Best Bets: Perry portrays McCartney in Milton

He never saw himself as a Paul. He thought he was a John.

When Jon Perry set out to form his own Beatles tribute band, he was going to play the part of John Lennon.

Jon Perry brings his “McCartney: Yesterday and Today” show to the Milton Theatre tonight. A limited amount of tickets still remain. (Submitted photo)

“In other bands, I always did the lion’s share of the singing so I was talking to another guy to play Paul. He could play the bass left handed but he looked like Tom Petty. He was a super nice guy and we were sitting around playing some Beatles vinyls and he said ‘You should play Paul. You look more of the part,’” Mr. Perry recalled.

“So I picked up my friend’s Univox bass that I had restrung for a left-hander and taught myself some old boogie-woogie bass lines. I’m ambidextrous. I’m a left-handed drummer. The rest was just an organic evolution.”

This was in late 1996 and he’s been a Paul ever since.

Tonight, he brings his one-man “McCartney: Yesterday and Today” show to the Milton Theatre where only a limited amount of tickets remain.

He has portrayed Paul McCartney in theaters and casinos across the U.S., including Las Vegas, Atlantic City and New York, and internationally with the Royal Caribbean cruise line. He has performed in 49 of the 50 states. Hawaii is the only one he is missing.

He works regularly with original cast members of Broadway’s “Beatlemania,” and has performed at Strathmore Hall, Hammerstein Ballroom, Pier Six Pavilion, Inner Harbour Ampitheater and The Lyric Theater.

He has shared the stage with Alan White, John Lennon’s drummer on the “Imagine” album and of Yes fame; original Beatles drummer Pete Best; founding member of Heart Steve Fossen; Billy J. Kramer; Joey Molland of Badfinger; America; Chubby Checker; Lou Gramm of Foreigner; and Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Knowing he wanted to play music since the age of 5, Mr. Perry said he went through periods listening to his father’s old records.

“Led Zeppelin and ‘Sgt. Pepper,’ I had all of that stuff burned in the back of my brain — the mono versions. I also went through the usual English rock progressive bands. I rediscovered it all when I was 18 or 19 and heard it with a different set of ears,” Mr. Perry said.

“I would sit in my home recording studio and do my own versions of ‘Strawberry Fields’ and ‘Penny Lane’ and think ‘Wouldn’t it be great if there were bands who would do the songs exactly like the record.?’ And of course there were. Little did I know at the time.”

He performed original music for quite a few years before joining the New Jersey-based four-piece band The Mahoney Brothers.

I am a native Marylander and one of musical heroes were The Honey Brothers,” said Mr. Perry, who now lives in Elkton.

“I was walking down the street in Fells Point one day and heard ‘Revolution’ and thought someone had left their car door open. Then I realized it was those guys and I eventually auditioned and worked with them for a while and that was my first foray into the whole Beatlemania thing on a higher level. I learned a lot from those guys.”

It was from there that he graduated into what he calls the “suits and boots” end of the tribute scale with the look and the costumes associated with the band.

“When you establish the character, you have to establish a vibe first. There are guys who sound really amazing but they don’t have as much of the look so it’s all about stance and mannerisms,” he said.

“You have to suspend disbelief and get the vibe of the character.”

He said the tribute world isn’t always an easy business.

“But it makes a lot of people happy. There’s a lot of magic in that music. It’s always a challenge to perform it,” he said.

A few years back, he caught the eye of Mr. McCartney’s stepmother Angie and his stepsister Ruth while playing in Los Angeles with a band called Four Lads from Liverpool.

“I didn’t know they were there. But at halftime of the show when we were changing into different costumes, I was told there are guests out in the crowd and they want to meet you. I was a bundle of nerves but (Angie) was very nice and has been very supportive of what I do,” he said.

“They are an English version of the simple working class and are the salt of the earth.”

Another famous encounter was in 1996 when his band played in Detroit with Mr. Best.

“It was very weird for me because here’s this guy and we all know the story. And we come walking down the steps in our black suits. It was very weird and surreal but he was very happy-go-lucky,” Mr. Perry said.

“When we introduced him, the place went nuts. I remembered what he sounded like back then and he played the songs exactly the same way that night. It was amazing.”

Tonight’s multimedia show will chronicle those early days with Pete Best right through to Mr. McCartney’s music with Wings and more.

“There seems to be formula for the Beatles’ band story. It always seems to be told in a certain way. With mine I can enjoy some creativity and tell it a different way. It’s one of the most romantic pop music stories ever told with their rise to fame and all that they have given us both culturally and musically,” Mr. Perry said.

“I think the multimedia video aspect of it helps tell the story without it getting too scholarly. It’s not just a Power Point presentation.

“We start with the Cavern Club days and work our way up. I have a couple of different templates to work with so it’s not always the same show.

“I do my absolute best to give the crowd a show that’s worth their money.”

Tickets that do remain for the 8 p.m. performance are $13-$18 and can be obtained by visiting MiltonTheatre.com, calling 684-3038 or visiting the box office at 110 Union St.

Gutman In Harmony

Also tonight, as part of the Dover Public Library’s In Harmony series, Eliezer Gutman will perform “From Bach to Scott Joplin and John Williams, a Classical Violin Recital.”

Romanian-born and raised in Israel, Mr. Gutman has been a member of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra since 1994 and is currently concertmaster with the Kennett Symphony of Chester County, the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, and Opera Delaware. He also performs with various local orchestras, including the Reading Symphony Orchestra.

Mr. Eliezer has performed solo recitals in France, England, Spain, Israel, and the United States. He was concertmaster of the Israel Technion-Institute Symphony Orchestra, Kibbutzim Symphony Orchestra, the Haifa Israel Symphony Orchestra, and the Ensemble-Carmel-Israel Chamber Orchestra.

The 6:30 p.m. concert is free. The Dover Public Library is at 35 E. Loockerman St.

Submarine operations

On Saturday at 10:30 a.m., Wesley College President Robert Clark will speak at the Delaware Public Archives on the role of submarine operations during World War II. Some of the most dangerous and clandestine assignments of the war were carried out by submarines. Warfare commanders became experts in anti-shipping, mining, insertion/support of Special Forces, intelligence and warning, search and recovery, anti-submarine warfare, and reconnaissance that helped turn the tide of the war in both the Atlantic and Pacific. Mr. Clark will reflect on how the lessons learned almost 80 years ago are still applied today and are the foundation of the current submarine force culture.

Robert Clark

He became the 17th president of Wesley College on July 15, 2015, after 32 years of distinguished service in the United States Navy’s Submarine Force, including spending the last five years of his military career serving in senior executive roles at two institutions of higher learning.

Most recently, he served as the joint service coordinator at the Pennsylvania State University. Holding the academic rank of full professor, he oversaw and coordinated myriad issues and efficiencies between the Reserve Officer Training Corps programs and Penn State.

Prior to Penn State, Mr. Clark served as the 84th commandant of Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy. He served in that position for just over three years from April 2010 until May 2013, becoming the longest standing commandant in the Naval Academy’s history.

During his 32 years of operational military service, Mr. Clark served in some of the most challenging and highest visibility positions in the Submarine Force, including commodore of Submarine Squadron FOUR, commanding officer of the nuclear-powered submarine USS Connecticut, and executive assistant to the vice chief of naval operations.

The program is free and will last approximately one hour. No reservations are required. For more information, contact Tom Summers (302) 744-5047 or e-mail thomas.summers@delaware.gov.

You be the judge

On Saturday, Jan. 25 at 6 p.m. at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, the Greater Dover Boys & Girls Club joins the 11th annual Dancing with the Delaware Stars as co-beneficiary with Mom’s House of Dover.

New this year, the organizers of the event have put together a new way to participate: The Salsa Sweepstakes allows anyone the chance to win a VIP experience at the event and take a seat at the judges’ table.

Log onto to the Salsa Sweepstakes page here: https://www.dwdstars.com/salsa. Enter the dancer’s name you would like to support. Click “Buy Now” and enter the number of Salsa sponsorships you’d like to receive

Every sponsorship from the Salsa level ($50) and above will be entered in a sweepstakes to win the coveted VIP judge’s seat. Each Salsa sponsorship will equal one entry in the Salsa Sweepstakes. You may purchase as many sponsorships as you like to increase your chances to win.

Larger sponsorships will receive the number of entries equivalent to their financial contribution.(e.g., Jitterbug $5,000 equals 100 chances to win). VIP and event ticket purchases are excluded from sweepstakes.

Local celebrities partner with dance professionals to perform a judged dance routine, similar to the hit television show. All dance couples vie for the coveted Mirror Ball trophy. Couples are judged based on dollars raised, judges scores and votes from the public.

There are a limited number of tickets available for purchase: VIP tickets – $175, includes cocktails hour, sit-down dinner, dance competition and dance party; Event tickets – $75, includes cash bar reception with complimentary hors d’oeuvres, dance competition, dance party and 10 votes.

Visit www.dwdstars.com to purchase tickets.

Now showing

New in theaters this weekend is a remake of the horror film “The Grudge.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday are the films “Joker” and “The Lighthouse.”

To share news of your entertainment group, venue or event, contact Craig Horleman at 741-8224 or chorl@newszap.com.