Tapp's Music - Sidewalk Showcase - Saturday, May 16, 2015 *** A Tribute to The Beatles *
Part 1 (1963-1964)
Welcome to the 2015 Sidewalk Showcase - A Tribute to The Beatles! The students of Vic Grady Private Music Instruction present for your enjoyment a special Sidewalk Concert featuring the music of the greatest pop band ever!
This is a show, quite literally, years in the making. Several of the students involved in the show have been studying the songs of the Beatles over the past few years, during our lessons together - I myself have been something of a Beatles musicologist for over 40 years - so this show has truly been a labor of pure love. For some time the students and I have been talking about putting together a special showcase devoted entirely to the music of the Beatles. Because of the immense popularity of the band, and the great love which my students and I have for them and their songs, this show was inevitable!
I was 8 years old when the music of the Beatles broke into the American airwaves in January of 1964. The history of the band began back in the mid-1950s when John Lennon and Paul McCartney met as teenagers and formed their first band together. Young George Harrison soon joined them and the three formed a musical core, playing in various bands together over the next several years. By 1960 the boys were playing regularly in the club scenes in both Liverpool, England and Hamburg, Germany - bouncing back and forth between the two cities every few months. It was during these long, hard nights playing the nightclub scene (in Hamburg they would often play two 4-hour shifts, back to back, each night!) that their musicianship and performance skills were honed, and where they acquired that hard-edged conviction in their performances that so characterized them. In 1961 they replaced their then current drummer and recruited Ringo Starr, thus completing the legendary line-up.
In 1962, with the invaluable help of manager Brian Epstein, the Beatles secured a recording contract with Parlaphone/EMI and were assigned, as their producer, George Martin, a musician of significant achievement but whose previous studio experience was limited to producing classical music. That the record label paired together such an apparent mis-match was really an indication of their lack of faith in the boys and their reluctance to make any serious investment in them. The "mis-match" however proved to be a heaven-send - after initially butting heads, the band and Martin formed a vibrant and unique partnership in the recording studio, each one building on the ideas of the other, and all 5 working together as a single creative unit. It was precisely due to Martin's classical and orchestral expertise that he was able not only to keep up with the evolving Beatles over the years but become a critical element in their growth.
Their first single, "Love Me Do", was released near the end of 1962 - and their first album, "Please Please Me", followed in early 1963. From their very start the Beatles shattered all previous (low) expectations and dazzled the industry and, of course, the public with their phenomenal, and prolific, songwriting. Eight of the fourteen songs on their first album were Lennon and McCartney originals, as were all of the "A" and "B" sides of their several singles released that year. A second album followed later that year as did a new single, "I Want To Hold Your Hand", which made its way to America in December of 1963, receiving widespread, enthusiastic airplay the following month, in January.
As a youngster in America at that time (I had just turned 8 a couple of months prior) it felt to me that the Big Kids had finally come to town! Through the clear, striking appeal of those first Beatles songs that I heard, it became so easy to see, in retrospect, how mediocre much of the pop music of the past couple of years had been - and I was not the only young soul to make that observation - other kids in my neighborhood, my age or even a bit younger, instinctively tapped into the sing-ability and overall appeal of the Beatles' songs and vocal performances. Despite our tender age, we understood what was going on! Within days "The Beatles" became a household word - and their legendary appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday, February 9, 1964 to hundreds of screaming fans in the studio (their first time on U.S. national television!) fixed their music and their image into the minds of the American public forever. Hit song after hit song followed during that year - the songwriting talents of Lennon and McCartney seemed inexhaustible - and infallible - as every song released by the band became, as it were, an instant classic. That summer the band embarked on their first world tour (including their first performance dates in the United States) and released their first motion picture, "A Hard Days' Night". And their phenomenal skill as writers, singers, and performers was matched, or perhaps even topped, by their unique personal charm. All four of the boys possessed a lightning-quick wit and a warm, though cautious, public demeanor. America had truly been re-conquered by the Brits!
The Beatles came to America at the crest of a prodigious wave of music talent soon thereafter dubbed The British Invasion - so called because of the large influx of music bands and solo performers into America from England that came in the wake of, and in large part, because of, the Beatles' success here. Among the more noteworthy groups to follow (quickly) in the footsteps of the Beatles were - The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Dave Clark Five, The Hollies, The Kinks, and Herman's Hermits. Noteworthy solo vocalists Petula Clark and Lulu also rode the invasion wave to American shores. (note: other British bands such as The Who, Cream, Led Zeppelin, and a host of progressive-rock bands such as Pink Floyd, Genesis, Jethro Tull, The Moody Blues, Yes, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer would follow over the next several years in what is sometimes referred to as the 2nd Wave of The British Invasion.) Of course, back in the beginning of 1964 we had no way of foreseeing any of this. All we knew was that the Beatles were simply fabulous and unlike anything we had ever heard before and that they were definitely here to stay!
Looking at the Beatles' incomparable catalog of songs, it is impossible to feel anything but awe, gratitude, and at least some intimidation! During their seven years of recording history, they recorded about 220 songs, comprised in 13 albums and numerous singles and EPs. Their list of Number 1 hits is staggering in and of itself. That said, we have tried to represent most of the major eras and many of the most signature songs of their career, but it truly is impossible to do much beyond just revealing the tip of a vast and beautiful iceberg. Our show today features 17 of their most beloved songs, split into 3 sets. Each set covers a 2-year period in their recording career. (note and apology: We have intentionally skipped over the very significant period beginning in 1967 and extending through the middle of 1968, sometimes referred to as the Beatles' "orchestral period", which includes the landmark albums "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Magical Mystery Tour". Our decision to omit the incredible songs from that period is due primarily to the fact that, during that period, the Beatles minimized the use of the guitar in favor of orchestral instruments and so, unfortunately, there is not a lot of guitar material present for the students to emulate.)
Our first set of Beatles tunes features the first, earliest, era of their songwriting and fame - the birth of Beatlemania. We present 5 songs from the period of 1963-1964. This beginning era showcases the Beatles' young, energetic musicianship and some of the first Lennon and McCartney compositions, very much influenced as they were by American pop and rock 'n' roll. Strong vocal melodies and soaring, Everly Brothers-styled harmonies make these songs irresistable!
Six student performers carried off this live concert! The following five are returning performers who have played in previous Sidewalk Showcase concerts: Evan Larson (bass); William Collins (guitar, vocals, percussion); Jake Kuhlemeier (guitar); Pranesh Kumar (guitar); Ryan Sinclair (guitar). We also wish to extend a special welcome to first-time performer Stephen Schweitzer (guitar). You guys are the A-Team!
Our special gratitude goes out to the following adult performers for their musical support during the show: Walker Gibson (vocals, keyboard, flute);Bobby O (vocals, percussion); Chris Cooke (drums, percussion).
We had a great crowd of family and friends in attendance and the weather was perfect! A very special Thank You to Eric Larson (Evan's dad) for capturing the video footage of the show and to Dana Tapp (owner of Tapp's Music) for preparing the venue, supplying the sound equipment, and helping us with the setup and teardown - You guys rock!!
Additional Musicians: Vic Grady (vocals & bass); Walker Gibson (vocals); Bobby O (claves); Chris Cooke (bongos)
I Feel Fine
Student Performers: William Collins (electric guitar); Stephen Schweitzer (electric guitar); Evan Larson (bass)
Additional Musicians: Vic Grady (vocals); Walker Gibson (vocals); Bobby O (vocals); Chris Cooke (drums)
Part 2 (1965-1966)
The year 1965 saw a continuation of the excitement, and growth, of Beatlemania (as if it could get any bigger!) as well as the first indications that the band was starting to move away stylistically from their early, rock 'n' roll beginnings. During the latter part of 1964 the Beatles had begun merging their already-established pop sound with country music, recording numerous songs borrowed from, or newly written but inspired by, the country roots of rock 'n' roll and rockabilly. Another important development in the evolution of the Beatles' music during 1965 was their first inclusion of orchestral ("non-rock") instruments into their songwriting and recording - for example, Paul's use of a string quartet in his classic, "Yesterday".
The Beatles embarked on their second world tour that year, and released their second motion picture, "Help!", later that summer. It was also during that time that America began composing its own response to the British Invasion - not through imitation however but, rather, through innovation! During the period beginning in the summer of 1965 and continuing well into the following year, an onslaught of new, American-bred bands and musical acts not only emerged but immediately came to the forefront of popular music. In a large, explosive burst reminiscent of the British Invasion itself, the roster of great pop talent practically doubled overnight! Among the various American-made musical groups that came into the pop vocabulary at that time were: The Byrds (credited with the beginnings of folk-rock), The Turtles, The (Young) Rascals, The Lovin' Spoonful, The Mamas & The Papas, and Sonny and Cher. Picking up on the new musical energy that the Beatles and other British Invasion bands had brought to America, and blending into that energy a variety of their own unique musical influences, these new acts, both individually as well as collectively, succeeded in holding even the Beatles somewhat at bay on the pop charts over the next few years!
In December of 1965 the Beatles released their sixth album, "Rubber Soul", a triumph of pop-songwriting and the first Beatles album to receive wide critical acclaim. Though showcasing the band at the pinnacle of their pop sound, its more serious, and more introspective, tone clearly indicated that the foursome had begun to move away from the fun, bouncy style of their earlier music. And their seventh album, "Revolver", released in August of the following year, revealed an even greater departure from the light-spirited material that had so characterized them during the past three years. As its name suggests, "Revolver" marked a true turning-point for the band - the quantum jump in the sophistication and maturity of the songwriting, the increased use of orchestral instruments, and the overall technical excellence of the studio production with its multi-layering as well as the first-time incorporation of special effects and sound clips - all of these things moved the Beatles upward to a new artistic plateau from which they could never return down.
In 1966 the Beatles embarked on their third (and final) world tour. The rigors of almost constant working had already begun to weigh heavily on the four lads - their travel and recording schedule during the past few years had been nothing less than grueling, fan mobbings were not uncommon, and the band often feared greatly for its own safety while on the road. Also, the Beatles were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their own live shows. As a touring band in the 1960s they seldom had the benefit of stage monitors, and so had to rely solely on the sound, and volume, of their own amplifiers. The constant screaming of the audience as they sang and played had always added to the difficulties they faced in trying to hear themselves on stage. And by this point in time their songs were reaching a level of complexity where it was becoming increasingly difficult, if not impossible, for the boys to replicate live what they had recorded in the studio. All of this meant that, at least from the Beatles' point of view, they were sounding worse over time instead of better. This nagging dissatisfaction with their stage sound, the increasing disparity between their live and studio performances, and their desire to spend more time writing and recording in line with their drive toward ever-increasing sophistication and experimentation, finally moved the band to announce during their tour that summer that their upcoming, August 29 performance at San Francisco's Candlestick Park would be their final live, public concert. From that point forward, as they stated to the press, their recorded performance would be their public performance.
Our second set features 6 songs from the Beatles' catalog, written and recorded during the years 1965-1966, at the height of the band's pop creativity. It was during this period that the Beatles began a steady advance away from their rock 'n' roll roots, while displaying an ever-increasing sophistication and stylistic-independence in their songwriting. Strong, signature guitar lines and powerful three-part harmonies make these songs unforgettable!
Additional Musicians: Vic Grady (vocals & acoustic guitar); Walker Gibson (vocals); Bobby O (vocals); Chris Cooke (drums)
And Your Bird Can Sing
Student Performers: Ryan Sinclair (electric guitar); William Collins (electric guitar); Evan Larson (bass)
Additional Musicians: Vic Grady (vocals & tambourine); Walker Gibson (vocals); Bobby O (vocals); Chris Cooke (drums)
Part 3 (1968-1969)
Following their cessation of touring in August of 1966, the Beatles plunged themselves headlong into what may be considered the most creative phase of their career. Their first ambition during that time was to undertake a concept album based on their childhood. The first two songs written and recorded for that project, "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane", were released together as a double A-sided single early in 1967. The group soon after wards abandoned the childhood theme, replacing it with the slightly less ambitious, but equally intriguing, idea of a fictitious band performing a "live" revue of new concert material to an imaginary audience. Released in June of 1967, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" became what many fans and critics regard as the Beatles' pinnacle success. And the follow-up project, "Magical Mystery Tour", continued that same momentum, showcasing more of the band's amazing compositional power, both album projects being together referred to as the Beatles' "orchestral period".
Around the middle of 1968, the band, for both artistic and financial reasons, formed its own recording label, Apple Records. Their first single released on that label, "Hey Jude", became the Beatles' most successful hit of all time. Their first album, a two-disc release titled simply "The Beatles" (known among fans as the "White Album"), followed soon after. Disagreements over the management of the label, along with personal clashes, created a mood of tension and bitterness during this time. Their return to "civilian" life after the end of their touring days gave each of the boys time to build a more complete personal life. During that time both John and Paul found and married the women who would become their life-partners. Also, the increased personal and creative space they enjoyed meant that each of the four was becoming more-and-more musically independent - and opinionated. Heated arguments were commonplace. (It is said that during the recording of the "White Album" Ringo actually quit the band and didn't return until a couple of weeks later.)
In an attempt to pull themselves back together, the foursome began making plans for another album, this one to be recorded live before a studio audience. To prepare themselves, a series of rehearsals were scheduled early in 1969. Initially dubbed the "Get Back" project, implying a return to roots-level recording and named after one of the songs, the sessions were anything but smooth. The filmed documentary of those rehearsals (later released posthumously as the feature film "Let It Be" along with the album of the same name) shows a band disintegrating in the midst of what seems irreconcilable differences. At length, the project was shelved. The profound truth, sad but salient, was that each of the four Beatles had finally outgrown "The Beatles". Faced now with the reality of the band's inevitable break-up, and wanting to finish out with a whirlwind rather than a whimper, the four, with their ever-present producer George Martin, dedicated themselves to one final effort in the studio. The monumental "Abbey Road" was the product of that effort. When the Beatles exited Abbey Road studios in the summer of 1969, after the completion of that album, they were officially through as a band. "The Beatles" were gone forever.
During their seven years of recording history, the Beatles had been the epitome of what is called the "self-contained band". In an era when such independence was rare to non-existent, they wrote their own songs, played their own instruments, sang their own backup vocals, and co-directed their own recording sessions along with their producer. In the larger sense of things, they charted their own musical path, constantly replacing convention with invention - and they opened the doors wide, and permanently, for countless other bands and artists to do exactly the same thing - represent their own music on their own terms. John, Paul, George, and Ringo - Beatles Forever!
Our third set of Beatles songs is taken from their final period, the Apple Record years of 1968 and 1969. To round out today's showcase, the students perform 6 songs from that era - a time in which each one of the four Beatles emerges as a strong and independent creative force. Enjoy!
Across The Universe
Student Performers: William Collins (acoustic guitar)
Additional Musicians: Vic Grady (vocals & electric guitar); Walker Gibson (keyboard); Bobby O (shakers)
Student Performers: William Collins (acoustic guitar)
Student Performers: Ryan Sinclair (acoustic guitar); William Collins (electric guitar); Evan Larson (bass)
Additional Musicians: Vic Grady (vocals); Walker Gibson (vocals & keyboard); Bobby O (vocals); Chris Cooke (drums)
Student Performers: Ryan Sinclair (electric guitar); Stephen Schweitzer (electric guitar)
Additional Musicians: Vic Grady (vocals & bass); Walker Gibson (keyboard); Bobby O (vocals); Chris Cooke (drums)
Student Performers: Ryan Sinclair (electric guitar); Evan Larson (bass)
Additional Musicians: Vic Grady (vocals & electric guitar); Walker Gibson (keyboard & vocals); Bobby O (vocals); Chris Cooke (drums)
I Want You (She's So Heavy)
Student Performers: Jake Kuhlemeier (electric guitar); William Collins (electric guitar); Evan Larson (bass) --- and joining during the end chorus: Stephen Schweitzer (electric guitar); Pranesh Kumar (electric guitar); Ryan Sinclair (electric guitar)
Additional Musicians: Vic Grady (vocals & electric guitar); Walker Gibson (keyboard & vocals); Bobby O (vocals); Chris Cooke (drums)