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Beatles at Ridge 2018 to kick off with Lennon concert

Walnut Ridge, Arkansas -- In 2017, singer/songwriter Alan Bernhoft packed The Studio on Main Street, Walnut Ridge, as he kicked off the Beatles at the Ridge "Authors and Artists Symposium" for a rollicking John Lennon concert! This year, he's back, and the talented Lennon impersonator has brand new surprises in store for his free concert on Friday, September 14, to get everyone in the mood for the fab (four) weekend!

Recently, Beatles at the Ridge Authors and Artists Symposium co-chair Jude Southerland Kessler sat down with Alan:

Jude: Alan, you're back for your second year at BATR's Authors and Artists Symposium, kicking off the weekend with your fun and fast-paced John Lennon concert at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, September 14. Tell us a little about what you'll be performing: Beatles songs, solo songs, both? Give us a sneak peek, if you will.

Alan: Hey Jude, I'm so glad to be back! This year I'll be doing more Beatles tunes that I love, but rarely have the opportunity to perform with tribute shows. I'm also including one or two Lennon solo tunes and a few of my original Beatlesque tunes, (thanks to the encouragement of Jude Kessler!).

Alan Bernhoft as John Lennon

Jude: How did you become one of America's premiere John Lennon impersonators? How did that all get started?

Alan: Like most fans, I had been singing along with Beatles records since I was a little kid. I started as a drummer and always did harmonies or backing vocals for various bands I toured with, including Kirby Hill and the Sundowners, The Earl White Review, and The Wedgeheads (known as "Louisiana's first punk band"). Although I'm from the South, I always had a sort of British sound. It was with The Wedgeheads that I sang lead on a Beatles parody, "Please Mr. Dopeman", where myself and others noticed that I really sounded like Lennon in the studio, especially when double-tracked. My role as a Lennon impersonator grew from there, and I was always singing Lennon tunes in various original bands, until one day I was recruited to perform with a professional tribute show! At that point, I bought my trusty Rickenbacker, wigs, and costumes and hit the "Pretend Beatles Road".

Jude: You grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana, home of the Louisiana Hayride that launched the careers of so many great musicians...Elvis, in fact. Do you have roots in R&B or country as well? Who were some of your heroes growing up?

Alan: Growing up in Shreveport, Louisiana, Elvis was a HUGE influence. He lived there in the early days at the David Motel on the Bossier Strip; he used it as his hub as he, Scotty, and Bill performed around the Ark-La-Tex for about 18 months, doing the Louisiana Hayride at the Municipal Auditorium. I first started my musical career on drums, and my teacher, one of the great drummers, Hines Williams, had been the staff drummer in those early days at the Hayride. His pal, DJ Fontana, was the other staff drummer, and both backed artists such as Elvis, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, The Everly Brothers, and dozens of other great artists who came through that amazing place. Of course, DJ went on to become Elvis's drummer. Shreveport has a rich, rich music history, and I was fortunate to grow up in a place with such an amazing history. From Johnny Horton to Van Cliburn to Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Shreveport's list of music's notables is great. And all of them influenced me in one way or another.

Jude: Alan, you're also a gifted singer/songwriter. Tell us about the Beatlesque series of CDs that you've created. Weren't some of your original songs in films?

Alan: Yes, I've been fortunate to have my Beatlesque songs in film, television, and commercials. I had a song on the Today Show, several songs in indie films (including the cult favorite, "Desperately Seeking Paul McCartney"), a song on a BBC TV commercial, and I even had a group of tap dancing kids create and perform a routine to my song, "Chocolate Chip Cookie Rock" at a recital. (Tude's Dance, see it on Youtube, it's SO CUTE!)

Jude: What projects have you been working on in the last year since you performed at Beatles at the Ridge? Will you have a new CD to sell this year?

Alan: Since last year I've been working on what I consider my most important musical work. (I always feel that way about my "latest project.") This is CD number 16, and it is tentatively titled MY VOICE. I'm singing originals and some very special cover songs in my own voice, my own keys, my own style. There's a strong Beatles influence, of course, but also overtones of Elvis, Sinatra, Lou Reed, Syd Barrett, Jim Morrison, and many of my favorite singers. I'm very proud of this particular record so far and look forward to doing more like it. I'll definitely debut some of these tunes at Beatles at the Ridge 2018!

Jude: We know that you are close friends with legendary drummer, Hal Blaine. Have you two worked together on any projects?

Alan: Hal Blaine is my hero, mentor, and friend. We met at a Fest for Beatles Fans (back when it was called "BeatlesFest") long ago - he was signing books, and I was a guest performer. We became immediate friends, and I've spent many years listening to his stories and looking through his amazing photo albums. There are several interviews I conducted with Hal on YouTube, including an interview about my original indie film, "The Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde Rock 'n' Roll Musical," on which Hal did a cameo for me as a wino who meets an unfortunate end at the hands of Mr. Hyde. Hal also played drums on a straight jazz album of standards I produced featuring my Uncle George on jazz harmonica (Chromonica Jazz). That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience because I was able to not only record my amazingly talented uncle, but also to play dual drums with Hal, "The World's Greatest Drummer." Hal is one of the funniest, most generous, most humble humans I've ever had the pleasure to have met. His favorite saying is, "There are no losers - only winners who quit too soon."

Jude: Well, Alan, you are a winner in every aspect of the word, and Beatles at the Ridge cannot wait to have you back in Walnut Ridge, Sept. 14-15 to shine a light on the music of John Lennon and The Beatles. Thank you for being a part of this free festival to honor the lads from Liddypool.

More information:

• Alan Bernhoft
• Alan Bernhoft on Facebook
• Beatles at the Ridge
• Beatles at the Ridge on Facebook

Related articles:

• Music expert and author Kit O'Toole to close Beatles symposium (9/10/18)
• Liverpool film maker and author to be featured at Beatles at the Ridge (8/24/18)
• Memphis teen music star to shine at Beatles Symposium (4/24/18)
• Beatles poet to speak at Beatles symposium (3/27/18)
• Former fan club president to address Beatles symposium (2/19/18)

Published July 27, 2018

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