Growing up in Lincoln, Joe Borbely and Michael Klug had a mutual friend in elementary school who was a huge fan of The Beatles. But the 1976 born Borbely said the Fab-4 grew on him when he grew older and could appreciate the depth of the band’s music and lyrics.
“People who don’t dig The Beatles don’t understand what they did for modern music,” said Borbely.
“The Beatles were so ahead of their time. They did so much to shape what we think of as music now,” said Klug.
As the two members of the six-piece cover band Jack Dupp & the Empty Bottles immersed themselves into The Beatles catalogue they’ll play Saturday night at The Castle Theatre for the 3rd annual Silver Ball fundraiser, Klug came away with a new appreciation for the band's music and specifically for Ringo Starr.
“He was such a heavy drummer, especially for what was going on then,” said Klug. “It was revolutionary. When I was listening as a child, I remember it as rudimentary. But it’s definitely not and he (Ringo) is pushing boundaries that people weren’t even thinking about back then.”
Borbely came away appreciating the way the four members worked together and how they seemed to have their own identity and role in the group, giving each other the space to work.
“That’s something for this (Silver Ball) show I was very conscious of (while I was) giving away parts, especially singing,” said Borbely. “I made sure every band member had a chance to say ‘I want to sing this song,’ and make it theirs."
Six is a new number for Jack Dupp. Until keyboardist and vocalist Jennifer Booker Smith was brought on board for this show, Jack Dupp was a quintet. Once they heard Smith, temporary status was quickly changed to permanent.
“It’s the classic two-fer,” said Klug. “She’s a great singer and a great keyboard player, so we got two amazing sounds we didn’t have before in one person.”
Borely added, “We’ve actually been kind of wishing for this member for a long time, years now. We always said if we’re going to add anything, it’s going to be keys and a female voice. And (with Smith) we got a two-for-one.”
As much fun as the group has had getting up to speed on actually playing The Beatles songs they’ve been hearing for decades, deciding a set-list for the Silver Ball was initially daunting.
“There are 237 original Beatles songs,” said Klug. “That doesn’t count the 172 covers they recorded and released. So that’s 409 songs.”
They get 75 minutes on stage. Something had to give.
“We have to pick the songs we want to do, (the ones) that make us happy,” said Klug. “Because we’ll be able to do another Beatles set next year with all new material, and it would be just as awesome.”
That’s fine, but how to whittle it down to final choices?
“We had a battle royal in the band room. We had some knives and armor and just went at it,” joked Borbely. “And last man standing got to choose.”
How easy (or difficult) are Beatles songs to play for the guys? As the lead vocalist, Borbely laughed when remembering his initial foray into some of the trickier vocal songs.
“The words for songs like ‘I Am The Walrus’ or ‘Come Together,’ they’re so nonsensical. Basic songwriting says it should go from point-A to point-B. But some of these tunes are so weird, as a vocalist it’s really hard to memorize those lyrics,” said Borbely.
Klug noticed the at times unusual way The Beatles would construct a song.
“They’ll have ‘this part’ then ‘this part,’ and then they’ll have ‘this other thing’ that separates it so when you bring back the chorus it seems so much cooler, because you went to this weird place nobody would think of. They really are brilliant. There’s a reason they had as much success as they did,” said Klug.
The 3rd annual Sliver Ball fundraiser for McLean County Toys for Tots is Dec. 9 at The Castle Theatre. The theme this year is “British Invasion.” Jack Dupp & the Empty Bottles will play Beatles covers, while The Steepwater Band will perform songs by The Rolling Stones. In addition to proceeds benefiting Toys for Tots, fans are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to the show. Doors open at 6 p.m. Music starts at 7 p.m.
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