Why the Beatles Are Still Relevant to Millennials

Author: Danny Abriano, Entertainment

If you turn on Top 40 radio today, you’ll hear lots of different genres. One that isn’t heard much? Rock or Rock and Roll, whichever derivative you want to call it.

Part of that is because of how much music has evolved and how many different genres and sub-genres there are now. And part of it is because there simply aren’t any transcendent rock bands out there right now.

There are some good and even great acts, including The Black Keys and Arcade Fire. There are those who are still touring but removed from their prime, such as U2. And many who are still touring and far removed from their prime, such as Tom Petty, Neil Young and Bob Dylan.

In my opinion, though, there are no acts out there right now in their prime that actually transcend. None who make me think I’ll regret it for the rest of my life if I don’t see them.

Now, why are the Beatles and other classic rock bands still relevant to millennials?

When it comes to the Beatles, lots of things converged to create a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon.

For starters, they were the first band that actually wrote their own songs. The first popular band that brought true ferocity to the stage. The first band that evolved in a way where their first album is so different than their fifth that it’s nearly impossible to understand their brilliance.

The Beatles also gained popularity in the U.S. and around the rest of the world shortly after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, giving American youth something to turn to.

Aside from their immense musical talent, though, the Beatles were political. They were opinionated. And sometimes purposefully and sometimes not, they gave young people a reason to feel free. A reason to rebel. A reason to experiment. A reason to hope.

And the above things are eternal and what transcends, making it easy to understand why millennials still identify with the Beatles and why many millennials are more hardcore fans than their parents were.

Other classic rock bands that transcend and are loved by many millennials include Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd, but the Beatles stand head and shoulders above them.

I work for a Beatles festival, and while fans of all ages attend, it seems some of the most ardent and true fans are millennials.

Why is that?

With youth comes hope, and with the Beatles — who disbanded in 1970 when none of them were older than 30 — there is eternal youth.

Fest Logo

I Attended The Fest For Beatles Fans, and Here’s Why You Should Too

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Entertainment

I had the pleasure of attending The Fest For Beatles Fans on March 4th in Jersey City. And while we’ve discussed it multiple times — back when the Chicago Fest was happening in August 2016, when we talked about bands with the influence of the Beatles, or when we previewed the acts who played last weekend — I didn’t have the full picture.

When I arrived at the Hyatt Regency Jersey City on the second day of the New York Metro Fest — with my parents in tow — I walked into an atmosphere that can only be described as fun and welcoming. We only had a few hours to see everything that I wanted to see at The Fest, but the staff was exceptionally accommodating, not to mention enthusiastic, about why we were there and what we could see.

IMG_2534.JPG

In the midst of a few art galleries and even a room where I added to a massive Beatles-themed collage, people of all ages filled the hallways. While those in my parents’ age group were expected (as they remember when the Beatles played Shea Stadium), I was amazed to see millennials, Gen Xers, teenagers and even little kids sporting Beatles t-shirts, Beatles jackets and even Sgt. Peppers album cover costumes.

The Fest even drew notables — including Klaus Voormann, who designed album cover art for the Beatles and Ken Dashow of New York radio station Q-104.3, just to name a few.

I listened to the Beatles a lot as a child — my dad was fast to play their albums as well as radio stations that specialized in Beatles blocks. At the time, I pretended to hate it — but secretly loved it. I was brought right back to those days while walking around The Fest, and was moved by how the Beatles brought so many generations together.

The highlights of the day, however, had to be the performances I watched both on the main stage and the smaller — but no less notable — Apple Jam Stage. I was most moved by my dad while we watched Birds of Paradox on the main stage as he knew every word to every song played, and I’ll admit — my highly sensitive side got the better of me as they played Imagine.

After we visited the massive Beatles marketplace (and were pleased with our many purchases), it was time to leave — but I’m pretty sure none of us wanted to.

IMG_2534.JPG

So, what makes The Fest so special? The easy answers are live music, great loot, good people and inspiring exhibits, which are all true answers. But it’s more than all that. The Fest showed me that in the midst of troubling times — both personally, and in our current political landscape — it’s possible to still believe in the values that the Beatles made paramount to their music, including peace for all. Idealism lives on. Music speaks to it. People from all walks of life, of all ages, can still come together for a common celebration.

Millennials, if you have an opportunity to attend The Fest, either in Jersey City or in Chicago, it’s worth your visit. If you’re not familiar with all of the Beatles’ music, I promise you, you’re not “too young” to get it. And regardless of your Beatles fan status, the message is too important to miss. We are the generation of change — be a part of this movement.

 

The Fest For Beatles Fans New York

Beatles Tribute Bands and Artists You Need to Know

Author: Danny Abriano, Entertainment

I’ve seen Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr in concert, and once nearly spontaneously combusted when Paul surprised Ringo at his birthday and the two of them performed together. But there’s nothing like The Beatles live, something no millennial (and many millennials’ parents) ever had the ability to see and hear.

But the transcendent nature of the Beatles lives on, and the music has new life breathed into it every day by an incredible number of bands and artists who either recreate the Beatles’ songs note-for-note or put their own twist on things.

Many of these bands/artists performed at the New York Metro Fest For Beatles Fans. 

Here’s a taste:

Liverpool
Named after the small town in England where the Beatles hailed from, Liverpool has been the Fest’s house band since the late-70s. They’re different from nearly every Beatles tribute band out there since they don’t dress like the group and don’t pander to die-hard fans with phony British accents.

No, for Liverpool, it’s all about recreating the music and the ferocity the Beatles brought to it. Full disclosure: I work for the Fest, but that’s only been the case since 2014. I thought Liverpool was the best Beatles tribute band in the world before then, and I feel the same now. If you’re at a Liverpool concert and close your eyes, the Beatles are there.

At the Fest, Liverpool will be in concert all three nights. And since this year is the 50th anniversary of the Sgt. Pepper album, they’ll be performing the album in full — Side 1 on Saturday night, Side 2 on Sunday night.

Birds Of Paradox
Local artist Jeff Slate’s band, Birds of Paradox features Steve Holley (Wings) on drums and Gary Van Scyoc and Adam Ippolito from John Lennon’s Elephant Memory Band. Their lead guitarist is Mark Bosch from the Ian Hunter Band. At the Fest, the guys will be recreating John Lennon’s famous One-To-One concert.

Birds of Paradox, who tours all around New York City, has been playing at the Fest for several years, mixing in solo Beatles cuts and even Traveling Wilburys cuts.

Jacqui Armbruster
A native of Pennsylvania, the 17-year-old is multi-talented. Her voice is incredibly powerful and soulful, her guitar playing is sublime, and she has tremendous stage presence.

Jacqui isn’t just a Beatles artist, but it’s those songs that were on display at The Fest.

All About The Fest For Beatles Fans

Author: Danny Abriano, Entertainment

The Fest For Beatles Fans, originally known as Beatlefest, began in New York City 42 years ago and has been going strong there ever since.

Shortly after its New York debut, which came with John Lennon’s blessing, the Fest also started having yearly conventions in Chicago, where it celebrated its 40th anniversary at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in 2016.

I’ve been attending the Fest since I was four years old and have been working for them for the last three years on social media, communications, planning and more, so the awesomeness of it is ingrained in me. For those who have never attended a Fest, though, it’s truly something that needs to be experienced to be understood.

And if you’re a Beatles fan who lives anywhere near New York or Chicago and haven’t gotten yourself to a Fest yet, remedying that should be at the top of your list.

Before going into details, here’s the gist…

The Fest — which was founded by Mark Lapidos, who still produces each one — takes place each March or April in the New York Metro area and each August in Chicago, running from Friday to Sunday, with every single event and activity included in the price of admission.

If you only spend one day at the Fest (many fans spend the entire weekend there, staying over at the aforementioned hotel), you might not be able to see everything, but the highlights include…

Special guests, which in Chicago have included Klaus Voormann (recorded with all four Beatles, designed the Revolver cover), Peter Asher (of Peter and Gordon, legendary producer), Joey Molland of Badfinger, guitar virtuoso Albert Lee and Ringo Starr’s former producer Mark Hudson.

All of the above guests except Voormann have performed in their own concerts, telling stories of their experiences with the Beatles and mingling with fans. But their presence just scratches the surface of what the Fest is all about.

Other events and activities at the Fest include the Battle of the Beatles Bands, the Giant International Beatles Marketplace, Beatles Yoga and Transcendental Meditation, the Beatles Art Contest, movie screenings and an all-day video room, the FABoratory Beatles experimental zone, Beatles art exhibits, an interactive 3D Paul McCartney exhibit, panels and discussions with Beatles authors and historians, the Beatles sound-alike contest, puppet shows, the Beatles parade and the Apple Jam stage — a second stage where local acts will be playing Beatles-centric shows Friday night and all day Saturday and Sunday.

While all of that Beatleness is going on throughout the hotel, the Main Stage goes strong each day with concerts from the musical guests listed above, The Weeklings, School of Rock Chicago and many others. There are also charity raffles and Beatles auctions on this stage, appearances by George Harrison’s sister, Louise, the world premiere of the Mad Day Out book, whose photographer took snaps of the Beatles in 1968 and lots more.

The highlight of each night is the concert by Liverpool — truly the greatest Beatles tribute band in the world — whose performances are strictly music-based. Translation? These guys don’t dress up or talk like the Beatles, since true Beatles fans shouldn’t be infantilized.

Liverpool’s focus is on note-for-note covers of Beatles hits and lesser-known (if you’re a die-hard fan there’s no such thing as lesser known) cuts, which they attack with the same ferocity and drive of the Fab Four.

In 2016, Liverpool played Revolver in full as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of that groundbreaking album, and also played dozens of other Beatles cuts and jamming with the Fest’s special musical guests — and their Saturday and Sunday concerts featuree a light show. And raucous Grand Jam finales where some of the fans are regularly pulled up on stage.

But even with all of the incredible things going on at the Fest, one of the most integral parts of it – and a big reason why fans keep coming back year after year — is the communal feeling.

When I tell people about the Fest, their most common reaction is to ask if it’s akin to a convention at the Javits Center or similar to Comic Con. No. This is more like a three-day party that invites you in, eventually engulfs you and makes you wish it would never end.

From when the Fest kicks off on a Friday until it technically ends late Sunday night, fans gather throughout the hotel for small and large jam sessions. And decorate their hotel room doors with all things Beatles. And dance. And party.

So, from the time you walk into the Fest until the time you leave, no matter where you are in the hotel or what time it is, there will be Beatles music in the air while like-minded Beatles fanatics celebrate the continuing power of the greatest band in history. What more could you possibly ask for?