When John Lennon first sang those lyrics in 1971, he couldn't have known that Jim Hukill would use them as inspiration in 2016 with his organization that helps break down the walls of isolation with which people with disabilities sometimes live. Or that a Canadian John Lennon impersonator would be performing in a fundraising concert to benefit Lift Disability Network, founded in 2006 by Hukill, who has a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy.
The concert is Saturday, May 21, at The Golden Bear Club at Keene’s Pointe, in Windermere, and Carm Castiglione is performing his tribute to John Lennon with his latest project, Imagine John, which shares the music of the Beatles and tunes from Lennon’s solo years.
Castiglione, a music teacher who lives in the Toronto area, looks and sounds the part as he dons an iconic Lennon outfit and belts out tunes such as “Imagine,” “Watching the Wheels,” “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.”
He said he was influenced by different genres of music growing up: classical, ethnic, jazz, blues and rock’n’roll. He has performed Beatles songs in various bands throughout his life, but this project, Imagine John, was created last year.
“I’ve been told that I look like John Lennon ever since I was a young teenager,” Castiglione said. “People used to always tell me that I should join a Beatles tribute band. It wasn't until the past five years that I have given it some serious thought since I have been involved in the tribute world covering artists such as the Bee Gees and Led Zeppelin and playing with some talented musicians and touring all over North America.
“I just feel that now is the right time to do it,” he said. “I feel that all my musical endeavors, throughout the past three decades, have prepared me and have culminated to this point.”
The singer said he is drawn to Lennon “because he reveals, on one hand, a very dark and edgy side in his writing, but he also reveals a very tranquil, soft side about him,” Castiglione said. “I can really relate to this because it parallels my compositional style, too.”
One of the attendees who will be enjoying the concert is Lina Miller, a Windermere resident and the performer’s cousin.
“He is incredibly gifted and absolutely amazing,” she said of Castiglione. “He has a musical talent and passion that is captivating.”
Miller put Castiglione and Hukill in touch with one another after volunteering with Lift Disability Network.
“The first time I interacted with Lift Disability Network was at Breakaway Camp and was moved at the overwhelming drive of their organization to uplift others and show that everything starts from within, that promoting the value of purpose in people can significantly change the outcome of someone's life,” Miller said. “You can't give something away that you yourself don't have. They truly have love, and they do an incredible job at giving that to those around them. It's who they are. I support that — it's people promoting people.”
Castiglione said: “I think it's a great cause, and I am very grateful to be part of it.”
Saturday’s benefit is important for several reasons, Hukill said.
“It helps us to get our name out there a little bit and to build some community relations. … We want to be seen as an organization that cares about our community and does community-focused events. But it also shows that we’re a community that cares very much about the people we serve, and that’s the families and the individuals who live with disability every day.
“If we can get that message to the broader community, then we are playing a very important piece,” he said. “It breaks down that wall of isolation that they live with and they face. And finally, we have goals and aspirations to build an ongoing presence and have a home in West Orange County, so this concert is one of the beginning stages of us being able to accomplish that.”
Lift Disability Network currently operates out of the home of Jim and Rhonette Hukill. A permanent home would allow the nonprofit to broaden its outreach and service activities in West Orange County.