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'Mersey Beatles' cover band returns to Bloomington


Mark Bloor, portraying John Lennon, plays the guitar with the Mersey Beatles on Oct. 12, 2018, at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. The band will return to Bloomington for a performance at 7 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Buskirk-Chumley. IDS file photo and Ty Vinson

The Mersey Beatles’ concert attire typically does not include band tees or jeans. They would rather opt for a suit- and-tie combination.

Mark Bloor, Steven Howard, Craig McGown, Brian Ambrose and Tony Cook are the starring musicians in their Beatles tribute band that formed in 1999 and will perform at 7 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. 

Named after the River Mersey, the group began in its hometown of Liverpool, England, the same city the Beatles hail from.

The group also performed at the same venue the Beatles performed in during their rise to fame: the Cavern Club.

Steven Howard, who plays Paul McCartney from the original band, said his roots with the Beatles affected him at a young age. 

“When I first heard the Beatles, I was blown away by it, and I was 9 years old,” Howard said. “I was surprised and proud because they’re from Liverpool.”

Howard said the ages of their audience members usually vary wildly. 

“The audience goes from 5 years old to 95 years old,” Howard said. “It crosses all boundaries. When you play Beatles music, everyone becomes connected. It’s not exclusive to age or anything like that. It’s timeless.” 

This year marks the 50th anniversary of “Abbey Road” by the Beatles. In celebration, the band will perform the entire album during all shows included in this year’s tour. 

“Every time an anniversary comes around, we feel that it’s our duty to pay tribute to it, and ‘Abbey Road’ is such an iconic, special album,” Howard said. “The challenge is always fun. It’s never a chore.”

The band will arrive in Bloomington alongside Julia Baird, John Lennon’s half-sister and an author. In the past, Baird has partnered with the group to organize book signings. 

The band has also previously performed at the Buskirk-Chumley several times and once within the past year. Howard said the ensemble enjoyed the atmosphere of the venue. 

“The Buskirk-Chumley Theater has a charm about it,” Howard said. “It’s very American. You feel like you’ve gone to the set of ‘Back to the Future.’” 

The group does not have a setlist for the Oct. 16 show. While this may be unusual for other tribute bands, Howard explained this is to keep each show original. 

“We never play the same show twice. So if you’ve seen a hit show, they usually have a very strict formula, but with us every single show is different, and it never gets old,” Howard said.

Tickets for the event are available online and at the Buskirk-Chumley box office starting at $15 for students and $25 for adults. 

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