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Beatles at the Ridge headliners Say the Word

Walnut Ridge, Arkansas -- On September 20-21, Walnut Ridge will play host to the 7th Annual Beatles at the Ridge Symposium, this year celebrating "Beatles Memorabilia and Collectibles."

In the spirit of that theme Featured Author, Jim Berkenstadt (of the Amazon Best Seller The Beatle Who Vanished), Featured Artist, Ken Orth (creator and curator of the "Meet the Look-Alikes!" collection) and Primary Source Speaker, Art Schreiber (journalist from the Westinghouse Network who toured with The Beatles in 1964) will share rare collectibles and information on these pieces.

On Friday night, September 20, Jim Berkenstadt will talk about a guitar in his possession that was used by George Harrison in an LA studio to record a special version of "Got My Mind Set On You." Berkenstadt will explain how he was able to authenticate the guitar, its use by George, and Harrison's signature. He will also address other Beatles pieces, examining the mysteries and stories behind them.

Throughout the weekend, Ken Orth will conduct tours of his unmatched Beatles memorabilia collection, "Meet the Look-Alikes!" and he will speak on the collectibles that celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Abbey Road.

Similarly, Art Schreiber is coming to Walnut Ridge with rare "cuts" (tapes) of The Beatles speaking with him during the 1964 North American Tour, and he will share exceptional artifacts and insights from that memorable journey.

Beatles at the Ridge co-hosts, Lanea Stagg and Jude Southerland Kessler, sat down with the three featured guests to learn more about them for those who might be interested in attending the FREE Beatles at the Ridge Symposium in September.

To Jim Berkenstadt:

Q:  Jim, please tell us what attendees can expect to hear at your presentation.

I will be presenting on two topics at the BATR.

Chas Newby and Jim Berkenstadt

First, I will be speaking about the hunt for rare high-end Beatles collectibles. Items such as autographs, used Beatles guitar picks, RIAA Gold Records presented to The Beatles, concert set lists, and studio-used music, instruments, and lyrics. I will present a case example of how I went about authenticating a guitar that George Harrison used in the studio for "Got My Mind Set On You," which he then signed (proving that it was used by George and signed by George). I'll share some interesting stories about the pitfalls of collecting and offer tips on how to find rare items.

The following day, I will be speaking about my Amazon Best Seller, The Beatle Who Vanished. The story of Jimmie Nicol has fascinated many fans as to how and why he was in position to take over for Ringo Starr on the eve of The Beatles 1964 World Tour. I will discuss how Nicol later vanished and will provide an update on the major motion picture bio, based upon my book, that is currently in development.

I'm also looking forward to introducing the film George Harrison: Living in the Material World. I served as the Historical Consultant to Martin Scorsese and the production team on that Emmy Award-winning film.

Q:  Why do you think The Beatles continue to be as popular today as they were 50 years ago? 

Two words...The Music! The Beatles were able to channel a special magic in their music, starting with the creative input of their group founder John Lennon. He had "a vision of a man with a pie..."

Seriously, when writing, playing and arranging music together, along with the direction of producer George Martin, The Beatles were able to create timeless music that continues to influence musicians and young people around the world. They sang about love, peace, and other universal themes that are as relevant today as there were in the Sixties.

Additionally, The Beatles were curious about the world around them and were quick to spread their joy and special Liverpool humor with the world. Long after bands such as Maroon 5 fade into obscurity, the music of The Beatles will still remain, like Beethoven, for centuries to come.

Q:  During your years of researching the life of Jimmie Nicol and for the estate of George Harrison, do you have a memory from that time that has had a lasting effect on you?

I've been fortunate to have had many great memories. Certainly, one of the best was the night that Olivia Harrison called me at home to ask me to serve as the historical consultant on her film documentary with Martin Scorsese, to accurately present the life of George Harrison. That was really a profound moment, realizing that George's wife could have picked anyone in the world to represent and research George's history, and she actually chose me! What an honor and a thrill.

Another great moment was when the late Neil Aspinall (long time Beatles road manager and later CEO of their company, Apple Corps Ltd.) invited me to the premiere and Beatles after-party for the Love Cirque du Soleil show. I had done research for the show, and he surprised me at the "Will Call" window to thank me for all the work I had done for The Beatles. I got major goose bumps from that! Then, of course, getting to visit with The Beatles and their friends at the VIP after-party was mind-blowing. Another great honor!

I am really looking forward to sharing my stories and experiences in researching and writing about The Beatles with the wonderful people of Walnut Ridge. I've heard so much about their beautiful town. I cannot wait to get there and meet everyone!

To Ken Orth:

Q: Ken, please tell us what attendees can expect to see with your exhibit.

Meet The Look-Alikes! is a collection of commercial art that looks like The Beatles' record covers. About one-quarter of the two-thousand-piece collection is artwork that parodies the front cover of the group's final recorded album, Abbey Road, released in September 1969. To celebrate the album's 50th birthday, this year's exhibit at the Ridge festival is titled "The Art of Abbey Road: Before and After" and will display photos and sketches that led to the famous crosswalk cover, as well as over one hundred Abbey Road parody artworks on LPs, CDs, magazines, and posters. And a special exhibit feature is in the works! HINT: Bring your walking shoes!

Ken Orth

Q: Why do you think The Beatles continue to be as popular today as they were 50 years ago?

A few days after receiving this question, I saw a web-article titled "Which Members of The Beatles Are Still Alive?" That should be an enlightening gut-punch to us in a Beatles' bubble. Popular? Heck, apparently the fact that some are even still with us is newsworthy. We've got work to do folks, and it starts with the music! That's what The Beatles were about 50 years ago and what they'll always be about. It's the music, stupid!

Q: Which piece of art in your album cover collection is your favorite and why?

My favorite Abbey Road look-alike is a T-shirt with an illustration of three cartoon-like characters walking through a crosswalk. The lead character is dressed like a pope, followed by George Harrison and Ringo Starr. The caption below says "John-Paul, George and Ringo." I think The Beatles would appreciate the drawing's cheekiness!

To Art Schreiber:

Q: Art, tell us what BATR guests can expect to learn from your presentation on Friday night at the Ridge. Can't wait to be back in Walnut Ridge again and this year, to be able to share my complete presentation on my weeks with The Beatles in 1964. The audience will discover "the most often asked question" that people pose to me! They'll also learn how Paul McCartney saved my career!!! In addition, our BATR guests will hear "cuts" (recorded interviews) from all four Beatles and get some very interesting answers to questions that I posed...answers that the public hasn't ever heard before! 

Art Schreiber

Q: Why do you think The Beatles continue to be as popular today as they were 50 years ago?

The Beatles changed music and, for reasons I have never understood, they were the most popular artists in history. Today, not only do Baby Boomers (now seniors) enjoy their music but their music has been accepted by all demographics. 

Q: What are your most memorable moments from the time that you spent with The Beatles on the 1964 North American Tour?

My most memorable experiences were how young teenage girls went berserk over The Beatles, throwing articles of clothing, jewelry, cakes, and jelly beans. No one in the audience heard any of their music because of the screaming! In addition, I am still shocked at how mothers of many of the teenagers wanted The Beatles as much or more than their daughters. My close association with John Lennon remains my most memorable moment. The reason I choose this as the most outstanding memory is that John Lennon amazed me with his understanding of American politics and civil rights events and his compassion for what was happening to African-Americans here in the United States. 

For more information about Beatles at the Ridge, check out or on Facebook at

Related articles:

• New Beatles author to close Beatles at Ridge Symposium (7/23/19)
• Beatles festival Meet and Greet to feature Beatles poet, artist, and musician (6/21/19)
• Beatles podcast to host live Beatles at the Ridge show (5/17/19)
• Beatles symposium to host new Beatles author (3/28/19)
• Beatles at the Ridge 2019 symposium speakers selected (1/28/19)

Published February 25, 2019

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