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Beatles at the Ridge announces symposium 2017 headliners

Walnut Ridge, AR -- In its fifth year celebrating the genius of The Beatles, the Beatles at the Ridge Authors and Artists Symposium has recruited a highly-distinguished panel of Beatles authors, artists, filmmakers, and musicians for the September 15-16, 2017 "Summer of Love: 50th Anniversary" event.

Hailing from all over the United States, these Beatles experts will converge on Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, just at The Beatles did that same weekend 53 years ago. But unlike the lads, who came for rest and relaxation, BATR's Symposium presenters will be on hand to offer multi-media presentations and to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of "The Summer of Love," the summer in which The Beatles gave us Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Featured Authors for the gala weekend are Bruce Spizer and Jude Southerland Kessler. Both have written numerous books on The Beatles and are featured speakers at the Fest for Beatles Fans in New York and Chicago.

Bruce Spizer is the leading Beatles music expert in America, having penned The Beatles are Coming!, The Beatles Story on Capitol Records (Vols. 1 and 2), The Beatles Swan Song, Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records, The Beatles on Apple Records, and The Beatles Solo on Apple Records. Additionally, Spizer is a regular contributor to Beatlefan magazine and a speaker at Abbey Road on the River. He also created the questions for the Trivial Pursuit Beatles board game. In 2016, Spizer was the Grand Finale Speaker for the GRAMMY Museum of Mississippi Beatles Symposium.

Lanea Stagg, Jude Southerland Kessler, Bruce Spizer and Kit O'Toole

Jude Southerland Kessler is the foremost John Lennon expert and the author of The John Lennon Series including Shoulda Been There (Lennon's life from 1940-1961), Shivering Inside (1961-1963), She Loves You (1963-1964) and this year's Should Have Known Better (1964-1965). She is also one of the authors of New Critical Perspectives on The Beatles: Things We Said Today. Kessler serves as the official blogger for The Fest for Beatles Fans and hosted "The John Lennon Hour" radio show for three years. She was the Chairperson for the GRAMMY Museum of Mississippi Beatles Symposium in 2016 and has been the Chairperson for Beatles at the Ridge's Symposium since 2012.

Featured Artist for the BATR Symposium for 2017 is Enoch Doyle Jeter of Monroe, LA. Jeter is Artist in Residence at the University of Louisiana, Monroe and was the illustrator for Volume 3 in The John Lennon Series, She Loves You, creating 14 original lithographs for the book. He has been featured in one-man shows at Centenary College, Shreveport, Louisiana and Taos, New Mexico. Jeter is a gifted stone lithographer whose work was selected for the cover of Dr. Kit O'Toole's 2015 book, Songs We Were Singing, and he has taught a seminar in lithography in Cork City, Ireland. Jeter will host two "art happenings" at the Ridge - involving elementary age children in one, and high-school aged children in the second.

Noted authors/speakers for the September event also include Dr. Ken Womack, author of Long and Winding Roads: The Evolving Artistry of The Beatles and The Beatles Encyclopedia (Vols 1 and 2). Dr. Womack is Dean of Humanities and Professor of English at Monmouth University, New Jersey and he is currently working on a new book about Sir George Martin entitled Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin, The Early Years (1926-66). In 2016, Dr. Womack was the editor of New Critical Perspectives on the Beatles: Things We Said Today and in 2014, he chaired Penn State Altoona's "Beatles International Symposium" featuring Mark Lewisohn.

Lanea Stagg will return to BATR's Authors and Artists Symposium for the fifth time this year. In past years, Stagg has featured her extraordinary rock'n'roll cookbooks, The Recipe Records Series. This year, however, she will be joining in the spirit of the "Summer of Love" theme by sharing a reading of her beloved kid-dult book Little Dog in the Sun. Lanea hosts the Recipe Records Radio Show on BlogTalk radio and has been a speaker at the New York and Chicago Fests for Beatle Fans and the GRAMMY Museum Beatles Symposium 2016.

Ken Womack, Cameron Hicks and Sara Schmidt

Sara Schmidt is returning to the Ridge for the third year with her extremely popular Beatles book, Happiness is Seeing The Beatles: Beatlemania in St. Louis. In 2016, Sara was chosen to contribute to a new volume on The Beatles entitled A is for Apple, Vol 2: Winter of Discontent. Additionally, she is the creator of the well-respected website Meet The Beatles For Real which documents "real life" encounters with The Beatles and ordinary citizens, telling stories that have never before been told and sharing the largest library of Beatles photos in existence.

Dr. Kit O'Toole is a third-year participant at the Ridge. She is noted for her interesting "Ten Sounds" lectures, and fans are anticipating her return with the distinguished works, Songs We Were Singing: Guided Tours Through The Beatles' Lesser Known Tracks and Michael Jackson FAQ: All That's Left to Know about the King of Pop. Dr. O'Toole was a presenter at the GRAMMY Beatles Symposium in 2016 and is a Contributing Editor for Beatlefan magazine. She is also a reviewer and columnist for the websites Something Else Reviews and Blinded by Sound.

Cameron Hicks, 2015 winner of the Ridge Beatles Talent Contest and a presenter at last year's symposium, will be back in 2017 to perform at the Friday night (15 September) "Meet and Greet." He will also lead a "Beatles Sing-Along" on Saturday, culminating in a "Live Ridge Jam" in which fest attendees will be encouraged to get up and play instruments, sing along, and share in the music of The Beatles. Cameron has performed at the GRAMMY Museum Beatles Symposium and sings at many venues in the Memphis area.

Rande Monroe Kessler, pen and ink artist and photographer, will be returning to the Ridge for the fifth time this year. His popular "Doors Of Liverpool" art poster and his original artwork Beatles T-shirts are staples of the event. Kessler did the cover portrait of John Lennon for She Loves You, Volume 3 in The John Lennon Series. His four Beatles multi-media sculptures were featured at the GRAMMY Museum Mississippi Beatles symposium in 2016. Also a gifted musician, this year Kessler will participate in the Live Ridge Jam with Cameron Hicks.

Special vendors for this year's event include Beatle collectibles expert Bud Loveall, poet Terri Whitney with her new book Any Rhyme at All, and noted Beatles blogger and author Sandi Borowsky.

A host of "Summer of Love" events and activities, including jugglers, face painters, balloon artists, and a "Live Mic Poetry Reading" hosted by Terri Whitney, will be a part of this year's festival in Walnut Ridge. Jessica Altman is the chairperson for those special moments and is looking for volunteer participants. If you would like to volunteer, or if you know someone who would, please contact Jessica at

For more information about The 5th Annual Beatles at the Ridge Authors and Artists Symposium, contact Jude Southerland Kessler at or festival Founder and Director, Charles Snapp via direct message at Beatles at the Ridge on Facebook.

More information:

• Beatles at the Ridge
• Beatles at the Ridge on Facebook
• The John Lennon Series by Jude Southerland Kessler
• Meet The Beatles For Real by Sara Schmidt

Related articles:

• Noted music journalist returns to Beatles at the Ridge (9/11/17)
• Music component added to Beatles at the Ridge Symposium (9/6/17)
• Beatles Fan Club historian to speak at Beatles festival (8/22/17)
• Talented couple to headline Beatles at the Ridge (7/10/17)
• Womack to present new book on George Martin at Ridge Festival (6/6/17)

Published February 13, 2017

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