Wayne Lack, Pat Serre, Mike Makkreel, and Brad Whitelaw of Revolver and Friends. SUPPLIED

Revolver and Friends plays Beatles, other hits from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s

Pelham’s Mike Makkreel is a veteran rocker, with some 40 years of musical performance under his belt. And the singer/drummer still feels he has plenty of gigs left in his 62- year-old body.

Makkreel’s band, Revolver and Friends, was recently given the nod to perform at the Canada Summer Games, as part of a free concert series scheduled every day from August 7 to 21 at Niagara Place, located on the park’s grounds adjacent Brock University.

“I’m told that there were about 600 bands that applied to play at the Canada Games Park, and we were honoured to be in the group of 75 that were selected,” said Makkreel. “Music will be provided for the two weeks of the Games, with five or six bands playing each day. It won’t all be rock and roll. There will be ethnic and Native Indian music, French music, and even Fred Penner-type songs for the kids. All kinds of stuff.”

All four band members are seasoned, professional musicians, with tons of stage experience. Makkreel (drums and vocals), a piano technician by training, was a founding member of Revolver back in the early 1980s, along with Pat Serre.

Serre (guitar and vocals) was with the popular Niagara dance band Sandy Vine and The Midnights for over decade, and was a backup for the well known local Beatles tribute band The Caverners.

“Pat sounds very much like John Lennon,” said Makkreel.

Brad Whitelaw (guitar and vocals) is a former member of a Rolling Stones tribute band called Sticky Fingers, and also played with the Moonlighters, a local tribute band covering the 1950s through 1970s.

Wayne Lack (bass guitar and vocals) has experience in a wide range of music genres, and previously played with the Moonlighters as well.

“I started out with Pat 40 years ago, when the group was simply Revolver,” said Makkreel.

“Revolver played the Forum at Ontario Place, the CNE, and lots of other great venues. After a point we broke up, but we reformed about a year ago. Wayne and Brad are the new guys, and both sing back up, and lead songs as well. I got pulled out of mothballs in 2021, and can still hit the high notes that I did when I was 25, which is necessary to sing Beatles tunes in the correct keys. But it’s no easy feat for a guy my age, I’m telling you.”

Unlike the Caverners, who dress like the Beatles, Revolver and Friends does not don the garb of the Fab Four.

“I think we sound pretty good together,” said Makkreel. “There are some very good Beatles bands that are around, doing the British Invasion music. We prefer to just do our own thing, which includes a broad range of cover groups from the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. That’s why we added the ‘and Friends’ to our group’s name.”

One of the venerable venues that Revolver played back in the 1980s was Lulu’s Roadhouse, a former Kmart department store turned nightclub on the outskirts of Kitchener, that had been retooled into a 75,000-square-foot entertainment mecca, with a 300 foot bar (purportedly the longest in the world) and a capacity of 3000. In its heyday, Lulu’s drew fans from across Ontario and upstate New York to watch groups like April Wine, Trooper, Styx, Black Sabbath, Foreigner, Meatloaf, Jeff Healey, Cheap Trick, and Johnny Winter. Other big names who played the venue included Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Frankie Valli, Ray Charles, and the Righteous Brothers. Lulu’s closed in April of 2000.

“We shared the stage at Lulu’s with Gerry and The Pacemakers, Herman’s Hermits, Bad Finger, and Chuck Mangione,” said Makkreel. “One night, we were the opening act for the Troggs. Revolver did two 20-minute sets to open the show. The drummer for the Troggs was late arriving, and they wanted me to go on in his place. I decided that wouldn’t be right, so they had to wait for their drummer to show up. The whole British Invasion thing was huge back then. I was 24 at the time, and I remember that we never got paid for the gig. But it was a real honour to play at Lulu’s.”

Makkreel moved to Pelham years ago and ran a piano sales and technician business, The Piano Doctor, in Ridgeville for about 23 years. He still lives on Canboro Road.

“The band practices at my house. We’re having a great time. About half our repertoire is made up of Beatles songs, and the balance are Steve Miller, CCR, Frampton, Simon and Garfunkel, Billy Joel, Elvis, Travelling Wilburys, and that whole era.”

Information on Revolver and Friends can be found at www.revolverandfriends.ca