From Us To You… Cheers, Bruce!

By Jude Southerland Kessler


In case you missed the really big celebration in Beatlefan magazine (“Beatles, Roaches Launch a 20-Year Journey”), on Sirius radio, and on podcasts such as the “She Said She Said” show on BlogTalk Radio, the Fest for Beatles Fans’ own Bruce Spizer is being lauded and applauded across the nation. It’s his anniversary!


Over the last 20 years, Bruce has built a reputation as the most respected Beatles music expert in the world, or as the Fest family fondly refers to him, “The Beatleseffin’pedia.” Despite the fact that he is a very busy New Orleans tax attorney, Spizer has written nine books establishing his well-deserved creds as the “go to guy” on the Beatles recordings, records, and record promotions. He has covered almost every aspect of Beatles music history in these distinguished volumes:


Beatles Records on Vee-Jay (1998)

The Beatles’ Story on Capitol Records, Part 1 (2000)

The Beatles’ Story on Capitol Records, Part 2 (2000)

The Beatles on Apple Records (2003)

The Beatles are Coming! (2003)

The Beatles Solo on Apple Records (2005)

The Beatles Swan Song (2007)

Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records (2011)

The Beatles and Sgt. Pepper: A Fan’s Perspective (2017)


Never intentionally setting out to write a book, Bruce’s personal investigation into authentic 1960s Beatles pressings (when his record collection was destroyed and needed to be replaced) revealed a wealth of intricate information. The more Bruce learned in his quest, the more convinced he became that there was a need for an accurate, detailed book covering The Beatles on the Vee-Jay label – and on the intricate legal battle surrounding the company’s dealing with the Fab Four. Therefore, in 1998, he published that very book. And in doing so, Spizer started a tradition that will not slow or stop. His books are requested…in fact, popularly demanded…by knowledgeable Beatles fans who want to learn more.


Almost the second his Vee-Jay book hit the stands, Fest goers were “wink-wink-nudge-nudging” Bruce with, “So, when’s the Capitol book coming out?” And once Spizer had given them “the Capitol book,” his readers (and they are many…his books have grossed $2 million since their inception) were clamouring for “the Apple book.” For Spizer, there was no resting on one’s laurels. He had to keep writing.


In 2007, Spizer released a volume that he was certain would tie up all loose ends, covering (he thought) every remaining shred of information about Beatles recordings – everything that he had not previously discussed. One of those topics was The Beatles’ catalogue on Swan records. So cleverly, Spizer entitled this “final, final, infinity final” work, The Beatles Swan Song. Except, of course, that it wasn’t. Spizer may have wanted this definitive volume to be the swan song of his author-itative career, but he wasn’t permitted to relax yet: fans wanted the complete Parlophone story as well. They were insistent that The Beatleseffin’pedia tackle it from A to Zed. So, Spizer did just that, releasing in 2011, Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records.


Yes, it is…it’s clear that Beatles fans and music aficionados can’t get enough of the painstaking detail which Bruce Spizer provides. He hunts down myths about Beatles music and summarily dispels them. He speaks with primary sources, such as Walter Cronkite (who wrote the Foreword for The Beatles Are Coming!), and he sets right past errors. Bruce has said on many occasions that, “A worthy book about The Beatles can’t be a mere collection of quotes and facts from other previous works patched together…a good book must provide new research and cover new territory.” And that, Bruce has done.


But there’s more to Bruce’s story…the personal side…because for those of us who call The Fest for Beatles Fans our home, Bruce is family. Well-known for his Saturday noon Main Stage kick-off presentations and his Friday night panels with Al Sussman, Tom Frangione, Chuck Gunderson, and many others, Bruce has always been integral to The Fest…a tradition we all anticipate and enjoy.


It was at the 2004 New Jersey Fest that a novice author named Jude Southerland Kessler listened intently to Bruce’s speech and then went up to ask him about The Quarrymen’s 1957 competition at the Liverpool Empire against (amongst other skiffle bands) The Sunnyside Skiffle group. “Mr. Spizer,” I wondered, “I know that the lead singer for The Sunnyside Skiffle group – who defeated The Quarrymen that day – was energetic Nicky Cuff. But who were the other members of the group?” At that moment, Bruce Spizer did two things that impressed me tremendously: First, he admitted he didn’t know. (Many experts would have “bulled their way” through with a flimsy answer.) And secondly, he suggested that I get in touch with Radio Merseyside and ask them for assistance with my mission.


So, I did. I e-mailed Radio Merseyside and explained that I was writing John Lennon’s biography in narrative form and needed to know a bit about each member of the vivacious, charismatic skiffle band that had bested the ingenue Quarrymen in June 1957. I explained that, if possible, I needed to speak with someone from the band: to discover exactly why the earliest version of The Beatles had fallen short that fateful day. Well, Radio Merseyside did what Bruce knew they would do. They ran a contest to “Help the American Author” – and happily, that contest ended in a direct overseas call to me from Nicky Cuff himself!


As I chatted with Cuff – the leader of the band who’d taught John Lennon that rock’n’roll involved much more than just singing a song – I finally understood the old adage, “The bigger they are, the nicer they are.” Cuff was quite gracious. And though there was nothing “in it” for him, well-established author, Bruce Spizer, had also been extremely generous. He’d taken time to help an unknown. He helped me uncover information I truly needed, despite the fact that he didn’t know me or my work.


Bruce’s brilliant notion of ringing up Radio Merseyside came naturally, of course, because that is exactly the kind of in-depth scholarship he regularly practices. It’s Spizer’s “extra mile” – the path he consistently takes to uncover little-known facts.  Indeed, his thorough, comprehensive, “no stone unturned” research has always met with great respect from his fellow authors and with admiration from the fans and readers as well. For the last twenty years, we’ve all said, “Good on yer, son!” Moreover, we’ve continued to ask for “More, more, more!”


So today, Bruce, we salute you on this 20th anniversary and look forward to the books to come. You simply can’t stop now! As John would say, “Y’er on a rock’n’roll!”

Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series:


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


An Injured Poem?

“A song is an injured poem

Which leans on music for its strength.”



Or worded in plain-speak: “Songs are mostly appreciated based on the accompanying music.”[1]


This is the standard English teachers’ rule to which The Beatles hold myriad exceptions. In fact, literally hundreds of lines from Beatles’ tunes – throughout the span of their career – stand alone as poignant, memorable poetry.


Take for example, the haunting warning, “One day, you’ll look to see I’m gone. But tomorrow many rain, so…I’ll follow the sun.” Poetry! Tune, or no tune to back it up.


Or consider:


“It’s only love and that is all.

Why should I feel the way I do?

It’s only love…and that is all.

But it’s so hard – loving you.”


Read that verse aloud, without the music, and what you will find is the complete helplessness of the writer – the frustration and pain of loss – a loss made even more evident in the tuneless void. Spoken without the magical music behind the words, there is nothing to soften the blow. What you discover is a lover desperately trying to shrug off the intensity of his feelings and forebodings – and failing miserably. Utterly. You witness a very private moment and an unforgettable one. And that, my friend, is poetry.


The Beatles were, indeed, poets whose music only enhanced the strength of their compositions. Their lyrics are works of art, and “in their own write,” they succeed.


My favorite line from the immense Beatles catalog is, surprisingly, not a Lennon line. But I like to think that Paul was addressing his words to John – that he was reminding his old friend of the lifelong connection the two of them shared, despite the difficulties they were encountering in the moment. That image, in itself, injects the words with raw emotion. But the couplet also has a second level of meaning as my husband, Rande, and I prepare to celebrate our 40th Wedding Anniversary on 23 June.


You and I have memories

Longer than the road that stretches out ahead.


Sad, but true, I think. Although (who knows?) we may be lucky. My parents celebrated 72 years together. Dare we hope for 80? Perhaps. Though reality nudges me to admit that Paul’s affectionate and haunting line is probably closer to the truth.


The first time I heard these words, I was sitting in the lobby of the Gibson Guitar Factory in Memphis, Tennessee, waiting to take the tour. The invisible powers-that-be behind the scenes were playing The Beatles – as it should be – and the quiet group listened. I had heard “Two of Us” countless times, I’m sure. But I’d never really absorbed the words until they filtered into that immense room…until the poetry swirled over and around the atrium, washing every patron in deep emotion. Instantly, my eyes filled with tears…for my parents who were in their early 90’s and sitting with us that afternoon, for my husband and me – and yes, for Paul and John. It was a tender moment.


Beatlesongs. So many of the lyrics could stand alone without any music to lean on – mature, complete in themselves, needing nothing more. But why should they stand alone? When the poetry inherent in “In My Life” can be accompanied by the perfect melody, why not have the best of both worlds? Why not enjoy the whole package? We can be selfish, Beatles fans! We are blessed.


But if you had to pare down their songs to the lyrics alone…pare them down to the poetry – the most memorable words – which lines have touched your heart the most? Which lines from a song by John, Paul, George, or Ringo have stayed with you throughout the years? And why?


Please take a moment and share your thoughts with us here at The Fest…and you could win a collector’s tin of Beatles coasters! Just respond in our Comments section and in two weeks, we’ll draw a winner from the responses we receive. We truly love hearing from you, and we hope you enjoy taking a moment from the hectic, work-a-day world to revel in the music and poetry of The Fab Four.


Let’s talk Beatles. Let’s talk poetry.


Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series:


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


Paul McCartney: Into His Life

As we continue looking at Side Two of Revolver, we thought it might be fun to compare and contrast two of Paul’s love songs…we’d love to hear from you about the similarities and differences you perceive!


Revolver is a Paul-centric LP. No doubt about it. It is the first of The Beatles’ LPs in which Sir Macca (and not the former “Leader Beatle,” John Lennon) dominates,  singing, and thus having composed, six of the 14 tracks. (Really, seven, if you count his predominate influence on “Yellow Submarine”).


John Lennon was the real-life “Ancient Mariner.” Like Coleridge’s weathered protagonist, Lennon always grabbed you by the elbow, and began to tell you his tragic life’s story. In “I’ll Cry Instead,” his BBC cover of Smokey Robinson’s “You Really Got A Hold On Me” (to which John adds the telling word, “Mother”), “If I Fell” or “I’m A Loser,” John is consistently bemoaning about Julia’s absence in his life and his consuming heartbreak over her loss…or perhaps, as he sees it, his inability to keep her.


“Beatle Paul” is just as thematically consistent. From early on, he composes songs about his struggling (and later, failing) relationship with Jane Asher. On Side One of Beatles For Sale, he reminds Jane in “I’ll Follow the Sun” that:


“One day, you’ll look to see I’m gone,

But tomorrow may rain, so I’ll follow the sun.

One day, you’ll know I was the one,

But tomorrow may rain, so I’ll follow the sun.

And now the time has come,

And so my love, I must go…

And though I lose a friend, in the end you will know…”


Then, on Side Two of Beatles for Sale, he tries a tougher tack, saying in “What You’re Doing”:


“You got me running…and there’s no fun in it…

Why would it be so much

To ask of you what you’re doin’ to me!?”


Over and over, in “We Can Work it Out,” “You Won’t See Me,” and “I’m Looking Through You,” Paul sings to Jane Asher of his frustration, of  his need for her to “be there” for him. In fact, our Fest Blog examined that theme earlier this year when we studied the lovely “Here, There, and Everywhere.


Now, here on Revolver’s Side Two, Paul speaks to Jane again, first in the uplifting “Good Day Sunshine” where he praises her for being with him on a sunny day, and then in the dark and poignant ballad, “For No One” and finally, in the brass-accompanied riot that is “Got to Get You Into My Life.” All three Side Two songs express Paul’s longing, in meter and verse, for his lady.


“Got to Get You Into My Life” – though admittedly a double entendre – a crafty nod to Paul’s use of marijuana – is in a basic, literal sense his mission statement.


“And then, suddenly, I see you!

Did I tell you I need you?

Every single day of my life!”


Song after song, ballad after ballad, Paul has been telling Jane (and hence, all of us) one thing: “Got to get you into my life.” And, the fact that Jane has justifiably resisted and sought her own very successful theatrical career has only inspired Paul to continue penning attention-getting poems set to music for her.


By 1966, however, it has become fairly obvious to them both that the relationship isn’t working. In fact, when Paul begs her to come home, “she takes her time and doesn’t feel she has to hurry…she no longer needs him.”  They’re at irreconcilable odds, really.


Perhaps, a clue to their unresolved issues is to be found in the way in which “For No One” was recorded. Because the entire song is Paul and only Paul. George and John are not needed. Ringo will play percussion…but Paul alone – the center of attention – will sing and perform his composition on the Steinway grand. Perhaps that is why for Jane Asher:


“… in her eyes, you see nothing,
No sign of love behind the tears
Cried for no one…

A love that should have lasted years.”


With the wrong instruments, “For No One” could have come off as “whiny and cheesy.” Instead, the composition (with the phenomenal clavichord work of Sir George Martin and the breath-taking French horn touches of Alan Civil) is elegant and deeply tragic on several levels. Because not only are Paul and Jane falling apart, but The Beatles are beginning to unravel as well.  When we hear those last words: “There will be times when all the things [they] said will fill your head. You won’t forget [them],” we somehow flash to the eroding friendship between John, Paul, George, and Ringo. We sigh.


And so, in the guise of his former, chipper self, Paul makes one last attempt on Revolver to woo Jane back again. Not discounting the very popular “marijuana theory” (which certainly exists on one level), in “Got to Get You Into My Life,” Paul expresses undiminished determination to get Jane into his life. He jauntily and emphatically speaks to her in hopes that the visions prevalent in “For No One” will never come to be. McCartney sings:


“What can I do, what can I be?

When I’m with you, I want to stay there!

And you know I’ll never leave…and if I do,

I know the way there!”


Here interestingly, Paul speaks his soul to Jane in an ear-catching new way, via a SOUL song! As Dr. Kit O’Toole, author of Songs We Were Singing: Guided Tours Through The Beatles Lesser Known Tracks has stated:


“The horns [in “Got to Get You Into My Life”] were a remnant of the band’s original idea to record Revolver at Stax Records in Memphis. They had long emulated the bass and drum sounds found on American soul records, and they wanted to extend that. So they recruited guitarist Steve Cropper of Booker T. and the MG’s to produce Revolver, and they asked Brian Epstein to “make it happen.” But all the Memphis studios wanted exorbitant fees to host The Beatles, so the boys ended up back in Abbey Road. But the soul sound still intrigued them, so “Got to Get You into My Life” is their interpretation of the genre.”  


“Got to Get You Into My Life” is one of Paul’s final attempts to catch Jane’s ear and to express his soul’s need for her lifelong companionship.


“You want her, you need her…

And yet you don’t believe her

When she says her love is dead:

You think she needs you.”


Both “Got to Get You Into My Life” and “For No One” are the swan songs for a love that could not survive. However, on 15 May 1967, when Paul met Linda Eastman in London’s Bag O’Nails, his long-deferred dream became reality. He got her into his life, and in that moment, everything changed.

Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series:


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


What Will You Bring?

You can say it a hundred ways:


“You get what you give.”


“You only get out of it what you put into it.”


“Cast your bread on the water, and it will return to you after many days.”


“Garbage in, garbage out.”



“And in the end, the love you take

Is equal to the love you make…”


In other words, in any venture in life, you’ll take away exactly what you bring to that moment. If you bring joy, you’ll reap joy. If you bring pessimism, you’ll walk away with pessimism. If you bring despair…well, you get it.


When my grandmother passed, she returned to each of us the gifts we had given her over the many years of her life. Those grandchildren who had given lovely, caring gifts received loving, caring gifts as rich mementos of her life. Those who had only eked by and given as little as possible reclaimed the tacky, shameful gifts that had been given. We all went to our homes that weekend with clear and obvious reminders of how generous and thoughtful (or stingy and miserly) we’d all been.


“And in the end, the love you take

Is equal to the love you make…”


The first year that I went to Liverpool, I went as a stuffy, American writer. I had trouble understanding Scouse. I wouldn’t try the local dishes. (Blood pudding? Eeeeek!) I dressed differently, and looked prim, stiff, professor-ish. And though I interviewed and observed, I never cracked a joke or smile. Bottom line: I didn’t fit in. Not a whit. Every minute of that trip, I was on the outside looking in. And though I learned a lot, I didn’t have fun being a stranger in a strange land.


The following year, I decided to do things differently. Instead of wearing my camel skirts, blazers, and sensible pumps back to dear old Liddypool, I donned tight leather pants and boots. I walked the streets of Merseyside instead of riding in taxis. I sat in The Grapes and The White Star and Flanagan’s Apple and learned the language and made friends.


That second year, strangers asked me for local directions over and over again…because they thought I was a Scouser! I had made the decision to blend in, and voila! I did! And when my nine days Merseyside were over, I reluctantly returned home not only better informed, but very, very happy.


“And in the end, the love you take

Is equal to the love you make…”


So, what will you bring to The Fest for Beatles Fans April 15-17? An old brown shoe? A sock (darned in the night)? A gently weeping guitar? A little white book? Some Semolina Pilchard? (Or Pilchard Semolina, for those who know the brand.) A 20-carat golden ring? A big brown bag? A portrait of the Queen? What will you bring?


Think! Because what you carry along with you to The Fest will determine what you take home. And, if you want to walk (drive, fly, or rollerblade) away from the weekend having had the time of your life, you need to bring a few, crucial items with (you…in Liverpool, you’d leave off the word “you” in that phrase). You’ll need:


1)      Suggestions for us about things we can host at The Fest to make you happy. (We love your ideas!!! Send them to us ASAP, please! We are trying to find out what you like and include it in our expanded offerings! And if you’d like to volunteer to lead a class or a hike, we’d love to hear about it…soon). Email with any ideas!

2)      A spirit of FUN!!!

3)      The ability to take part in what you enjoy and to happily pass over the things you do not like! (After all, someone else might enjoy that event and dislike the things you like, right? Give and take.)

4)      A compliment or two for those who are presenting, singing, decorating, hosting, performing, cleaning up, selling tickets, emceeing, and making it all possible.

5)      A spirit of curiosity about new speakers, books, panels, and experiences! A mind ready to seek out, enjoy, and find the best in every situation. A sense of adventure!


If you pack these five items along with your bent-back tulips and jeans (except on Sunday), you’ll find yourself smiling, laughing, learning, nodding, singing, and making the most of every moment! You’ll find yourself ready to have a great time and go home happy.


What you bring to the party is up to you. I would hate your disappointment to show. Is there nothing for you here? Will you disappear?


Or will you go all out, all in, all together now for a unique, exciting, uplifting Beatles weekend of fun? I hope it’s the latter…because the love you take really, really, really IS equal to the love YOU make. Ahahhhhhhhhhh!


Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series:


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


He Engineered the soundtrack of life: A tribute to Dennis Ferrante

The job of a Sound Engineer, as I understand it, is to oversee the mix of volume levels, sound effects, and instrument inputs in the recording studio…to work magic so that the artist’s song is presented in its very best light. Sometimes this involves moving microphones, and shuffling amplifiers and drums around so that the sound reverberates in a more effective manner. Sometimes this involves ingenious solutions like sticking overcoats in the drums to muffle them. Whatever it takes, a sound engineer does it.


That is what Dennis Ferrante did for John Lennon and Yoko Ono at The Record Plant in New York City. And that, essentially, is what Dennis did with his life.


Dennis was given “the gift” of a bum heart. During his life he had numerous heart surgeries, and in his last years, he was living with the use of only twenty percent of his heart in functioning condition. But with that twenty percent, he loved more, laughed more, and celebrated more than anyone I know. Dennis Ferrante was exuberant.


I first met Dennis when he guested on my “John Lennon Hour” show on BeatlesARama Radio. I had prepared 12 questions to ask Dennis during our hour together. In 60 minutes, he answered three. Dennis had a way of telling a story (with all the trimmings!) that kept an audience captivated. He didn’t answer a question with terse facts or data. He answered by unveiling – bit by bit – his colorful, thrilling adventures. He answered by letting the listener into the electrifying world in which he lived. When Dennis told a story, you walked his walk. His answers were lengthy and fascinating and chock full of life. You sat enraptured by the things Dennis said.


And when Dennis talked, everyone laughed! He was witty, raucous, and bold. When I greeted Dennis on that first show that we did together, I said, “So glad to have you with us, Dennis!” And he fired back, boldly, in his New Jersey accent, “So glad to be had!” I cracked up.


Over the next three years, Dennis appeared on my radio show three times, and when I moved to BlogTalkRadio, Dennis moved with me. The week that Cynthia Lennon died (and my heart was broken), I phoned Dennis and asked him if he would be my guest – I needed someone special that week to lift my flagging spirits. He immediately agreed. And even in that gloomiest of weeks, he made me smile.


Dennis wouldn’t take “sad” for an answer. On any given day, even in the hospital I imagine, he was mischievous, hilarious, and badly-behaved.


Dennis had incredible stories about his years in the studio with Cher, John and Yoko, Harry Nilsson, Lou Reed, and so many others. His stories of restoring Duke Ellington’s music to its original vibrancy and life (a meticulous task that won him a Grammy) were riveting. But he never told those stories to “name drop” or boast. He told them because they were funny; he told them because they made people grin, ear to ear. He told them because hearing those stories made others happy. You couldn’t be in Dennis’s presence without laughing. He was THAT guy. He was the one you wished you could be.


Dennis wasn’t without his problems. He had flat-lined several times before he died. Quite frankly, he knew his time was limited.


I had already invited Dennis to be on my radio show for my birthday this coming November, and he’d responded, “I’ll be there, if I’m still here.” Dennis knew his heart was iffy at best. But that never dampened his mood. Like any good sound engineer, he mixed magic…but in the studio of his life. He equalized and blended his attitude so that the only sound we heard was joy.


We all face tragedies daily, large and small. But it’s our choice to let those roadblocks control us or to shuffle things around and adjust levels so that we control them. Dennis engineered the soundtrack of his life. It’s now a heavenly anthem. And the angels are smiling.



To hear Dennis’s last interview with Jude (and it’s a classic!) go to:




Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series:


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



It’s the word… LOVE. It’s been said that it’s all you need.

We are so thrilled to send a burst of Beatles adventure (airfare, hotel and dinner for two included!) to yet another Las Vegas LOVE Cirque du Soleil giveaway winner. This is winner NUMBER 9 and counting!

For those of you in the main ballroom at the  Sunday night at FESTCHESTER, I read out 4 answers (drawn at random) to the question:

“How have The Beatles HELP!ed you in your life?” (OH, the ways! Comment below and share yours!)

It was up to you – the audience – to cheer for the one that resonated most. We were VERY close between first and second place. Unfortunately for her, the winner you picked was not in the audience and also has not responded to our emails. However… sitting in that very audience hearing his answer slide just below the cheer barometer was Carl B Maltzman, who said:

“The Beatles have HELP!ed me love my fellow humans. The Beatles have a very life affirming message.”

Carl has graciously accepted the prize in his runner up status! We are so pleased to give this trip to him — a true Beatles fan who, you will probably agree after reading his note, is oh so deserving of this trip.

The ::magic:: of the Beatles LOVE Cirque du Soleil experience is something to be experienced by every Beatles fan, taking our beloved songs and twisting them into flying, catapulting, technicolor theatrics, gymnastics and artistic heights. Thank you to everybody who entered, and stay tuned as we give away another trip before Chicago Fest in August! Be sure to like our Facebook page not to miss a thing.


“I have been a loyal Fest attendee since the first one in 1974.  In fact, I have a countdown clock that is set to countdown to the next Fest!

At the first Fest, the Beatles contributed instruments that were raffled off.  I didn’t win—although I did tap on the tabla from “Within You Without You” that another attendee won.  Years and years of checking my wrist band numbers as Mark called out winners, and all I’ve won is a Yellow Submarine DVD poster.

But this year I sure hit the jackpot!  I still can’t believe it!

I visited Las Vegas in 2009, but “Love” was sold out.  I was, of course, very disappointed.  I didn’t know when I’d make it back to Las Vegas—and all my friends and relatives who had seen the show telling me what I missed didn’t help.

Now thanks to the Fest I am returning to Las Vegas with a guaranteed seat at the show!  I have so many friends asking me to take them, I think I’ll have to have my own essay contest to choose a “winner.”

I would be terribly remiss to not thank the people who are MOST responsible for this:  THE BEATLES!  The Beatles were not just the greatest group in rock history.  They a miracle of not just being the best composers, but also were genius musicians who could perform better than anyone else, and were blessed with a producer who could expertly bring their ideas to reality.  They were four “mensches” who presented an uplifting message, who examined the human condition, told us that life can be wonderful, that we all have the ability to lift ourselves up, to work with each other, and make life wonderful.

Even though they could write a song like “Eleanor Rigby” that tears out your heart, they also told us that there will always be sunshine even when we are in winter, that rain is good, sad is just a state of mind, and of course, we CAN take a sad song and make it better.

That is why I firmly believe Beatles music will last forever.  As Paul said, they could have sung about the devil.  But they didn’t.  They followed their hearts and told us that life is wonderful if we only try.

So thank you Mark, Carol, Michelle Joni, Jessica, George Martin, The Beatles for giving me this wonderful trip to Las Vegas to celebrate the greatest band in history—The Beatles.”



John approved my FEST idea 41 years ago today!

April 28, 1974. It was a warm Sunday – 81 was the high for the day in New York’s Central Park. Warm enough to wear my new Beatles 10th Anniversary Promotional T-Shirt to listen to John Lennon and Harry Nilsson talk to Cousin Brucie on stage during the first March of Dimes event. (It wasn’t a walkathon the first year but it has been every year since.) I told this story in a very detailed manner at the three FESTS in 2014 and was thrilled and humbled by the response. I will not retell that today. I just wanted to say hi and to let you know it was the greatest non family day in my life. Getting to see John (and it was because of that shirt I was wearing!) that day was an absolute thrill and to actually sit down with him only minutes after his appearance, in his hotel suite to tell him my idea of a Beatles fans’ celebration – well, what could be better. I can still hear him say those words to me – “I’m All For It. I’m a Beatles Fan, Too!”  It was the day that permanently altered my life. It has been a thrill and an honor to be able to have presented 123 National Beatles FESTS all around the country since then. The best thing about the FESTS is the coming together of Beatles fans from all over the world to celebrate our common love for the Beatles. There can no longer be a doubt their music will live forever!

Peace and Love!


2015 New York Metro Fest Recap

Dear Beatles Family,


What an incredible Beatles weekend we all shared March 20-22 at the Fest For Beatles Fans!


Kicking off the 41st year of The Fest with the year of Help! couldn’t have been more exhilarating, and we have all of you to thank for it.


At #FESTCHESTER, thousands of Beatles fans from 27 states and three continents came together at the sprawling Hilton Westchester in Rye Brook, New York to celebrate all things Beatles, including the 50th anniversary of Help! We love you all. This is our collective recap…


If you get to the bottom of this and these pics aren’t enough for your vicarious re-living of the New York Metro Fest, check out our first Facebook album HERE, our second Facebook album HERE, and our fans album HERE.


Also be sure to visit and subscribe to The Fest’s YouTube page, where about a dozen videos from the weekend have already gone up and many more are on the way!


Below is an image from Fester @Danielleeee019 on Instagram…



THE FEST began on the first day of Spring, Friday, March 20, when the hotel started to fill with fans who gathered for afternoon jams, explored the spacious Hilton Westchester, and prepared for the three amazing days and nights that were to come.


Before the day’s events got going, THE FEST was welcomed during a press conference put together by the Office of the County Executive for Westchester County. During the press conference, THE FEST was given a Proclamation that declared March 20-22, 2015 to be “Beatles Fan Weekend” in Westchester County!



THE FEST officially kicked off at 5 PM on Friday as fans came in from the snow (yes, it was snowing) and brought their Beatley energy to the Westchester Ballroom as the weekend began. Along with our fantastic band, Liverpool (CLICK HERE to watch them play ‘Any Time At All’), our musical guests included Gary Wright, Laurence Juber, Mark Rivera, and Mark Hudson.


Our special guests included Bob Eubanks, Jack Oliver, Russ Titelman, and last minute surprise guest, photographer Bob Gruen.




Friday night continued on with the 60s Dance Party with Look Alike and Dress Up contests.



To go along with our incredible musical guests, the weekend also featured some fantastic Sound Alike and Battle of the Beatles Bands competitors, with Yesterday and Today (below/photo from band member Johnathan Pushkar) snagging the Battle of the Beatles Bands crown for the second straight year.



The Sound Alike finalists were all incredible, but the title went to Brianna Faith, who brought the house down with her out of this world rendition of ‘I Am The Walrus.’ Watch a clip of Brianna’s winning performance HERE.


Our tradition of the ‘Beatles Gratitude Wall’ continued, and was where fans wrote and hung tons of signs to answer the question “Why are you grateful for The Beatles?”



We also added a new, hands-on experience at the New York Metro Fest: The FABoratory, where Festers had the chance to turn into Beatles Magicians and teachers while sharing knowledge and playing music.



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


Jeff Slate’s Birds of Paradox performed a great set of solo-John, solo-Paul and other tunes (CLICK HERE to watch them play ‘Handle With Care’) on Saturday afternoon, featuring Steve Holley and Laurence Juber of Wings and Gary Van Scyoc and Adam Ippolito of the Elephants Memory Band + Jimmy McElligott.



The Weeklings took to the stage on Sunday afternoon to perform songs the Beatles wrote but never officially recorded, their Beatle-esque originals, and more. CLICK HERE for a video of the group performing ‘You Know What To Do.’



String quartet Cellophane Flowers, featuring Jeff Lubin, performed on the Act Naturally stage on Sunday – CLICK HERE for a video of the band performing ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’ – before heading to the Westchester Ballroom for a two-song performance – ‘Here Today,’ and ‘Yesterday.’



That wasn’t all…


mr. RAY held his fun kids concert, 11-year-old Molly Jeanne thrilled attendees with her vocal chops and ukulele skills, Michelle My Pelle held their open mic night, The Bootlegs took to the stage for a reunion, and harpist Adrienne Knauer spun her beautiful Beatles interpretations.



As always, the Beatles Art Contest was a place where fans were treated to some truly amazing art by professionals, amateurs, and kids – all who took home prizes. Of the many incredible entries in the professional division, Eddie Colaci won for his great 3D Beatles piece, Rachel Bremilst was the winner in our amateur division for her Help! art, and Anna Maibaum took the ribbon for top kids artwork for her John Lennon portraits. We thank Deco for continuing to do such a great job with the Art Museum.



The 2015 New York Metro FEST was home to two Beatles marketplaces – The FEST Store and the Vendors Room – the weekend home of over a dozen of the best Beatles authors in the world.




Ken Dashow of Q104.3, was our amazing emcee and he had a little help from his/our friend Tom Frangione.


When Festers weren’t busy dancing, jamming in every nook of the hotel, and parading (at our fourth annual Beatles Animals Parade which included the new Martha puppet), they took in one of Bob Abdou’s highly entertaining Beatles Puppet Shows, got memorabilia signed, toured the Photo (Rob Shanahan, Allan Tannenbaum, and Nancy Lee Andrews) and Art (Eric Cash, Neal Glaser, and Ron Campbell) Exhibitions, and more.




Rob, Allan, and Nancy Lee:



Art from Ron Campbell, Neal Glaser Celebrity Art, and Eric Cash:



Many also took refuge in our Beatles Ashram, which featured yoga classes with Kenzie Pause and Clarence for adults and kids, intro sessions from the teachers of Transcendental Meditation including Peter Muldavin & Harry Martinian, a Creative Song Journey, an intro to Indian Raga, a Poetry Jam with Deco, and more.



Other highlights from the weekend were We Can Write It Out with Mark Hudson, and Live Beatles Trivia and Name That Tune hosted by Tom Frangione and Al Sussman. Other guest announcers included Darren DeVivo (WFUV), Fab4Free4All, and Ken Michaels.


Thanks to Cirque du Soleil, we gave away a 10th winning a trip to Las Vegas to see The Beatles LOVE Cirque du Soleil. Winner will be announced shortly.



We made good use of the pool with our Friday night Pool Party and Sunday Morning water aerobics with Christina Schaeffer. We welcomed back Karaoke Karen, the many films shown in the Beatles Video Room hosted by Steve Shorten, and the always spectacular Pig Light Show by Marc Rubinstein that accompanied the concerts on Saturday and Sunday.




The amount of Beatles knowledge shared over the weekend by authors/historians Vivek Tiwary, Al Sussman, Bruce Spizer, David Bedford, Chuck Gunderson, Jude Southerland Kessler, Susan Ryan, Candy Leonard, David Schwensen, Dee Elias, Anthony Robustelli, and Judith Kristen was nothing short of incredible!



As always, the Musicians’ Forum on Sunday was a treat, as was that night’s concert that saw Liverpool complete the second side of Help! (they did side one on Saturday, CLICK HERE for their performance of ‘The Night Before’) and other Beatles cuts.

Drew Hill, Glen Burtnik, John Merjave, and Chris Camilleri of Liverpool were fantastic all weekend, and their energy while wrapping up the FESTivities on Sunday night matched the energy of the first song of their Friday night set.

Gary Wright performed Dream Weaver (CLICK HERE for the video), Love Is Alive and To Discover Yourself, plus he did an amazing version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps with Liverpool.



The magic continued as Laurence Juber and Mark Rivera – CLICK HERE to see Mark perform ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’ – joined in the jamming with Mark Hudson and Liverpool. All in all, it was an incredible weekend of Live Music at THE FEST!!



After #FESTCHESTER officially came to a close, the jamming continued into the wee hours of Monday morning, with attendees singing and playing along until the sun came up.



The energy the fans brought all weekend was amazing. Both the FEST and the fans were thrown a curve when the parking garage collapse at the Empire Meadowlands necessitated a venue change to the Hilton Westchester, and the way the weekend shook out was both memorable and uplifting for all.



Charities at the FEST:


Yoko sent over six signed copies of the See Hear Yoko book in a special canvas bag with other goodies as well. Five were auctioned off for Charity and one was part of the Grand Prize for Sunday’s Spirit Foundation Charity Raffle. Amazingly, the winner was the same winner in last year’s raffle.


With one of the Grand Prizes a set of Beatles Luggage for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence Raffle on Saturday night, we raised extra money for this importance cause. We also had the Theatre Within join us again to raise awareness of the importance of music education in schools. We also welcomed RockCANRoll for the first time and many of you brought food items and donated much needed funds that will help to feed the less fortunate in our area. We thank you for your participation in these important organizations.



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 the 50th Anniversary of Help!, all things Beatles, and the 41st anniversary of the Fest For Beatles Fans with us.


We are already gearing up for the Chicago Fest, taking place August 14 to 16 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Illinois. Details will be released at in May, so keep an eye out!