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Why Another Beatle Band? Part XI: The Word Is... 

Why Another Beatle Band? Part XI: The Word Is...

Here's a wonderful Donald Olson photo of the band:
The Beatles wrote a lot of songs where the direct focus of the lyric was the word love. "The Word", "All You Need Is Love". Not relationship love, necessarily, but unconditional love. "The End", the final segment of their beautiful "Golden Slumbers" medley, speaks so eloquently, nothing more needs to be said:

"And in The End,
The love you take,
Is equal to the love...
You make.


Thank you, everyone!

Peace,

Jerry, Tilly, Chad, Al, Rusty and Gary: Fab 6

Why Another Beatle Band? Part X: The Beatles 


Why Another Beatle Band? Part X: The Beatles

The near-mystical effect the Beatles have had on the lives of musicians and public alike. The most common ground shared experience in the history of popular culture.
Every note of their music is iconic. To the audience, a note or chord that is expected and isn't there, the performance is a failure. To a musician, well, when we were kids, we even copied the mistakes.And their songs were almost too iconic to cover. If you tried to sound like John (or Paul, or George, or...Ringo) and didn't hit the mark, you were informed of this in no uncertain terms by audience members. If you came close, folks would say you were just trying to emulate and hadn't found your own voice yet. Couldn't win.
What was right inspired heated dialogue and occasional fights. I remember when we first started playing Beatle music, "Thank You Girl" came up as a possibility. A bandmate had decided the lyric was "That You Girl" rather than the title. We exchanged blows. Really. In Fab 6, we all have a perception (or aural illusion) of what is right, and our discussions at times became rather sharp.

One will come across, from time to time, someone who doesn't like the Beatles. I had a student once who offered that opinion, and another student from across the room shot out of his chair and was in that person's face...screaming "What the hell is the matter with you?!"
Any songwriter will tell you that there compositional skills were intuitive and no less than miraculous. Most writers agree that if they get 2 out of 10, they're doing pretty well. With the Beatles, it was the opposite: 8 out of 10 was the norm for them (some would say 9 or 10 of 10). There is a word for this: "White Blindness". Charlie Parker and Henrí Matisse spoke of it. In lay terms, it is a phrase used to describe a work of art so seamless, so instantaneous, that the creator doesn't feel h3 (or she) can possibly take credit for it. They were simply a window for the light to shine through. The Beatles contribution was unintentional and immeasurable, almost spiritual. Al the big men with cigars in the music 'business' are looking for the next Beatles. There will never be another 'Beatles'. Period.

See you tonight!

Gary, Tilly, Jerry, Rusty, Al and Chad

Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1206146379410045/
Tickets: http://www.newmusicarts.org/fabsixtix
Band Info: http://www.newmusicarts.org/fabsix

Why Another Beatle Band? Part IX: Rusty Jones 

Why Another Beatle Band? Part IX: Rusty Jones
I asked Rusty
for his history, because I haven't known Rusty for all that long...here's what he gave us (about as verbose as Al...):

"NNB, Safety Last, The Rockin' Pinecones and The Front Porch Swinging Liquor Pigs is my resume. All but NNB have been long term combos. And then all the Curt (Curtiss A) bands over the years. And I am the longest serving member of the Lennon Tribute and was part of the very first one in 1980. I think it would actually be good to mention the Tribute while pointing out the differences between it and our show."

Rusty has been to the mountain.
And as for those differences (I think I've mentioned them in passing before): the Lennon Tribute is a happening, bigger than life, LOUD, raucous, joyous abandon, party style, reverent, iconoclastic, not necessarily devoted to exact chords, words, notes, but more importantly for the Tribute, with an eye on the larger context of Lennon's place in this world.

Our effort is more focused on the aural illusion of our memory, what we thought we heard in those recordings, but the product of all of this effort is that you can really understand the intricacies of those arrangements. Both schools have real meaning and purpose. Most of us had done the Lennon tribute, now we wanted to go down the rabbit holes and get into the musical weeds, which we have done!

And as for Rusty, well, I know all the bands he has been in, I appreciate him and his musical choices from afar, but never, I say never, have I been so at ease with a bass player knowing his stuff. To paraphrase a quote from Rusty: "...every note McCartney ever played should be in a vault."

Rusty is simply excellent at what he does.

So, that's the name of that tune.

Time to run, have to do a production set list so we all stop and start at the same time, and play the same song!

Thanks,
Gary, Tilly, Rusty, Chad, Al and Jerry

LAST DAY TO BUY ADVANCE @ $15.

Tickets at door are $20. We're nearing capacity, so we really hope you can join us.

Again, then links:

Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1206146379410045/
Tickets: http://www.newmusicarts.org/fabsixtix
Band Info: http://www.newmusicarts.org/fabsix


 

Why Another Beatle Band? Part VIII: Al Miller 



  

The thing about Al is, he’s kind of a quiet guy, a man of few words, non-lugubrious, as it were, lacking in loquacious. Non-verbose. Does not pontificate, criticize, correct. A low key dude, a…well, you get the idea. When I asked him for his bio, here’s what he gave me...

“Played with the Del Counts , White Sidewalls, Dancer, and the Miller Brothers. My brothers were Guitar players, So the need to play was strong, so when everyone else was outside playin’, I was in my room practicing.”

Like I said. And add modesty to the list. So I’ll fill in the blanks as best I can. 

 

I didn’t know Al from Adam when I came into Stray Voltage a couple of years ago, but I had certainly been aware of the great talent he’s played with over the years. And he has a nephew, Brant Miller, whom I directed in the last two runs of Buddy Holly at History Theater in St Paul (he’s quite a talent as well, did a bang up job as The Big Bopper)
  
I’ve enjoyed the dueling guitars thing we do on “My Old School”. I stand and strum til Al gives me a nod, then I try to match him, flash and substance. The look he gives me sometimes seems to say, “That’s all the notes I’ve got for the moment, your turn. I’ll be back in four measures.” 
  
So that’s Al, I don’t want to make up anything. Cuz he doesn’t talk much, so I too don’t have a lot to say. But come here the man play and sing. Al knocks “Here Comes the Sun” and “I Am the Walrus” out of the park. As Tom Surowicz would say, “Home run, baby!” 
  
The links again. Matt Hagner tells me we’re coming close to sell-out. How nifty is that?! “We’re getting very near the end…” 

  
Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1206146379410045/
Tickets: http://www.newmusicarts.org/fabsixtix
Band Info: http://www.newmusicarts.org/fabsix 


Why Another Beatle Band? Part VIII: Al Miller

Why Another Beatle Band? Part VII: Chad Magnuson  Podcast

Why Another Beatle Band? Part VII: Chad Magnuson 

  
I first met Chad when I was asked to fill in for ailing Victor Johnson in the Stray Voltage band (a first cousin to Fab 6) a couple of years ago. Then I found out he was an ex latter day Jesse Brady member. Pretty exciting! (Tilly, Jeff Willkomm and I, in our Nip n Tuck trio, were looking to make the Nippers a quartet and had our eyes on Randy Anderson, guitarist extraordinaire with Brady). So that was, as they say, decent. I’ve enjoyed Chad’s playing (keyboard, tenor sax, flute and vocals) and his unmitigated enthusiasm on stage, he’s always got this Cheshire-cat-grin that makes one wonder what he’s been up to. 
            I thought it might be nice to get short bios from all the lads for my blog entries…here’s what Chad had to say: 
  
“I started playing music because I believe I was born with it. My mother was a pianist and cello player, and a good singer as well.  I started with piano lessons in 4th grade or so, hated to practice,  then went to a "Who wants to be in the band" gathering at the elementary school. I tried all kinds of instruments to see what I liked. I decided upon the alto saxophone, and the Selmer Alto my family bought me in 6th grade is still on stage. 
The usual stuff, high school concert band, jazz ensemble. My college major was in music therapy, but I never finished my degree. At the U of M I played ,again, in the concert bands and the jazz ensembles. 
My first rock band was Kiss of Rain, with a group of high school buddies. This band was managed by a gal named Dottie Smith, who had us doing  "shows". We did a Beatles, country, 50's and lounge show. It was quite the learning experience. Then I joined a Holiday Inn type lounge band, Them There Eyes. I played bass, just because we needed one. 
Next came my heavy rock era. The original rock band Jesse Brady became my passion for 3-4 years. Learned a lot then, as well.  I then took several years off from playing, only to join up with past members in a wedding band, Full House. The typical girl singer stuff. 
This lead to a notch higher in the wedding category when I joined Dancer.  This is where I get my introduction to the Miller brothers, Victor Johnson and others. 
After a bit of time off, when Dancer disbanded,  Stray Voltage came a calling. I have been enjoying the playing, people and loyal fans ever since my first Fletcher's gig.. 
And as they say, "End of story."  Not really, we have this Beatles thing that's just getting legs,  more to follow. 
  
Sorry,  once I started writing, I couldn't stop. Please edit for content.” 
  
My favorite Chad viewing: 
 
A couple of Fab 6 rehearsals ago (once upon a time, or twice...)

Chad, Background vocal: “All You Need Is Love” 
Chad, Sax: Ya tad a dad a 
  
Barely gets his lips off the sax and onto the mic. Done with sax and voice, quick! Hands on the keyboard. But I’ll be danged if he doesn’t pull it off. 
We’ll talk tomorrow. It
really is all you need, you know. 
  
Again, because we REALLY REALLY want you to come and join us! 
  
Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1206146379410045/
Tickets: http://www.newmusicarts.org/fabsixtix
Band Info: http://www.newmusicarts.org/fabsix

 

Why Another Beatle Band? Part VI: Curtiss A 



  
John Lennon was assassinated on December 8th, 1981. Most everyone in the musical community (and beyond) remembers where they were…for my part, I was performing at the Ironman Inn in Coralville, Iowa (playing Bee Gees, for god’s sake). A few days later I heard that my good pal Curt Almsted (Curtiss A) had thrown together an ad hoc memorial performance, and has done so ever since, growing in size and stature with each passing year (35 years!). Curt is responsible for bringing together a wide variety of musicians over this span of time, for that alone he deserves strong recognition, but because of his focus on Mr. Lennon, he has kept that memory alive, and in so doing, has kept the Beatles on a front burner in the minds of many Twin Cities metro folk. 
  
I first met Rusty Jones (as did Tilly) at these grand coming-together events, and as these things go, when you play music with someone and it works, you want to do it again. So Tilly and Rusty and I have continued our relationship, and Jerry Gray, Al Miller and Chad Magnuson (of Fab 6) have also had the privilege of  performing on that stage with Curtiss A and experiencing all of the happy havoc attendant with that evening.  And so it goes… 
  
Curtiss A (our friend Curt), one might say, is a bit of the father figure with this Fab 6 event. Fab 6 is a review of Beatle-songs, we have included many of our favorite McCartney compositions along with the beautifully imaginative Lennon works, plus 1 or 3 Harrisongs.

“You’re such a lovely audience, we’d like to take you home with us, we’d love to take you home!” (I think Curt just might be Billy Shears). 
  
Again, because we REALLY want Beatle fans to come and joins us! 
  
Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1206146379410045/
Tickets: http://www.newmusicarts.org/fabsixtix
Band Info: http://www.newmusicarts.org/fabsix

Why Another Beatle Band? Part VI: Curtiss A

Why Another Beatle Band? Part V: Strings! Brass! Voices!  

Why Another Beatle Band? Part V: Strings! Brass! Voices!            06/06/16 
  
Back to the beginning…one of my main reasons for wanting to be involved in this project (other than the fact that I already knew that everyone would be so terrific to work with) was that Jerry Gray considered my suggestion that we use a few real players as opposed to trying to do it all with samples and synthesizers). So I pursued this agenda, and we managed to snare some talented people, mostly from the alumni pool of McNally Smith College of Music. I know most of these players, having passed them in the halls over the years, and have worked with a few of them in my Gene Pitney Orchestra. Time to meet the *musos! 
  
The Pepperland String Quartet 
(so called because of, well..Pepperland) 
  
Ciera Hill, violin, Ernest Bisog, violin, Alison Keller, viola, Greg Byers, cello 
  
  
Sun King Brass 
(‘Sun King’, as in ‘Here comes the…’ from ABBEY ROAD) 
Gerard Ahlgren, trumpet, Grant Jensen, trumpet, Paul Stodolka, piccolo trumpet 
  
  
The Parlophones 
(Parlophone was the Beatles’ first record label) 
Atim Opoka, alto, Alexis Willard-Rudenick, alto, Dan McConnell Smith, tenor 
  
  
  
Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1206146379410045/
Tickets: http://www.newmusicarts.org/fabsixtix
Band Info: http://www.newmusicarts.org/fabsix

  
Watch this! The Peperland String Quartet (Greg Byers, Alison Keller, Ernest Bisong and Cierra Hill). Tackling "Eleanor Rigby", first cold reading.

Why Another Beatle Band? Part IV: Jerry Gray 

                                                                    George Martin (hmmm. I'm just sayin')

Jerry Gray, keyboardist (and producer) 

  
Jerry announced his intentions to me (as I’d mentioned in a previous entry) in June of last year (I’m close on this). He (along with all of us in the band) had no real sense of what we were getting into.  The path to performance has been pock-marked with ‘rabbit holes’. Down down down we go, each of us, but none has dived deeper or languished longer than Jerry Gray. He is the one, after all, who had been tasked to come up with all those nifty sound files and synthesizer patches. For example, the Mellotron flutes in “Strawberry Fields Forever”. I could tell he was having trouble with that one…though there are plenty of resources on the internet, it was not an obvious process. But by golly if he didn’t nail it! And a fun little tidbit about the reverse use of the Mellotron at the end of the song: …do you know why it (Strawberry Fields Forever) fades out and comes back in at the end? Cool production? Artful design? Genius at work? NO! It’s because George Martin (Beatles producer) felt that the band’s rhythm had gotten too sloppy and he wanted to do another take. The band was too (ahem) out of sorts to do another take, so for the 5 seconds or so while the train was off the tracks, Mr. Martin faded down to silence, then back in when the quartet had recovered from the giggles. Ah, the things you can learn in a rabbit hole. 
  
Anyway, if you come to this concert for no other reason, you’ve got to hear Jerry’s work. The lengths to which he has gone to achieve authenticity of the studio sound…truly amazing, right down to the barnyard animals at the end of “Good Morning Good Morning”. Really. You’ve gotta hear this! 
  
Big rehearsal tomorrow with the Pepperland String Quartet (Eleanor Rigby) and final ‘basement rehearsal’ for Fab 6. Stay tuned! 
  
Again, the links: 
Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1206146379410045/ 
Tickets: http://www.newmusicarts.org/fabsixtix 
Band Info: http://www.newmusicarts.org/fabsix 

  
Thanks, 
Gary

Why Another Beatle Band? Part II: Because 

Why Another Beatle Band? Part II: Because            06/04/16 
  


When Jerry first asked me to do this, I recall my inner dialogue asking this question. On April 30th of this year we rolled out the band for a test run. For me this was simply a utilitarian exercise…I had expectations of an audience. BUT…it seems…there can never be enough Beatle-Bands. As in ‘why bother to write another love song?’ Answer: Because love is the best thing there is, it’s the first sight, it’s the last word, and for most of us, it’s everything in between. Now I’m not saying Beatles=Love, but they had a pretty good idea of its power, i.e., “All You Need Is Love”, to mention one… 
Oh yeah, back to that initial reaction of the crowd. I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the response. Flummoxed. Nonplussed. Speechless. “They’ve heard this material a million times,” I thought. “Why all the yahoo-in’?” I guess because the music is so damn good. That’ll do for starters. These songs are amazing in how much they affect that little center in the brain. And I mean for all of us: fans, band, friends, family, community. It IS a great part of our cultural fabric., as evidenced by that crowd that was present for the dry run. 
  
Oh yeah, Jerry Gray will be a guest on WCCO AM Radio with Jearlyn Steele tomorrow night (Sunday, 6/5) at 9:15PM. Please tune in. 
  
Oh yes, did I mention there will be a full bar at the event? 
  
Here are the links again…hope to see you there! I’ll write again tomorrow. 
  
Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1206146379410045/ 
Tickets: http://www.newmusicarts.org/fabsixtix 
Band Info: http://www.newmusicarts.org/fabsix 

  
Thanks, 
Gary

WHY ANOTHER BEATLE BAND? PART II: TILLY 



Tilly and I met in September, 1965, in Ethel Saupe’s 9th grade math class. He was tattooing on his desk (immediately behind me) and though now I would find that very annoying, then it was music to my ears. I turned and said, “hey, wanna start a band?” “Sure…” says Tilly. We were both enflamed by the Beatles’ performance on the Ed Sullivan show the previous February, and were eager to make our musical mark. The school administration, responded to Beatlemania by hurling moralistic threats about the dangers of listening to their moronic, simplistic, devil-inspired  music, so naturally, it became a priority (in fact, it already was). Eventually, The Sleepers became a reality. This Beatle ting was serious business. I remember getting into a fist fight with a guitarist about the correct lyric to “Thank You Girl”. 
And Tilly is a natural, has one of the best music-ears I’ve ever known. I’ll hear something one way, Tilly might disagree, and before I open my mouth again, I try to remember that if he heard it a certain way, that’s probably the way it is. 
  
Again, here are the links… 
We don’t really want to stop the show, 
But we thought you might like to know, 
That the singer’s gonna sing a song, 
And we’d like you all to sing along,” 
  
Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1206146379410045/
Tickets: http://www.newmusicarts.org/fabsixtix 
Band Info: http://www.newmusicarts.org/fabsix 
  
  
Thanks, 
Gary 
 

Fab sextet collage