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10:26 AM, Mar 07, 2013

Don Christiano brings back his 'With a Little Help From My Friends — Beatles Unplugged' set at Abilene. (Christina Ascani)/

Written By Jeff Spevak | Staff music critic

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See Don Christiano and some of his friends play a performance tribute to The Beatles. Click this story on

Don Christiano’s “With a Little Help From My Friends — Beatles Unplugged” emerges from winter hibernation and picks up on Tuesday night right where it left off: the Beatles, at Abilene Bar & Lounge, 153 Liberty Pole Way.

Typically, Christiano invites one or two local musicians to sit in with him at the usually-every-other Tuesday series and strum their way through The Beatles’ catalog. This time it’s the guitarist and singer with the deeply ’60s tilted local band Inside Out, Walt O’Brien.

The Beatles are something that’s been with me since I was a teenager and first heard them,” Christiano says. “I’ve never grown tired of them; I’ve considered them my favorite band and favorite music since they came out.”

Coming up on its third year, with occasional breaks, the latest edition of With A Little Help From My Friends actually had a sneak-preview extravaganza when Christiano put together a Monday-night celebration of George Harrison’s 70th birthday a couple of weeks ago. Twelve guests played Harrison songs; some did just one, some did three. A lot of the people packing the tiny club that night were musicians, which means that when the Hi-Risers’ Todd Bradley stepped up to play “I Need You,” Steve Piper of Watkins & the Rapiers and Bob Martin of Margaret Explosion took it upon themselves to get up there as well a few moments into the song to add some harmonies.

While the mood was celebratory throughout the Harrison party, this town has a few musicians who can command attention; when Connie Deming joined Christiano for “Something,” all bar chatter stopped. Christiano remembers a similar evening a few years ago, when the late bar-stool cowboy Dave Donnelly stopped in at Abilene. “He didn’t know the music that well, but I had a Beatles book with me, and he sat down at the bar and flipped through it,” Christiano says. “He picked out ‘Yesterday’ and sang it. Moments like that, they really stand out.”

The last time I counted, the total was up to 180 different songs have been performed. It’s probably more than that by now.” The most-performed Beatles song? “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” which was on the United Kingdom version of “Help!,” but didn’t appear in the U.S. until the Rubber Soul album. Rubber Soul is Christiano’s personal favorite. “It was the time in my life that it came out, and was a departure at the time for them,” he says. “It was more organic and more acoustic oriented. The whole mood changed a little for them with that album.”

An Irondequoit resident, Christiano designs and builds braces and prosthetics at the University of Rochester Medical Center. His most-recent band, the Americana-heavy Hunu?, now exists pretty much for playing an annual Christmas show, but is best known for its guest-laden Dylan tributes. The band gave that up in 2011 after 25 years. But, Christiano says, it looks like the popular event will return to celebrate Dylan’s birthday again this April.

Just as musicians relentlessly toured on behalf of people who lost homes to Hurricane Katrina, Lil Anne & Hot Cayenne has been on the road for several causes. Last November, the East Coast zydeco band came through town on behalf of the victims of Hurricane Sandy, raising $1,870. The group plays 8 p.m. Saturday at Harmony House, 58 E. Main St., Webster. This show benefits Human Touch Initiative, which provides residents of Monroe and its bordering counties with free or low-cost, non-invasive therapies addressing the side effects of cancer and its treatments. This show features a $25 VIP Cajun dinner at 6:30 p.m., and tickets for it must be purchased in advance at The free zydeco dance lessons start at 7:30 p.m., with admission to the show $15.

Chet Catallo & the Cats celebrate the guitarist’s birthday with a 7:30 p.m. Sunday show at Sticky Lips BBQ Juke Joint, 830 Jefferson Road, Henrietta. Musicians are welcome to jam with the Cats: keyboardists Todd East and Andy Calabrese, saxophonists Vince Ercolomento and Jim Richmond, drummer Steve Curry and bassist John Viavattine Jr. Tickets ($19 advance, $15 at the door) are available at Record Archive, House of Guitars, Aaron’s Alley, Bop Shop, Northfield Music and Sticky Lips.

Woody Dodge, on the local scene since the early ’80s, somehow remains a presence into the 21st century. The rootsy local band — which released an album, Humble Me, last year — has a 9 p.m. Saturday gig at Abilene Bar & Lounge, 153 Liberty Pole Way. Tim Clark opens. Admission is $5 for ages 21 and over, $8 for under 21.

Pennsylvania folk singer John Flynn is joined by Rochester’s Bill Welsh for a 7:30 p.m. Saturday show at Café Veritas at the First Unitarian Church, 220 S. Winton Road. Ramblin’ Jack Elliott once called Flynn the undiscovered “John Lennon of the Plasma Generation,” whatever that means. Flynn has the kind of songs that go along with events like Occupy Wall Street, where he did play. He also does a nice acoustic version of Springsteen’s “She’s the One.” Tickets ($18 adults, $10 students and children under 12 free) are available at

Jazz lecturer and jazz fan Peter Luce presents a free listening experience and talk, “The Music of Duke Ellington,” 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Morgan-Manning House, 151 Main St., Brockport. The Victorian-style house is home to the Western Monroe Historical Society in Brockport. Discussion and dessert follows.

Train is joined by Gavin DeGraw and Michael Franti & Spearhead for a 7 p.m. July 13 show at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center. Tickets ($20, $29.50 and $49.50, with a four-pack of lawn tickets $60), go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at, and (800) 745-3000.

• Also at Darien Lake, tickets for the 7 p.m. May 26 Tim McGraw show, previously announced as part of the Country Megaticket package, go on sale 10 a.m. Saturday for $30, $44.75 and $69.75. They’re available at and (800) 745-3000. Brantley Gilbert and Love & Theft also play.