Friday, March 25, 2011

Beatlejuice Comes Together at Melrose Memorial to Fight Hunger

By Christian Brink
Gordon College News Service
(This story appeared March 28 in The Boston Globe, Melrose.)

Melrose, MA – For Beatlejuice drummer and co-founder, John Muzzy, commonly known as Muzz, there is nothing better than looking out into an audience and seeing a ten year old jamming to “I Am the Walrus” alongside his grandmother. And this upcoming month at the annual Melrose Knights of Columbus (K of C) benefit concert, that’s just what he expects to see.

On April 15 at the Melrose Memorial Hall, Beatlejuice, a New England Beatles cover band, will be playing its sixth annual concert for the Melrose K of C Food For the Needy Fund. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the music starts at 7 p.m.

“It’s an event that every year we look forward to doing,” said Muzzy, 55, of Woburn, MA. “It’s packed and it’s multigenerational, which is just perfect for the music.”

Mike DiPirro, Deputy Grand Knight for the Melrose K of C, the man who originally organized Beatlejuice to start playing the concert, said that the show usually nets between $10,000 and $12,000. The proceeds are then donated the following Christmas to families who are struggling financially.

“The best thing about our charity is that every penny we raise goes to people in need,” said DiPirro.

The K of C works with Melrose Mayor Robert Dolan and his office to determine which families will receive a direct donation that they can spend on anything from the electric bill to toys for the kids. The remaining funds are spent on 100 gift baskets containing full turkey dinners.

While Beatlejuice is now busy with a full schedule, it wasn’t always this way. In 1994, the band started as a project consisting of five members with the plan to play one Sunday afternoon a month. Muzzy thought it would only last a few months. Seventeen years later, Beatlejuice is continually evolving, but remains focused not on a hokey aesthetic emulation of the Beatles, but on the sound of their music.

“The intention has always been the focus of the music,” said Muzzy. “That’s one of the reasons the band has had such staying power.”

In 2007, when Beatlejuice tragically lost its singer Brad Delp—who was also lead singer of the band Boston—Muzzy said that while there could be no replacement for Delp, he knew there were other great singers and musicians interested in joining. So Delp’s death was a turning point for the band.

“After Brad passed away, I felt that we really needed to push the envelop,” said Muzzy.

Beatlejuice has since expanded to ten members, four of whom are vocalists. As a result, the band is able to produce a richer sound with songs like “A Hard Day’s Night” by also adding percussionists to play bongos.

Muzzy teaches private drum lessons full time during the week and then plays with the band on weekends. They’ve performed in venues ranging from local clubs and high school auditoriums to larger places like the Melrose Memorial Hall. But with this fundraiser in particular, Beatlejuice feels fortunate to be able to help.

“This event is so successful,” said Muzzy. “What could be more important than trying to feed people in your area? It just boggles your mind that it’s even an issue.”

According to DiPirro, individuals who have benefited from the concert in past years are now giving back by volunteering to help on the day of the show. For DiPirro, this is all part of “paying it forward.” The concert has already begun to generate excitement in Melrose, said DiPirro, with parents calling to reserve tables for their whole family.

“People usually want to be involved with fundraisers,” said Muzzy, “and if it’s something than can actually provide entertainment it’s a win-win situation.”

The Melrose Memorial Hall is located at 590 Main Street, Melrose MA. General admission is $20 but tickets on the day of the event are $25. Tickets are available for purchase at the Melrose City Hall Mayor’s Office and at the Melrose Army & Navy Store. For more ticket information call 781-662-9154.


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