Here is a first-hand report from Forgotten Hits Field Reporter Shelley Sweet-Tufano, who just recently attended the show in New York. (We can't WAIT for The Fest to hit Chicago this summer, if only to catch the incredible pairing of Chad and Jeremy with Peter Asher!)
Fest For Beatles Fans, for me, is two days of education. Oh, it's for sure fun,
but my inner voice is saying, "Someone else agrees with me."; "I never knew
that."; "I wondered about that."; and "WOW!"
The 2016 Rye Brook, NY fest was
more than I expected ... and I expected much. You must pick and choose where you
will be going and who you will be seeing at these conventions, as an entire
hotel is overtaken with opportunities ... so I can only comment on my choices.
they are: Louise Harrison, Rob Shanahan, Birds of Paradox, Billy J Kramer, Mike
Pender, Peter Asher and Chad and Jeremy (two parts), Mark Hudson, Steve Holley,
Cellophane Flowers, Mark Hudson (again), and a discussion by radio disc jockeys of
Paul's new cd collection.
photographer, Rob Shanahan, presents himself and his work very well. He is as
much in awe of his opportunities, and Ringo, as we are. His accessibility has
given him opportunity for amazing photos and he seems to have taken advantage of
them brilliantly. I did not buy his new book at The Fest, as I learned while
there, that my son wants a copy, too. Just decided to connect with Rob online to
purchase books, but I did narrow down a selection of Paul and Ringo shots to
one that I just must buy while there. If you get a chance to see Rob's slide
show of some of his works, and hear him describe the locations you are seeing,
you will be well rewarded with insight into the legendary world of The British
Harrison has been criticized as well as supported in her financial gains being
George's sister. I am not here for that. Do your own research. I listened to two
of her lectures and found her to be grounded on stage, but yes, hawking her band
(Liverpool Legends) and books. However, everyone here has something to
sell ... except me and my monkey ... so that is not unexpected. History is
filled with facts, but it is also perceptional. Each person lives and
experiences from their own point of view. Was Louise Harrison instrumental in
America helping Brian Epstein? Why not? Why wouldn't Brian want someone close to
The Beatles to aid them, and him, in breaking down boundaries? Why wouldn't
Louise want to help her kid brother make money in his band? The one thing I
found strange was that the same questions were asked by the audience at both
interviews. So either they are common (Didn't George play in a band when he
visited you in America? ... Didn't George buy a guitar when he visited you in
America?) or they were staged. Doesn't really matter. She has a couple books
and a couple speaking cds of memories that people may find very
bought Billy J Kramer's book! He signed it and I am thrilled! Its release date
is May something, but he brought some to The Fest for predistribution. Billy's
voice has grown since The British Invasion Tour. It is bolder and stronger,
with much depth. Go Billy! He and Mike Pender did a couple songs together, and
Billy did his big hits and a couple new songs with his band. On separate days,
he and Mike Pender did interviews on their experiences, first time seeing The
Beatles, the Liverpool sound, and the current development of Liverpool. The
basis of every talk this weekend is the effect of WWII on each of these
performers and the influence of American rock and roll to help them emerge from
their "black and white world".
Mark Hudson appears in several panels and
concerts throughout the two days I am attending. I catch him in one with Mark
Rivera, Steve Holley, Jon Cobert, Gary Van Scyoc, and Adam Ippolito and then, of
course in his Musicians' Forum. If you have never seen Mark before, you know it.
He CANNOT be missed. He is full of energy and displaying every color of the
rainbow between his clothing and facial hair. I love it, but wonder if he EVER
gets any rest as there is nowhere to hide for a technicolor hyper musician. I
bet he glows in the dark! Do you Mark?
Stories about The Beatles flow like
Niagara Falls; vast volumes of non-stop information pouring over the audience.
The day Mark's road rage brought apologies from a contrite Bob Dylan; Gary and
Adam having John Lennon walk into a rehearsal of Elephants' Memory and ask to
join the band; Steve Holley being a "Wing" of Paul McCartney; Mark Rivera with
stories of Ringo; Jon Cobert playing keyboard on Lennon recordings and on and
Birds of Paradox perform immediately after. (Two
Elephants' Memory and a Wing included) Beatles songs and solo Beatles songs
emerge and I wonder: If The Fest played a recording in the lobby of EVERY
Beatle song and solo song, as well as any songs where they performed back-up,
would they need to ever repeat one?
The Musicians' Forum has Mark Hudson acting as
musical director with Billy J Kramer, Jon Cobert, Steve Holley, and Glen Burtnik
from the band Liverpool playing and singing a transition of Beatles' music. They
are exhibiting not only their own musical prowess, but a knowledge of past,
present, and future when it came to The Beatles' writing and performing.
Education at its finest! Fun at its core! Music as its passion!
Let me praise the two emcees for the weekend:
Tom Frangione and Ken Dashow, both accomplished DJs. They keep the stage in the
ballroom running at top speed and depth of information. I catch Tom in a panel
on Sunday with my friend and co-worker Ken Michaels, handling the tough topic of
"Why a McCartney compilation of his solo years, and is it worth the purchase?"
The other two panelists are Darren Devivo and Al Sussman. All four have Beatles
knowledge and experience that they have shared in print and on the radio. It was
a frustration for me to keep quiet here as I have a "working education" opinion
and enjoy expressing it. Ken told me they usually open it up for comments and
questions, but I have a feeling he told them, "Keep that woman quiet. No
audience participation." The only fact I will reveal is that none of us totally
agree completely on the musical selections, and none of us would have been able
to get it down successfully to 67 songs. Tom's research brought a little over
500 'solo years' McCartney songs.
Cellophane Flowers is a string quartet and
solo vocalist group that knocks those George Martin string arrangements out as
if they were spinning silk. I am sorry I don't have names to give you, but maybe
a Lapidos family member can assist here. I can picture this group performing in
a garden setting at a wedding, art show, or any convention's gathering. They
should be surrounded by nature and fresh air even more than a concert
And finally, it was listed as a "Brand New
Memoir and Concert Experience". In reality, it was simply amazing.
to the two hour / two day Peter Asher / Chad and Jeremy section of The Fest. Peter
Asher's production experience added to the talent we know and love from all three of
these Brits and made this worth the price of admission alone. I loved every
minute of my two days in Rye Brook, but I was wowed by this. Every person I spoke
to, or over-heard in conversation, used the same words and thoughts I have. It
was unexpected, albeit advertised on Sirius radio and websites. The premise
begins as a way to "prove" that Peter and Gordon were indeed a different duo
from Chad and Jeremy. There were people so confused in the sixties, that
they mixed them up or considered them one duo.
Well, let's take a look here.
There were TWO folk-rock, guitar-playing British Invasion duos and they each had
a tall dark and handsome lead singer with a shorter, eyeglass wearing, nerdy
looking chap who sang higher harmonies. Don't get angry at my description. It
came from Peter Asher. Personally, I found them all good-looking and
talented ... then and now.
They start at their beginnings,
each with their connection to being war babies and what that meant for them
personally. The pictures and videos are presented on the large screen behind
them Their stories progress in school, music and fame. Chad and Jeremy one
step ahead in each moment, but Peter Asher always proclaiming, "It wasn't
really that we were following them." Twice I am in tears.
The first time Chad and Jeremy sing a tribute to a man Peter Asher managed: James Taylor. The
song? You've Got A Friend. To see Chad and Jeremy side-by-side harmonizing this
Carole King beauty touched my heart. Then Peter Asher touched my soul when he
sang along with a Gordon Waller video tribute to Buddy Holly. The pick? "True
Love Ways." "Just You Know Why" booms out in Gordon's broad baritone. Tears ran
down my cheek uncontrolled. Everyone else was feeling the same, but maybe I was
the only one weeping. I am pulled into their reunion stories as Chad and
Jeremy talk about the PBS special '60's Pop Rock Reunion'. I went to that when
it toured, watched it on TV and bought the video, but not the T-shirt. Peter and Gordon reunited for the 'Concert for Mike Smith at BB King's'. I could
not make that concert but I had a hand in raising money for Mike's custom wheel
chair and van. It came full circle for me. The show was complete with songs,
laughter, sections read from books, interviews, and stories. Afterward, I told
them how much I loved it, and picked up a signed picture of the three of them.
Thank you to everyone involved
in The Fest For Beatles Fans. A Splendid Time Was Had By All. Thank you Lapidos
The Fest For Beatles Fans hits Chicago on August 12th, 13th and 14th ... the official details can be found at the link below (but apparently the performance schedule hasn't been finalized as of yet.) [I've already talked to Ron Onesti about the possibility of bringing some of these artists to The Arcada Theatre for a follow-up show ... how cool would it be to see Chad and Jeremy, Peter Asher, Billy J. Kramer and Mike Pender of The Searchers performing in the intimate confines of The Arcada Theatre?!?! No word yet on whether or not he'll be able to pull this off ... but I'm sure the fingers of MANY local British Invasion Fans will be crossed until we get the final yay or nay!]
Thanks for another great review, Shelley ... by the way, Billy J. Kramer is on our Forgotten Hits list ... maybe he'll share a word or two about the experience as well. (kk)