Fingers on the pulse

This year marks the 47th anniversary of the breakup of The Beatles, arguably the most revered and beloved band ever. Their absence has certainly made fonder the hearts of those fortunate to have heard material upon its release and has enabled millions more to appreciate the Liverpool lads’ genius as new followers. Mike Oxman adores the group’s catalogue, tabbing it “so much fun” and “such great music,” and encourages similarly rabid support as the bassist for The Newspaper Taxis, a tribute quartertet set to play sets of their heroes’ tunes tomorrow and Saturday.

“There are definitely diverse tastes out there, and I respect that, but I’d say that everyone can find ample songs that will resonate as true examples of brilliance,” Oxman, 33, said of his affinity for the legends, with his fandom having intensified when he attended Temple University. “You can hear the dedication to craft throughout, and there’s just such energy and verve behind their output.”

The Lower Moyamensing resident and his peers will perform at A Taste of Key West in Morton and Pogues in Prospect Park, the latter during the location’s 4 p.m. Beatles Happy Hour. The appearances reflect the outfit’s heavy presence in Delaware County, but no matter the destination, Oxman finds himself thrilled to channel his inner Paul McCartney and to promote the innovative identity inherent within the compositions.

“You really can’t go wrong when thinking of what to listen to or play,” Oxman, whose group also performed in November through the East Passyunk Community Recreation Center’s Beatles Night celebration, said. “They were such a testament to the greatness that can come from wanting to better your chosen art form and society at large.”

The admirer, whose band’s name comes from a lyric in the lauded foursome’s 1967 gem “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” particularly esteems McCartney’s knack for structuring songs and “the beauty of John’s brain,” an homage to founder John Lennon’s creativity in tracks such as “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” and “Good Morning, Good Morning.” Through his three-and-a-half-year presence in The Newspaper Taxis, Oxman has come to master more than 90 songs and has loved that studies of their creations have enhanced his status as “a music theory nerd.”

“Their vocal harmonies are always the rabbit hole that I can go down in,” he said of the emotional value of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame enshrinees’ enduring canon. “They’ve been gone since 1970, but what they gave us has eternal freshness. The notes speak to me, no matter how corny that might sound, and that comes through each time we stand before an audience to honor them.”

Oxman owes his overall passion for music to his upbringing in Massachusetts, with family members encouraging appreciation for it among one another. Listening to works and fathoming their depth became ambitious pursuits, and, by early adolescence, the youth had begun to envision stardom.

“I definitely thought of being able to take the world by storm,” Oxman, whose initial exposure to the joys of delighting ears came through playing the clarinet, said. “As I evolved, as is the case with most kids, I discovered that might have been a bit bold of me, maybe even naive, but through my time with The Newspaper Taxis and every other music opportunity I’ve had, I’ve been able to put out there just how much I treasure my chance to pick up an instrument and brighten some spirits.”

Two years of lessons through a Berklee College of Music alumnus strengthened his predisposition, which include soul, funk and alternative bents, but Oxman proved he contains far more than one dimension through his academic endeavors. His time at Temple provided the foundation to comprehend a global phenomenon, namely, appreciation for The Beatles.

“I hadn’t given them much attention before college, I must admit,” Oxman, whose day job calls on him to serve as an assistant store manager, said, noting that Metallica was his “musical baby bottle.” “However, when I latched on to them, I absolutely started to love everything they aspired to be and the lessons about the human condition that they offered in a non-preachy, let’s-have-fun way.”

The British superstars’ “Rubber Soul,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” and “Abbey Road” albums, from ’65, ’67 and ’69, respectively, ushered in an immense period of curiosity that he figures will last to his dying day and that he will certainly share with 2-month-old son William, whom he and wife Sarah, to whom he sang “Here, There, and Everywhere” from ’66’s “Revolver” at their wedding, welcomed a week before the local recreation center gig. Having decided on becoming a bassist after hearing he would never want for work, he discovered such beautiful reflections of his instrument’s possibilities.

“Their evolution as students of music and their concern for making artistic statements, no matter what they were going through as a unit or as individuals, really impress me,” Oxman said, divulging that The Beatles’ later work is where his heart is. “It makes you wonder how many groups even consider doing that today, and even if most of them do, you still can’t put anybody above The Beatles when you ponder who has truly been a pioneer.”

He has harmoniously fraternized with bandmates Donovan Rice, Bob Tomarelli and Billy Rose at numerous venues, including World Cafe Live, where they performed last September. Having wanted to play with them since he first saw them, with renditions of “I’m Only Sleeping” and “Eleanor Rigby” off “Revolver” being especially dynamic, he loves joining the two in donning the suit-and-tie look of the British Invasion era and performing, unlike other fellow admirers, minus wigs, costume changes, and backing tracks. In so doing and in strengthening a flame that figures to outlast us all, Oxman et al have generated praise from established backers of The Beatles and have helped younger attendees to engender comparable joy.

“There’s definitely more to learn with regards to going through their catalogue,” he said. “What’s pretty set, though, is that their influence is not going anywhere. When we go out there, especially with a new year upon us, which always makes people excited, we want to make the occasion very up tempo and hit them hard with our love for this music.” SPR


Contact Staff Writer Joseph Myers at

Photo by Maria Young