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INTERVIEW: The Moondogs' Michael Schiano Excited About "The Beatles White Album" At Bay Street

T.J. Clemente

The Moondogs will highlight The Beatles White Album.

(NOTE: As the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to unfold, Bay Street Theater & Sag Harbor Center for the Arts has decided to cancel all weekend events from now through the end of March.)

In a detailed talk with Michael Schiano, the leader of the musicians who make up the band, The Moondogs, he was thrilled to tell the story of the band putting together the song list for The Beatles White Album, their two shows at Bay Street Theater on Friday, March 13 and Saturday, March 14.

He said, "We had to go back and learn the songs of The Beatles' White Album, note for note, sound for sound. As you remember, it is a double album. These include ones that nobody ever plays. We even do Revolution 9, not as long, but we address it. The boys had fun. We all have been playing for decades, so projects like this challenges us."

Schiano proudly reminisced of getting the White Album for Christmas, yes wrapped under the tree back in December 1968. "My folks came through; it was the album I really wanted and I was thrilled when I ripped the wrapping paper off and there it was."

Now he and The Moondogs are going to perform it and he knows there is some pressure on the band. "Everyone in the audience knows these epic songs, the licks, the sound effects. We pride ourselves when doing these Beatles shows over the years on performing the songs as they sound on the album, not our version, but The Beatles version."

Schiano admitted, "We are really enjoying doing this one. It's been the toughest to date, but we are discovering magical things within the songs, things only seasoned musicians can appreciate."

He also said, "My guitar is a Line 6 Variax 600. But, we're also using a couple of Gibson ES-335's, a Martin D-18 and a Rickenbacker 4001 (McCartney model) bass! "

"We don't do costumes or try to look like The Beatles, but we really do get the sound right. The boys pride themselves in knowing how to get the proper sounds for the songs from our instruments. It takes a little bit of experience and knowledge to get those sounds, but we are all long-time musicians. I want to stress we don't do this for the money, we do this because we are all musicians who love to play music."

They have played Bay Street before, doing shows like The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album tribute. "We love playing Bay Street. They are usually sellouts and the crowds are great. We know how to get the best sound out of the room, we know the place."

Michael Schiano also said the show will be multi-media, with photos of The Beatles from that era being projected behind them on a screen.

He noted, "This is going to be a good one. We are enjoying practicing because the songs sound great. One of the joys of being a seasoned musician is being able to do projects like this to please ourselves. We love music, we are proud of what we are going to present and we are enjoying doing all the songs like Julia, Back in the USSR, Dear Prudence. I am especially excited of the way we do the song, Glass Onion, Yer Blues and I Will!"

The Moondogs consist of Fred Gilde (keys/vocals), Mick Hargreaves (guitar/vocals), Dan Koontz (keys/vocals), Joe Lauro (bass/vocals), Jeff Levitt (guitar), Michael Schiano (guitar/vocals) and Howard Silverman (drums/vocals).

Tickets to The Beatles White Album are $30. Both shows start at 8 p.m.

(NOTE: As the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to unfold, Bay Street Theater & Sag Harbor Center for the Arts has decided to cancel all weekend events from now through the end of March.)

Bay Street is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call 631-725-9500 or visit www.baystreet.org.

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