‘A Concert for George’ celebrates the music of George Harrison

| 13 Jul 2018 | 12:41

By Linda Smith Hancharick
– Mike Hickey wasn’t born when Beatlemania hit. But his parents were.
And when Mike was born more than a decade later, the Beatles’ influence took hold.
“I knew I was going to be a musician from an early age,” said Hickey, a Warwick resident. “My dad introduced me to the Beatles when I was very young. He had albums of the early Beatles. ‘Twist and Shout’ completely fired me up.”
On July 21, Hickey, Glenn Arnowitz, Michael O’Brien, Paul Binotto and Gerard “Gee” Mancini will collaborate on “A Concert for George,” focusing on the music of George Harrison.
It is a celebration of this musical icon’s 75th birthday.
An idea for a tributeRewind back to this February. Bill Iurato, coordinator of the village concert series, called Hickey, a drummer who lives in Warwick, and asked him to meet and discuss ideas for a special concert.
Hickey called Arnowitz and O’Brien, both Warwick residents, and invited them to come along.
They met at Bairds Tavern. Iurato, who is also a big Beatles fan, said he’d like to do a concert to commemorate a big anniversary or birthday. He said many great musicians are turning 75 in 2018, including Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, as well as Harrison.
They thought about a tribute to all of them but decided to focus on Harrison.
Hickey, Arnowitz and O’Brien began to comb through Harrison’s music, from early on with the Beatles throughout his solo career. They were blown away by his musicianship and songwriting.
“Spending all this time with George’s music, we have a whole different appreciation of it,” said Arnowitz, who plays keyboards in this new band, named The Dark Horses, after one of Harrison’s albums. “He had such a rich catalogue.”
O’Brien, a member of the Petty Young Dylans, said he was struck by the complexity of Harrison’s music.
“When you break it apart, you see there are so many different layers here,” he said. “This is a great experience for us – doing the music of a quality musician.”
The band will perform all of the songs Harrison wrote for the Beatles, including “Something,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and “Here Comes the Sun.”
They will also perform many of Harrison’s solo works, some very popular and others not as well known.
“There are so many quality songs but we had to choose,” said Arnowitz.
Still, they have two solid hours of Harrison’s best work to perform.
Arnowitz enlisted a couple of horn players to play on half a dozen songs, and is bringing in about 20 members of the Warwick Valley Chorale to join them in singing the finale, “My Sweet Lord.”
More shows to comeThis was supposed to be a one-off concert for the summer concert series. But the band members had such a great time in rehearsals, they decided to add a few other shows.
They will be playing the Falcon in Marlboro on Saturday, July 28, at 8 p.m. and will appear on the courtyard at Grappa in August.
A labor of loveHickey said this is truly a labor of love for him, and not only because his wife, Christy Hickey, is singing back-up with the band. This music means so much to him.
“I’ve been a huge Beatles fan since I was a little kid. I was five when John Lennon was killed and I cried,” he said. “It’s been really cool for me to dig into the styles of the drummers who played on his (Harrison’s) solo stuff. It’s an eye opener. George was such a great songwriter and musician. He wrote so many good songs. This is going to be so cool.”