PEOPLEMANIA — A rock opera Beatles tribute band created by Wayne Renn, singer/performer — along with Joey Molland’s of Badfinger — will perform a benefit concert at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd.
A portion of the proceeds will help pay for next year’s Fourth of July fireworks. Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for ages 17 and younger. CD’s along with the PEOPLEMANIA CD will be available for sale. Tickets are available at Brainerd Community Action by calling 829-5278, The Gallery in Brainerd or at the door, which opens at 6 p.m.
Renn has made a career out of playing country music and his first band, Britainy Rose, may have been one of his first Beatles Tribute bands.
“All we did was play Beatles,” said Renn. “But it wasn’t long until we were playing for fisherman, and they wanted some good old country music, and I knew a bunch of it.”
Gradually Britainy Rose became a popular area variety band, and one-time house band at the Blue Ox Bar in downtown Brainerd. After starting the Wayne Renn Band in the 90s he went on to record in Nashville where he got a nomination for Independent New Male Vocalist from the Academy of Independent Country Music Artists.
Renn, who has a recording studio in Staples, said Staples poet Jeana Owens asked him if he could convert her poem into a song and this gave Renn an idea, to write songs that sound like The Beatles. Renn had written psychedelic songs and found some eager fellow musicians to help him record them. A number of willing poets were more than happy to submit lyrics for the cause. Renn mixed the poems in with his own lyrics; making songs that Renn says, “Even Sgt. Pepper would be Proud of.” It wasn’t long before Renn realized he was writing Beatle-style songs with Beatle fans and that is when PEOPLEMANIA was born in 2011.
PEOPLEMANIA consists of Laura Bush on keys and vocals plays Velma Birch; Lyla Martin on bass and vocals plays Domino Starr; Joe Yeger on drums plays Jet Ryder; Echo Foster on keys, guitar and tambourine plays Cherry Fields; and Renn on guitar and vocals plays Justin Love.
Renn said a story was created for the band that dresses up that goes along with the background of the semi fictitious band. Renn said Brainerd area film director Phil Holbrook, who directed “Tilt,” plans to make a comedy movie starring PEOPLEMANIA. This will be filmed next summer in Brainerd.
“PEOPLEMANIA is a lot more than a band, it’s actually a franchise waiting to happen, something like ‘Harry Potter,’” said Renn. “I’ve even spoken twice with James McCartney ... about joining the band and being in the movie. James is of course the son of former Beatle, Paul McCartney. His answer about being in the band and in the movie was, ‘Yeah maybe.’”
Band member and actress Bush, who graduated from Julliard in New York, was an extra in a number of TV shows and movies including “General Hospital” and “Big.” Bush also played a starring roll in “Tilt.” Having an actress in the band, has put Renn in touch with the idea of making movies. Branch Music Entertainment, is the semi-fictitious recording label of PEOPLEMANIA, but Renn would like to see it become a real movie making company and music label.
Making connections has been a key element to the excitement of PEOPLEMANIA. Recently Renn was introduced to Joey Molland of the band that the Beatles and Apple Records Produced called Badfinger. Molland, originally from Liverpool, England, is touring and PEOPLEMANIA will be backing him up on some of the shows. Molland will perform hit songs like “Come and Get it,” produced and written by Paul McCartney, “No Matter What,” “Baby Blue” and “Without You.”
PEOPLEMANIA is now working on producing their Rock Opera “The Wizard Wants to be in the Band” and hope to have Molland do the voice over narration for the show. Brandon Martin of Brainerd, will star as the Wizard.
Renn said they are going to start raising money on KickStart.com a webpage devoted to starving artists where people can pledge donations.