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Talented new authors make appearances at Chicago Beatles fest

by Jude Kessler, author of The John Lennon Series.

The Beatles were not "just a band," they were gifted artists. From the very beginning, when George Martin wanted them to record the Tin Pan Alley song, "How Do You Do It?" the lads were determined to record their own unique, self-penned song instead. Hence, "Love Me Do." And I think they would have been extremely proud of the exquisite variety of authors, musicians, actors, and artists who gathered once again this year to make The Chicago Fest for Beatles Fans a creative mecca.

Many of these folks were returning guests who come back year after year with their handcrafted jewelry, framed art, and well-researched books. But some are new to the scene and deserve a nod for the innovative work they're doing to honor The Beatles.

Chicago native, Dr. Kit O'Toole, lead the pack. A long-time Contributing Editor for Beatlefan magazine, O'Toole has also written for many highly-esteemed internet music sites such as Blog Critics and Something Else Reviews where her "Deep Beatles" column is a reader favorite.

From these respected sites, O'Toole has gleaned a decade's worth of superb and critical Beatles musical essays, she has polished these and complied them into a new book entitled "Songs We Were Singing." This insightful collection studies The Beatles' lesser-known tracks in a very user-friendly fashion and was a big hit in Chicago. In fact, Dr. O'Toole was interviewed and applauded on Saturday by well-known Beatles author, Robert Rodriguez. On Sunday, she also participated in a discussion of John Lennon's protest songs as part of the "Live Kit and Kaboodle Show," popular on BlogTalkRadio.

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Kit O'Toole

O'Toole recruited Enoch Doyle Jeter, Artist in Residence at the University of Louisiana at Monroe to create a stone lithograph original for her book's cover and then enlisted Dr. Kenneth Womack (author of Long and Winding Roads and The Beatles Encyclopedia) to write her Foreword. She worked with both of them at the Penn State International Beatles Conference in 2014, and both add significantly to her work.

As a bonus for readers, O'Toole has also included a brand new chapter in the book of critical essays, a study created specifically for the book. Her fresh, new examination of the "Ten Underrated Ringo Performances" is so enthralling that one reader posted on Facebook today that it caused him to "miss his stop" on the New York subway!

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Damon Vincent

Equally fascinating was the work of Nashville's Damon Vincent who turns old record albums into works of art. Vincent, who began his career by creating unique gifts and pieces of art for Nashville tourist attractions such as the Grand Ole Opry and who holds a degree in marketing, invented a triple blade cutter that sculpts LP-vinyl into faces, figurines, and symbols of the 1960's Liverpool band. Emerging from half of a long-playing Traveling Wilburys record is the detailed face of George Harrison. And jumping, cavorting around the center disc of "With the Beatles" is that famous Beatles LOVE logo.

Damon envisions and creates a template for each individual depiction. Then using that template, he carves old records into immediately recognizable shapes and figures. "It's very challenging finding the right image for each band member and each LP. Coming up with an iconic image is 3/4 the battle," Damon observed. "In fact, that's the most important part of the work."

Damon and his work partner, Roger Madden, first created their one-of-a-kind "album art" for a high school Christmas festival. Now, it is proudly sold at Abbey Road on the River, the Nashville Christmas show, and here tomorrow and Sunday afternoon and evening at the Fest for Beatles Fans. It's real and it's spectacular, and the conservative price points amazed fans in attendance!

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Jill Davis

Finally, the Fest is for all ages, and this year, there was a great appeal for those with young children and grandchildren.

Lanea Stagg's kid-dult book full of beautiful John Fuch's watercolors, "Little Dog in the Sun," talks to children (and their parents) about the impact of death. In the tradition of John Lennon's struggle with Stu Sutcliffe's and Julia's death, it addresses the difficult challenge one faces when trying to move on with life. It talks about the day-by-day process of adjusting.

And new author, Jill Davis also came to The Fest with a lively and lovely Beatles ABC book. Entitled "ABSeeTheBeatles," Davis's book was lovingly, cleverly illustrated by St Louis resident, Jeanne Conway, a St. Louis art teacher. Jeanne embedded secret Beatles' symbols throughout each watercolor illustration. "Finding the hidden picture within the picture is the job of devoted fans," Davis explains. So the book isn't only for toddlers and kids. It's a keepsake for anyone who loves The Beatles. It's enchanting.

The Fest for Beatles fans was indeed a mecca for those committed to the arts. Some came to sell and share what they have crated. Others, the patrons, came to buy. But as Mark, Carol, Jessica, and Michelle Lapidos promise, "A splendid time is guaranteed for all." And it was!

More information:

• The John Lennon Series by Jude Kessler
• Songs We Were Singing by Kit O'Toole
• Little Dog in the Sun by Lanea Stagg
• Music City Minis

Published August 17, 2015

This article is Copyright © 2015, Jude 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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