On a warm Friday night, May 21, The WannaBeatles returned to Red Caboose Park for the annual Bellevue Community Picnic.
But it wasn't an easy decision.
There was a schedule conflict. May is graduation season, and WannaBeatle David planned to be in North Carolina that night to watch his daughter Gabrielle graduate from Elon College.
WannaBeatle Dennis pondered the question: should we accept the job? It would require finding a singing drummer to play with us, and at least two rehearsals.
Fortunately we had already discovered John Salaway, who filled in last fall when David suddenly had to leave for Florida when his father died.
Here's the blog that tells that story: http://thewannabeatles.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-ballad-of-john-salaway.html
John and Nathan last October, John's first time with us
We learned from playing with him last fall that John is a fine drummer and musician, very knowledgeable about Beatles music, a good singer, and easy to work with. We also know there's no one like David Toledo; his personality is a vital part of the chemistry of who we are.
Still, there's a difference between getting a substitute drummer for a gig that's already booked, which is what happened before, and deciding to accept a gig knowing it will require a substitute drummer.
John was available, so we decided to say yes. That meant setting up rehearsal time to figure out musical details. We would miss out on David's voice and his other contributions, but we could still present a viable show.
On that warm night in May, getting back to Bellevue was a chance for us to connect with old friends.
Running sound was Jody Fraser, who has done sound for us at Crockett Park for the seven years we’ve played there.
Hosting the event was Scott Ducaj, who has evolved over the years from local trumpet player to major music booker for regional fairs and festivals.
Scott and Dennis talking backstage
Scott and Jody onstage with Jody's sound system
Scott and Dennis talk business
In the audience was Bellevue resident Jesse Goldberg, who has had The WannaBeatles as guests on his community access tv talk show. Jesse, a big Beatles fan, co-wrote of “February 9, 1964,” the song about the Beatles’ first appearance on Ed Sullivan, which we recorded for our first CD, “Old School/New School.”
WannaBeatle Bryan and Jesse
I also ran into Steve Brogdon, who sings with the Bellevue Community Chorus, which was performing their spring concert the next day, across the street at Bellevue Church of Christ. I was aware of this because the choir had chosen to perform “Bicentennial Anthem,” written by my father Joe Cumming. It was the Tennessee premiere of this song he wrote in 1976.
With Steve Brogdan, singer with Bellevue Community Chorus
I also saw our friend Mark Crawford, the TSU music professor who directs the Bellevue Community Chorus, with his wife Jennifer and their 2 year old son Colin, who danced wildly in the grass in front of the stage.
Our pals from Hippie Radio had a booth near the stage. We saw the Hippie Radio van and DJ Chris Lucky, who had interviewed us on the air several times over the last few years.
Hippie Radio colorful vehicle
Dennis and Nathan set up the “WannaBeatles Boutique,” our humble mobile retail outlet.
Dennis and Nathan setting up table
Nathan helps set up merch table
We also saw our local friends Frank and Diane Marino, independent jazz artists who’ve produced and released several fine CDs.
John Salaway playing drums in place of WannaBeatle David meant it wasn’t quite the same, but it was still a WannaBeatles show, with some wonderful songs, and a happy audience.
The usual disclaimer that the photographer was busy playing onstage means you can use your imagination to visualize what it looked like.
And like we always notice when we play at Red Caboose Park, there were plenty of kids who gravitated toward the stage and turned the sloping lawn in front of the stage into a free for all dance playground.
Maybe some of those kids will grow up to become musicians. Considering the impact The Beatles had on our lives, and how The WannaBeatles exist to celebrate the music that energized us fifty years ago, it would be an appropriate inheritance for us to inspire another generation.
-Bloggin’ Bryan 12 July 2016