Sunday, February 24, 2013

North By Northeast: Destination Parkersburg

You can travel a lot and still never think about West Virginia.

We live in Tennessee, and travel to states in all directions, mostly north, south and east.

WannaBeatle Dennis grew up in Long Island, and his parents now live in Florida.

WannaBeatle Nathan grew up in Vermont, and has a daughter in school in D.C.

WannaBeatle Dave was born in Cuba, then grew up in Florida. His son is in college in Chicago, and his daughter in North Carolina.

WannaBeatle Bryan is from Georgia, but has a daughter, son-in-law and grandkids in D.C.

The WannaBeatles have travelled to Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama to play our shows.

None of that travel has included the state of West Virginia.

It seems to be located in a twilight zone of lost highways and mysterious state lines, which never appear in most people's consciousness. It's the geographical equivalent of some obscure organ we can't locate, like the spleen or thyroid. 

But this weekend was different. We're drove up to Parkersburg, West Virginia, so now we know it exists.

It helps to have a personal connection.

Your blog host Bryan has worked over the years in Nashville with a local bass player named Debbie Bailes. It was only recently that I discovered that she grew up in Parkersburg, West Virginia. When she found out the WannaBeatles were playing up there, she called her sister and brothers, and told them about our show, and they all bought tickets and came to see us. Not only her sister and brothers, but also a nephew and his wife, and another sister-in-law.

To give it an extra bit of Beatles flavor, Debbie's sister is named Judy, but Debbie has always called her Jude. Debbie asked me if we could dedicate "Hey Jude" to her.

We spent most of Friday getting there - up I-65 into Kentucky, taking the Bluegrass Turnpike over through Lexington, where it connects to I-64 into West Va., turning north at Charleston on I-77, to Parkersburg on the Ohio River. 

With Nashville included, we passed through both Frankfort and Charleston, which made three state capitals we hit during the trip. 

We stayed in a Red Roof Inn, two guys to a room. Dennis noticed the hair dryer resembled a classic retro microphone, so he couldn't resist singing into it as if he were Elvis.

When the other WannaBeatles saw the photo, they admired Dennis's nice arm muscle, which looks like a blank canvas. They suggested we offer our fans a chance to design a tattoo for Dennis's arm. It could be a favorite sports team, rock band, motorcycle logo, or religious icon. 

We could keep track of the suggestions with a page on our new website. David suggested calling the contest "Rent a Spot on Dennis Scott." 

This happens to be the week that our new website went public, so we're constantly thinking about ways to "engage" people with social media. 

Sometimes it seems like our ideas are too far ahead of our ability to implement them.

But still, feel free to make suggestions.

Saturday afternoon, on our way to the campus, we turned the wrong way off I-77, and saw a bit of local culture. If you can't read the sign, it says "Hillbilly Sandwich Shack." 

After that wrong turn, it only took one cell phone call and a few minutes to get us to the campus of WVU. There were students to help us load in, and a very nice local promoter named Scott who made us feel welcome. We brought our video screen setup, which took extra time to rehearse, but the staff at WVU really handled it well, and it went without a hitch. They had a large white screen for our various video images.

After the soundcheck, we went to a very friendly local restaurant called the Mountaineer Family Cafe. We learned that they're famous for serving the best liver and onions in the area. We declined that dish, settling on pasta, country fried steak, and the sort of fuel we'd need for a two hour show. We enjoyed meeting Marcia, our friendly waitress, who besides working at the restaurant also teaches deaf children American sign language.

                                       Marcia and co-workers at Mountaineer Family Cafe.

Back at the campus, there were over 200 people in the auditorium, and they enjoyed the show. We had lots of fans get up to dance, and a little boy named V.J. joined us onstage to sing "When I'm 64." 

Another treat was a local cello student named Ryan Phipps, who joined us on several songs, most notably "Eleanor Rigby" and "Live and Let Die." He's 16, a junior in high school and a fine player, already 3rd chair in the All State Orchestra. He really gets a great sound of the instrument. We also met his dad John, and younger brother Scott, who plays cello and drums. 

After the show, I got to meet Jude and all of Debbie's family who came to the show.
We got a nice photo of her two brothers, David and Gary, along with sister in law Kandi, nephew Sam, and daughter in law Kendra.

                                     Kandi, Gary, Sam & Kendra, Bryan, David and Jude

We finished the evening with milkshakes at Wendy's, while reading facebook posts on our cellphones, checking out comments on the show. We've been playing music for a long time, but never had such immediate and widespread connection to our fans.

We enjoyed Parkersburg, and hope to come back soon. 

We even wrote some songs while we were in the motel, and in the van.  One is called "In '63" and the other is called "New I.D.," which is based on Nathan's experience of losing his wallet, and having to get a new driver's license. 

You'll have to wait till later to hear them.

Stay tuned!

And think of a funny tattoo for Dennis's arm. It may be the only thing missing that turns him into a total rock star. 

The new website is active, and David's quite proud of it. He worked about three weeks on it, while continuing all his other teaching and playing obligations - we're blessed to have such a brave technical explorer in the band. 

Visit and see what you think.

We'll be back soon.

Bloggin' Bryan    24 Feb. 13


  1. Bryan,
    Fantastic post! Only you could be so sensitive and attentive to the details of all the wonderful souls we meet at all our gigs.
    We are blessed to have you AND all your gifts.
    Just a small correction for whatever it is worth. I wish I was the great webmaster that could create a website in 3 weeks. It was actually more like 2 to 3 months BUT I aspire to that level of greatness. As you know, I have to keep up with you, Dennis and Nathan somehow so watch out cause here I come...

  2. Hey Bryan!

    Thank you very much - you made my family feel right at home. Wait a minute...... They WERE at home! And they loved your show. My sister went on and on about you and the group. She said all of them enjoyed it so much and how very talented you are. She even bought a CD! I wish I could have been there with them. God bless you, Dennis, Nathan and David.