Local bands unite for Beatles Hootenanny
By Chris Webb
I’m always proud and pleased when people do my songs. It gives me pleasure that they even attempt to do them, because a lot of my songs aren’t that doable. I go to restaurants and the groups always play “Yesterday.” Yoko and I even signed a guy’s violin in Spain after he played us “Yesterday.” He couldn’t understand that I didn’t write the song. But I guess he couldn’t have gone from table to table playing “I Am the Walrus.” -John Lennon
Before the Beatles, Big Bands and crooners sang escapist tunes for adults, songs of moonlight cocktails, white Christmases, and sleepy lagoons. But in the 60s, four Brits would emerge from the dark clubs where they paid homage to their favorite bands and songs. Those old enough to recall the days of mop-tops, the Hofner bass, and the British Invasion know full well the tremendous impact these young Brits had on popular music. In the years to follow, many would hear “Help” on the radio or play their parent’s copy of Abbey Road and dream of someday being a musician. A love for the Beatles, or at least a profound respect for their influence on the direction of music, is a bond that just about all rock and pop fans share.
they don’t normally get to and nurture an actual sense of community among them.” —Ray Smith
As structured, nine bands will each have a chance to perform a carefully structured set of fifteen minutes worth of their favorite Beatles tunes when Lynagh’s hosts a Beatles Hootenanny Night, or a “hoot” as it’s being called.
“The idea,” says Bobby Ray of Lynagh’s, “is to find a central focal point for a group of diverse bands so they can concentrate on the same body of music, and see what turns up.”
“Several of my friends told me about similar ‘hoots’ in places like Austin and Chicago and it seemed like a great idea,” says Ray Smith of the Household Saints.
Smith then took the idea to Stepfan Jefferies of Hello Records (whose company will be sponsoring and promoting the event) and Bobby Ray to see if they’d be interested in helping out and received enthusiastically positive response.
“The ‘hoots,'” as Smith points out, “will be an opportunity for musicians to come together in a way they don’t normally get to and nurture an actual sense of community among them. In a town like Lexington where original music doesn’t get that much attention, solidarity and support among the musicians is vital. Hopefully, the ‘hoots’ will help to provide that sense of community in a way that’s also fun and loose, bolstering, in whatever way, be it big or small, the local music community as a whole.”
For any band that’s ever wanted to get on stage and tear through some Beatles covers, this is a dream come true. It’s rare to hear nine local bands sharing a stage for one evening, much less performing covers all night. The tentative line-up for the hoot is a cross-section of what Lexington’s local music scene has to offer and includes the Blueberries, Taildragger, A.M. Static, Rabby Feeber, Pontius Copilot, Pleasureville, the Union City All Stars, Gloria Bills, and the Household Saints. With such a diverse ensemble, the results should be equally varied and entertaining.
Smith suggests that “the great thing about this event is that you get to hear bands of many different styles and perspectives that you might like or might never have heard, in a more loose sort of atmosphere where it’s all about the wonderful indulgence of celebrating the music of their heroes. I always thought it was fun watching bands play covers that you could tell they’d always loved and wanted to play. The ‘hoot’ provides that kind of forum.”
Another way these musicians are attempting to foster a sense of community is by donating all proceeds to charity, with each subsequent “hoot” focusing on a different charitable organization. Audiences can feel good about attending an event that’s raising money for a worthy cause. The money collected from this first “hoot” will be donated to Operation Read.
Virginia Graves of Operation Read is glad to be a part of these “hoots” and sees this as a “tremendous opportunity to promote literacy and bring the community together with a unified purpose.”
As Smith explains, “the charities we choose will focus on people doing good things in the community that need to be done to make it a better place.”
“It’s a great idea,” says Bobby Ray. “Once I was convinced that we could pull this thing off logistically, I was all for it. It’s going to require a spirit of willingness among the musicians, working together to make it happen. But I don’t have any doubt that everything is gonna run very smoothly.”
“The good news,” Bobby Rays adds, “is that we don’t plan on this being a one time thing. We’re going to feature different local bands and focus on different influential artists. We’ve already discussed other possible “hoots” for the Rolling Stones, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, and many others.”
“It’s such a different type of thing to do,” says Jefferies. “And it’s something we want to continue. Hopefully, people will be intrigued by it.”
“Everyone’s definitely excited about it,” comments Smith. “People are constantly bringing up ideas for future ‘hoots.’ It seems like everybody wants to step into the shoes of their heroes.”
That’s what the Beatles were doing in the Cavern Club before they became famous. Truth is, the Beatles were fans long before they were musicians. It seems fitting that a series of tribute shows start with them.
The Beatles Hootenanny will be held Thursday, March 30th, 2000 at Lynagh’s. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. and all proceeds($3 cover) will go to Operation Read. Operation Read.