The Mersey Beatles: A British Invasion at the Embassy

It takes four fab musicians to cover the Fab Four and earn the official stamp of approval of John Lennon’s sister. But on Friday night at the Embassy, The Mersey Beatles proved that they were up to the task. I went expecting to hear great Beatles cover tunes. But The Mersey Beatles delivered much more. The show started with a red-hot opener by the talented local musicians of Moser Woods. After everyone was warmed up and settled in their seats, Julia Baird – younger sister of John Lennon – introduced the headlining act with a touching tribute to her brother, the Beatles, and the impact their music has made for generations. It goes without saying that the Beatles are a tough band to cover. In the last 50+ years, The Beatles have surpassed “iconic” status. They are not simply a band – they are a cultural institution in their own right, eclipsing the impact of any other group in rock n’ roll history. If you’re going to cover something of that caliber, you’d better do it perfectly. After all, no matter where or what you play – you’re playing to an audience that can sing every note by heart.  As Julia’s endorsement attests, the Mersey Beatles take that task seriously. Musically, the group is exceptionally talented. Riffs and rhythms matched with a level of precision that makes the highest levels of “Guitar Hero” look like tic-tac-toe. The licks, solos, tight vocal harmonies and instrumental harmonics rang true to our collective musical memory, song after song. But they don’t stop there.  Just like the original band, these guys are all from Liverpool, Merseyside. (Which, by the way, they affectionately compared to Fort Wayne.) They play at many of the same joints where the Beatles first earned a fan base. Onstage, they even refer to each other as John, Paul, George and Ringo. The costume changes also reflected the Beatles personal and musical evolution. The show started with Ed Sullivan-approved short wigs and clean-cut black suits, for songs like  “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Dressed-down khakis and vests accompanied the “Rubber Soul” era. And the full Sergeant Pepper regalia came out – long wigs, fake mustaches and all – for “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “Strawberry Fields.” By the end of the night, the costumes became a living replica of the “Let it Be” cover photography. The matching outfits were gone – a reminder that it was a quest for personal autonomy that ended the Beatles run as the fab foursome. An onstage screen added to the evening’s experience, setting the mood with Beatles-inspired photography, artwork, videos, song lyrics and era-appropriate memorabilia. Much...

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Faces of the Fort Presents: Rick Kinney
Aug13

Faces of the Fort Presents: Rick Kinney

Earlier in this series, I wrote about “being the change you want to see in your community.” This month’s Face of the Fort puts that into perspective, and could stand to show us all a thing or two about chasing our dreams. Living Fort Wayne introduces Richard Wayne Kinney Jr., otherwise known as Rick Kinney. There’s a man with a vision, and then there’s Rick Kinney. Sometimes, half the battle of finding your vision is determining exactly what you want in the first place. For Rick, that came when he was 16 years old, standing in the Riviera Theatre in Chicago, watching the Deftones perform live on stage. At a young age, he began to learn not only what good music sounded like, but what a passion for music felt like. By age 30, Rick was the drummer for a band (Moser Woods actually…they’re good, and they’re opening for The Mersey Beatles in October…I’m plugging it because I’ll be writing about them soon), he became an entrepreneur, and had spent more than a decade dedicating his life to music and bringing outstanding, artful performances to communities throughout the country. He gained experience in lighting design, rigging, sound and video, even stage management and promotions. With that, he founded Even Keel Event Productions and for the next two years, went on to produce, promote and manage multiple local concerts and events. Then he was offered the role of Technical Director for the Fort Wayne Embassy; a job that provided him with the fine tuning he needed in his expert field. “I had all this experience,” he says, “but I needed to find a way to bring it all together.” So finally, in 2012, Rick found just what he needed, and he knew it immediately. The Clyde Theatre was built in 1951 and was designed by the same architect as the Embassy. It’s a grand, beautiful establishment. But it sat quietly in the back corner of Quimby Village on Bluffton Road for approximately 20 years without a single movie-goer to pass through its doors. The parking lot is full of pot holes. The walls and ceilings are dilapidated. Yet there is an energy in this place. I know, because he took me there. Rick saw what The Clyde Theatre could be, and it is exactly what Fort Wayne is missing. So many times, our city is passed up by performers that are looking for standing-room venues like the popular Vogue or Egyptian Room in Indy. But, Rick knew that to get The Clyde there it would take time. And patience. And money. Even Keel Event Productions purchased The Clyde Theatre in...

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