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Speakers selected for Beatles at the Ridge 2018 Symposium

Walnut Ridge, AR -- In celebration of John Lennon's 77th birthday, Lennon expert and biographer, Jude Southerland Kessler has announced the Beatles at the Ridge guest speakers for the Beatles Authors and Artists Symposium 2018. Slated for September 14-15, 2018, the Symposium will take place in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, and serves as the educational component for the two-day music festival.

"This is the sixth year that we have hosted The Beatles Authors and Artists Symposium, we're over the moon about this line-up," Kessler said. "In 2018, we'll have six noted Beatles authors, two incredible artists, a gifted teen musician, an award-winning film maker, and a Tony award winner/New York Times best-selling author who is producing an upcoming television event about Brian Epstein."

Headlining the weekend will be Featured Author, Vivek Tiwary, whose New York Times best-selling graphic novel, The Fifth Beatle (on the life of Beatles manager, Brian Epstein) is currently being made into a multi-part television event series. The Fifth Beatle has garnered great acclaim since its debut in 2013. It won the "Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work," two Harvey Awards, and reached #1 on The New York Times best-seller list.

Tiwary also co-produced the Broadway production of Green Day's rock opera, American Idiot, as well as Broadway's popular The Addams Family. Nominated for over 44 Tony Awards and recipient of 25, Tiwary is a sought-after speaker at the Fest for Beatles Fans in New Jersey and Chicago, and has served as the Host for The Harvey Awards.

Vivek Tiwary

Also topping the bill will be author and film maker, David Bedford, a lifelong resident of Liverpool who shares a vast knowledge of Beatles' history from the perspective of a true Scouser. His first book, Liddypool, was heralded by The Beatles' official biographer, Hunter Davies, as "The best illustrated book on the Beatles' Liverpool I've read."

Bedford's other respected works include The Fab One Hundred and Four which focuses on the sweeping influence of the people in Liverpool (and beyond) on The Beatles. And, in 2018, Bedford will release his latest work, In Search of the Fourth Beatle, a comprehensive study of all the people who served as drummer for The Beatles.

David Bedford

In 2016, Bedford worked with Evolution Films and Get Back Films to produce the award-winning documentary, Looking for Lennon. Featured at the Cannes Film Festival and the Fest for Beatles Fans in New Jersey and Chicago, the movie has received constant praise from the critics. Bedford will show the film at the Beatles at the Ridge festival and talk about how it was made.

"I watched Looking for Lennon with great trepidation," Kessler, a thirty-three-year Lennon expert, confessed. "I was so afraid it might contain the same tired errors and myths. But to my utter delight, Dave Bedford's film got John's story right! We're very excited to be able to share this excellent work with Beatles fans at the Ridge next September 14-15. It's a gem!"

Other respected BATR 2018 guest speakers include Sara Schmidt (author of Happiness is Seeing The Beatles: Beatlemania in St. Louis and creator of the Meet The Beatles For Real website), Lanea Stagg (author of The Recipe Records Series of rock'n'roll cookbooks including Recipe Records: A Tribute to The Beatles and her latest book, The Rolling Scones: Let's Spend the Bite Together), Marti Edwards (author of 16 in 64:The Beatles and the Baby Boomers) and Kessler (author of The John Lennon Series, a 9-volume historical narrative biography of Lennon's life).

The Grand Finale Speaker for the event will be Dr. Kit O'Toole, Contributing Editor for Beatlefan magazine and author of Songs We Were Singing: Guided Tours Through the Beatles Lesser Known Tracks and the upcoming book, Soul Searching: Buried Treasures of R&B, Soul, Dance and Hip Hop.

"But that's not all we have in store!" smiled Mayor Charles Snapp, founder of Beatles at the Ridge. "Our 2018 Symposium will also welcome back gifted artist and photographer, Rande Kessler, and a brand-new Beatles artist, Susan Derbacher. Plus, we have the Argenta collection of rare Beatles' photographs for visitors to enjoy!

One of the highlights of this year's symposium was "The Beatles Sing-Along" with teen musician, Cameron Hicks, and Cameron will be back again next year. Furthermore, poet Terri Whitney will reprise her "Live Mic Poetry Reading," sharing her works from Any Rhyme at All and encouraging other poets to do the same. Popular Beatles vendor, Bud Loveall, will be returning for his fourth year as well.

Finally, the biggest hit of the 2017 Symposium was hearing Bettie, one of the stewardesses from the Beatles 1964 North American Tour, tell her story. That interview was made possible by her friend, John Trusty, who partied with The Beatles in Key West in 1964. Now, Trusty and Kessler are teaming up to bring in another surprise guest to Walnut Ridge 2018, another primary source from that historical 1964 tour. "This is not to be missed!" Kessler grinned. "Our new guest will be just as exciting and informative as Bettie was!"

For more information on Beatles at the Ridge go to or follow them on Facebook.

Published October 9, 2017

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