Monday, August 8, 2016


(Our southern tour, continued...)

On Friday June 3, we woke up in Greenwood SC in our rooms at Inn On The Square, enjoyed another civilized breakfast in their dining room, said our goodbyes in the lobby, then headed west for our gig in Gadsden Alabama.
The lady who owns the hotel, in the lobby Friday morning
Another view of the lobby, with its elegant low country architecture, with sky lights and shuttered windows
4Runner at the awning, ready to leave Inn on the Square

We passed the huge Clarks Hill Lake as we left South Carolina, entering Georgia.
Wikipedia tells us that the shoreline is over 1200 miles

Then I-20 took us west from the calm Carolina countryside into the urban energy of metropolitan Atlanta and beyond, back into rural landscapes, as we crossed into Alabama.

Our destination was an amphitheater built in 1935, which was built out of stone, looking more like an ancient Greek theater than any art deco Depression era building.
Gadsden Amphitheater, built 1935, restored 1994

The WannaBeatles poster advertising our show, and the plaque honoring Dr. Mort Glosser 

The space inside is dramatic, with stone seats ascending up over a semi-circle arena.

We couldn’t resist pretending to be gladiators in the arena, using guitars as our weapons.
Gladiators with their weapons
WannaBeatles Bryan, Nathan and Dennis
as action figures
And one final pose
(no instruments were harmed in the making of this photo)

But we were there to work.
Dennis and David pulling cart through doorway
Our sound crew setting up the stage

Dennis the retailer displays our merchandise

After setting up, we ate dinner with other special guests of the amphitheater on the upper level.
The view from above, with the stage set up

The amphitheater is equipped with actual dressing rooms, which helped us feel like we were putting on a theatrical show.

Nathan and Dennis in dressing room, getting ready

We had a good sound company, and an appreciative crowd, so it was a fun gig.

We had never played in a place where the audience was seated on an incline, so that as we looked out, and up, it was a rising mountain of spectators. 

We enjoyed several spontaneous dances from audience members who were moved by the energy music to do their steps in front of the stage. One couple showed their romantic side in a well rehearsed ballroom style, while another lone clogger demonstrated how original and distinctive a body could be when responding freely to music.

The Mayor Sits in

The most memorable part of the show was inviting the mayor of Gadsden to join us onstage to play drums. Our local hostess, Janet Terrance, told us that the mayor played drums, implying that he would enjoy the chance to sit in with us in front of a local crowd. 

But after we called him up to the stage, the truth seemed a little different. The mayor, a dignified man named Sherman Guyton, was not a showbiz personality waiting for his chance in the spotlight. He was modest and reluctant to sit in, which made an awkward moment as we talked it over with him onstage, but he cooperated with the mood of the moment, making the best of the situation. 

We were somewhat embarrassed to discover his side of the story: although he had played drums as a teenager, he hadn’t touched a drum kit in the last 35 years.

The mayor was a good sport, sitting in at David’s drums for “Oh Bla Di Oh Bla Da,” which we had selected thinking it would be a simple drum part to play. Hearing Mayor Sherman struggle with it made us appreciate the genius of Beatles, who often took complex musical ideas and found a simple part to hold it together. Or maybe that was Ringo’s genius. At any rate, hearing another drummer find his way on that song made us realize that it’s not as easy as it might sound.
David and Nathan consult with Mayor Guyton
David encourages the mayor 
as he sings out front for a change

But having the mayor of the town playing with us helped connect us to the city of Gadsden in a way that no other gesture could have accomplished. For that moment, for that evening, we belonged to the people of Gadsden, Alabama, as their souls surrendered to the sounds of The WannaBeatles. 

After the show, we could feel the enthusiasm, as we met various local folks who expressed their joy and appreciation from hearing the music. As always, we met parents and children, young listeners who already knew Beatles songs, and who were thrilled by the experience of a live show.

A Gadsden fan with tee shirt

After packing up, and thanking our wonderful local sound team, we retreated to our hotel, then got up the next morning and drove to Nashville. It was only two shows in two towns, but it was a southern tour, and we enjoyed it. We’ll never forget the topiary of Greenwood, and being gladiators in Gadsden.

-Bloggn’ Bryan 8Aug2016

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