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Column: Retro Brothers' Abbey Road gig not what you might think


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It’s a big gig for the Retro Brothers. A major event, really.

Yes, after all these years of paying our musical dues, my Retro brother Dan and I are going to be performing at Abbey Road.

I’m thinking we should get a photo taken of the two of us walking across the street on one of those white-striped crosswalks. It would be a great publicity shot.

OK, just to be clear, we are not playing at the Abbey Road Studios on a tree-lined street situated in that fashionable section of London, England, where the Beatles and other musical performers made many of their classic recordings.

No, the Retro Brothers will be playing at a birthday party in a clubhouse on a tree-lined street in the fashionable Abbey Road subdivision on the southeast side of Indianapolis.

I don’t know the exact address yet, and I haven’t driven through the neighborhood, but I can’t help but wonder if any streets are named after Beatle songs. Penny Lane? Blue Jay Way? Long and Winding Road?

The Retro Brothers have been playing regularly since we formed a year and a half ago. By regularly, I mean we have been playing just enough to make each performance fun but not so much that it becomes work.

Dan and I have been there, done that. Back in the 1970s, we were in a band together that would go on the road and play six nights a week for months without a break. It took us some time, but eventually we both came to the realization that making music is more fun when it is not a job.

We will, of course, be working several Beatles songs into our set lists. Those songs and that group are why we started playing guitars nearly 50 years ago.

I know we could play nothing but Beatles songs for an entire evening because we have done that sitting around the living room, but we enjoy playing songs by other performers from what we consider our retro era (roughly early 1960s to late 1980s), and our audience seems to be composed of people who appreciate hearing a variety of retro songs.

It is a special pleasure for Dan and I to see the happy recognition on the faces of people when we play a song they had forgotten they knew.

The birthday party is for a young man who is turning 60. He is a member of the generation that grew up during the time when our retro songs were current hits.

Songs from times past have a way of connecting us to certain events and memories we carry with us in our heads and hearts. This song was at the top of the charts the summer I met my first girlfriend; that song was all over the radio my first year out of high school.

I’m quite sure when kids of today are celebrating their 60th birthdays, they too will reflect on memories evoked by songs they are currently downloading on their iPods. (I wonder what sorts of musical delivery systems people will be using by then?)

The party is in a couple of days. Soon I am going to start putting together some song lists. It’s comforting for both of us to be a little organized when we are playing.

Of course, these lists are not written in stone. If you have a retro song you want to request, we will play it if we know it. Heck, we will probably try it even if we don’t know it. After all, we are just doing this for fun.

Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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