Beatlecuse proves to be an excellent match of city, music

The Fabcats get Beatlecuse 2015 rolling in Syracuse's Landmark Theatre with Gary Frenay, Arty Lenin, Dave Novak and Dave Miller with Skip Murphy stepping in on harmonica.

The Fabcats get Beatlecuse 2015 rolling in Syracuse’s Landmark Theatre with Gary Frenay, Arty Lenin, Dave Novak and Dave Miller with Skip Murphy stepping in on harmonica.

Why would dozens of Central New York’s finest musicians get together on a cold February night in the Landmark Theatre in Syracuse to play Beatles music?

Because they can.

I mean, they really, really can.

Beatlecuse 2015 on Friday night proved for the second year running that when you set these all stars of several generations onto the music of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, it’s a Magical Mystery Tour, all right.

Bands and individuals put individual goals aside to pay tribute to the greatness that burst out of the Cavern Club of Liverpool, landing on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on CBS on Feb. 9, 1964 and into the hearts of America’s kids thereafter.

Syracuse Beatles lover, tribute musician and My Generation music marketing and show promoter Paul Davie made the first Beatlecuse happen last year as a 50th anniversary tribute to that Sullivan show phenomena and to raise money for the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund of CNY, Inc.

Attendance was off some Friday night in the beautifully restored downtown theater, and Davie decided to shut the balcony down to save in rental costs. But Davie said the count in the first level was around a thousand, and those folks sure savored the sizzle.

Jeff Jones and Pale Green Stars take the Beatles to a rockabilly side.

Jeff Jones, Brian Coyne and Jeff Tripoli of Pale Green Stars take the Beatles to a rockabilly side.

Band highlights were many and dazzling, as would be expected with a roster that included Syracuse Area Music Awards Hall of Famers Tommy Allen, John Danckks, Gary Frenay, Bob Halligan Jr., Todd Hobin, Mark Hoffmann, Arty Lenin, Skip Murphy, Dave Novak and the rich voice of Dave Frisina as between-act MC.

They mined the diversity and depth of the Beatles genius, right from the FabCats’ start with the pop “I Should’ve Have Known Better.”

Jeff Jones and Pale Green Stars took the joint to a rockabilly swing with great help from George Newton on lap steel guitar; and Magical Mystery Tour paid tribute to Tim Stone’s dad George with a psychedelic “Ballad of John and Yoko;” and Los Blancos got to the roots with Hoffmann joining in for an extremely hip rendition of “Kansas City;” and Salt City Chill with Sammys famers Dancks and Hobin revving up with Chuck Schiele, Phil Smith and Rhy Brigada and ripping backup singers Anna White and Kathleen Smith expanding on a notion that started at last year’s show; and Hard Promises invited keyboardist John Goodwin’s rising star daughter vocalist Julia to join them for a scorching “Dear Prudence.”

Talk about a generational torch.

And then there was the closing segment before intermission, with the names from the music world who left us since in 2014, with entertainment king Robin Williams added to Phil Everly, Paul Revere, Bobby Keys, Ian McLagan and Jack Bruce because, well, Robin was one of us.

Finally the screen settled upon a photo of the great Joe Cocker, and Band on the Run was joined by a vocal section called the Women in Black and lead singer Jamie Notarthomas to perform Cocker’s rendition of a song also forever tied to the Beatles.

What a tribute to Cocker it was. Notarthomas sounded and looked like the legend, voice deep, arms flailing, hand jumping to ear.

We will get by with our music and our friends, that’s what we will do.

Here’s a YouTube video I took of Notarthomas and the band’s tribute to Cocker. I came in halfway through.

Here’s a YouTube video I took of Goodwin with Band on the Run.

Here’s a YouTube video I took of Los Blancos with Hoffmann.

Here’ a YouTube video of the FabCats with Skip Murphy.

Here’s a YouTube video of Magical Mystery Tour.

I was shooting the music from the back of the theater with my iPhone 6 zoomed in to the maximum.

If you’re into the show, the good news is that the professionals from Syracuse’s SubCat Music Studios were recording audio and video, including the second half, which was an ensemble cast performing the songs from album “Abbey Road” in its entirety. CDs and videos will be available for purchase.

Here’s the link to the Beatlecuse site, where they’re available. The price is $10 for the CD and $30 for the DVD.

Syracuse photographer Juan Junco also wrote me later today and offered the videos he shot at the Landmark Friday night. Here’s the link to his YouTube channel with all of his videos from Beatlecuse. Thanks so much, Juan.

What period of Beatles music is your favorite, and why? If you weighed through my videos, which band and song was your favorite, and why? Which Beatle is your favorite, and why?

43 thoughts on “Beatlecuse proves to be an excellent match of city, music

  1. cool show! I only know the White Album well, but love it. Bungalow Bill and Wild Honey Pie are faves. Liking the idea of crossing Beatles and rockabilly. And sounds like an amazing venue.

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  2. Love, love, love the Beatles from their first album to the last. Had ’em all. I remember their appearance on Ed Sullivan, too. He could barely introduce them for the screaming girls in the audience. It was hysterical! Thanks for the joyous trip down memory lane, Mark! 😀

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    • I was just a little kid, and my slightly older cousin — one grade meant so much in elementary school, no? — was so worldly to me because she was able to explain what the Beatles were all about. How fun to remember the days, Susan!

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  3. what a great tribute and a wonderful event. i’m glad many braved the temps to attend and enjoy the big night. i love when a group of talented musicians get together and create new sounds together and a tribute to those who came before them and they idolized is a very special thing. as for me, the beatles early days were great and i also loved sgt. peppers and the white album days.

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    • We were kids and very lucky to have experienced it firsthand, those days of which you speak, Beth. And reliving it now with new musicians is a great thing in Syracuse. I’m happy and fortunate for Beatlecuse.

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  4. How fun. I love the Beatles. Yesterday my son came in and told me he’d bought some more itunes, which I think is stupid, since you can just get free mp3s online, but he bought “Yesterday” and “Hey, Jude” and “Yellow Submarine.” Isn’t he a well-rounded 6th grader? I remember seeing the movie “Imagine” in 1988 and enjoying it, but I don’t enjoy John anymore. But Paul–what’s not to love? He’s a knight!

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    • I bow to your sixth-grader son for buying Beatles songs, Kerbey. He’s putting his 99 cents in on history. That’s smart money (and no virus worries re free mp3s). Well-rounded, indeed. Sir-Paul is a goodie still, yup.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for the story Mark. I love all the Beatles all the time. Revolver and Rubber soul topped for a long time but that changes alot. I’ve been really enjoying the recent newly released second box set, of the BBC radio takes and out takes from studio from first two albums time. While reading the best Beatle book ever for musician fans “The complete Beatles recording sessions” by Mark Lewisohn. It answers all the questions of the extent and limits of their supper powers

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    • Your commitment to the masters of music amazes me every time, Jamie. You were outstanding at Beatlecuse, as I wrote above.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to add your perspective in the comment section here, as well. Hey, Beatles fans and followers of my blog, if Jamie Notarthomas recommends the BBC radio takes and studio outtake second boxed set and Mark Lewisohn book, that carries signicance.

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  6. All great videos, Mark. I love listening to Beatles covers that are done well. I was not a fan of the “early” Beatles, but when they started to move beyond the British pop genre, that’s when I really got into them. My least favorite Beatles album is Meet the Beatles and my favorite is Abby Road. But I do like almost off of their body of work. I have no favorite Beatle. I liked them all.

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    • I liked them all, too, Doobster, and because of my age, I really started to attach myself to the music more around Sgt. Pepper time. Now I still consider “A Day in the Life” my tops song, I’d say, because of the epic match of sound and story. Thanks for coming to Syracuse today, sir.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I can’t pick a favorite. I actually love the Beatles because they always take me back to my oldest brother as a teenager, he loved them so. It’s seeing him as a teen that I love and associate the most with the Beatles. ❤

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  8. Wow. I’ve said before and I’ll say again – Syracuse in a happening town when it comes to music. Very awesome sounding concert Mark Thank You for the description..

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  9. Nice to see some local musicians pay homage to the best. My two favorite Beatle albums would have to be Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper. Favorite Beatle? I think I’m still kind of pissed at John for the whole Yoko thing so I’d have to go Paul as the best of the main creative force. George was sexy.

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