Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sara's top 10 favorite parts of the Fest for Beatle fans 2015

 It always amazes me whenever I get home from Beatlefest that I get online and read a ton of negative comments about the Fest.    It almost seems like I went to a totally different convention than everyone else.    For me, the 2015 Fest for Beatle fans in Chicago was one of the best ones I have been to in the past 10 years.     There were two big changes:  The Fabortory (which was a very small room that was laid back and allowed for great discussions) and the Apple Jam Stage.   These two things are truly a step in the right direction of the changes that need to be made to keep the Fest going for more generations to come.    

The Fest was a family event this year--both of my parents joined me.  

As I have stated before, I realize that a large percentage of people go to Beatle conventions to hear music and I am not really in that group.    Yes, I realize that the Beatles were about the music, however I like to hear my Beatles music coming from well---the Beatles themselves and not from a band.  Don't misunderstand me, I DO listen to the music at Beatlefest, but if there is a choice between listening to a band play and hearing a panel talk about the Beatles, I will pick the panel discussion.  

 So here they are:  Sara's top 10 favorite parts of the Fest for Beatle Fans 2016 Chicago

10.   Liverpool doing the Shea Stadium set list on the 50th anniversary of Shea

 Saturday, August 15, 2015 was the 50th anniversary of the famed Beatles' Shea Stadium concert.   The Fest celebrated this event with the house band, Liverpool, playing the 30 minute set that the Beatles played that night.    Talk about fun!     It was neat to sort of pretend like you were there.   And Liverpool did an outstanding job playing the set list from that concert, although there weren't any crazy antics on the keyboards.

9.     Apple Jam Stage
This is a new part of the Fest and I hope it continues.   Sadly, I wasn't able to spend a whole lot of time there, but I enjoyed what I saw.   The Apple Jam stage featured musicians that played a variety of Beatles' songs.    There were many, many bands as well as a dance floor and a bubble machine going on there.  People were listening to music, dancing and having fun.   I think each group played for around 40 minutes and then the next group came up.   The Apple Jam stage really gave other musicians a chance to get the spotlight.     Bonus points to whoever came up with the name!

The Yellow Submorons (A Rutles tribute band) perform a set on the Apple Jam Stage

8.    Beatles puppet show
You really can't consider it Beatlefest without attending at least one of Bob Abdou's Beatles puppet shows!    Are the jokes terrible?  Yes!   Do you still laugh anyway?  Yes!    Are the puppets adorable?  Yeah yeah yeah!     I have made sure to see Bob's Beatles puppet show ever year since 1997.    I love to see what puppets he brings in---this year the new puppet was Martha the dog!    What I think makes Bob's show great is that he is as big of a Beatles fan as the audience and you know that he loves what he does.  

7   The Strange and Curious Beatles World tour of 1964
This presentation was by author of the John Lennon series, Jude Southerland Kessler and the Rock n Roll detective, Jim Birkenstadt  and they had a great visual presentation about the strange things that happened when the Beatles (and Jimmie Nichol) toured the world in June-July 1964.    They really had me laughing!   The Beatles had some strange adventures during that tour that we have looked at on this blog last year, but it was fun to hear about it again.   Plus---they had awesome photos to go along with the talk.   

6   Something about the Beatles live podcast
 "Yes I do know...something about the Beatles!"    I am not sure how many of you listen to the podcast "Something about the Beatles" by Robert Rodriguez and Richard Buskin, but you really should!    They did a live taping of the show at the Fest and it was awesome to say the least.   The discussed the best Lennon and McCartney solo songs, but the catch is that Richard is not a McCartney lover to say the least.    So the banter between these two is hilarious as well as thought-provoking.    If you have never heard their show, I recommend it!

Richard and Rob duke it out

5.   Kit and Kaboodle
Every Thursday night at 8pm, everyone knows not to bother me.  Why?  Because I am listening to the John Lennon Hour on blogtalk radio!    And the best thing about the John Lennon Hour is when it is "Kit and Kaboodle."   Kit is Dr. Kit O'Toole and Kaboodle is Jude Southerland Kessler.    They have a discussion about something John Lennon related that really makes you think and their live  version at the Fest was no exception.    They discussed John Lennon protest songs:   righteous or rubbish and truly made me rethink "Woman is the Nigger of the World."    Jude is a big John fan and while I Kit tends to lean more Paul, it is obvious that she knows her stuff about John!   You can hear the show every Thursday night right here:

My mom and I with Kit and Kaboodle

4.   Ron Appea
 This was a surprise guest of the Fest and I had no idea who he was!   I just saw in the program that he was going to be talking about "Walls and Bridges."  Since that is my favorite John solo album, I HAD to listen to it.   Ron Appea played saxophone as part of the "little big horns" on the album!   His stories about John were so great!    He talked about the time that John put his face down on a copy machine and photocopied his face!   That's our John.    I was thrilled to get to meet him and get him to sign a photograph of him and John.    He was such a humble and kind man.   What a treat!

Ron Appea and me!

3. Late night jam sessions

Typically at the Fest for Beatle fans, the fans would meet under the stairs (or next to them) in the basement of the hotel and sing.   Well---this year that area was closed, so they ended up congregating in a corner next to the men's restroom.    But this my friends is what the Fest is all about!   People of all walks of life:   different races, religions, sexual orientations,  ages, and abilities coming to together and just being Beatle fans.    Sitting around while this guy named Roy leads us in the B-side of Abbey Road or Sgt. Pepper.   People dancing to "Twist and Shout" and every instrument known to man being played.    The late night jam sessions bring a true sense of community that I know I have only felt at he Fest and at the Cavern club in Liverpool.    It doesn't matter who you are or what problems you are facing---when you are sitting around with other fans singing, all that matters is remembering the words!

I found this on facebook---can you spot me singing in the crowd?

2.  Meet the Beatles for Real Session
Okay---so maybe it is a little self-centered to put my own session on my countdown--but it truly was one of the top highlights of the weekend.    I held a session of "Meet the Beatles for Real" at the Fabortory, which is a small room that is more informal and experimental (aka sort of weird stuff)25 people crammed into the room with more at the door trying to get in for this session.   We put the seats in a circle and I shared the story of Elizabeth the runaway and then opened it up to the floor to share any stories anyone had of meeting a Beatle.   And did I get stories!!   We heard one woman who got to meet all four Beatles at the Edgewater hotel in Seattle in 1964, a woman who shook Paul's hand on the sidewalk in 2002,  a girl who's Dad was the manager of a restaurant in the 1970's and John told him that he put the right amount of mayo on his sandwich, a security guard that welcomed Paul to Chicago a few years ago, a store owner that met Ringo this past October and many more!    As I am sure you know, I love hearing the stories of the fans that met the Beatles and I loved that people were open to sharing these stories.    It truly was an amazing experience for me.

She met all four Beatles in 1964!

He met Ringo!!!

He is a security guard and his telling of meeting Paul backstage was so engaging!

1.  Beatle friends

The single best part of the Fest for Beatle fans?   Talking to you old Beatle buddies and making new ones!   Where else can you go and talk about nerdy Beatles stuff with other people that get it?     Beatle fans are some of the best folks in the world and it is awesome to get to spend time with like-minded people.    Beatlefest is full of new friends and no one is truly a stranger.    I can't wait to go again in 2016!!!!

Here I am with my Beatle buddy, who knows more about the touring years than I do (he 's the author of "Some Fun Tonight) Chuck Gunderson

My mom and I with our Beatle buddy, Dr. Kit O'Toole.  We were so thrilled that she has written her first book, The Songs We Were singing


  1. always loved the nitely jam sessions with other fans

  2. Thank you Sarah! Loved your FABoratory session and this whole list! <3 <3 <3 See you next year!

  3. What a GREAT countdown Sarah. I also enjoyed the She's A Woman panel (the ages of the members was an added bonus) discussion of the anthology anniversary and Kit's countdown of the Beatle sounds that added to "modern" music. ;-}

  4. lovely pic of you & your parents