Revisit the 1960s and 70s with The McCartney Years

The Beatles and Wings at the Familiar Favourites Concert Series July 31

“We are very proud of our accolades,” says Yuri Pool of The McCartney Years.  The popular Canadian band has been praised by those who worked with Paul McCartney and has been credited for their authenticity.  The McCartney Years has been endorsed by Sid Bernstein, the man who originally brought the Beatles to North American and who started “Beatlemania”.  As well, the band has also received the blessing of Denny Laine, the long-time guitar player with Wings.

With those exclusive credits to their name, The McCartney Years will be in Grand Bend July 31.  The concert is part of the “Wednesdays’ Familiar Favourites” concert series, organized and presented by the West Coast Lions Club of Grand Bend. “We put bands on the stage playing music everyone knows and loves,” says organizer Mary Alderson. The concerts are held every other Wednesday evening from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in July and August. 

Yuri Pool has been a lifelong Beatles and Wings fan, starting as a child in the Netherlands.  His father played all the Beatles records for him as a toddler, and his mother ensured he learned how to read music before she bought him his first guitar when he was 11.  Later, he moved to England and played in bands as a teenager, before coming to Canada.  At age 23, he put together his band, The McCartney Years, and took on the persona of Paul McCartney.  Now in its 13th year, the band’s popularity continues to grow.  “I wanted to cover two decades of music in our concerts, so we play all the Beatles’ hits and all the Wings’ hits,” Pool says, explaining his vast playlist.

Grand Bend is a special place for Pool.  He and his band performed here on Canada Day in 2015, and it was at that concert where he met his future wife, Jennifer.  She has now joined the band as Linda McCartney.  “We love to come to Grand Bend and enjoy the beach, the sand, the sunsets,” Pool adds.

Offering the audience the real McCartney experience is important to Pool.  Band members have 70s-style hair and clothing, and they stay in character for the entire performance.  The instruments played on stage are exactly like those used by Paul McCartney and Wings.  Pool takes pride in playing the iconic Rickenbacker bass that McCartney himself used.  He also travels with a grand piano, which will be carefully placed on the Rotary Stage at Grand Bend beach.

The McCartney Years made news January 30, 2009, when they performed on a rooftop on Dundas Street in London, Ontario to commemorate the 40 anniversary of the Beatles’ rooftop concert in London, England.  That 1969 concert marked the end of the Beatles’ public performances, so Pool felt it was important to recognize the special date.  Despite the fact The McCartney Years played in freezing temperatures, a large crowd gathered on Dundas Street for the impromptu concert and police had to protect the audience by blocking vehicle traffic.

“We are thrilled to have The McCartney Years here on the beach,” says organizer Mary Alderson of the West Coast Lions Club.  “I had the opportunity to hear them at the Aeolian Hall in London last year, and I knew our Grand Bend audience would really appreciate the authenticity that Yuri puts into their concerts.  They create the genuine sound, look and feel of a Beatles or Wings performance.  Yuri himself even looks like Paul McCartney!”

The West Coast Lions bring their popcorn cart to the concerts, selling bags of delicious, aromatic, freshly popped corn, with proceeds going to local community services or the Dog Guides Foundation.

The Lions have several reasons for organizing the concerts: They are a great outing for Grand Bend’s residents as well as cottagers and campers who spend their summers here.  The concerts also offer an opportunity for area seniors to get out and socialize.  Plus they serve as an economic development tool, attracting tourists to Grand Bend mid-week, which benefits the village’s restaurants, bars and pubs.

Alderson reminds concert-goers to bring their own lawn chairs as well as their wallets.  “These are ‘Pay-What-You-Can’ concerts, so we hope everyone will contribute.”  Lions Club members will be circulating before and after the concerts and during intermission, seeking donations in their colourful beach buckets.

While the ‘Pay-What-You-Can’ buckets are necessary to bring in top quality entertainment, the Lions Club is also grateful to their other sources of funding.  Grants were received from the Cordelia Power Vibrancy Fund, the Municipality of Lambton Shores, Lambton Creative County Grant Program, and the Grand Bend Community Foundation.

In addition, there are Golden Sunset Sponsors – Grand Bend Legion Branch 498, Geo-Teck Heating & Cooling, Physiotherapy Alliance, and Tourism Sarnia-Lambton.  The Silver Sparkling Lake Sponsor is Bluewater Windows and Doors, and the Bronze Sandy Shore Sponsors are Robert Q Travel, Denny’s Drive-In, Hoffman Funeral Home, UBU Fashions, Prosper’s Garage, Hair Bend’rs, Paddingtons Eatery & Ale House, The Iron Barn, and the Gallery on Main Street.

On July 17, concert goers enjoyed the sounds of Leisa Way and the Wayward Wind Band with their “Opry Gold” Concert.  Then on August 14, Cliff Erickson will bring back memories with hits of the past, while evoking smiles with his own brand of humour.

Parking is free on the beach after 7:00 p.m., and after 5:00 p.m. on Main Street, on weekdays.

Click here for link to YouTube video of The McCartney Years.

Photo:  Yuri Pool as Paul McCartney in The McCartney Years with his iconic Rickenbacker bass.

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