Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tuscaloosa

Groucho Marx has a line about Tuscaloosa involving an elaborate pun about elephants. This blog is about The WannaBeatles' first visit to that city, and if Groucho helps you remember the name, then we're happy to welcome him to our team.


We had played in Alabama before, but going to the home of the University of Alabama felt like we had reached the heart of the state. They take their football very seriously. And the fraternities and sororities take their parties seriously.

The show was booked through a new friend, Trey Myers, who runs Turnipblood Entertainment, which specializes in shows for college audiences. This particular opportunity was a 60's costume party sponsored by Kappa Delta sorority at University of Alabama, held in one of the larger local clubs, called Druid City Music Hall.

The gig started as usual with us meeting to load our equipment into a trailer. For this particular trip, we met at the U-Haul place in Franklin, conveniently located near I-65, the road that leads straight south into Alabama.
A cloudy afternoon, loading the trailer
David loading his drums
David in the driver's seat, with baby bottle we discovered, apparently left accidentally by previous vehicle renter  

Sign on the club, listing some of the other acts playing there

Druid City is a modern rock club, with a large dance floor in front of the stage, two projection screens on either side, and an elaborate sound and light system. 


Checking sounds for our elaborate set up
A view from sound board 

We ate supper at a Greek restaurant across the street from the club, then had just enough time to get to our rooms at the Holiday Inn Express to change before the show.
Dressed and ready to go the gig

Because we were coordinating with video, WannaBeatle David was fitted with ear buds to hear his guiding cues. 
 A quick check of ear buds just before downbeat
(Nathan helps install them at David's collar)

We were impressed with the energy of the evening, when the 400 members of Kappa Delta, with their dates, showed up in costumes, ready to party. 

It looked and felt like a rock show. The sound and lights really made it impressive. There was a crowd in front of the stage who danced the whole night. We hardly recognized ourselves in the Twitter photo that Turnipblood posted.
WannaBeatles onstage March 31 at Druid City Music Hall


Staying at the local Holiday Inn Express has become a WannaBeatles tradition, as the hotel benefits from our creative promotional efforts as we simultaneously benefit from their complimentary rooms. 

In other words, the next morning, we dressed in a different WannaBeatles outfit to perform a quick song in their lobby, which was recorded for posting on Facebook. Our enthusiasm drew several staff members into the song, which increased the fun and energy of our performance. 
video

The warm-up versions, with out takes, 
as recorded on cell phone


The facebook post

That was a great way to finish our visit to Tuscaloosa.

Thanks to Trey at Turnipblood for a great gig, and the Holiday Inn Express for great rooms. And what better way to say thanks to Tuscaloosa than "Roll Tide!" 


-Bloggin' Bryan 31May2016

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Puckett's and Spring City

Puckett's Grocery in Franklin is one of our favorite places. Over the years, it's probably the one stage we've played more than any other, and we always get a good response from the audience.

In February, we played there on a Friday night, then drove to Spring City, Tennessee the next day, for a show at the Tennessee Valley Theater.

We have a very brief photo essay to give you at least a small idea of what we experienced.

Here's the sign on the wall at Puckett's letting people know what to expect.

Among the few photos, we have some happy faces.
Our sound man Allen Waugh with Dennis
WannaBeatle Dennis brought his wife Alice
Dennis and David setting up on the cozy stage

All the really fun stuff that happened that night, like audience members coming up to the stage to dance along with the music, is not captured by the camera, because the photographer was busy playing music at the time.

This is the standard implied Bloggin' Bryan disclaimer, the terms of which by reading this blog you hereby accept.

So let's move on to Saturday, and the tiny hamlet of Spring City, which has a small but active theater.

We've played there before, and always enjoy traveling through the lush terrain, as the narrow highway beyond Crossville winds through the highlands down into the valley.
As we arrive, we see again the outside wall of the theater, which has been painted with an imaginative mural, depicting the creative intentions of those who run it. 
The cinder blocks are painted onto the cinderblock wall

We're glad to be there, because the people who run this place cultivate a distinctive local appreciation for music and theater, blessing not only their community, but performers like us who visit. 
Our set up onstage

The corrugated tin visible on the stage is part of a set that was built to resemble a mobile home, for an upcoming production of an new original play called "Fat Shirley's Trailer Park Opera." 

We were glad our equipment could fit alongside the set, and intrigued to find that original local plays are being written and produced. 

Our dressing room was filled with features that are found backstage in thousands of theaters, the various props and costumes that comprise the tools of the actor's trade.
A blonde beehive wig

It's fun to imagine the sort of musical for which this beehive hairdo might be necessary. 

Again, citing the standard disclaimer, Bloggin' Bryan apologizes for the lack of additional photos.

But with words, we can say we enjoy playing at the Tennessee Valley Theater, and we can tell that the people there enjoy seeing us.

So we'll be happy to return.

-Bloggin' Bryan 24may2016

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Charleston

The WannaBeatles are not a typical Beatles tribute band. When people ask "Which one are you?" they're assuming that the four of us have taken on specific roles to play John, Paul, George and Ringo. 

But that's not who we are. We are musicians who decided to focus on Beatles music because we love and respect it, so we use our talents to play the music the best way it can performed by the four of us. 

A WORD ABOUT ROLES

WannaBeatle David plays drums but he's also a great singer, so he's nothing like Ringo. WannaBeatle Nathan plays bass and keyboards, but doesn't sing like Paul. WannaBeatle Dennis may be closest to John, playing rhythm guitar and harmonica, but he also does a great job singing "Yesterday" and "Michelle." Dennis also likes to make people laugh. I do most guitar leads, and a couple of George's signature songs, but I also do John and Ringo songs, and play horns.

And when we work on the songs, we each bring a bit of George Martin into the process, arranging, trying out vocal parts, being the producers that we are. 

But none of this would matter if we didn't also have someone playing the role of Brian Epstein, making those phone calls, thinking up ways to promote the band, and negotiating deals on our behalf. There's no question that WannaBeatle Dennis fills that role.

And so, thanks to the efforts of our built-in Brian Epstein, we took a trip to Charleston, S.C. in January. It was not a gig, but a showcase performance at a conference of entertainment buyers, who were considering acts to book at various fairs and festivals that occur throughout the southeast.

We were participating in the conference through a friend, Rick Hubbard, who has been performing at fairs and festivals for years, as a children's entertainer. Rick is an experienced performer, and a wise businessman, who is generous with his knowledge and resources. He allowed us to partner with him at the booth where we met the people attending the conference, which saved us money and gave us the legitimacy we needed to connect with a new audience.

Our trip began, as usual, in Nathan's backyard, on a snowy day.
WannaBeatles gather for the gear loading ritual
Carport in snow
Stopping along the way for fast Asian food
Arriving at our hotel in Charleston
The elegant lobby as Nathan and Dennis check in
Our friend Rick Hubbard taking care of business at the booth
Dennis and Rick setting up at the booth
Those are kazoos in the bowls - a specialty item
Just in case anyone thought this was a glamorous trip,
the booth next to ours offered 
a mobile "Luxury Restroom" trailer

WALKING TOUR

Bloggin' Bryan confesses, having grown up in the South, that he is impressed with the historic charm of Charleston. If readers will pardon the digression, it was a great pleasure to stroll around the beautiful downtown the first morning we awoke there.

Here's a little photo essay of that walk, which has nothing to do with Beatles music, except for the implied connection between this coastal city and Britain. After all, Charleston was named for the king of England. 

View of downtown from hotel room window, 
featuring steeple of St. Michael's
Cobblestones across Meeting Street
The sign says "French Quarter," but this isn't New Orleans
Statue of George Washington
Plaque honoring Washington and Gen. Westmoreland
Looking up at St. Michael's steeple
How many churches can say "since 1680?"
Not your typical churchyard cemetery
Governor's House, circa 1760
Residential street, heading south
Decorative shrubbery in the shape of the Confederate flag
(For those who don't know, the Civil War started here)
Walking along the Battery
And the cannons that fired upon Fort Sumter

The corner of Meeting and South Battery
 The Meeting Street Inn
Another view
Row houses looking over the harbor
A domestic sign containing Olde English
Double decker balconies
More colorful houses along Rainbow Row
A dress shop window reflecting more Charleston architecture
The old Post Office and Courthouse at the
corner of Meeting and Broad
Built in 1896 - a relative newcomer to Charleston

Unfortunately, there are not photos to document the rest of our day in Charleston. We attended the conference, meeting lots of people who produce, and work for, various fairs. We met and heard some very interesting bands who were also playing showcase sets. 

We did our 30 minute showcase, and had a great time. Mission accomplished. We enjoyed Charleston.

Then we woke up the next morning, to drive back to Nashville.

Another view of St. Michael's out the hotel room window.
Driving out of Charleston, we found a Coming Street, and decided to stop for a photo. We posted it on Instagram. 
Then we stopped at a Cracker Barrel for a huge delicious breakfast, and posted that on our Facebook page.

And so, one modern band does its 21st century job, while one member of that band reminds you that we spent time in a city that hasn't changed much since the 18th century.

All in a day's work.

-Bloggin' Bryan 19May2016