Some things I’ve been meaning to blog about

"On my honor, I will try, to blog once a week"

“On my honor, I will try, to blog once a week”

Hello everyone! I know I’ve been gone for a while, so today I’d like to chat about some things I’ve been wanting to discuss. It’s been a pretty busy month, what with senior year and college applications and such, but it’s also been fun and exciting in the Beatle world and the rest of the world!

First, last month, Conan O’Brian had a special “George Harrison Week” on his show in honor of the release of George’s early Apple solo albums in a box set. The performers included Norah Jones (Ravi Shankar’s daughter, in case you wanted to know the George connection), Paul Simon (George performed with him on SNL in 1976), Dhani Harrison (his son), and Beck (no idea what the George connection is here). I watched all of the performances, and of course, seeing people keeping his music alive made my little George heart very happy. My personal favorite was Dhani Harrison, simply because I love him and he, in addition to sounding a lot like George, is VERY musically talented.

There was also a George tribute concert in LA that same week called “George Fest,” which I really wish I could have seen. As I learned at the Fab Faux concert last year, George’s music sounds amazing live. Still, I’ve been pretty lucky with Beatle-related tribute concerts, so I’m not really THAT mad… 🙂

John Lennon’s birthday was two weeks ago, so clearly that passed already, but I’d like to do a belated-John’s birthday shout out. His music is really just as powerful today as I’m sure it was when it first came out 30-something years ago. If there’s one Beatle who has inspired multiple generations of songwriters to express themselves in their music, it’s probably him.
For some reason, John seems to have retained the image of the “cool” Beatle in this day and age. I wonder where that came from. Maybe it’s from his effortlessly cool look during the Rain and Paperback Writer video shoots…

I wish I looked that cool in sunglasses...

I wish I looked that cool in sunglasses…

John is definitely one cool dude. I hope he had a happy birthday wherever he is now. And depending on your beliefs, THAT, my friends, is up to you to decide… Because as John once said, “It’s up to you, yeah you, cause we all shine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun.” 🙂 Bonus points if you know what John solo song those lyrics are from!

Finally, I think my dad and I are officially Fab Faux groupies, because we were fortunate enough to see them for a third time in NYC last week. The theme was “Lennon vs. McCartney: A Heavyweight Battle” or something like that. It was basically just an excuse to play alternating John and Paul songs for a solid 2.5 hours, which is exactly what I was hoping for! As always, the Fab Faux did a fantastic job. As far as musicianship is concerned, they’re definitely the best band out there at playing Beatles songs. They always add the most special elements to Beatles songs, like a sitar on Norwegian Wood or a piccolo trumpet on Penny Lane, to really make the song perfect.

What I enjoyed about this show in particular is that they played a number of solo Lennon and McCartney songs in addition to their Beatles catalog. Having gone to more than a few Beatle tribute shows by now, I’m used to hearing the Beatle stuff played a lot. It never gets old, of course, but hearing their solo songs played live is a special treat. I think my favorite moment of the show, if it’s even possible to choose, was when they played “Jet,” from the Band On The Run album. I hadn’t heard that song in a while, but as soon as they started playing it I got really excited! It’s a fantastic song! The Fab Faux are the best, plain and simple. (sorry Fab Four, I love you guys too!)

Whew, that was certainly a large explosion of Beatleness. I should never stop blogging for a month, because then I’ll have far too much to say at once to cram into one post. And that wasn’t even all I had wanted to say! My friend and I saw a Foster the People concert last night, which was absolutely unbelievable, but I’ll save that for a separate post. They’re definitely worth an entire post.

I’m sure I’ll still be busy in the coming weeks, but I promise to blog again ASAP! Have a fantastic week!

1964 The Tribute!

Clever take-off of the Rubber Soul album cover!

Clever take-off of the Rubber Soul album cover!

So last Friday I was fortunate enough to see yet another Beatle tribute band, 1964 the Tribute, in concert with my friend. It was sort of a spontaneous decision, but I’m glad we went because it was a really fun outing!

These guys have been around for a while. They formed sometime in the 1980s, presumably with rotating members since then. Unlike some others I’ve seen, this band specializes in the material from the Beatles’ touring years (1963-1966). As such, they don’t play any of the Sgt. Pepper or Abbey Road-era stuff. However, that didn’t really bother me because they played obscure early stuff that I loved, like George’s “Don’t Bother Me” from With The Beatles and “It’s Only Love” from Help. I also loved the encore medley they did with all early Beatle covers like “Money,” “Long Tall Sally,” “Rock and Roll Music,” and “Matchbox”.

Musically, I thought they sounded great. The instruments were all Beatle-accurate, and they had a lefty Paul, which is a major sticking point with me and Beatle tribute bands. It may seem nit-picky, but for me, if the Paul guy isn’t left-handed, it just doesn’t look right and throws my impression off.

So how do these guys compare to the likes of The Fab Four or The Fab Faux in terms of Beatle-tribute excellence? Well, I personally preferred the guys, looks-wise, in The Fab Four. I thought the John in 1964 The Tribute was actually the best I’ve seen; he was amazing and sounded and looked a lot like John. Honestly though, I liked the Paul, Ringo, and especially George in The Fab Four better in just about every aspect. I also don’t think 1964 was quite as instrumentally perfect as either of the other two bands.

However, this is not to say that these guys weren’t good; in reality, it’s the opposite. One thing I loved about 1964 was how funny they were, definitely the funniest Beatle tribute band I’ve seen. Some of their jokes were a little far-fetched for the actual Beatles (would George really insult John’s guitar playing on stage and promote his own? I don’t think so), but overall they were edgy and really entertaining. One hilarious moment came when “George” was talking about some guitar thing that he gave to Eric Clapton, and “John” quipped, “Is that all you gave him?”
Yes, I, George’s biggest fan, laughed at this joke. It was genuinely funny. I guess George-Eric-Pattie wife swapping jokes are still in style…? 🙂

Do other Beatle tribute bands offer a more comprehensive look at the Beatles than 1964? Yes; I think for pure accuracy and entertainment value, The Fab Four are still my #1 choice. However, would I recommend 1964 The Tribute to Beatle fans? Absolutely; they definitely do the Beatles’ music and legacy justice. I really enjoyed seeing them and if they come to a nearby theater soon, I would love to see them again.

That’s all for now. I hope you enjoy the start of September and thank you to anyone who regularly or occasionally reads this! I’m glad you find my endless Beatley/musical rants entertaining!

Christmas Time Is Here Again! Part 2

Stay warm this holiday season everyone!

Stay warm this holiday season everyone!

Hello again! Today I will continue my post from a couple of days ago and post some more cheerful, festive, rocking Christmas songs for you all to enjoy! Even if you don’t actually celebrate Christmas, these songs are fantastic songs in their own right, and anyone can enjoy them. So, without further ado, here are some more awesome rock Christmas songs!

Elton John- Step Into Christmas

I am kind of obsessed with this video, because Elton is just so silly and goofy throughout. He always makes me smile! And this might be the only place where you can see Elton “playing” a guitar. It’s pretty funny. And the song itself is wonderful! It’s so cheery and happy, which is what Christmas should always be like!

Elton John- Ho! Ho! Ho! (Who’d Be A Turkey At Christmas)

This song is kind of strange, but it’s also hilarious. What exactly is a “bearded weird” anyway? I have no clue. But enjoy!

The Fab Four- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Yes, I do know that obviously they didn’t write this song, but I am in love with their fun, Beatley cover of it! The whole Hark album is like this, all traditional Christmas carols done with a Beatley twist. And once again, in this video, Gavin Pring is an absolute dead wringer for George Harrison. My love. 🙂

George Harrison- Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)

So I guess this isn’t actually a Christmas song, but it does remind me of what I think the holidays are all about: showing your family and friends how much you love and care about them. Plus, the phrase “peace on earth” is often used in a Christmas setting. So there you have it! A bonafide George Harrison Christmas song!

The Who- Christmas

Again, this wasn’t really written as a Christmas song because it’s from the Tommy album, which was written as a rock opera. But it’s called “Christmas,” so I had to include it here! What a great album!

Tom Petty- Christmas All Over Again

This is an absolutely wonderful song, written by the awesome Tom Petty! This song is basically what I imagine Christmas in California is like; everyone hanging out by the beach, jamming with guitars. Of course, that’s probably an inaccurate assumption, but whatever.

So I think that’s enough songs for now, but I will leave you with a final, Beatley Christmas message. Enjoy the holidays everybody!

A Beautiful Tribute to a Beautiful Man

I'm almost positive this lovely picture was being projected onto the screen...

I’m almost positive this lovely picture was being projected onto the screen…

As I posted yesterday, I attended a Fab Faux concert with my dad last night at the Beacon Theatre in NYC that paid tribute to George Harrison. And here I am now, 24 hours later, to write about it!

I had very high hopes for this concert, and despite the fact that my dad and I were in the very last row of the theatre and couldn’t see a supposedly beautiful picture of George that was projected on the back of the stage, a splendid time was had by all. From the very first note of Wah Wah to the very last note of Roll Over Beethoven, I had a rollicking good time singing along to every song, cheering for George, and occasionally tearing up at the beauty of it all. Throughout the concert, I couldn’t help but think how wonderful it was to be in a room with thousands of people who loved George as much as I did. If there’s one thing I love more than talking about how much I love George, it’s hearing other people talk about how much they love George, and all of the personal stories about George told by the band members made me very happy and emotional. While George himself was not there, his spirit definitely was watching over the whole thing.

Once again, I was absolutely floored by the musical perfection that was the Fab Faux. They are truly a fantastic band and I can’t think of any way to improve upon the tribute to George that they did. Every song was perfectly and beautifully done, and in addition to playing the hits and crowd favorites like My Sweet Lord, Give Me Love, Here Comes The Sun, Something, and the like, they also threw in some wild card songs that hardcore fans like myself were thrilled to hear, like Run Of The Mill, Any Road, and Living In The Material World. I was also ecstatic to hear them play George’s very first song, Don’t Bother Me from “With The Beatles”! My favorite George solo song, What Is Life, was also played, much to my delight. It’s hard to choose a favorite moment, but I think it’s a tie between Here Comes The Sun, which almost made me cry because it sounded so beautiful, and While My Guitar Gently Weeps, which absolutely brought the house down and got a standing ovation.

Here’s a couple of videos from the concert that I found on Youtube. I didn’t actually film these, but they give a good sense of the incredible musicianship that was on display last night.

This concert was the first time that I’d heard most of George’s songs played live, and it only further reminded me just how many amazing songs George wrote in his career. I never actually forgot how great his songs are, of course, but this concert proved that they sound awesome in a live setting as well!
Listening to the positively George-like guitar solos on songs like Beware of Darkness and My Sweet Lord and the mind-blowing sitar playing on Within You Without You (if there was one thing I wasn’t expecting, it was a guy playing sitar, but they even had that!) served as a reminder that George’s songs aren’t just songs; they’re beautiful, heartfelt, honest works of art.

I didn’t think it was possible for me to love George any more than I already do, but at the end of this concert, I was in love with him a million times more than I was at the beginning. At a few choice moments during the show, I just closed my eyes for a second and imagined that George was in the room, and it really felt like he was there. To me, George Harrison is simply the most beautiful human being who has ever lived, and this amazing concert in his honor was one that I will never forget.

I do hope that if you are a Beatles fan and the Fab Faux come to a theater near you that you have the opportunity to see them, because as far as Beatle tribute bands go, they are the absolute best. I hope that the Fab Faux do this type of George tribute show again, because it was fabulous!!!
Have a great week! Happy early Halloween!

All Summers Must Pass…

A final reminder of the joys of summer

A final reminder of the joys of summer

Well, it’s that time again. For me at least, school starts tomorrow, making this the last evening of the summer. I honestly can’t believe I’m going into 11th grade, and part of me is dreading it. Nevertheless, this has been without a doubt the best summer of my life so far!

There have been many things to make this summer wonderful, and this includes many Beatle-related things. Of course, seeing Paul McCartney in concert in June was definitely a great way to kick off the summer and was my highlight of the entire year. I was also fortunate enough to see another wonderful Beatle tribute band, The Liverpool Shuffle, with my friend, which was also a really fun event. In addition, traveling to Britain with my family and going to Abbey Road and the London Beatles Store was also awesome. I knew this summer would be very Beatley, and I was right!!!

I think this will also go down in my mind as the summer where I became obsessed with Elton John. I now have 7 of his albums on my iPod and have somewhat progressed in my piano playing because of him. I still have a few more of his albums that I would like to add to my music library, but I’ll have to busy myself with that during the school year. I’ve been keeping close tabs on his tour schedule updates, and I’m crossing my fingers that he’ll come back to New York sometime next year!

Although I’m always sad about the summer ending, I always try to cheer myself up by thinking of all the fun things that go on during the year. I have tickets to a couple of Beatle tribute events with my parents that take place during the school year, so that should be really fun! I’m also excited for new album releases by Paul McCartney and Elton John in the fall, and based on the singles from those albums that I’ve already purchased, they should be great!

Since the school year is starting for me, I’ll be going back to my Friday-Saturday-Sunday blogging schedule. Although I didn’t blog all that regularly during the summer, so this really isn’t much of a change. I hope you all have a fab week!

The Liverpool Shuffle

The band members from left to right: Joe Refano, Pete Bross, Mike Green, Mike Ponella

The band members from left to right: Joe Refano, Pete Bross, Mike Green, Mike Ponella

Despite what the title of this post implies, this post is NOT about a new dance craze called the Liverpool Shuffle! No, it instead refers to a Beatle tribute band my friend and I saw the other night. I only found out about the concert via the newspaper a couple of days before, and I had never heard of these guys so I was a little skeptical. But they totally proved me wrong and far exceeded my expectations! They were fantastic!

By now, after having seen a number of Beatle tribute bands in the past year, not to mention seeing a Beatle himself, I’ve learned that the band doesn’t necessarily have to look or talk like the Beatles to be a success in my mind. Of course, that’s always preferred, but as long as they sing well, remain faithful to the music, and are entertaining, I can have a good time. Because let’s face it, the Beatles’ music speaks for itself. Anyway, despite knowing absolutely nothing about this band other than the fact that they were coming to my town last Friday, I decided to give them a try. Since they’re not exactly world-renowned, I expected them to be good, but not blow my socks off. However, the show they gave lasted 2 hours and was probably the most fun thing I’ve done since seeing Paul McCartney! All of the band members did a great job, but one guy in particular, playing bass and singing most of the Paul songs, was just amazing. His name is Mike Green and he has an outstanding voice, and was by far the most entertaining member of the group. I definitely think that this band will become one of the more well-known Beatle tribute bands in the near future. Spread the word!

Here are a couple of videos of them performing at various places, but these don’t really do the band justice. They sounded absolutely fantastic live!

The crowd at the show definitely skewed older, as I expected, but everyone was dancing the whole time and it was just a really fun event. There is honestly nothing I’d rather be doing on a Friday night than dancing to Beatles music, and this fulfilled that desire perfectly! I’m so glad I gave them a try, and if they ever come to a venue near you, make sure you stop by and see them! You will not be disappointed!

The Fab Faux

The members of the Fab Faux, from left to right: Rich Pagano, Frank Agnello, Will Lee, Jimmy Vivino, and Jack Petruzzelli

The members of the Fab Faux, from left to right: Rich Pagano, Frank Agnello, Will Lee, Jimmy Vivino, and Jack Petruzzelli

I only have one word for this fantastic, New York based Beatle tribute band that I had the pleasure of seeing live last night… WOW!!!!!!!! They are AMAZING!!!!!!!!!
I can’t even accurately describe how wonderful this concert was. They played for almost 3 hours, doing a whole slew of Beatles classics in the first half and playing Abbey Road in its entirety in the second half. I was absolutely floored by their incredible musicianship and vocal talent in every song! Even though I was sitting way up in the balcony, it didn’t matter. The music was loud, the atmosphere was fun, and I sang along to every song as loud as I could!

It’s really hard for me to choose a favorite moment of the show, since they played so many songs. I loved that they did And Your Bird Can Sing, and Strawberry Fields Forever was absolutely outstanding with an extended percussion section at the end. The harmonies throughout the show were spot on, especially during Nowhere Man, and I loved the raucous encores of She Loves You and Twist and Shout. However, my favorite moment of the show came during While My Guitar Gently Weeps. The performance was amazing, and the guy who played the guitar solo definitely did Eric Clapton justice. But, just as I thought the song was over, I heard the Anthology 3 version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Only that part wasn’t played live; I heard the actual recording with George’s voice being played! As soon as I heard the gentle, soothing voice of my sweet George coming through the sound system, I got a little choked up. I think I almost cried. It was a very emotional moment for me! It seemed like George was really there in spirit, and While My Guitar Gently Weeps definitely got the loudest applause of the night.
This video isn’t from the concert I attended, but you get the idea. What a thrill to hear them playing George’s song, and then to hear George’s actual voice!

As soon as the show was over, I was trying to decide whether I liked The Fab Faux or The Fab Four better. It’s a very different experience seeing the Fab Faux as opposed to the Fab Four live. With The Fab Faux, it’s more than four guys on stage and they’re not dressed like the Beatles, so you don’t get the sense that you’re actually seeing the Beatles live like you do with The Fab Four. However, The Fab Faux played for about an hour longer than the Fab Four did, and they were such great musicians that I didn’t even mind that they weren’t exactly imitating the Beatles. I think that any Beatle fan will enjoy both bands. I certainly did, and you’d be hard pressed to top either The Fab Faux or The Fab Four as far as paying tribute to the Beatles is concerned! Definitely see them if you have the chance!
I’m really hoping to attend their tribute concert to George for his 70th birthday in NYC in October. Imagine an entire concert with George songs! Besides actually seeing George Harrison live, which of course I’ll never get to do, this would be the next best thing.

Anyway, the Beatles rock, and the Fab Faux do too!