British Beat 66 – Performing Music From an Era When Music Mattered

British-Beat-66Windsor British Invasion show band British Beat 66 is a unit that formed in 2004 to celebrate the sounds of a musical era that changed the face of rock and pop forever. Band members Michael Hereford (Michael Chester), John Labadie (Johnny Bo), Dino Urbano (Derek Domino), Lawrence Culnan (Larry C) and Matthew Damm (Matthew David), perform favourites from legacy bands like The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Herman’s Hermits and others from the era.

We interviewed the band to see what they’re all about. They were so excited that they offered to pose nude for a new feature in 519 where users can use a pencil eraser to remove their clothing from the photo in the print edition. Grab and copy and get your erasers ready.

Can you tell me about British Beat 66 and how you met?

Michael – I went to high school with John and we have performed together off and on since then. I have known Larry for years and have played with him in different projects over the years. I met Dino when he assisted with one of our early shows and I met Matthew recently through mutual musical friends.

Why did you choose to play music from that era?

Michael – It is the music I love and grew up with. I identify with the sights and sounds of that era. I love all music and I perform and listen to a wide variety; however, this is the music I enjoy the most.

Larry – Growing up in that era was amazing. Starting with early North American Rock and Roll and then entering into the British invasion. It was a creative time and that’s what started me with being a musician. Now I get to play the influences of that era.

How authentic do you strive to be with the music?

Michael – We attempt to capture the spirit and feeling of this music. We enjoy putting our own spin on the tunes.

What is it about the music of that era that appeals to you and your audience?

Michael – It’s fun energetic music. Our audience loves to dance & at times sing along with us at our shows.

If there was one band that closely resembles who you guys are, who would that be and how do you compare?

Michael – That’s a tough one. If anything, I would say a combination of several 60s British Invasion bands, most particularly The Rolling Stones, The Who and The Beatles. Our own personalities come through when we are performing.

Have any of you seen any of the artists you play live?

Michael – The British Invasion bands? I never saw The Beatles, however I have seen Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney in concert. I have seen the Rolling Stones twice, Herman’s Hermits (with whom I did a show before there was British Beat 66) and I also saw The Zombies, The Yardbirds, Steve Winwood (Spencer Davis Group).

Larry – The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart and the Small Faces, Procol Harum , Pink Floyd.

You guys had the chance to perform with a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer – Jim McCarty, the legendary drummer of The Yardbirds. What an honour that would have been. Please tell me about the experience.

Michael – When I first heard about it I was almost worried to say anything in case it didn’t happen. I’m sure glad it happened Jim has performed with Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page for a large part of his career, so I knew we needed to give the Yardbirds tunes proper justice. Jim is such an amazing drummer. He showcases some very creative beats and drum breaks in those Yardbirds tunes.

Larry – Yes, they were. Such a list of great guitarists came through the band. They were part of the era that brought you the information and opinions of what was going on in the world at that time. That was such a privilege for Windsor to have a legend like that in town. He was such a down to earth guy too.

That concert kind of puts you in the Windsor history books as one of the few Hall of Famers to ever come to town. What are your thoughts on the Windsor music scene?

Michael – The Windsor scene is full of talented performers and some pretty cool venues and owners. I am excited to see some of the younger bands and performers starting to make inroads and seeing success.

Matthew – One thing I can say about the Windsor music scene it the incredible support the musician gives to each other, they are known to inspire, encourage, and help each other out far above the call, Windsor is a true great experience to be a professional musician in.

Is there something you’d love to see improve in the Windsor music scene?

Michael – It’s good to see many of the venues have local entertainment starting earlier in the evening. I enjoy diversity in music that often corresponds to my mood, so I would like to see meaningful work for all styles of music. I miss having a listing of who is playing where. Now it’s a matter of checking each venue’s listing.

Larry – Yes, more venues and a variety of music to be witnessed live. More support for the different bands who are putting their own music out. There is definitely a lot of great talent here. The problem we have is the shrinking live venues. Rooms are smaller and crowds are different from 30 and 40 years ago. So, with the help of Facebook and local papers like yours, it helps to give the area an idea of the entertainment available and where you can see them live.

Are there any other highlights of the band’s career so far? I know you guys play Caesars for example.

Michael and Larry – British Beat 66 has had several memorable appearances at Caesars Windsor. Our performance at the Grand Prix on Belle Isle courtesy of Motor City Casino was another highlight. Our trip to Montebello, Quebec where we were treated wonderfully by our host was another. Also, Put-in-Bay Ohio, Caribbean Blue & Friends III were special to us. I am truly blessed with the people I have met in the music world and the wonderful venues where I had the privilege of performing.

Is there a desire or want to write and record original music as a group or solo?

Michael – British Beat 66 has been working on some original material including “Mop Top Madness” and “A Minute or Two” which will become part of our show in 2019.

Photo: Kirk Harris (K&M Photography)