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Opening night of BeatExpo holds rockin' surprises

by Jude Southerland Kessler, author of the Lennon series (Shoulda BeenThere and Shivering Inside)

There's a certain formula to rock 'n' roll gathering: a market of vendors, a concert of stars, a stage full of celebrities, and a hall full of authors. But tonight in Stamford, CT, Charles Rosenay surprised attendees with something very unusual...

After an opening act by comedian Benjy Greenberg and a set by McCartney Tribute band, "One Sweet Dream," things began to get a bit "crazy." Denny Laine unexpectedly took the stage to sing three numbers with "One Sweet Dream," bringing the crowd to its feet as he did "Live and Let Die" for "Paul and Linda." His "Band on the Run" had everyone in the room singing along, and he left the stage to a standing ovation. But that wasn't all!

Ian Lloyd of "The Stories" took the stage and launched into his '70's hit "Brother Louie," accompanied by his talented son (of "Social Hero"). And Gary DeCarlo of 70's band, "Steam" led the crowd in "NaNa Hey Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye."

As the lights went down after a brief intermission, smartly dressed, handsome Tommy Roe stood on stage alone, with only his guitar to back him up. For an excellent half-hour, he offered up one fantastic Roe tune after another: "Sheila," "Everybody," "This Winter's Day," "Jam Up and Jelly Tight" and finally, "Dizzy." Each number was performed in excellent voice; sixty-nine year old Roe had lost not one particle of his ability to sing and charm an audience. But the loveliest moment came when Roe revealed that with him for the evening was his nine-year-old grandaughter...and this was THE FIRST TIME she had ever heard her grandfather sing. "She asked her grandmother what I do," Roe told the gathered crowd. "Now she knows." The fans went wild.

"MerseyBeat" Tribute band began their set, and for a moment things seemed as if they'd be nice and normal. Not so! "MerseyBeat" beckoned to the stage 1960's singer, Julie Grant, who joined them to sing her colossal hit, "Up on the Roof." Like Roe, Grant was amazing! Her powerful, spot-on voice had lost none of its rich quality. The number was dyanmic, and Grant packed the room.

As MerseyBeat's set continued, Jimi Hendrix percussionist, Juma Sultan, joined in on bongos, and the tremendously talented Gary Van Scyoc from "Elephant's Memory Band" took over for a number on bass. Both were fantastic.

But even this wasn't "the big surprise." As the evening drew to a close, Rosenay announced that a "new band" had been formed on the spot to close the show. Consisting of John Ford on rhythm, John Ihle on drums, Jimmy Mac on lead guitar, Ian Lloyd on vocal, the World's Most Famous Beatles artist Shannon on bass, and John Lennon's engineer, Dennis Ferrante on vocals, the extemporaneous band gave the crowd "Come Together" and "Mustang Sally." This ecclectic combination of talented rockers left the crowd yelling, whooping, and cheering. It was a rare moment.

Charles Rosenay promised BeatExpo goers that if they enjoyed the concert, much more will follow tomorrow as Richard Langham is interviewed for the first time ever about his years with The Beatles in the Abbey Road Studio and Gary Van Scyoc talks about his years with John and Yoko in New York City. Tommy Roe will be interviewed at 5:30 p.m. and Denny Laine at 6:15.

Of course, Rosenay has his wonderful staff are also supplying the expected: a great place to shop for holiday gifts, good food to eat, and great bands to enjoy. If Sunday's events are anything like Saturday night's, it will be (as John Lennon aptly phrased it) "a red lettuce day."

The festivities are talking place at the Holiday Inn Stamford in Stamford, CT from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. For more info, go to toursandevents.com/BEATexpo.htm.

Published November 28, 2010

This article is Copyright © 2010, Jude Southerland Kessler, and may not be reproduced on other web sites or in print, in whole or in part, without expressed permission

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