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The Chicago Fest For Beatles Fans Day 3: Beatles art and Beatles music
by Jude Southerland Kessler
Author of Shoulda Been There and the upcoming book on John Lennon, Shivering Inside
If you've never been to a Fest for Beatles Fans because you imagine that it's all lectures on "The Intricacies of Harmony on The White Album" or embarrassing Beatles look-alike contests, IT'S NOT. In fact, the Fest is not about the past at all.
It's about NOW...about new Beatles releases and events, new Beatles-inspired music and art, and new expression by artists who celebrate the genius of John, Paul, George, and Ringo.
All over the magnificent O'Hare Hyatt Hotel this weekend, you find musicians of all ages performing music that was inspired by The Beatles, but which is fresh and new! A sitar player (above) sits on the floor and performs. Two ukulele experts (click on these links to see more pics!) from Wonderwall Music Shoppe in Oak Park, Illinois stand together, reminiscing about last year's attempt to break the world record for the most ukulele players ever gathered on one stage...they share memories with me and then break into song. A young, trendy pink-hatted bass player talks about her performance in tonight's talent contest. A lovely teen at the piano sings a breathtaking rendition of "Dear Prudence" that receives a standing ovation in the ballroom. A group of Baby Boomers and teens gather under the stairwell to sing Beatles classics. A Johnny Cash sound-alike belts about his own take on "Act Naturally." Klaus Voormann performs to whoops and cheers. Music. Lots of it. All over the hotel people are singing, strumming, finger-picking, learning to play new instruments, and talking about the concerts they've attended in the last year.
"Green Day was phenomenal! They sang three songs lying on their backs!" "I saw The Grass Roots and The Buckinghams together in concert! What a reunion!" "Roger Daughtry was in concert again. He used to swing his microphone. Now he holds a coffee cup." In elevators, hallways, and restaurants, people are talking about music.
Art, too, is very much alive here. The Fest Art Gallery is a visual feast. One gifted oil painter offers a fantastic collage of Lennon portraits while another multi-media artist uses 45-center-discs to build a Peace mosaic. One quite inventive "sculptor" recreates the Sgt. Pepper album cover, using Marshmallow Peeps! And Chuck Earling of Mounted Memories sells phenomenal collections of licensed Beatles photographs, beautifully matted and framed with great care. From an aquarium filled with the characters in "Octopus's Garden" to a clever Ringo home-made standee, the art gallery has something for everyone.
There is even one corner of the room where children can color, paint, and create. Carol and Mark Lapidos have thought of everything.
Yes, the Beatles are alive here...but they're not alive as singers who impacted the 1960's. They here are as catalysts for current creativity...as hosts to 45 years of "thinking outside the crayon box"...as the reason that we still continue to see and sing in technicolor.
What a great tribute to four wacks from Liverpool! They keep us bright and brilliant. Here, today...they keep us from becoming dullards.
Published August 15, 2010
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