Mar 3, 2014
HANDPICKED BY GEORGE HARRISON’S SISTER, BEATLES TRIBUTE BAND TO PERFORM AT DESOTO
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By NANETTE LIGHT
Published: 28 February 2014 08:39 AM
Updated: 28 February 2014 12:40 PM
For a few hours each night, when the curtain rises, Marty Scott rocks like he’s a Beatle.
It’s been almost a decade since he began performing as guitarist George Harrison in a traveling Beatles tribute band called the Liverpool Legends.
On Monday, the impersonating quartet will take the stage at 7 p.m. at DeSoto High School, launching the British invasion all over again.
The band will be backed for half the concert by 100 choir and 50 band students from DeSoto and neighboring school districts.
The performance is part of the band’s Help Keep the Music Alive program. It aims to support musical performance in schools and support fine arts programs through a portion of the concert’s proceeds.
“We’re not changing the world, but we’re doing something that’s good,” Scott said.
He said Monday’s performance is the band’s first at a Texas school.
Pamela Dawson, chorale director at DeSoto High School, discovered the tribute band last summer during a trip to Branson, Mo., where the band has a standing show.
The band was organized almost a decade ago by Scott and Louise Harrison, the late George Harrison’s older sister. The other three performers were handpicked by Louise Harrison to look and sound like their counterparts.
“I’ve been around the Beatles and Beatles performances for many years,” said Harrison, 82, during a telephone interview. “There are hundreds of Beatles tribute bands out there, but I thought we could put something more authentic together. The one thing that was important to me is I wanted the guys in the band to be the kind of guys George would want to hang around. I think I’ve succeeded, and it’s been quite fun.”
Harrison moved to the United States in 1963 before the Beatles — at the time beloved in England — were a stateside icon.
In the U.S., she was an advocate for her brother and his music. She often visited radio stations — with her brother’s records in tow — to lobby for airtime. Most of the time, she wasn’t very successful, she said.
“Everyone kept telling me this band is going nowhere,” she said, laughing.
She said the Help Keep the Music Alive program is an effort to continue her brother’s mission to share and make music accessible to everyone.
And Dawson said it comes at a time when money is tight. This year, the high school’s choir budget was cut in half from $9,000 to $4,500, said Dawson, chairwoman of the DeSoto Arts Commission. The commission partnered with the high school to organize the performance and is paying to house and feed the band — the show’s main expenses.
The cut means forgoing previous performance and travel opportunities like day trips to colleges to visit and explore their choir departments.
“DeSoto is a low-income district so it’s hard to get the kids to spend money for things like that. I’m excited the Liverpool Legends are coming in. At least the kids get to perform,” she said. “It wasn’t my intention when I decided to bring them in to make money. It was about the opportunity for students to perform.”
For many students, the rehearsals were an introduction to classic Beatles songs such as “Hey Jude” and “Hello, Goodbye.”
A Beatles fan since she was 8 years old, Dawson remembers watching the group’s original performance on The Ed Sullivan Show on her family’s black-and-white television in Detroit.
The gig, which celebrated its 50th anniversary earlier this month, launched the band into stardom in America.
“The Beatles came up in a time when there was violence and riots,” Dawson said. “The Beatles gave us unity. They sang about love and togetherness. When I think of their lyrics, it makes me happy. They have a very strong message.”
Afterward, Dawson asked her dad for 10 cents to buy a Beatles record from a nearby store.
Since then, she’s spread the lyrics to her children. Now, she’s spreading them to her students.
Scott said the band’s intergenerational popularity is an anomaly in the music world.
“You’re not supposed to like your grandparents’ music. That’s just a fact,” Scott said. “The Beatles somehow got around that.”