Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Sara's 10 Best things of the Fest for Beatles Fans 2017 (A review)

This past weekend I had a great time at the Fest for Beatle fans in Jersey City, NJ.    I spent most of my time behind a table where I was selling my book and photographs.    I want to say "thank you" to all of the people that stopped and said that they enjoy this blog.   You have no clue how good that was to hear.    While I have always done this blog for my own enjoyment, it is really amazing to see the faces of the people that actually share in this adventure with me.  

It was a thrill of a lifetime to see my name and photograph in the Fest program and to go up on stage and sing along with the "Hey Jude" finale.  

I had a great time at the Fest.   If you haven't been to one or haven't been in a long time, I really want to encourage you to give it a try, if even for just one day.    Yes, the Fests are very expensive and sort of commercialized; however it is really one of the few chances you get to talk in person to other Beatle fans.   There is a real feeling of peace and love and just a great vibe that you won't find anywhere else.     Think about it and I hope to see you there!

Here are my 10 favorite things about the 2017 Fest for Beatles fans in Jersey City, NJ.

10.  The hotel and the view from the hotel.
This year the Fest was held at the Hyatt Regency in Jersey City, which is located on the Hudson.   From one side of the hotel, you could see the Freedom Tower and the New York skyline and from the other side you could see the Statue of Liberty.   This was only my 2nd Fest on the East coast, but from what I have been told, this hotel was a huge stop up from the previous venues.    The staff was very accommodating and I really enjoyed the hotel overall.

The nighttime skyline taken from the window of the hotel
9.  Fabcast live

I listen to a lot of Beatles podcasts.   There are so many that are excellent and it is hard to choose just one to call a favorite.   However, one of my top 5 Beatles podcasts is "Fabcast"  with Howie Edelson, Stephen Bard and David Morrell.   It is a pretty deep podcast and is worth checking out.    In the past, the live podcast discussions have always been one of my favorites to watch and the "Fabcast" session I went to was no exception.      Howie and Bard were on hand and discussing Paul and John in 1980 and how they inspired one another.   It was a really good discussion.  

Howie Edelson and Stephen Bard of "Fabcast"

8.  Sgt. Pepper Party (honoring Brian Epstein)
On Saturday night, there was a party and everyone was encouraged to come dressed in their "Swinging '60's" garb to celebrate the life of Brian Epstein.     It was a little bit "out there" for my taste, with some strange poetry being read, but it was all in good fun.    The best part was the reading of the "5th Beatle" script.

7.  Meeting Facebook Friends
I lost track of all of the people that came up to me and said, "We are friends on facebook."    Some of them I  have had really long conversations with over facebook messenger and others I barely knew.  However, it was awesome to meet everyone in person.

6.  The unexpected mini Wings reunion.
Wings drummers Denny Siewell and Steve Holly as well as guitarist Laurence Juber were all announced to be guests this year at the Fest.    Once the weekend got underway, Denny Laine showed up unannounced!   I am not sure if he was a surprise planned guest or if he just appeared on his own and decided to join in.   However,  the four Wings members sang a few songs and it was really awesome and unexpected.

5. The stories I heard!
As I said, most of my weekend was spent behind a table.    So many fans came up to me and started telling me the funniest and wildest Beatles stories!    I spoke with a woman who went to middle school with Nancy Shevell,  a woman who saw the Beatles in concert in Boston and after their limo drove by, she saw a cup sitting in oil on the driveway and she figured that oil came from the Beatles limo and so she scooped it up with the cup and took it home with her, and a man who hung out at the Dakota in the 1970's and one time with John and Sean returned home from the circus the driver of the car gave this fan popcorn kernels from John's popcorn from the circus.     And so many more little things----it was really fun for me to hear because I just love those stories.

4.  Panel discussions
I was on two panels and gave one presentation.    One of my favorite panels was a discussion on "who was the 6th Beatle."    Now in order to be considered a "Six Beatle" person, that means you aren't ever considered in the "fifth Beatle" category.  Therefore folks like Brian, George Martin, Pete Best and Stu are out.    Who did I ague for?  Can't you guess?  Mal Evans.

The Sixth Beatle Panel discussion

3.  Meeting Klaus Voorman
I actually met Klaus at a Fest in Chicago in the early 2000's.  He signed my Revolver album.   I always had regrets that I didn't get a photo taken with him, and so I fixed that this year.  I purchased his Revolver book (and had him sign it) and sat down next to the one and only Klaus Voorman for a photo.  

Klaus Voormann and me!
2.  Finding Lennon documentary

On Friday night, we had the amazing opportunity to see the world premiere of the new documentary about John Lennon called "Finding Lennon."    The film isn't quite finished yet, but let me tell you---whenever it is, you have to see it!    I wasn't expecting to be blown away by this film because---ANOTHER John Lennon documentary?     But this really was a fresh and fair look into John's life from birth to teenager.   Interviews with friends that John went to school with were shown and they told stories that none of us had ever heard before.    I am going to do a full review of this film once it is official available.

1.  Leon Wildes
I can't speak for anyone else, but the single best thing of the Fest for me was hearing Leon Wildes talk on Sunday afternoon.   I actually left my table and stopped trying to sell books in order to see Leon talk.    As you will remember, Leon Wildes was John Lennon's immigration attorney.    He single handedly was the person that got John Lennon his green card and allowed him to stay in the United States.   I was able to shake the man's hand and tell him thank you for all he did for John and Yoko.     Hearing Leon speak was very emotional for me.    

Me with Leon Wildes and his son Michael (and as luck would have it---my flash didn't go off so the photo is super dark)

Overall I would have to give this year's east coast Fest an 8/10.     I personally enjoy the Chicago area Fest a lot more, but that could be simply because it is the one I have attended for over 20 years and I am familiar with the faces of the people.  


  1. My first Beatlefest was in February NY in 1979. That was my favorite because everything was so new and exciting dozens of videos I'd never seen before etc. Ironically, Klaus Voorman was the guest that year. The Fest became depressing for me for a long time starting in 1981 with the New Jersey show so eventually after a few years I stopped going. The thing I love most Sara about your blog is it reminds me of my favorite years as a Beatle fan from 1977 thru 1980 when I was a member of the Write Thing, Strawberry Fields Forever, Wings Fun Club and the Beatlemania fan club. Thank you for all you do! Your the only one who brings back all these old stories and photos from that era.

  2. just curious Sara: were you able to meet any of the old NY/NJ fans whose stories/pics have been featured in MTBFR

    1. I met several of them briefly. I don't ever want to be too pushy or bossy so I try to keep my distance from the first generation fans out of respect for them. However at the same time I am desperate to get their photos and stories out there for the sake of history.

  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts,I've only been able to attend a handful of Fests, but as Paul Simon sang, I am "still crazy after all these years..." I lived through the 60s got to realize my dreams, and enjoy hearing how the Beatles changed so many lives along the way, especially mine! Leslie Samuels Healy aka BeatleTripper

  4. Hi Sara, I enjoyed seeing and talking with you at the Fest and I agree it was a Fab time. Your incite is spot on and the Hotel and staff were great, what a view. The weekend goes so fast and there is a lot to do, it is hard to see everything. Also the "Weeklings" interview session was fun and their concert was fantastic. Thanks for your book, of course I love it, see you in Chicago in August, Peace an Love, Robert from St louis