P.S. We Love You

By Jude Southerland Kessler

A note to Mark and Carol Lapidos on the advent of the 41st annual Fest for Beatles Fans

 

My brilliant mother (the oh-so-quotable Maxine Southerland) used to warn me, “Jude, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” She believed that “Plans” (with a capital P) were useless unless one actually acted upon them. Worse than useless – a waste of time!

 

American author, Henry David Thoreau, strongly agreed, although – unfortunately for him – he never met Mrs. Maxine. Thoreau wrote, “If you have built your castles in the air…that is where they should be! Now, put the foundations under them!” In other words, dream…but then do.

 

The Beatles were living examples of that maxim. They were boys who dreamed big and then worked their ever-lovin’ guts out to make those far-flung dreams reality. They were tireless in their pursuit of “the toppermost of the poppermost,” working 10-12 hours a day without complaining to achieve their goal.

 

And it is the same with Mark and Carol Lapidos, the creators and directors of The Fest for Beatles Fans. Many of you have been to multiple fests without ever meeting Mark and Carol. You may have seen them handing out bracelets or fighting fires or greeting you warmly without even knowing whom you were addressing. They never make The Fest about them. In fact, they intentionally fade into the background to make sure that those three magical days in New Jersey (in March) and in Chicago (in August) are all about The Beatles.

 

But for 41 years now, this very happily married couple (a feat in itself in our age) and their two creative daughters, Michelle Joni and Jessica, have given their lives to the concept Mark dreamed up four decades ago. They have devoted themselves utterly to The Fest for Beatles Fans.

 

Forty-three years ago, Mark Lapidos had a dream. And without shying away or procrastinating or letting “life happen with its other plans,” Mark found a way to meet with John Lennon in New York City and ask John for his endorsement of this imagined festival celebrating the Fab Four. Mark tells this truly goose-bumpy story at the Fest for all to hear, so I won’t “spoil the party” by divulging the details. But suffice it to say, out of that courageous visit to John Lennon, the Fest for Beatles fans was born.

 

To my way of thinking, getting in to see John Lennon was coup enough. I struggle to get my interviews. It is thrilling to me to even visit with people who were part of The Beatles’ entourage! Give me a chauffeur, a Cavern Club doorman, a traveling journalist on one of The Beatles’ tours, and I’m in seventh heaven! But, Mark Lapidos took matters all the way to the top…straight to the man who conceived The Beatles, hand-picked his group, and kept them together in good times and in bad. Mark went to John Winston Lennon. To me, that is remarkable.

 

But Mr. L(apidos) did much, much more. He began planning the Fest, partnering with his fiancé and later, wife, to work long hours “eight days a week” to book hotels, schedule conference rooms, supply food and drink, check on parking conditions, secure noted speakers, book Beatles notables, haul merchandise to Fest sites, set up decorations, make certain that electrical and AV equipment was working, and hire an extensive staff of trusted, responsible, impressive Fest employees to work for months insuring that each event was a roaring success. And hey, I’m only touching on the proverbial tip of the iceberg! There is soooooo much more to carrying off a mammoth event such as this. So much more.

 

And listen, the thing is…Mark and Carol and Jessica and Michelle didn’t just do this for a year or five or ten. They made it happen (extremely well) year after year after year through times when babies were born, when parents passed away, when the economy was awful, when hotels fell into disrepair and new venues had to be sought, when equipment failed, when storms rocked the area, when they were happy, and when they were sad. They endured for 41 years, no matter what.

 

The Lapidos family has been giving Beatles fans “a home away from home” and a place to reunite for 41 years. Theirs isn’t a story of “shoulda, woulda, coulda.” Theirs is the story of “been there, DONE THAT!” But they don’t say that in a jaded, bored way. Nope, 41-years-in, they are still uber-excited to present the Fest to you, thrilled to say “a splendid time is guaranteed for all,” and “happy just to dance with you.” Their hearts are still 100% invested in the hands-on running of this wonderful festival. They care.

 

So, I want you to see their photo (below, with Joey Molland, Albert Lee, and Mark Hudson)…and I’m asking each of you to seek them out at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Chicago, Aug. 11-13 and thank them. I’m asking you, if you’d be so kind, to simply shake their hands or give them a hug and tell them from the heart how much you appreciate what they’ve given us all for lo these many years. I don’t think a simple “thank you” is out of order, do you?

 

And…ahem!!!!…if I were Paul McCartney or Ringo Starr, I would make it a point to show up one year and thank them as well…thank them for a lifetime of “putting the foundations under” a long-ago dream that has kept Beatles fans united, excited, and informed.

 

Mark and Carol, the Beatles authors of your Fests salute you! We are so proud to be associated with you. To us (although you are our age and younger, in many cases, than we are) you are our parents. You make us into family, and we love you! Thank you from our Beatle-y hearts.


Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

 

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.

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2016 New York Metro Fest Recap!

Dear Beatles Family,

 

What a weekend we had at the Fest in New York!

 

John, Paul, George, and Ringo did it again…the unity and atmosphere over the weekend was truly remarkable to see, and we have YOU to thank for it.

 

At #FESTCHESTER, thousands of Beatlemaniacs came together at the Hilton Westchester in Rye Brook, New York to celebrate all things Beatles, including the 50th Anniversary of Revolver. This is our collective recap…

 

If you get to the bottom of this email and these pics aren’t enough for your vicarious re-living of the New York Metro Fest, our first album on Facebook from the Fest’s Danny Abriano is already up HERE, as is Michelle Joni’s first album HERE. We’ll be adding more albums in the coming days, so be on the lookout! We’ll also be putting together a fans album, so be sure to tag your pics with #FESTCHESTER if you haven’t already.

 

Also head to and subscribe to our YouTube page, where videos from the New York Metro Fest have already gone up and many more are on the way!

 

The hotel started to fill with fans early in the week, and excitement built up as we set up the hotel. Lobby jams started, Beatles music started pumping both inside and outside the hotel, and fans explored the spacious and serene Hilton Westchester, preparing for the fab three days that were to come.

 


 

The FEST officially kicked off at 5 PM on Friday, April 15 as fans brought their Beatley swagger with them to more than a dozen ballrooms throughout the hotel. Along with our band, Liverpool, perfectly recreating Beatles tracks note for note, our guests included PETER ASHER, CHAD AND JEREMY, BILLY J. KRAMER, MIKE PENDER, MARK RIVERA, MARK HUDSON, and LOUISE HARRISON, most of whom joined emcee KEN DASHOW of Q104.3 (he called himself “hopalong Ken” over the weekend) on Friday night for a chat.

 

 

 

 

Friday night continued on with the 60s Dress Up contest and Dance Party –- where LIVERPOOL treated Festers to three rocking sets of Beatles tunes.

 

HEAD HERE to see them perform ‘A Hard Day’s Night’

 

 

 

 

To go along with our incredible musical guests, the weekend also featured some amazing Sound Alike and Battle of the Beatles Bands competitors. Fab Forward won the Battle of the Bands, while last year’s winners, Yesterday and Today, snagged second place.

 

 

 

 

Our tradition of the ‘Beatles Gratitude Wall’ continued, and was where fans wrote and hung signs — both of the tongue in cheek and serious variety — showing their gratitude to the Beatles…

 

 

The FABoratory, one of our newest additions, where fans had the chance to turn into Beatles Magicians, Mad Fab Scientists, and teachers, was such a blast…

 

 

The live music of the weekend wasn’t limited to the nighttime concerts…

 

PETER ASHER joined forces with CHAD AND JEREMY for two special musical memoir concerts

 

 

 

MIKE PENDER of The Searchers and BILLY J. KRAMER united for a concert on Saturday afternoon, featuring Billy’s hot band including the legendary Liberty Devitto on Drums. Billy J. also world premiered his autobiography, Do You Want To Know A Secret at the FEST, and has signed a bunch of copies for us to sell to those of you who couldn’t be there.

 

 

 

 

JEFF SLATE’S BIRDS OF PARADOX, featuring members from John Lennon’s Elephant’s Memory band, rocked the house

 

HEAD HERE to see them perform “Slippin’ and Slidin'”

 

 

String quartet CELLOPHANE FLOWERS, featuring JEFF LUBIN, made their second Fest appearance, again wowing the crowd on two stages with their Beatles arrangements

 

HEAD HERE to see them perform ‘Penny Lane’

 

 

THE WEEKLINGS, playing songs the Beatles wrote but never officially released, their Beatles-inspired originals, and other Beatles cuts, took the stage on Sunday

 

HEAD HERE to see them perform ‘It Won’t Be Long’

 

 

And SCHOOL OF ROCK from Bedford, New York gave us a glimpse into the future with their performances on Sunday

 

HEAD HERE to see them perform ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’

 

 

The Apple Jam Stage, which has become an integral part of the Fest experience, rocked all weekend with New York jam band THE MEETLES, Fest staple THE BOOTLEGS, SCOTT ERICKSON playing deeper Beatles cut, JANNA PELLE tickling the ivories, Beatles mixes with DJ SUN QUEEN & DJ MADONNA, MR. RAY’s children’s concert, 12-year-old guitarist/vocalist extraordinaire MOLLY JEANNE, JACQUI ARMBRUSTER (whose pipes and guitar playing are otherworldly), Criminal Trio BANDITS ON THE RUN, the incomparable MICHELLE JONI, CELLOPHANE FLOWERS (a teaser set before their main stage set), the uniquely talented OWL AND WOLF, BRUTE FORCE of King of Fuh fame, SCHOOL OF ROCK, enchanting trio TRIPLE G, and the supremely talented LENNON & KATIE of Youth Be Told.

 

HEAD HERE to see Jacqui Armbruster perform ‘Oh! Darling’

 

HEAD HERE to see Bandits On The Run perform ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’

 

HEAD HERE to see Triple G perform ‘Something’

 

 JACQUI ARMBRUSTER (with surprise drop-in MARK HUDSON)

SCOTT ERICKSON

THE MEETLES

DJ SUN QUEEN & DJ MADONNA

 BANDITS ON THE RUN

TRIPLE G

LENNON & KATIE OF YOUTH BE TOLD

 

All weekend, after the scheduled performances had concluded, the Apple Jam Stage opened up for the fans, who jammed into the wee hours of the morning.

 

MARK RIVERA —  who was otherwise occupied, as Billy Joel’s sax player — was only able to make it on Saturday, but put on a tremendous performance with Liverpool

 

 

JON COBERT, who recorded with John Lennon, performed with JEFF SLATE’S BIRDS OF PARADOX during their concert earlier on Saturday and joined in for the Musicians’ Forum

 

 

 

Meanwhile, jams were going strong all throughout the hotel all weekend long — sunrise to sundown and beyond…

 

 

As always, the Beatles art contest was a place where fans were treated to some truly great works by professionals, amateurs, and kids, all who took home prizes. In the Professional division, Eddie Colacci took first place for his 3D album covers, while Regina Gelfer’s ‘Celebrate the Beatles’ came in second. In the amateur division, Rachel Bremlist took first place for her Revolver mosaic, Nancy Lennon’s Yellow Submarine bathroom tower decoupage finished in second, and Gene Brady’s Help! silhouette finished third. For kids 16 and younger, Sophie Feldman took the top prize for her Paul at the piano pencil sketch. We thank Deco for continuing to do such a great job with the Art Museum.

 

 

 

At his 20th Fest, MR. PUPPET BOB ABDOU took to the main stage for a special performance and also led our fifth annual Beatles parade, which was Yellow Submarine-themed this year

 

 

The New York Metro Fest was also the weekend home to over a dozen Beatles authors and historians, including BRUCE SPIZER, VIVEK TIWARY, DAVID BEDFORD, JUDE SOUTHERLAND KESSLER, AL SUSSMAN, TOM FRANGIONE, CHUCK GUNDERSON, PIERS HEMMINGSEN, CANDY LEONARD, KIT O’TOOLE, JOHN KRUTH, MICHAEL STARR, ANTHONY ROBUSTELLI, KENNETH WOMACK, GREG STERLACE, AND JUDITH KRISTEN.

 

 

The Fest also featured the Marketplace and Vendor Room, where fans could get Every Little Beatles Thing they desired

 

 

 

Meanwhile, when Festers weren’t busy dancing, jamming in every nook of the hotel, and parading, they took in one of BOB ABDOU’s highly entertaining Beatles puppet shows, got memorabilia signed, watched a movie in the Beatles video room, sang Beatles karaoke, toured the photo, Beatles art, and memorabilia rooms (ROB SHANAHAN, NEAL GLASER, ERIC CASH), and more.

 

 

 

Many also took refuge in our Beatles Ashram, which featured yoga classes for adults and kids, and intro sessions to Cosmic Consciousness with the teachers of Transcendental Meditation.

 

 

Other highlights from the weekend were Live Beatles Trivia and Name That Tune hosted by Al Sussman and Tom Frangione, a fan winning a trip to Las Vegas to see The Beatles LOVE Cirque du Soleil, and the always spectacular Pig Light Show that accompanied Liverpool’s performances.

 

For our sixth Annual Las Vegas Beatles Love Getaway Sweepstakes, the winner, was not present, but Michelle Joni phoned her from the stage and she was home. We all heard her very excited reaction. Pictured below is last year’s winner, Carl Maltzman, who told the crowd what a great time he had.

 

 

Below, Michelle Joni and Tom Frangione show the Spirit Foundation grand prize that Yoko sent for the FEST. And the winner of the prize poses for a pic

 

 

As always, the Musicians’ Forum on Sunday was a treat, as were the Saturday and Sunday night concerts that saw LIVERPOOL play Revolver in its entirety and other Beatles cuts before the stage opened to MARK RIVERA, MIKE PENDER, BILLY J. KRAMER, and MARK HUDSON.

 

We also want to send out a huge THANK YOU to STEVE HOLLEY, who immediately jumped in upon hearing Chris had an accident over the winter and would not be fully ready to play the entire weekend. He did a fantastic job.

 

 

Drew, John, Glen, and Chris of Liverpool — with a little help from Steve Holley — were fantastic all weekend, kicking things off with the Dance Party on Friday night, playing Side 1 of Revolver and more on Saturday, and finishing things up in thrilling fashion on Sunday night by performing Side 2 of Revolver and even more Beatles cuts.

 

HEAD HERE to see them perform ‘Love You To’

 

HEAD HERE to see them perform ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’

 

 

 

 

MARK HUDSON then joined in and he and Liverpool tore through the jams — including an epic rendition of the Joe Cocker version of ‘With A Little Help From My Friends — before wrapping things up with ‘Hey Jude.’

 

HEAD HERE to see Mark Hudson & Liverpool perform ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’

 

 

 

After the New York Metro Fest officially came to a close, the jamming continued into the wee hours of Monday morning, with Fest founder Mark Lapidos leading everyone in a rendition of “Here Comes The Sun” before Festers playing until the sun came up and people started going about their Monday morning business. This is our continued official tradition — join us next year!

 

The fans brought the energy all weekend, with the traditions of Fests gone by seamlessly intertwining with the new events and activities that spiced up the weekend.

 

We are still gathering all of the pictures and videos from The Fest to share, and we want to see all of yours, too! As we did over the weekend, use the hashtag #FESTCHESTER to share pictures with us on Instagram and Twitter (@Beatles_Fest), and post pictures on our Facebook wall at Facebook.com/thefest.

 

In addition to the albums that are already up, lots more pictures of all the guests, events, activities, and fans will be shared in emails, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and via email (send them to danny@thefest.com) in the coming days and weeks!

 

We’d also like to thank the Hilton Westchester, who did a terrific job hosting the Fest, especially Maura. Most of all, we want to offer another thank you to all the guests and fans who came to celebrate all things Beatles for our 42nd year in New York!

 

We are already gearing up for the Chicago Fest, taking place August 12-14 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Illinios. Details will be released at TheFest.com in late-May, so keep an eye out!

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The definitive Paul McCartney biography available at the Fest Shop!

Available for pre-order at the Fest Shop (publish date of May 3) is Paul McCartney: The Life, by Philip Norman.

 

The definitive biography of Paul, all copies ordered through the Fest will be bookplate signed by the author.

 

Paul has given Philip Norman his approval to write this book, opening doors to family and friends, making it the biography.

 

Since the age of twenty-one, Paul has lived  the ultimate rock-n-roll life played out on the most public of stages. Now, Paul’s story is told by rock music’s foremost biographer (Shout and John Lennon: The Life) with McCartney’s consent and access to family members and close friends who have never spoken on the record before. PAUL McCARTNEY: THE LIFE reveals the complex character behind the facade and sheds new light on his childhood–blighted by his mother’s death but redeemed by the father who introduced him to music. Packed with hundreds of pages of new information and critical insights. Hardcover 864 Pages.

 

Author Philip Norman teases the book below…

 

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Remembering George Martin

From Fest Founder Mark Lapidos:

 

It is a sad day in Beatles World and for music lovers around the world. George Martin passed away last night at the age of 90.

 

There is no question George Martin will be remembered as the most important and successful Record Producer of all time. How did a comedy record producer for a small EMI subsidiary get to be the producer of the greatest band of all time? It was because, being from Liverpool, The Beatles had a wonderful sense of humor and knew some of those recordings. During their first sessions, Beatle George broke the ice with his now famous line “For starters, I don’t like your tie.” Together over the ensuing seven years, they created the soundtrack of our lives. George first as their producer, then teacher, then interpreter of how they wanted their recordings to sound. It was a team effort and the stars were indeed aligned.

 

I had the pleasure and honor to meet with Sir George a few times, with the most notable encounter coming in the mid 1980s in Los Angeles. We got to spend about 30 minutes together in a private session and I found him charming, engaging, and a delight to be around.  At the end of the talk, I asked him if I could ask one question that had puzzled Beatles fans for almost 20 years (at the time). He said okay.  “How come the promotional copies of Penny Lane had the trumpet at the end, and the released version didn’t?” He said something like this: Capitol was bugging us for a new single so we reluctantly sent them Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever (we all know he regretted not holding them for Pepper). They were so deep into the Pepper sessions, they sent the final version over, not even aware there was any difference! It was just one of those things during a day in the life of recording with the Beatles.

 

We are all so lucky to have his body of work almost at our fingertips now. Today we are fixing a hole in our sad hearts in knowing that George Martin has left this world. He will never be forgotten. Our condolences to his wife, Judy, son Giles and the rest of his family. Through the music, we all became part of his extended family. It has been a ride of a lifetime.

 

Peace and Love,

 

Mark Lapidos

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Creative director John Kosh had his hand in many Beatles-related projects

Creative director John Kosh has been behind many Beatles-related projects, including the album covers for Abbey Road and Let It Be, and John’s ‘War Is Over’ campaign.

 

Kosh, who was a guest at one of our recent Fests, spoke with Best Classic Bands about his work with the Beatles and artists such as the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, The Who, and more.

 

Recalls Kosh about the Abbey Road cover:

 

It was designed without a title and without the name of the band. I received an irate call from the chairman of EMI, Joseph Lockwood, in the middle of the night saying that no one would know what it was. But the next morning George Harrison reassured me: ‘We’re the fu**ing Beatles.'”

 

::: Read more about Kosh at Best Classic Bands HERE :::

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December 8th — 35 years on

From Fest Founder and Director Mark Lapidos:

 

Time is a concept. It really doesn’t exist. You can’t touch it, feel it, breathe it. It is basically a demarcation line of events in a lifetime.

 

Well, this event was a life-changer for so many of us. None of us who were around will ever forget the moment we heard. It was the worst moment in my life. Perhaps John figured out how to stop time, because that moment wasn’t 35 years ago. It just can’t be. Maybe it was last year or two years ago.

 

Time doesn’t work so well when dealing with events like this one. “Life is very short and there’s no time.” There, he said it in song — there is no time! 

 

And yet here we are, still wondering how the world would be different had John lived. His voice was singular. I know in my heart he would have made a big difference (plus given us a lost wealth of music).

 

We are left with only those ideas in our brains of what would be different. We know we can not alter the past, but the past is a function of time, which is a concept. John lives in all of our hearts and that will never change. I miss him.

 

All you need is love…

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20 years ago: The Beatles Anthology first aired

From Fest Founder Mark Lapidos:

 

November 19, 1995: It was 20 years ago that the first installment of The Beatles Anthology first aired on a Sunday night on ABC.

 

Over 47 million people watched and at the end of the show was the world premiere of the first new Beatles song in 25 years — Free As A Bird. We got to HEAR and SEE it for the first time.

 

The next day, most radio stations around the country were playing the new song. Capitol Records wanted to take no chances of a leak, so they did something unprecedented in the industry. They changed the release date of the album to Monday, Nov. 20th (NOT the usual Tuesday). To make that happen, at their own expense, Capitol then FEDEXED all shipments on the Saturday so that no store would receive it until Monday. It ended up selling over 3.5 Million copies.

 

Three nights later, Anthology Part Two aired and we heard and viewed Real Love for the first time. Anthology Part Three would air the next night, on Thanksgiving.

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