Fab Four continue to inspire youth
By GISELE WINTON SARVIS
The Packet & Times
Monday, July 28, 2014
Fifty years after The Beatles made their North American debut, their music continues to attract young audiences.
“They are one of my favourite bands. They are really inspiring for people to play musical instruments,” said Alex Wyant, 11, of Wasaga Beach. “When I started drumming, I only played Beatles songs. Ringo (Starr) is my favourite Beatle and drummer.”
Wyant, who won the Ringo Starr lookalike contest Saturday at the Orillia Beatles Celebration, stayed in the stage area to hear Beatles music being performed by local musician Kayla Elizabeth, followed by The Beagles, a band of four young men who play only Beatles music.
Carson Merkley, 15, of Orillia, also loves The Beatles and comes to the city’s Beatles festival annually.
“They are timeless. I grew up listening to them,” said Merkley, who also attended to watch The Beagles perform.
Beagles band member Tyler Chute, 19, of St. Thomas, grew up surrounded by Beatles music.
“I grew up on it. How do you not like it?” said Chute, the George Harrison of The Beagles.
The Beagles tour all over Ontario, but Orillia is the only community with a Beatles festival. It’s the fourth consecutive year they have performed at the festival.
“We can make jokes that Beatles fans get. People know The Beatles and it’s nice to interact and have them come up and say, ‘I liked when you made that joke because that’s what John (Lennon) did,’” Chute said.
The Beagles re-enacted the Beatles' 1964 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show Saturday at the Orillia Beatles Celebration.
Chute and his bandmates have studied The Beatles with a mentor as well as through books and movies. He supports the festival moving to the July date for the first time and combining with the annual sidewalk sale, where Mississaga Street was closed to vehicle traffic.
“I like that the streets are closed. That’s a brilliant idea. When it was just the square around the opera house, it was condensed. I think it’s brilliant that the street is open. It makes people walk around,” he said.
The Stink Beatles : Tim McDonald, 9, Ben Heffernan, 10, Daniel Rattray, 11, and Kendal Rattray, 13
Ralph Cipolla, chair of the Downtown Orillia Management Board, was working the bar at the main stage.
“It’s great that we moved it because the weather has co-operated all weekend whereas, in September, we got rained out. Here, even if it rains a little, it’s still warm enough that people will be outside,” he said.
People have travelled to Orillia from as far away as Germany, Japan and Great Britain to attend the festival, Cipolla said.
Attendance at the festival wasn’t affected by the Collingwood Elvis Festival, which was also held on the weekend.
“The Beatles tend to draw a younger demographic. The Elvis festival tends to be a little more mature,” Cipolla said.
The Day Trippers, made up of Gregory Lang, 9, left, Cameron Lang, 6, and Andrew Rattray perform during the Orillia Beatles Celebration Saturday afternoon.
David Perryman, of Everett, who has a home on Bass Lake, has taken in the Beatles festival for six years. He said he preferred to have the festival on its own weekend rather than mixing it with the annual sidewalk sale, adding Beatles memorabilia is “lost” among other merchandise, but he loves the festival.
“It’s a real coming together of a group of people with a similar interest and love of (The Beatles) and what they meant. And the price, at $5, is good,” he said.
Don Wilson, of Orillia, has attended the festival for the past four years and thinks switching the date from September to July is a “good idea.” He enjoys reminiscing about The Beatles and likes to share with people he met Lennon once.
“I met him at Ronnie Hawkins’s house in Mississauga in the late 1970s,” said the former musician.
The Friday-night street dance attracted about 700 people. T-shirts were almost sold out Saturday afternoon. The proceeds collected go to offset festival costs.
Vendors reported increased sales of business over last year’s sidewalk sale and Beatles festival.
Carol Hogan, a longtime sales clerk at Plum Loco, said business was brisk Saturday after a fairly busy Friday.
“It’s working. We’ve beaten last year. We’ve moved a lot of our Beatles merchandise. There (are) loads of tourists,” she said.
At Gilbert Guitars, Jeff Gilbert said he’d sold many ukuleles to musicians and wannabe musicians.
“Traffic has been great,” he said.
Street vendor Brian Forsythe said he sold more than 100 copies of his self-published book, Inside the Songs of the Sixties, as well as many stained-glass peace signs and T-shirts featuring a 45 record adapter.
“Everybody is happy and groovy. All the people want to talk about the ’60s. These are the people I like,” he said.
Beatles lovers enter the mainstage area from Mississaga Street for the 8th annual Orillia Beatles Celebration Saturday afternoon. Friday night's dance attracted about 700 people.
Artist Paul Baxter works on a pastel portrait of Ringo Starr after completing a portrait of Paul McCartney. His aim was to complete the portraits of all four members of legendary Beatles band Saturday during the Orillia Beatles Celebration.
Local musician Kayla Elizabeth performed on the main stage Saturday afternoon with a country style tribute to the Beatles.
Liberty performed Beatles songs Saturday afternoon outside Apple Annie's Café on Mississaga Street during the Orillia Beatles Celebration.
Mississaga Street was bustling with people all day Saturday during the Orillia Beatles Celebration.
Vendors Brian and Louise Forsythe sold lots of Beatles DVDs, Brian Forsythe's book Inside the Songs of the Sixties and sixties memorabilia during the Orillia Beatles Celebration Friday and Saturday on Mississaga Street.