recently switched to playing bass guitar. As a full-time musician I knew that I had the time to learn more songs.” His approach to music is similar to Gallant’s. Both like to learn to play their parts exactly as they should be played.
“It’s a real honour to tackle the music. Learning The Beatles songs is a good education because Paul McCartney certainly influenced the way the electric bass guitar is played in the 20th Century. McCartney really expanded the role in music for the bass guitar,” says Must.
Must and Sauve were given an opportunity to participate in the final aspects of the soundtrack recording. Both were asked which songs they’d like to record. The Beatles Recording Tribute FAB 50% is the title of their disc and the three year project was completed in March 2017.
Choosing the songs for their live performances was also a group decision. Each wrote up a list of their favourite Beatles songs. The final decision however rested with Jones, their lead vocal.
Their first scheduled Beatles Tribute appearance is May 25, 2017 at the Brigadoon Restaurant in Oxford Mills. Their next appearance will be on June 28 at the Smiths Falls Golf and Country Club. You can find more informaiton on gigs on the band website: http://www.jensign.com/straightup
This article first appeared in the April issue of Hometown News