TROY — Residents were compelled to “come together” and “let it be” on Wednesday evening, as Paul McCartney tribute band, The McCartney Project, rocked and serenaded spectators in a special Independence Day performance at Treasure Island Park.
The show, which was free to the public, was hosted by the Troy Rotary Club, in honor of its 100-year anniversary as a charter.
The band, currently on its “Hands Across America” tour, played a two-hour setlist of classic Paul McCartney singles prior to the annual fireworks display.
Band members included Tony Burlingame, portraying Paul McCartney, Sara Reat, portraying Linda McCartney, guitarist/keyboardist Robb Anagnostis, percussionist Phil Stearns, and guitarist/bassist Lar Wolkan.
Based out of the Columbus, Ohio area, The McCartney Project formed from humble beginnings, as members of previous tribute bands under manager John Scherer united to form the group.
“The band started about three years ago,” said manager John Scherer. “We thought there was sort of a missing link, in that there a lot of Beatles tributes, but there’s nobody really that covers Paul McCartney and Wings. It added another generation that we could attract. We mix Beatles music with Wings music, and it creates a really entertaining concert.”
“A few of us used to be in another group together called ‘Music Legends Live’,” Reat said. “John also managed that. We formed a show called ‘Elvis Meets the Beatles’, and we all kind of met up from there to do something new after that disbanded.”
Throughout the show, audience members were invited to come up and dance in front of the bandstand. According to Burlingame, outdoor venues provide very different atmospheres for the band than a traditional theater venue.
“We can play a lot more intricate stuff in theaters where the climate’s controlled, but when it’s outdoors, we try to keep the show more rock-and-roll and up-tempo.” Burlingame said. “Inside, we might do more with video and lighting and have more emphasis on an acoustic setlist.”
Members of The McCartney Project insist that universal appeal for McCartney’s body of work helps to constantly incite connectivity between the band and audiences.
“We benefit from a very large fan base that Paul McCartney and the Beatles had,” Anagnostis said.
“There’s a pretty big catalog of material you can choose from to mix it up,” Wolkan said. “There’s certain songs you always play because people expect them, but then you can throw in little oddballs here and there.”
“The most rewarding thing I’ve found is that pretty much every show, somebody will come up and say, ‘I saw Paul or I saw the Beatles back in 1960-whatever’,” Stearns said. “And this line comes up all the time, ‘If I close my eyes, you guys take me right back there.’ We’re taking people back to what they knew 30 or 40 years ago.”
Members of The McCartney Project feel that one of the greatest attributes of a tribute band is in its ability to continually expose new listeners to good music and allow younger generations to share the experience with older ones.
“You’ve got a generation out there who actually grew up with it as it happened,” Stearns said. “Then you’ve got a younger group out there who are being exposed to it through bands like this that might have never gone and sought out the music on its own. Bands like ours aim to keep moving the ball forward. Twenty years from now, somebody else will continue moving it forward.”
“All any musician wants to do is reach the audience, and Paul McCartney’s already done all the heavy lifting,” Burlingame said. “As long as we play accurately, we’ll reach them, and that’s all we want to do. Like Phil said, it’s nice to meet the people whose lives were touched and kind of give them a little gift along the way.”
For more information, visit www.themccartneyproject.com, or find The McCartney Project on Facebook.