Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hippie Radio Party

Last Friday (the 13th - but it wasn't unlucky) The WannaBeatles played a party for Hippie Radio, which was held on the top of the parking deck behind the station on Music Row. 

They really did it up right, with a huge tent equipped with heaters, catering by Monell's, a full stage with sound and lights, and plenty of holiday decorated tables. 

In addition to us, they had Black Diamond, the stage name of Theron Denson, the world's only African-American Neil Diamond impersonator. Walking around the room as Santa Claus was Supe Granda, of Ozark Mountain Daredevils and Supe and the Sandwiches. 

We'd had good experiences with Hippie Radio before, appearing several times on their morning show with DJ Chris Luckey, playing songs on the air, laughing and enjoying ourselves. We found out that their marketing director Barb Deniston was a huge Beatles fan. We discovered that their sales manager Moody Castleman also plays bass and sings with a cover band called Fade To Black.

Well, all of this came together in one night under the tent. First of all, when I arrived for the gig, Barb introduced me to a couple of friendly guys named Tony and Mark. 

Turned out they own the station; they were in town for the party. I was immediately impressed with the fact that Tony and Mark not only helped me carry my gear from the car, but actually walked up three flights of stairs rather than take the elevator. Tony mentioned something about having hiked five miles in Colorado recently, so I assumed he was in good physical shape for the task. Still, a radio station owner who schlepps a musician's guitar amp up three flights of stairs deserves a mention in my book. 

We met Theron Denson, the "Black Diamond," who is a very engaging and professional guy, a pleasure to meet. He told his story of having grown up in West Virgina and Missouri, son of a military father, so that his cultural experience was not typical. He began doing the Neil Diamond tribute back in West Virginia, and over ten years ago was noticed by Jimmy Kimmel, who invited him to appear on his national tv show in L.A. That was his big break, and he hasn't stopped performing since then.

Bryan, Dennis, Theron (aka Black Diamond), Barb, Nathan and David, under the big top

Also at the party was our friend Gary Talley, who's a well known guitar instructor, also known as an original member of the Box Tops, the pop group from Memphis whose big hits were "The Letter" and "Cry Like A Baby." It was the kind of party where Gary could get onstage with us and sing "The Letter," even though we were not exactly the ideal backup band for that particular song. It was a case of sportsmanship rather than musicianship. 

By the end of the night, we had more people joining us onstage - Supe, in full Santa gear, doing the faux Beach Boys backup on "Back in the USSR," and Moody Castleman singing very tricky parts of "Live and Let Die," with no rehearsal. He was amazing. 

But the best part of all was Black Diamond joining us for "Hey Jude." After years of singing Neil Diamond, he's happy to show that he can sing other songs too. He's really a fine singer, and a fine performer. But even more interesting is the fact that his middle name is "Jude." So we feel like we provided a unique moment in the career of Theron Jude Denson, also known as Black Diamond. 

   Hey Jude: Bryan, Moody, Dennis, Theron and David

It was a great party, and we're happy to be involved with Hippie Radio.

bloggin' bryan 19dec13

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