Photo from the Fest For Beatles Fans Facebook page.
And now we move on to the second major event in what I’ve designated as A Hollies Summer In Chicago. On July 28, Graham Nash performed at The Arcada in St. Charles and now Terry Sylvester, who replaced Nash in The Hollies in 1969, is one of the guests at this year’s Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago. He’ll be interviewed on Saturday and Sunday, take part in a Musicians’ Forum on Sunday, and perform a few songs with the Liverpool tribute band on Saturday and Sunday night. I’ll be curious to see if he’s wearing the Broken Hearted Toy button I gave him when he performed at City Winery - Chicago as part of The British Invasion tour.
Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago runs this Friday through Sunday. Founded by Mark and Carol Lapidos back in the late 1970s, the annual celebration has never failed to live up to its name. A wide range of fans will come together at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont to relive Beatlemania and the original British Invasion via concerts, celebrity interviews; sing-along sessions; trivia contests; photography; artwork; a Beatles art contest; and much more. There’s a huge marketplace of every imaginable form of Beatles and rock memorabilia that can take hours to fully explore and appreciate.
In addition to Sylvester, the 2015 lineup of celebrity guests offers contemporaries of The Beatles; industry people who worked with The Beatles; several authors; creative types who were inspired by The Beatles; and a high-profile relative. Louise Harrison—George’s sister—is returning to Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago for the first time since 1999. She’ll no doubt be discussing her new book My Kid Brother’s Band. . .a.k.a. The Beatles during her Special Guest appearances on Saturday and Sunday.
Billy Kinsley, a member of The Merseybeats and Liverpool Express, as well as a session musician for Apple Records, will be on hand Saturday and Sunday, and perform a few songs with the Liverpool tribute band on those same nights. Jack Oliver, the former president of Apple Records, will share what it was like to run a world famous label with The Beatles. The Weeklings, a new quartet comprised of Glen Burtnik and John Merjave from the Liverpool tribute band plus Bob Burger and Dave Anthony, will perform on Sunday at 2:30 PM. They’ll have vinyl and CD copies of their debut Monophonic for sale afterward. Dick Biondi will talk about his decades of being one of Chicago’s most popular rock and roll disk jockeys.
Fest regular Mark Hudson is a producer and musician who has worked with Ringo Starr, Cher, and numerous other highly successful musicians. On Sunday, he’ll host the always entertaining Musicians’ Forum, with this year’s participants Sylvester, Kinsley, and sax player Mark Rivera. Rivera has worked as Ringo Starr’s Musical Director and is an impressive recording artist as well. Rob Shanahan has spent years as Ringo Starr’s photographer, and Bruce Spizer is part of an impressive list of authors whose books explore The Beatles from several points of view.
There will be designated signing times for all the guests, and many will take part in extended interviews throughout the weekend in the Grand Ballroom. Long-time master of ceremonies Terri Hemmert, whose Breakfast With The Beatles show airs on WXRT in Chicago every Sunday morning, is the one who conducts those interviews. Her approach mixes the enthusiasm of an avid fan with the insight she’s gained as a veteran broadcaster. A number of authors will have presentations in the Grand Ballroom as well.
There are some new activities this year—or at least some I don’t remember seeing in the past—including the FABoratory Beatles Experimental Zone, which brings fans and performers together on fun and creative projects. The Apple Jam Stage will feature shows by local performers, like singer-guitarist Phil Angotti; ukulele player Nick Peay; singer-guitarist Scott Erickson; and School Of Rock. Over at the Paperback Writer Room, one of the more promising sessions taking place will be Talking and Joking With a Bunch of Liverpool Scousers, featuring Harrison, Sylvester, and Kinsley.
Saturday and Sunday night will end with a performance by Liverpool, one of the top Beatles tribute bands in the country. They don’t dress up in Sgt. Pepper uniforms or chatter in fake accents—they just play amazingly faithful covers of Beatles songs. On Saturday, they’ll recreate The Beatles’ 1965 Shea Stadium concert, and on Sunday, they’ll salute the 50th anniversary of the movie Help. Liverpool will be joined by Sylvester, Hudson, and Rivera during those performances on Saturday and Sunday night. Seeing as there are fewer musicians among the guests this year, I’m hoping that means Terry Sylvester will get to play a number of Hollies songs. It is after all, A Hollies Summer In Chicago.
Tickets are $52 for Friday, $75 for Saturday or Sunday, and $189 for the entire weekend. Various two-day combinations are also available. Check Fest For Beatles Fans-Chicago online for a list of the celebrity guests and an extensive rundown on all the activities going on this weekend.