2015 Chicago Fest Recap

Dear Beatles Family,

WOW CHICAGOLAND, how we love you! What a Fest weekend that was!

 

John, Paul, George, and Ringo did it again…they brought us back together loving them to pieces and recognizing everything they’ve done for our lives! Celebrating 39 years in Chicago, chilling with our Fest Besties, learning new stuff, jamming all the while…we have all of you to thank for it.

 

At #ChiFest15, thousands of Beatlemaniacs from 32 states, Canada, Mexico, Italy, England, and Australia came together at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Illinois to celebrate all things Beatles, including the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles’ earth-shattering concert at Shea Stadium and the 50th Anniversary of Help! 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 Chicago Fest, check out the Fest’s Danny Abriano’s Facebook album HERE head, see Carol Lapidos of the Fest’s album HERE, and head HERE to scope out our fans album, and Michelle Your Belle just uploaded 600 pics from from her iPhone.

 

Also be sure to head to and subscribe to our YouTube page, where more than a dozen videos from the Chicago Fest have already gone up and many more are on the way!

 

(picture below from @liz_fletcher on Instagram)

 

The hotel started to fill with fans as early as Monday, and excitement built up as we set up the hotel. Lobby jams started, the Hyatt staff put on their own HELP! shirts, and fans explored the bustling and festive Hyatt Regency O’Hare, preparing for the fab three days that were to come.

 

The FEST officially kicked off at 5 PM on Friday, August 14 as fans came in from the heat and 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 Terry Sylvester, Bob Eubanks (who hosted the first ever Beatleywed Game!), Billy Kinsley, Jack Oliver, Louise Harrison, Mark Rivera, Dick Biondi (below with emcee Terri Hemmert), and Mark Hudson.

 

 

 

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 for a video of Liverpool performing “Please Please Me” and head HERE to see them perform “Old Brown Shoe.”

 

 

 

 

To go along with our incredible musical guests, the weekend also featured some amazing Sound Alike and Battle of the Beatles Bands competitors. Eric Howell blew the crowd away while winning the Sound Alike contest singing ‘Something,’ and BEATLEJUICE (below) snagged the Battle of the Bands crown after performing an amazing version of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ that included a string quartet. Head HERE to watch their winning performance.

 

 

Our tradition of the ‘Beatles Gratitude Wall’ continued, and was where fans wrote and hung signs showing their gratitude to the Beatles…

 

 

The We All Shine On wall was new this year, to remember the people we love who we’ve lost. WOW, look at that diamond sky we created!

 

 

The FABoratory, our newest addition, where fans had the chance to turn into Beatles Magicians, Mad Fab Scientists, and teachers, was such a blast. Thank you to all the FAB fans who created truly exciting new elements of the Fest with your out-of-the-box ideas! ‘I Met A Beatle For Real’ was the real life version of Sara Schmidt’s blog, and boy were there some juicy stories of Beatle-meeting. Willa and Libby brought an awesome hand-painted face-hole exhibit called ‘I Saw The Photograph,’ and Lanea Stagg made the most delicious truffles in the world for us with her ‘Savoy Truffle’ culinary experience! We did an improv reenactment of The Beatles meeting Elvis with Ivor Davis, sideburns and all. Beatles bubbles were blown with Jeanie McNicol, and ‘Beatles Beat The Clock’ with Bob Abdou got super whipped-creamy, pie-in-the-face style at the end.

 

Photo below is on Her Majesty’s Throni, c/o of @paypay_beela12 on Instagram.

 

 

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

 

School of Rock Chicago took to the stage on Saturday afternoon (head HERE to see them perform ‘Dig A Pony’), and Girls Next Door A Cappella from the University of Illinois performed on Saturday night –- singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to a surprised and delighted Louise Harrison and performing a chills-inducing version of ‘Because.’

 

 

 

Later on Saturday night, Ron Aprea, who played sax on John Lennon’s Walls and Bridges LP, joined Liverpool as they tore through a sizzling version of ‘Whatever Gets You thru the Night.’ See the video HERE.

 

 

On Sunday, The Weeklings played a rollicking set that featured songs the Beatles wrote but never officially released, their Beatles-inspired originals, and other Beatles cuts.

 

 

That wasn’t all…

 

The Apple Jam Stage made its Chicago Fest debut, where an amazing assortment of solo artists, bands, and DJs rocked all weekend long!

 

After Michelle My Pelle and DJ Sun Queen & DJ Madonna got the party started on Friday night, Scott Erickson performed deep cuts on both Saturday and Sunday, GiGi Wong-Monaco hosted a ukulele strum, Nick Peay played Beatles tunes on acoustic on Saturday and uke on Sunday, and Phil Angotti & Friends brought the house down with their McCartney-centric show on Saturday and their Lennon-centric show on Sunday. Also delighting fans on the Apple Jam Stage were School of Rock (after their main stage appearance), Sgt. Sauerkraut’s Polka Band, and the Yellow Submorons.

 

On both Saturday and Sunday, after the scheduled performances had concluded, the Apple Jam Stage opened up for the fans, who jammed into the wee hours of the morning.

 

 

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 art by professionals, amateurs, and kids, all who took home prizes. Of the many entries in the professional division, Sandra Ragan took home the top prize for her broken glass and ink Abbey Road art. The giant crocheted Beatles flag by Jessica DeJardin took top honors in the amateur division, and Cameron Hicks’ mixed media with melted crayons piece won the top prize for the kids division. We thank Deco for continuing to do such a great job with the Art Museum.

 

 

The Chicago Fest was home to two Beatles marketplaces, the weekend home of 20 of the best Beatles authors in the world, and Terri Hemmert of WXRT, our amazing emcee.

 

When Festers weren’t busy dancing, jamming in every nook of the hotel, and parading (at our fourth annual Beatles Animal Parade which included the new Martha puppet), 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, Jeff Augsburger), and more.

 

 

 


 

Many also took refuge in our Beatles Ashram, which featured yoga classes for adults and kids, intro sessions to Cosmic Consciousness with the teachers of Transcendental Meditation, Beatles Zumba with GiGi, Deco’s Poetry Jam, and the Ashram’s highlight of the weekend… a talk with Louise Harrison about spirituality — from George’s perspective and her own. “Whatever you do, do it with purity of purpose” Louise told us was one of George’s foundational beliefs and teachings.

 

 

Other highlights from the weekend were We Can Write It Out with Mark Hudson, Live Beatles Trivia hosted by Wally Podrazik and Joan Moran, Name That Tune hosted by Al Sussman and Tom Frangione, Lorie Nolte winning a trip to Las Vegas to see The Beatles LOVE Cirque du Soleil, nightly Fest recap songs with Danny Donuts (this time with a little HELP! from the FABoratory), a reenactment of Help!, and the always spectacular Pig Light Show that accompanied the concerts on Saturday and Sunday.

 

 

 

 

The amount of Beatles knowledge shared over the weekend by authors/historians Wally Podrazik, Vivek Tiwary, Bruce Spizer, Jude Southerland Kessler, Chuck Gunderson, Andrew Grant Jackson, Paul Skellett, Simon Weitzman, David Schwensen, Dee Elias, Jim Berkenstadt, Jorie Gracen, Jill Davis, Tom Frangione, Al Sussman, Susan Ryan, Robert Rodriguez, Richard Buskin, Anthony Robustelli, Kit O’Toole, and Lanea Stagg was nothing short of incredible!

 

 

As always, the Musicians’ Forum on Sunday was a treat, as was that night’s concert that saw Liverpool play all of the Beatles songs from the Help! film and other Beatles cuts before the stage opened to sax men Mark Rivera and Ron Aprea, Terry Sylvester, Billy Kinsley, and the incomparable Mark Hudson.

 

 

 

Drew, John, Glen, and Chris of Liverpool were fantastic all weekend, kicking things off with the Dance Party on Friday night, playing the entire 1965 Shea Stadium set (50 years to the day!) and more on Saturday, and finishing things up in thrilling fashion on Sunday night after performing all the songs from the ‘Help!’ film and more as Mark Lapidos thrilled everyone while taking to the stage to sing ‘Charlie Brown’ with Mark Rivera, Mark Hudson (The Three Markies) and Liverpool. It was a special moment. Then, everyone came on stage to join in the traditional finale of ‘Hey Jude.’

 

Head HERE to watch Liverpool wrap up the 1965 Shea Stadium set with ‘I’m Down’…

 

Head HERE to watch Mark Lapidos join in on the fun with ‘Charlie Brown’…

 

 

 

After the Chicago Fest officially came to a close, the jamming continued into the wee hours of Monday morning, with Festers playing outside in the front of the hotel until the sun came up and people started going about their Monday morning business. This is a new 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 #ChiFest15 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 Hyatt Regency O’Hare, who did a terrific job hosting the Fest, especially Deb. 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 39th summer in Chicago.

 

 

We are already gearing up for the New York Metro Fest, taking place April 15 to 17 at the Hilton Westchester in Rye Brook, New York. Details will be released at TheFest.com in late-October, so keep an eye out! Hotel rooms are now available, so be sure to call (914) 939-6300 to book yours!

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Hey Jude was released 47 years ago today

From Fest Founder/Director Mark Lapidos…

 

Monday August 26, 1968 at around 10:30AM
Kutsher’s Country Club, Monticello, New York

 

I was working as a waiter in the children’s dining room and was taking my typical morning break between breakfast and lunch, going back to my room, turning on my transistor radio and more often than not, nodding off a bit.

 

Well on this morning I heard a brand new Beatles song and it woke me up. It mesmerized me. But in the coda my brain cells were going on and off. I remember thinking ‘how long is this song,’ then coming back to it a minute (or perhaps only seconds) later and it was still going! After lunch I had a full listen, and here we are 47 years later and it is still my favorite song of all time — Hey Jude.

 

To me, the single (with ‘Revolution’ as the b-side) had the power and impact of an entire Beatles album. I don’t know how else to explain it.

 

If I drove to my college classes and Hey Jude was on the radio, I always waited for the song to finish before heading in. I still do (but not always). It has had a profound effect on my life. Three months later, the Beatles put out a double album with 30 songs on it, but they had the class to not include the single on the album. Wonder how Capitol must have felt about that.

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Instant Karma or Instant Nirvana

What are you waiting for? When will you use…

 

  • The “good china and crystal”
  • That lonesome dining room
  • That special, expensive outfit you’ve been saving

 

What are you waiting for? When will you…

 

  • Buy the dream house you’ve always talked about…or at least try to
  • Go on that vacation the two of you have always planned
  • Go to THE FEST FOR BEATLES FANS

 

For 31 years, I taught aerobics and for 31 years, people sheepishly said to me, “I want to take your class…and I will, when I lose weight!” WHAT??? Wasn’t taking my class THE way to lose weight? Wasn’t that what my class was all about? What were they waiting for? I never knew.

 

For 25 years, my Office Manager at the Independence YMCA in Kansas City told me that she and her husband were going away on a magical two-week cruise. And each year, they postponed…until the day that she found him collapsed on the kitchen floor. Three days later, all hope of a cruise was gone.

 

For 14 years, my mom said that she wanted to go back to New York City one more time. And then a heart attack took away her option.

 

What are you waiting for?

 

Robert Ingersoll once famously said, “The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here.”

 

And John Lennon warned us:

 

Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head!
You better get yourself together…
Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead.
What in the world you thinking of
Laughing in the face of love?
What on earth you tryin’ to do?
It’s up to you, yeah you!!!

 

Wise man, John.

 

So here’s the bottom line: In 28 days, Beatles fans from all over the world will be gathering at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Chicago’s lovely suburbs.

 

We’ll gather to listen to the lads’ music being broadcast over that elegant hotel’s sound system, to sit by the open fire in the Red Bar and reminisce about our “Hard Day’s Nights,” and to sit in the lobby – all of us singing the old songs to a spur-of-the-moment band of guitars and tambourines.

 

We’ll shop in the huge Marketplace for t-shirts, bracelets, rare photos, old books, and collectibles. We’ll dance the night away to the sounds of amazing Beatles cover band Liverpool. We’ll sit in on panel with Beatles experts Bruce Spizer, Chuck Gunderson, Kit O’Toole, Al Sussman, Jim Berkenstadt, and Susan Ryan.

 

We’ll hear presentations from revered authors Robert Rodriguez, Anthony Robustelli, Lanea Stagg, and Dave Schwensen. And we’ll get our groove on in the exciting new “FABoratory” where Beatles Yoga, creative art projects, and live music is only the beginning of the fun.

 

You could be there. You could go crazy at the Saturday or Sunday night concert with Mark Rivera, Billy Kingsley of The Merseybeats, Terry Sylvester of The Hollies, and the ultimate rocker, Mark Hudson!

 

You could wear ‘60s clothes and meet the former head of Apple Records, Jack Oliver. You could chat with charming Ivor Davis, who toured with The Beatles in 1964. You could talk face-to-face with the charismatic man who brought The Beatles to America three times, Bob Eubanks. You could grab a Starbucks and watch all the Beatles movies your heart desires or introduce yourself to Ringo Starr’s photographer Rob Shanahan while you enjoy his amazing photos of Ringo, Paul, and so many others.

 

Or… it could be the weekend you clean out the garage and sleep on the sofa to re-runs of “The Big Bang Theory,” all the while promising yourself that next year, you’ll make The Fest happen.

 

The choice is yours.

 

The last thing my mother taught me was this: You may never get another chance. Follow your dreams now. Right now.

 

Instant Karma or Instant Nirvana? Choose.

 

 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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To Serve is to Rule

Mal Evans used to repeat frequently with a soft, knowing smile, “To serve is to rule.” He realized the power that came from being efficient, hard-working, dependable, and trustworthy. He knew the invaluable strength of being a person people can trust.

 

Mal didn’t do “earth-shaking” things. He set up Ringo’s kit and the boys’ amplifiers. He carried equipment in; he carried equipment out. He fetched tea from the EMI canteen. He shouldered the boys through crowds when necessary – and he shouldered their worries when he could. He listened. He kept Beatles secrets. But most of all, he invested himself in someone else’s future. And for The Beatles, that was more than enough. Mal’s role was crucial.

 

George Harrison said, “He loved his job; he was brilliant, and I often regret he got killed. Right to this day, I keep thinking, ‘Mal, where are you?’…he was such good fun, but he was also very helpful. He could do everything…and he always had everything. He was one of those people who loved what he was doing and didn’t have any problem about service. Everybody serves somebody in one way or another but some people don’t like the idea. [Mal] was very humble, but not without dignity.” For George and for all of The Beatles, Mal Evans was “the gentle giant.”

 

The Fest for Beatles Fans succeeds because we are blessed to have many gentle giants who help Mark, Carol, Michelle, and Jessica bring it to life two (and sometimes three) times a year. The Fest Family is blessed with a long-trusted staff of experts and artists who year after year “do their thing” to make the three jam-packed days smooth, seamless, and 100% fun! These behind-the-scenes folks put sparkle in the concerts, structure in the Marketplace, security in the entrances and exits, artwork in the lobbies and gathering rooms, questions in our interviews, and both sight and sound in the video/lecture/discussion rooms. Without our fest staff and volunteers, the fest could not exist. They are the people we trust to bring the Lapidos family’s ideas and concepts to fruition.

 

Many of you know the people I’m talking about…and you appreciate all they do, year after year. So, I’m going to ask you to write in and say “thank you” in the comments below. And I’m going to ask you to nominate one individual for a prize package of: 1) a signed/dated First Edition of Shoulda Been There (Vol. 1 in The John Lennon Series), 2) a signed/dated First Edition of She Loves You (Vol. 3 in The John Lennon Series), a signed/dated “Doors Of Liverpool” art poster, and a John Lennon portrait T-shirt by Rande Kessler. The staff member or volunteer who gets the most “thank you notes” and nominations from you in the next 14 days will win the honor of being our first Fest for Beatles Fans Mal Evans Service Award Winner!

 

However, we know that all of our staff members and volunteers are already prize winners. Over the years, they’ve won our respect, appreciation, and devotion. Year after year, I look forward to seeing these seemingly tireless men and women who are awake before I am and still going strong when I go to sleep…who’ve arrived days before I arrive at the Fest…and who stay to take it all down and pack it all up when I’m in the car, headed home for Louisiana. These men and women who comprise our Fest Family are our heroes. Let’s take a moment or so to tell them. I know George is glad he had the opportunity to tell Mal. You just never know.

 

And from me to everyone in our Fest Family, thank you. You may serve, but very truly…YOU RULE!!!

 

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

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Cynthia Lennon: Shine On

At the New York Metro Fest for Beatles Fans two weeks ago, I delivered a talk called  “Cynthia Lennon: the Real Fifth Beatle.” And with all my heart, I believe she was just that.

 

She was there in the basement of The Jacaranda, holding John’s microphone for him (well, a mic duct taped to a broom) in 1959…long before Stu or Brian or Pete or George Martin ever appeared on the scene. She lovingly told John that he was “too big for Liverpool” as she watched him rehearse with Paul and George in Room 21 at Liverpool College of Art during those lunchtime sessions of 1959 and 1960. And unswervingly, she believed in his destiny to achieve “the toppermost of the poppermost” long before the Beatlettes (or even the Wooden Tops) existed. Cynthia was the first to understand and cherish John’s dream.

 

When Cynthia found out the she was pregnant, John immediately (immediately!) offered to marry her. And had she pressed him to leave the band and become a “proper husband and father,” I believe he would have been just as dutiful in doing “the right thing.” But Cynthia never asked that of John.

 

Instead, Cyn spent her honeymoon night alone – moving in to Brian’s Falkner Street flat and making a home for John, even though he had offered to take her along with him that evening to his gig. Cynthia refused. She chose to remain in the background and to shun the limelight and to give John a home to which he could always come when he was tired, frustrated, and in need of love.

 

During the year (August 1962-August 1963) that Brian forbade her to appear with John in public, Cynthia acted accordingly and vanished from sight to help her husband’s career. She ran from reporters. She shielded her husband and her son. She pushed her needs aside and endured aching loneliness so that The Beatles could grow and emerge as the stars she knew they were to be.

 

When girlfriends joined the troupe of Beatles – as did Maureen Cox – Cynthia befriended them and made them feel welcome. She worked side-by-side with Freda Kelly to answer John’s fan mail, and she endured the torrent of fans in Emperor’s Gate for much longer than was humanly possible. Cynthia did whatever John needed her to do to help him achieve the life for which he longed.

 

Did John love Cynthia? Devotedly.

 

In January of 1964, The Beatles were appearing for three weeks in Paris. During that time, they got one day (one day!) off. The other three Beatles spent that day sight-seeing and sleeping and having a grand ole time. John flew back to London for that 24 hours to spend the time with Cyn. It was worth it to him. She recharged him and inspired him and made him whole.

 

And on that one day in which they were together, John invited Cyn to come along with him on his first American visit in February of 1964, even though Brian had forbidden him to ask his wife along. John wanted Cynthia to share in the excitement and the joy of his success – a success that her devotion had made possible. And she accepted. At Ed Sullivan, Carnegie Hall, Miami, and Washington, D.C. Cynthia was there.

 

In America, reporters tried to get her to talk. She would not. She stayed in the shadows and let her husband take the bows. She made her life about John and about John’s son, her beloved Julian. And even when she wrote her first book, A Twist of Lennon, she minimized John’s faults and played up his strengths. She was his best friend.

 

In Lennon Revealed, Larry Kane writes, “The romance between Cynthia Powell and John Lennon, somewhat forgotten in the modern era of Lennon remembrances – and often ignored when it was in full bloom – is a significant one for the young artist. Although the marriage was prematurely instigated by the pregnancy that brought Julian to life, there is no question that Cynthia was John’s first real and intense romantic love and that her role in his early days of creativity with The Beatles cannot be discounted.”

 

And Tony Bramwell, Kane notes, adds, “Cynthia was beautiful, physically and on the inside. Although she knew he was apt to find love on the road, she was totally dedicated to his success, and I might add, influential. He was insecure and Cynthia was always there to pump him up, to buttress…his weak side. She was a wonderful mother who loved John deeply.”

 

John’s indiscretions were ignored by Cynthia. His anger was forgiven. His focus on his career rather than his marriage was never even considered a problem to his adoring wife. Cynthia wanted the best for John, always. And that kind of unconditional love sparked “When I Get Home,” and “Do You Want to Know a Secret” and “I Call Your Name” and “It Won’t Be Long” and so many more. Even when Beatlemania began to take its toll on their marriage, John penned the haunting “It’s Only Love” for his Cyn.

 

Today the world has lost the Fifth Beatle. But more importantly, it has lost a true lady who made “night time bright, very bright.” Cynthia Lennon will always shine on.

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The Fest For Beatles Fans is Home

Oddly enough, every time I step through the door into a Fest for Beatles Fans – whether it’s held in New Jersey, New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, or Los Angeles, I hear Simon and Garfunkel singing. Yeah, you heard me: Simon and Garfunkel.

 

Oh sure, over the hotel speakers, The Beatles are joyfully “yeah, yeah, yeah-ing their brilliant way across the universe,” as it should be. But in my head, I hear:

 

“Home where my thoughts escapin’,
Home, where my music’s playin,
Home where my love lies waitin’
Silently for me…silently for me.”

 

Home. Going to a “Beatlefest” (as we used to call it) means coming home again.

 

Mark and Carol Lapidos always say that the fest is a Thanksgiving Dinner without the family arguments. And that pretty well sums it up.

 
All the usual characters are there…the same family members we’ve seen over and over for the past five, ten, twenty (or more!) years. You know, Michelle and Jessica in their flowing, glorious attire and 10-12 inch heels. The man who has every elegant Beatle suit ever tailored. That group who sets up a full band in the lobby and sings away, all night long…and the tanned, smiling man who dances to every, single, solitary song. Mark Hudson with his “love-is-a-many-splendored-beard” and his crazy-mad command of “Working Class Hero.” The fresh, hopeful teens out to win the “Battle of the Beatles Bands.” Jim Demes who works his buns off with a sincere smile ever on his face. Bruce Spizer who barely chuckles when I call him a “Beatleseffin’pedia.” Gregarious Judith, supremely talented Eric, and our sweet friend, Dara.

 

My family. Our family. Home again.

 

We do the traditional things. We dance to the sounds of Liverpool’s nightly concerts. We take part in the trivia contest. We go to Jude’s Sunday morning Early Bird speech in the Main Ballroom (Hint! Hint!) on “The 180 Hardest Days of The Beatles Career.” We watch “A Hard Day’s Night” on Friday evening just before the Author’s Symposium. We get autographs from our lifelong heroes…and at least once during the weekend’s span, we just stop and sing along with The Beatles.

 

It’s at that moment that we remember why we came here: for the friends, of course. For the family. For the fun and the programs and the laughter and the carefree moments out of time. But most of all, we have traveled here to celebrate our champions, The Beatles…to lift a glass or two and say, “Those were the days my friend.” To remember.

 

We stand beneath the posters of their bright, 1960′s smiles, and we recall a time less harried, less riddled with care, less uncertain, and less angry. We remember the hope that was ours and the days that stretched ahead golden and full of promise. And it reminds us that this can happen again, if only we try…if only we stay true to those things in which we once so ardently believed.

 

At the Fest for Beatles Fans, we come home to ourselves…to whom we were and to whom we can be again.

 

Join me March 20-22 and be reborn. In Rye Brook, New York, YOU are waiting for you. I wouldn’t miss that appointment.

 

Grab your #TicketToRye RIGHT HERE

 

Jude Southerland Kessler
http://www.johnlennonseries.com

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Give Peace a Chance

Have you ever really thought about what that means? Ever let it sink it? Why did John Lennon think he needed to urge us to give peace a try, a sample, a chance? Could it be that he was convincing us to consider peace because he knew that we are non-peaceful at heart?
 
During the Age of Enlightenment (the 18th Century), great thinkers called philosophes spent a great deal of serious time and thought trying to determine whether man was inherently evil or inherently good. In France, René Rousseau wrote an essay asserting that man is born good, but is almost immediately corrupted by the world around him. In England, John Locke wrote an opposing essay asserting that man is born evil (the church calls it “original sin”) but is rescued by laws and by society’s uplifting ethics.
 
There was no “winner” in this contest of ideas. Some people favored Rousseau. Some favored Locke.
 
I hold with Locke. I believe that a young child will lie, if given the chance…that he will say cruel things to another child…that he will put himself or herself before anyone else. I think that only parents, teachers, mentors, and extended family can teach that child to be selfless… can convince that child to be kind, tactful, giving, and loving. Many of you will disagree with me. That’s to be expected. People have been arguing this point since the 1700’s without resolution.
 
Like John Lennon, I believe that we have to learn to give peace a chance.
 
This past week, the world has revolved in utter chaos. Twelve people were murdered in a Parisian newspaper office for speaking their minds. Hostages were taken by the assailants and murdered. Terror was on our lips. Violence, hatred, and suspicion reigned supreme.
 
In his famous chants about the divisiveness of “isms” in his song, “Give Peace A Chance,” John seemed to know that peace has little hope in our society. Early on, we take sides. But like that radical young man, Jesus of Nazareth, John urged us to turn the other cheek and to be a neighbor to people unlike ourselves. He reminded us (in “Instant Karma”) that if we fail to do this, “Instant karma is going to get you…gonna knock you right in the head!” Okay, John, we hear you.
 
But giving peace a chance!? Can that ever really happen? I’m very, very, very skeptical. However, despite all the evidence of its impracticality, I still believe that seeking peace is our ultimate goal.
 
However, giving peace a chance doesn’t mean blindly trusting everyone. Some people are untrustworthy, and we’d be stupid to toss our pearls before them. Giving peace a chance doesn’t mean being naïve or foolish.  Giving peace a chance doesn’t mean forgetting the wisdom learned from the past. And certainly, giving peace a chance doesn’t mean buckling under to bullies. What it does mean is that we should act daily as if “We Are Unafraid” to bring good into the world, no matter what.
 
In so many of his songs (even “Happy Christmas, War is Over”), John reminded us that we are all called to do good things, great things. And if we are called, we must try.
 
I’m willing to give peace a chance. How about you?
 
Jude Southerland Kessler
 
http://www.johnlennonseries.com
 
To hear the songs in this blog:
 
Give Peace a Chance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkZC7sqImaM
 
Instant Karma https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEjUQ15lyzk&feature=youtu.be
 
Happy Christmas, War is Over  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8Vfp48laS8

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Fifty Years of Beatleness!

By Candy Leonard, author of Beatleness: How the Beatles and Their Fans Remade the World
 
With the exception of the great visionary Brian Epstein, no one would have predicted that we’d still be listening to and celebrating the Beatles in the 21st century. Across three generations and across the universe, their music continues to bring joy and happiness to millions.
 
Their story continues to fascinate and inspire people of all ages. The Gratitude Wall at the Fests are filled with heartfelt expressions of appreciation for the Beatles being there at life’s most difficult and most joyous moments.
 
When I was working on my book, Beatleness, I realized that there was no word to describe this amazing, complicated, fifty-year, multigenerational, cross-cultural phenomenon and how it makes people feel. I started calling it Beatleness, and it became the title of the book. It’s a way of describing the indescribable! Here are the three definitions of the word as they appear in the book.
 
Beatleness /bē-tl-nəs, bē-tl-nis/
noun
1. qualities or characteristics of the Beatles and their works; a manifestation of the essential qualities that define “the Beatles.”
2. an emotional or spiritual state, condition, or feeling resulting from exposure to or thinking about the Beatles and their works.
3. cultural references and artifacts, tangible and intangible, that evoke the Beatles; artistic or commercial use of words and images associated with the Beatles.
 
We asked you to use the word “Beatleness” in a sentence for a chance to win a copy of the book—and got close to 100 responses! Many of you talked about the Beatleness that was passed to you from your parents or the Beatleness you’re passing on to your children. Others talked about the positive messages of Beatleness. It’s a useful word – let’s keep using it in 2015!
 
Below are the Top Ten responses…
 
James F. Opalecky – If there were more BEATLENESS in the world, we would live in peace and harmony, feeling love for each other! ‬‬
 
Leslie Smith – The apex of Beatleness in my life was seeing Paul McCartney for the first time with my dad. We laughed, sang and cried together. It was a moment of pure music, love, and Beatleness that I hold dear now that my dad is gone.
 
Jennie Ann Hampton – I look at each and every person as an individual regardless of their race, religion or nationality. And I do feel that the Beatleness in my heart is partially responsible.
 
Debra Wallace Karina – Beatleness had entered my soul when I was young and will be with me every day for my entire life. I have shared it with my children !
 
Roger Yee – The world would be a much better place if more “Beatleness” existed.‬‬
 
Dan Vance – I’ve been a Beatle fan since I was a kid living in Europe. I worked hard to impress my kids with Beatleness since they were little kids, and I do believe it worked!!!
 
Marlene Reiter Yuzik – I have always had Beatleness in my life. Ever since I was 10 years old and saw them on Ed Sullivan. I have brought up my three children with Beatleness!!
 
Donna Bornemann – My best Beatleness moment – I had tickets to see Paul 1976 and went into labor so missed the concert and had a beautiful baby girl‬‬
 
Oscar Mayer – The Beatleness was all around and us and still has us under it’s power!‬‬
 
Briana Herzog – My Beatleness is obvious because I named my son Lennon!!!
 
And the winner is……James Opalecky!
 
Congrats, James. And thanks to all who entered!

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Alternate John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band

44 years ago today, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band was released.
 
The album, which was John’s first legit solo venture, was powerful, raw, honest, and emotional, and is listed at #22 on the Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums of All-Time list.
 
Recently, we put together a live version of Rubber Soul. For John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, we’ve put together a version made up of alternate studio takes, acoustic takes, and demos…
 
Mother (alternate studio version):
 

 
Hold On (take 24, with false starts):
 

 
I Found Out (alternate studio version):
 

 
Working Class Hero (demo):
 

 
Isolation (alternate studio version):
 

 
Remember (outtake from studio sessions):
 

 
Love (John Lennon Anthology version):
 

 
Well Well Well (acoustic demo):
 

 
Look At Me (acoustic version):
 

 
God (alternate studio version):
 

 
My Mummy’s Dead (acoustic demo):
 

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