By Kimmy April 26, 2012
Apr 26, 2012
LIVERPOOL LEGENDS BEATLES TRIBUTE BAND GETS SOME GREAT NEW PRESS IN MASSACHUSETTS!
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Here’s more really cool press we are getting for our “Help Keep Music Alive” program!
Northampton High music program to benefit from Liverpool Legends
By STEVE PFARRER
The Beatles have spawned countless imitators since the 1960s, from staged shows like “Rain” and “Beatlemania!” to legions of cover and tribute bands – the Moptops, the Fab Faux and Strawberry Fields Forever, to name just a few.
But how many of those cover bands can claim a personal connection to – and endorsement from – someone who knew the Beatles personally?
That would be the Liverpool Legends, a Missouri-based touring group led by Louise Harrison, whose baby brother was the Beatles’ lead guitarist, George Harrison. She was 11 when her youngest brother was born in Liverpool, England, in February 1943.
Harrison, 80, will be on hand when the Legends play a benefit concert for the Northampton High School’s music program May 3 at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium. School band members will join the group onstage for some numbers.
During the show she will reminisce about the Beatles and her brother, who died in 2001 from throat cancer.
“George was someone who really cared about the people in his life, someone who was compassionate and also quite talented,” Harrison said in a phone interview from her home in Florida. “And he was a deeply spiritual person as well.”
The “lads” who make up the Liverpool Legends are “just the kind of fellows George would have liked to hang out with,” Harrison said. “Really decent guys, very good musicians, with a sense of humor and a real bond between them, just like the Beatles.”
In the past year, Harrison has launched the “Help Keep Music Alive” initiative in which the Legends play benefit concerts at high schools to raise money for their music programs. All revenues from ticket sales go to the schools after the band’s operating expenses are covered, she said.
Harrison says she’s setting up the program as a nonprofit organization and seeking sponsors to allow more of the money raised from the shows to go directly to schools.
“There’s really a need for this kind of support – music and art programs are being cut all across the country because of the economy,” she said. “And I know this is something George would have liked to see happen.”
To get the schools involved, the band sends sheet music for some of the songs in advance, giving bands and choral groups time to learn the material. They rehearse with the Legends the afternoon before the concert, then join them during the show for songs such as “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “All You Need Is Love” that include additional orchestration.
Music promoter Paul Lococo, a 1971 graduate of Northampton High School who lived for many years in Texas, hooked up with Harrison and the Liverpool Legends a few years back. Now back in Northampton, Lococo got in touch with the high school’s lead instrumental music teacher, Deborah Coon.
Coon said she expects the experience to be “a fabulous opportunity for our kids in all kinds of ways.” She said she anticipates that 30 to 40 members of the band and chorus will take part in the Legends show, along with other musicians like the string players who perform during school musicals.
“Everyone’s really excited about this and seeing our kids perform,” Coon said. “It’s also a good way of reminding people that a lot of musicians you hear on the radio … got their start in a humble school or community music program.”
The Legends – Marty Scott (George Harrison), Kevin Mantegna (John Lennon), Bob Beahon (Paul McCartney) and Joe Bologna (Ringo Starr) – will perform 35 songs spanning the Beatles’ career, using the same kinds of instruments and wearing the same kind of clothing the band did in various phases, like the skinny ties and matching dark jackets of the early 1960s. Bob Dobro plays the “fifth Beatle” – the name given to the group’s producer, George Martin – handling some keyboards and arranging the orchestral parts.
“It’s a very good show, with a lot of attention to detail, and if you listen carefully you’ll know they play the songs note for note,” Harrison said. “And we don’t use any backing tapes or lip synching – it’s all live.”
Harrison, who has lived in the United States since 1963, has seen any number of Beatles tribute bands over the years. But it wasn’t until she met Scott at a Beatles convention in Chicago in early 2002, about six weeks after George died, that she felt drawn to one.
“I hadn’t really grieved yet for my brother, because I knew that he’d been ready to leave this world, and I knew his spirit was still with me,” she said. “Then Marty got up onstage and began playing ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps,’ and the tears just started streaming down my face.”
She says she felt deeply drawn to Scott, and in talking to him later that day, found him “very much like George – the same sense of compassion … just his whole demeanor reminded me so much of him.” She jokes that Scott’s since become both a surrogate brother and son to her, depending on her mood.
It turned out that Mantegna, an old high school friend of Scott, had been playing for years with him as a “George & John” duo. Harrison decided to enlist Scott and Mantegna in finding a Paul and Ringo to make “the best Beatles tribute band ever.” They auditioned numerous musicians before hiring Bob Beahon and the band’s first “Ringo,” drummer Greg George. The band has been based in Branson, Mo., since 2006.
Earlier this year, Harrison and the group received a Grammy nomination for Best Spoken Word Record: “Fab Fan Memories,” a series of interviews with Beatles fans paired with songs played by the Liverpool Legends. The record is narrated by Louise Harrison.
Harrison did plenty of promotional work for the real Beatles back in the 1960s. She was living in Illinois when George flew over to visit her in late 1963 – the first of the Fab Four to travel to the U.S. Great Britain was then in the midst of full-fledged Beatlemania, but the first few Beatles records hadn’t made an impression in America. George asked if she could help the group get some airtime.
“I spent a lot of time after that calling up radio stations trying to get the word out about our lads,” Harrison said. She had some success, but the group’s big break came after they performed on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in February 1964. Beatlemania exploded across the country.
For the next few years, Harrison broadcast regular reports on the band for an American audience hungry for every scrap of news. She also sometimes toured with the group.
Harrison says audiences at Liverpool Legends concerts often span three or four generations. She enjoys seeing their reactions: “Especially the younger kids,” she said. “They’ll say, ‘We really like this stuff. It’s better than the music of today.’ ”
Tickets for the May 3 Liverpool Legends concert at Northampton High
- School are $25 (balcony), $30 (floor) and $45 (orchestra). They’re
- available at Easthampton Savings Bank, by calling 800-838-3006 or online
- at brownpaperticket.com.
Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz will welcome Louise Harrison to the
- city at a press conference May 1 at 5 p.m. on the steps of City Hall.
- The Northampton High School band will perform Beatles songs at the