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NY Metro Fest for Beatles Fans educates and entertains

by Jude Southerland Kessler, author of The John Lennon Series

Last weekend, the largest Fest for Beatles Fans since the 50th Anniversary New York Metro fest in 2014 rocked on at the Westchester Hilton in Rye Brook, New York. Record crowds, jamming the highway exits for 45 minutes on Saturday morning, flocked to the Fest's lovely new location to take part in comfortable annual rituals and exciting new offerings.

Each year, Mark and Carol Lapidos and their daughters Jessica and Michelle offer a full plate of events to suit any taste, and this year the offering was gourmet.

With music greats like Mark Rivera, Gary Van Scyoc of Elephant's Memory Band, Mike Pender of the Searchers, and Liverpool's own Billy J. Kramer performing with a finesse that hearkens back to the Sixties and Seventies, crowds were on their feet. Then Peter Asher and Chad & Jeremy brought back wonderful sing-along, dance-along memories. But no Fest concert would be complete without Mark Hudson, the ultimate rocker, blasting and whispering his remarkable "Working Class Hero." The concerts last weekend were off the scale, as was the magical aura created by Pig Light Show!

But that was only one slice of the pie. The Lapidos Family also offered a simultaneous "Beatles symposium" for those wanting to learn about the Fab Four and take part in scholarly discussions and panels.

Jude Southerland Kessler and Charles Roberts

Noted authors such as Bruce Spizer and David Bedford talked to large groups through the weekend. John Lennon Series author, Jude Southerland Kessler, gave the opening talk on Saturday morning and then visited with Charles Roberts whose mother Marjorie Roberts invited a young group called the Quarrymen to perform at her Rosebery Street Festival in Liverpool almost 60 years ago.

On Saturday evening, Vivek Tiwary read aloud from the script of his upcoming television mini-series on Brian Epstein.

Dr. Kit O'Toole and Dr. Ken Womack

On Sunday afternoon, Dr. Kit O'Toole and Dr. Ken Womack joined forces to plumb the depths of music in Beatles For Sale. And Chuck Gunderson began the day with an in-depth look at The Beatles 1966 Concert Tours. Those wanting to take part in serious Beatles studies had over 40 choices of superb speakers and events throughout the weekend.

But the fest is not just glorified study group, it's a party for all ages.

Bob Abdou's children's parade

Puppeteer Bob Abdou led the children's parade and entertained families with his lovable Beatles puppets. Throughout Saturday afternoon, teens took the stage for the Beatles Freestyle Jam. And extemporaneous bands, converging in hallways, under the stairs, and in the lobby jammed into the wee hours. Beatles Yoga, Karaoke Karen's Sing-A-Longs, art contests, and the "Little Child" Activity Room made the Fest (as always) a family event. Everyone was included!

Some things remain the same, year after year. Beatle Fans still decorated their doors with posters and wear T-shirts proclaiming their undying love. Rare videos rolled in the A/V room. Respected vendors offered authentic merchandise, and music filled the halls.

But the joy of the fest is best shown via the warmth offered to new family members. This year author Greg Sterlace was welcomed to the scene. His review book of other Beatles books entitled "The Beatles: Having Read the Book" is witty and irreverent. This critique of 200 Beatles books, complete with ratings for each, is honest and comical and will give Beatles fan newbies a good, solid guide to book-buying. And Charles Roberts' photo prints of the historic Rosebery Street gig, signed by all of the Quarrymen, except John, are true collector's items.

Each year, the Fest for Beatles fans is remarkable. This year, it was electric!

Published April 18, 2016

This article is Copyright © 2016, 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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