Thursday, August 14, 2014

This Year’s Fest For Beatles Fans Is Into Something Good

Graphic from the Fest For Beatles Fans website.

Founded by Mark and Carol Lapidos back in the late 1970s, The Fest For Beatles Fans has always lived up to its name. The annual celebration makes its Chicago stop each August; bringing a wide range of fans to the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont to relive Beatlemania and the original British Invasion via concerts, celebrity interviews; sing-along sessions; trivia contests; and artwork. A huge marketplace overflowing with memorabilia is almost worth the price of admission alone. 

Fest For Beatles Fans-Chicago runs tomorrow through Sunday. Tickets are $46 for Friday, $69 for Saturday or Sunday, and $168 for the entire weekend. Various two-day combinations are also available. The 2014 lineup of celebrity guests once again offers contemporaries of The Beatles; industry people who worked with The Beatles; and creative types who were inspired by The Beatles.

Peter Noone, making his first appearance at Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago, led Herman’s Hermits on impossibly catchy songs like “I’m Into Something Good,” “Henry The VIII, I Am,” and “Must To Avoid.” He has thrived over the years as a performer and as a host of TV and radio shows that cast a spotlight on the 1960s. Anyone who has seen The Monkees perform recently knows that Mickey Dolenz is a charismatic performer who can still belt out those Top 40 hits and adventurous LP tracks. Dolenz is also making his Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago debut. Mike Pender was the singer-guitarist for The Searchers on hit singles like the lovelorn “Needles And Pins” and the funny and infectious “Love Potion # 9.” This will be Mike Pender’s first appearance at any Fest For Beatles Fans event.

This year’s Fest will also feature some returning favorites. Producer/musician Mark Hudson has worked with Ringo Starr, along with several other highly successful musicians. This year, Hudson will doing his first We Can Write It Out, where for an additional $30 fee, he’ll invite attendees to create an original song with his guidance. Guitarist Laurence Juber performed with Wings; and sax player Mark Rivera has served as Ringo Starr’s Musical Director. Rob Shanahan has spent years as Ringo Starr’s photographer, which has included going along on tour the Ringo’s All Starr Band Tour. His hardcover book, Volume 1: Through The Lens Of Music Photographer Rob Shanahan, will be available at the Fest. Eric Cash, an artist with expertise in rendering lifelike portraits of The Beatles, will also be back again.

Long-time master of ceremonies Terri Hemmert, whose Breakfast With The Beatles show airs on WXRT in Chicago every Sunday morning, comes across as an avid fan as well as a skilled interviewer in her on-stage sessions with guests. This year, fans were holding their breath to see if she would be able to carry out her MC duties because she recently had knee surgery. But she’s fully recovered, and has resumed her daily shift at ‘XRT and weekly two-hour BWTB show; and judging from her numerous posts on Facebook, she’s genuinely psyched for  Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago 2014.

Liverpool is one of the top Beatles tribute bands in the country. Don’t look for them to don Sgt. Pepper uniforms or chatter in fake accents—they just play amazingly faithful covers of Beatles songs. They usually perform a set on their own, before inviting some of the Fests guest musicians to come out and join them. This year, they’ll be performing with Dolenz, Noone, Pender, and Hudson on Saturday and Sunday night.

Check Fest For Beatles Fans-Chicago online for the weekend schedule, and a complete list of the celebrity guests.

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