Upcoming Lectures

All lectures on hold. Hope to be active again soon. In the meantime as The Beatles sang…”Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream.”

Courses

The Beatles: A Magical History Tour @ College of DuPage/Lifelong Learning…1:30 – 3:00 PM, Thursday, March 5 – April 9, 2020

The History of Simon & Garfunkel @ Moraine Valley/Lifelong Learning…2:00 – 4:00 PM, March 25 and April 1, 2020

John, Paul, George & Ringo: The Solo Years (1970-1980) @ College of DuPage/Lifelong Learning…1:30 – 3:00 PM, Thursday, April 16, 23 & 30, 2020

The History of Motown Records @ College of DuPage/Lifelong Learning…10:00 AM – 12:00 PM, April 26 and May 2.

Library Lecture Offerings

The Beatles: Their History in One Hour – As a musical entity, The Beatles have not existed for close to 50 years, yet their story, their personalities and most importantly their music continue to influence our culture and our expectation of popular music. The Beatles remain the world’s most popular and iconic bands thanks to a treasure chest of memorable songs and an uncanny ability to chart fresh musical direction with every new release.  With the use of audio and visual content, we’ll trace the arc of the Beatles career from their development in Liverpool, through Beatlemania into their psychedelic phase and finally their dissolution.  

A Celebration of The Beatles’ Abbey Road – After the turmoil of The White Album and Let It Be, the Beatles put their differences aside to record their final – and best selling – album that still sounds fresh and vital today.  Each member shone brightly from Lennon’s funky “Come Together” to Harrison’s sublime “Something’ and “Here Comes the Sun” to McCartney’s galloping Side 2 Medley – a virtual rock ‘n’ roll symphony.  Using audio visual content, we’ll review the stories behind the album’s best-known songs and celebrate the Beatles final gift to music lovers all over the world.

When The Music Died…The 50th Anniversary of The Beatles Break-Up – In February 1964 The Beatles exploded in America, but by May of 1970 they were done.  In that brief period, they became – and remain – the world’s most iconic band thanks to a treasure chest of memorable songs and an uncanny ability to chart fresh musical directions.  Using performance and interview clips we’ll explore the reasons it all fell apart 50 years ago and what – if anything – could have been done to keep the band intact.

Simon & Garfunkel: Sound and Then Silence – If you took the musicality of The Beatles and matched it with the lyricism of Bob Dylan the result might be Simon & Garfunkel. Often considered the thinking person’s rock ‘n’ rollers they were also one of the most successful musical acts of the 1960’s.  Using audio and visual content we will trace the arc of Simon & Garfunkel’s career from their surprise teenybopper hit “Hey Schoolgirl”…to the folk-rock classic “Sound of Silence”…to the ever popular “Mrs. Robinson”…to the majesty of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

The 50th Anniversary of Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hit: “Bridge Over Troubled Water” – February 28, 2020 marks the 50th Anniversary of Simon & Garfunkel’s song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” reaching #1 – where it would remain for a month and a half.  The song marked the height of Simon & Garfunkel’s success and is still beloved today.  Often considered the thinking person’s rock ‘n’ rollers, Simon & Garfunkel were one of the most successful musical duos in history.  Using audio and visual content we will trace the arc of Simon & Garfunkel’s career from their surprise teenybopper hit “Hey Schoolgirl”…to the folk-rock classic “Sound of Silence”…to the ever popular “Mrs. Robinson” and finally to the majesty of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”  We will cover Paul Simon’s most popular composition in depth to gain a deeper appreciation for this magnificent love song about friendship.

Motown: Music That Moved the World – In Detroit in the 1960’s Motown Records produced hits as efficiently as the Ford Motor Company produced automobiles – 110 Top Ten hits to be exact!  It was the “Sound of Young America” sung by performers like The Supremes, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder.  Using audio and visual content we’ll trace the amazing musical journey from the power soul of “Dancing in The Streets” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” to the psychedelic soul of “Cloud Nine” and “What’s Going On” to the pop soul of The Jackson 5.  Timeless music that moved us then and moves us now.

Fleetwood Mac: The Chain…Broken – This modest blues band launched in the mid-1960s, achieved monumental success in the mid-1970s and still makes headlines today.  Using interview and performance video, we’ll trace the band’s career with a focus on their blockbuster album “Rumours” and the band’s classic line up of Stevie Nicks, Lindsay Buckingham, Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood.  It’s a fascinating journey of failed romantic relationships that fuel music of intensity and warmth.  Fleetwood Mac is a soap opera set to music!  

The History of the Beach Boys – If summer had a sound it would be the Beach Boys…surf, sun and California dreaming.  This presentation will focus on The Beach Boys “sunniest” years from 1962-1967.  With the use of performance and interview clips, we’ll trace the arc of the Beach Boys’ early career from “Surfin’ U.S.A”., “Fun, Fun, Fun” and “California Girls” to the more mature Pet Sounds, “Good Vibrations” and the abandoned Smile project.  Surf’s Up!

A Celebration of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles most well-known album is also the largest selling album of the 1960’s. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked it #1 in their list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time, while Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones recently called it “rubbish.” With the use of audio and visual content we will discuss the album’s initial concept, the music, the landmark album cover and the overwhelming world-wide reaction to its release.

A Celebration of The Beatles (White Album) – November 2018 marked the 50th Anniversary of this landmark album.  As the Beatles only double album it contains a wealth of riches for listeners.  However, it also marked the beginning of the end of the world’s greatest band as tensions and musical differences arose during recording.  The program will include a discussion of the Beatles “back to basics” recording approach and an analysis of key tracks including “Dear Prudence,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and “Helter Skelter.”

John, Paul, George & Ringo: The Solo Years 1970-1980 – After the Beatles disbanded one question echoed all over the world: when will the Beatles get back together?  They never did of course, but the 10-year period following their break up was very eventful and produced such timeless songs as “Imagine”, “My Sweet Lord” and “Band on The Run.” With the use of audio and visual content we’ll explore the highs and lows of their music, lawsuits and their relationships with each other.

John Lennon: The Solo Years – Can you imagine a world without “Imagine?” The 10-year period from the Beatles break up in 1970 to Lennon’s tragic murder in 1980 was a fascinating period of successes and failures for the ex-Beatle. With the use of audio and visual content we’ll explore the music from “Imagine” to “(Just Like) Starting Over”, his controversial immigration struggle, his wild lost weekend and the quiet househusband years culminating with the release of his final album Double Fantasy.

Lennon v. McCartney Solo Careers – John and Paul were the two ex-Beatles most likely to succeed.  And, succeed they did!  John’s “Instant Karma” and “Imagine” and Paul’s “Band On The Run” and “Live And Let Die” were huge hits, but there were flops as well.  Using audio/visual content we’ll review the highs and lows of their post-Beatles careers including their sometimes prickly, sometimes warm relationship with each other.

Paul Simon: The Solo Years – In 1957 at age 16 Paul Simon had his first chart success.  Now aged 77 he has announced his retirement from touring and songwriting.  What a treasure chest of music he has left behind!  Using audio visual content, we’ll trace Paul’s post-Simon & Garfunkel career from his first solo hit “Mother and Child Reunion” to his Grammy winning “Still Crazy After All These Years” to the world-wide smash “Graceland.”  We’ll celebrate Paul’s unique ability to write music of consequence for over 50 years.

About

 

5c576edc2c052.image_-1After a rewarding career in advertising sales, Gary Wenstrup retired to pursue his passions.  Music history is at the top of the list.  Gary has developed courses on The Beatles, Solo Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Solo Paul Simon, Motown Records and Fleetwood Mac for the Continuing Education Departments of College of DuPage, Harper College and Oakton Community College.  His presentations include audio and visual content for an informative and entertaining experience. 

Gary has also lectured at over 80 Chicago area libraries. Gary’s The Beatles: Their History in One Hour presentation was deemed “The Best of The Best” by the Library Administrators Conference of Northern Illinois (LACONI). 

Most recently Gary partnered with respected author and Beatles expert Robert Rodriquez for ongoing episodes of Robert’s award winning podcast “Something About The Beatles.”

https://somethingaboutthebeatles.com/182-here-we-go-again-1/%MCEPASTEBIN%

 

 

Media Coverage

https://www.newlenoxpatriot.com/p/news/residents-pack-room-learn-about-beatles-history

https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/daily-southtown/ct-sta-ent-simon-garfunkel-st-0405-story.html

https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/glencoe/ct-gln-glencoe-beatles-lecture-tl-0301-20180226-story.html

https://northernstar.info/news/lecturer-explores-musical-significance-of-motown-studios/article_a898294c-2804-11e9-8e35-4b9872d797db.html

https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/aurora-beacon-news/ct-abn-abbey-road-aurora-st-1011-20191010-7abp4vlzdrdqljyvueidiccbdy-story.html

Student and Patron Feedback

“Excellent…Enjoyable…Entertaining…Fun…Very Informative…Great Preparation…Great Presenter…Funny and Learned A Lot…Wonderful…Terrific…So Well Done…Great Pacing…Fabulous!…Outstanding…Fantastic…Educational and Entertaining…Super…Glad I Came…Wow!…Awesome!…Best Beatles Presentation Ever!…Outstanding Speaker…Very Knowledgeable…Thorough…You Rock!…Covers Lots of Ground in an Organized Way…Loved it!”