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Beatles festival Meet and Greet to feature Beatles poet, artist, and musician

Walnut Ridge, Arkansas -- On Friday, September 20, at 4:30 PM Central, Beatles at the Ridge will host its 6th Annual "Meet and Greet" Party where Beatles Symposium attendees may meet the guest speakers, authors, artists, poets, musicians, craftsmen, and vendors who will make the weekend so special. Refreshments are provided, door prizes are given, and attendance is free. One of the highlights of this year's gala will be performances by artist/singer, Rande Kessler; a reading by poet, Terri Lilly Whitney, and a Beatles concert by musician, Cameron Hicks. Recently, Co-Chairs for the BATR Symposium, Lanea Stagg of The Recipe Records Series and Jude Southerland Kessler of The John Lennon Series, sat down with Rande, Terri, and Cameron to talk with them about what they have in store for guests at BATR's September party.

Lanea Stagg: Guys, we're so excited to have you all take part in our "Meet and Greet" this year. Tell me, what about The Beatles' music or The Beatles themselves influenced you in your art? And how did that play a role in what you're going to do at the 2019 Beatles at the Ridge Symposium?

Leana Stagg and Jude Kessler

Rande Kessler: Thanks for asking, Lanea - I've been playing guitar since 1967, and at that time, The Beatles had transitioned from their early years of writing and performing rock'n'roll toward more innovative studio work and instrumental electronic variations. I was very much an electric guitar and electronic-stuff guy, and their ability to create music "outside the box," yet remain uniquely recognizable, every time, was perfect for my R&D...that's "Rob and Duplicate." I'm going to the Symposium to appreciate all the artists and musicians' innovative styles and unique perspectives. However, at the "Meet and Greet," I'll be sharing the song I've written about Walnut Ridge's history and the evolution of the Beatles at the Ridge festival. I've recorded it this year and hope everyone enjoys it!

Terri Whitney: Thanks, Lanea! The Beatles influenced me at an early age, and I immediately feel in love with them. As a young only child, I had such a severe case of the measles that I had to be isolated in a totally dark room. A friend of my mom's husband was a DJ, and they came over to play cards. I was no longer contagious at that point, but still had about 3 more days before I could be in a room with light. He had just received 2 albums of The Beatles, and he brought one of them over for me to hear. He told me they were going to be "big," and since I had a record player in my room, I should listen to them. I did as he said, and needless to say, they soon became "my release." I no longer felt alone but rather happy to be there. The Beatles have been in memories of my life ever since, and I always loved John; he helped influence me in writing poetry since he was a poet as well.  So that is why I also wrote my book "Any Rhyme At All."

Terri Whitney

Cameron Hicks: Hey, Lanea...thanks for asking me again this year! My whole family loves Beatles at the Ridge. In answer to your question, I guess the obvious response is that The Beatles gave me "good taste" in music! For me, The Beatles have always been around. I can't think of a specific influence, because, for me, there was never a time "before The Beatles." I guess for me, The Beatles and their music have always been an influence in my life. Maybe the most notable one was pushing me into playing music. With Ringo being my favorite Beatle, I tried drums for a bit before I started playing guitar...but that didn't last very long. It's the guitar all the way for me now!

Cameron Hicks

Jude Southerland Kessler: This question's for Terri...Terri, you're not only a poet, (fondly known in The Beatles World as "The Rockin' Rhymer") but you're an artist as well, and you make lovely hand-crafted Beatles bracelets. How did you get into doing that?

Terri Whitney: Thanks for asking, Jude. I've always worked with beads, and one day I made myself a bracelet that said "John" on it.  Needless to say, people noticed it and asked where I'd purchased it.  They wanted one, too! So I thought if they liked it, why couldn't I make more jewelry with all The Beatles' names on them...and perhaps incorporate song lyrics as well. That's how I started my custom jewelry that I'll be selling at the Ridge.  They've been popular over the last two years that I've been at the Ridge Symposium, and I hope people will enjoy the new ones I'm bringing this year, too. (P.S. I'll also have a few wind chimes!)

Lanea Stagg: Well, Cameron, we know you're headed off to college after this year, so sadly, this will probably be your last year performing on stage at the Ridge. We have LOVED having you as part of our festival for the last few years. Do you have one special memory that stands out in your time with us?

Cameron Hicks: There've been so many fun moments attending and playing BATR that there's no way to have just one single event that stands out! But I can pick a top two. First, winning the Talent Show and opening the concert for Liverpool Legends by playing and singing "Blackbird" was a great moment! Performing at the talent show and then going up on that "big stage" to open for Liverpool Legends were my first and second times actually playing my guitar in front of people. I was extremely nervous! Second, I'll never forget the incredible family of authors, artists, filmmakers, and other "Beatles people" that I've come to know through The Ridge. It's a literal "Who's Who" of Beatles experts, and getting to know them and call them friends has been something I'll cherish forever. (Especially having author, Dave Bedford of Liverpool, stay for several days in my home. We had a blast jamming and singing!) Right now, I don't plan to "go off" for college (well, at least not yet), so I'll be around for Beatles at the Ridge next year, even if I'm not performing. It's a fun weekend, and there's no way I'm not going to be attending!

Jude Southerland Kessler: That is such good news, Cameron! We're thrilled!

Now, my favorite "Meet and Greet" performer is my talented husband, Rande Kessler. In addition to his "theme song" written for the Ridge, he'll also be selling his gorgeous artwork. Rande, tell us about the art pieces you'll have on hand for folks at the Symposium, Sept. 20-21.

Rande Kessler

Rande Kessler: Thanks, honey! As you know, I've been an artist since the early '70's and have dabbled in several media applications. However, drawing places and people has been my consistent focus over the years. In support of The John Lennon Series, I've completed a number of Beatles and John Lennon drawings for your book covers, and used them to produce posters and T-shirts. My most recent pastel drawing of John is on the cover of, (yes, you guessed it!) the historical narrative Should Have Known Better. It's the front of the newest T-shirt I'll have for sale at Walnut Ridge. In addition, I'll be bringing along some CDs with the song I wrote and recorded about the Ridge for those who want to own a "peace" of their own unique country rock.

For more information on Beatles at the Ridge, go to: or check their Facebook page at

For more information on Terri Lilly Whitney, The Rockin' Rhymer, go to

For more information on Cameron Hicks, go to

Related articles:

• New Beatles author to close Beatles at Ridge Symposium (7/23/19)
• 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 headliners Say the Word (2/25/19)
• Beatles at the Ridge 2019 symposium speakers selected (1/28/19)

Published June 21, 2019

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