MAHOPAC, N.Y. - The Beatles broke up more than 30 years before the Dusovic brothers were even born, but their musical influence on the duo has been indelible.
The brothers—Mark, 17, and Robert, 14—recently teamed up to take fourth place in Mahopac Library’s countywide Teen Talent Competition, which saw 31 entrants vie for top honors in a wide variety of mediums.
“We’ve always done a talent show but because of what’s happened (the pandemic) we thought we’d have something online for the kids to do,” said Gail Perillo, head of teen volunteer services for Mahopac Library. “So, we got all the other libraries together—we had six other libraries participating throughout the county. [Contestants] were allowed to do any kind of talent, [with videos] under two minutes with everything from basketball to telling jokes to singing songs to writing their own songs. It didn’t have to just be music. We had one kid do gymnastics and another submitted an art piece.”
Perillo said all the libraries placed someone in the Top 10. There were four rounds and each week contestants had to submit a different video. Then the public voted the following Mondays and Tuesdays. The top vote-getters would move on to the next round.
“We had 11 participants from the Mahopac Library and [the Dusovics] were the last ones left [from Mahopac],” Perillo said. “We had 2,000 voters vote the first week and the last vote was our biggest because it was the last round. And you can only vote once.
“We wanted something the teenagers could do that would last the whole summer long,” she added. “Sort of like ‘American Idol.’”
Cash prizes were awarded to the top three finishers—$300 for first place; $200 for second place; $10000 for third place.
Mark, a senior who plays drums and bass, said hearing the Beatles around the house was a big influence and the beginning of the brothers’ ongoing love affair with rock ‘n’ roll.
“I think the first rock we ever listened to was the Beatles,” he said. “We would listen to that all the time and then we moved on to things like Rush and Led Zeppelin. Then I started to listen to more grunge and funk and stuff.”
Ironically, the brothers’ talent competition featured no Beatles tunes. They entered “All Along the Watchtower” (written by Dylan, made famous by Hendrix); The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me”; “Paradise” by Green Day; and “Gravity” by John Meyer.
Robert, a ninth grader who plays guitar and sings lead, cites his guitar influences as Hendrix, Meyer and Jimmy Page.
Robert said if he was stuck on a desert island and could only choose three albums to have with him, he’d pick the first Led Zeppelin LP and the Beatles’ “Hard Day’s Night” and “Let it Be.”
Mark would take The Beatles’ “Revolver,” “London Calling” by the Clash, and “Nevermind” by Nirvana.
Adriana Dusovic, the boys’ mother, said her sons were obsessed with the Fab Four early on.
“We had every Beatles CD, and they would listen to them all and if you told them a song, they would know which album it was on and which track it was,” she said. “Then they got instruments for Christmas one year and we started them with lessons at the Putnam Music Center.”
Mark said they used a series of computer programs to record their videos for the contest.
“I would play the drums first and I would record the video on my phone, and then we’d do bass, vocals and guitar all the same way,” he said. “I would put the audio into Garage Band and the video into iMovie and I would sync them up.”
The final product looked like a four-man band playing in a Zoom video, enabling Robert to play both rhythm and lead guitar, and Mark to play drums and bass, all on the same song.
But the boys’ musical background is eclectic. Robert plays trumpet (and has played in the pit for various high school musicals, and Mark plays saxophone. They both play in the MHS jazz band.
As for finishing fourth in the talent contest—just out of the money—the boys said they are just fine with that.
“I didn’t really have any expectations going in,” Robert said. “It just seemed like fun. We just did it for the fun of it.”
Meanwhile, the boys said they wouldn’t mind forming a legitimate rock ‘n’ roll band someday if they can find the right players who share their passion for classic rock.
“We play all the time in our basement and are lucky to have such good neighbors because sometimes it can get loud,” Mark said. “Hopefully, it’s gotten easier for them as we’ve gotten better.”