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American English aims for Beatles perfection

American English features (from left) Eric Michaels as Paul McCartney Danny Leavitt as George HarrisTom Gable as Ringo Starr Frank

American English features (from left) Eric Michaels as Paul McCartney, Danny Leavitt as George Harrison, Tom Gable as Ringo Starr and Frank Canino as John Lennon. | Photo Provided

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If you go

◆ American English

◆ Star Plaza Theatre, U.S. 30 and Interstate 65, Merrillville

◆ 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11 

◆ Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 day of show; available at theater box office or Ticketmaster, www.ticketmaster.com

◆ For more details, visit
www.starplazatheatre.com

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Updated: March 11, 2012 8:11AM



American English has gone through several lineup changes over the years, but Eric Michaels has been a pretty consistent presence in the Beatles-tribute band.

The guy who portrays Paul McCartney estimates he has been actively playing in American English for 20 years.

That’s a whole lotta renditions of “She Loves You,” “Yesterday” and “Hey Jude.”

Does Michaels ever get tired of singing Beatles tunes?

“Never,” the imitator assured.

Doling out pristine copycat versions from the ample Fab Four catalog has allowed Michaels and his bandmates to see the world.

For instance, the lads just returned from Australia, but their international dates haven’t stopped there.

“We’ve played Tokyo twice; we’ve played England three times; we’ve played Mexico three times,” Michaels noted.

Hawaii, British Columbia and Puerto Rico can be included on the list of stops.

On Feb. 11, the band mates’ destination is Merrillville, as American English brings the British beat to the Star Plaza Theatre for an 8 p.m. show.

The band will take the audience through a chronological journey of the Beatles’ musical times, from their 1964 Beatlemania days to the psychedelia of “Sgt. Pepper’s” to the “Abbey Road” era that produced “Come Together,” and came at the end of the group’s dizzying run.

Michaels and his mates keep busy.

The bassist estimates American English has usually logged between 120 and 135 one-nighters annually over the course of the last 12 years.

Laying down the percussive punch is Tom Gable of Orland Park, Ill.

He plays Ringo, re-creating the famous drummer’s limited singing opportunities with the Beatles.

“Luckily my speaking voice is basically in the range of where Ringo sang,” Gable said in a recent phone interview.

“Portraying Ringo is a tough part because he was a great drummer,” Gable explained. “He was always underestimated as a drummer. As the years rolled on, the (Beatles’) music became obviously more complex, which meant the drumming became more complex.”

Although Michaels says his band is obligated to dish familiar hit singles, he and his mates will toss in lesser known nuggets such as the bluesy bluster of “I’ve Got a Feeling” off the Fab Four’s “Let It Be” album.

Changes of outfits to represent the Beatles’ different stages of musical evolution are a staple of American English shows, which include the rich sound of keyboard-fueled horn and strings.

The band has found steady work, including “matinee shows at art centers,” according to Michaels, who lives in Chicago.

He may be wedded to the fare of the British mop-tops, but Michaels is an aficionado of various genres.

“I love all types of music,” the vocalist assured. “I really love old-school Motown, jazz and blues.”

From a career standpoint, the band is a big part of his life, and he wants to present a finely honed Beatles experience.

“My journey is the Beatles, and perfection,” Michaels said. “You just keep trying for perfection every night. That’s what makes it really fun to do every night.”



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