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Tribute bands unite at Levoy for ‘Beatles vs. Stone: A Musical Showdown’

Tribute bands unite at Levoy for ‘Beatles vs. Stone: A Musical Showdown’

Tribute bands unite at Levoy for ‘Beatles vs. Stone: A Musical Showdown’
April 12
10:26 2018

The Beatles or the Stones?

It’s the musical version of the old personal preference game: you know, Ginger or Maryann. Coke or Pepsi. McDonald’s or Burger King.

“It really isn’t a competition,” says musician Axel Clarke, “because everyone knows the Beatles kill the Stones every time.”

Clarke isn’t exactly objective. How could he possibly be when he plays the part of Ringo Starr in a tribute band called Abbey Road.

But Clarke doesn’t have the final say. That’s because sharing the stage with Abbey Road at the Levoy Theatre in Millville 8 p.m. Friday, April 13, is another tribute band known as Satisfaction.

Care to take a wild stab from which famous band Satisfaction borrowed its name?

Chris LeGrand is the executive producer of Satisfaction and for years has been compared to Mick Jagger, whom he emulates in the show.

The Texas native won’t go out on a limb like Clarke jokingly did and proclaim the Stones better than the Beatles. But he will be very happy to say how much fun he’s been having for the past decade whenever Satisfaction and Abbey Road meet up to perform their unique show titled “Beatles vs. Stone: A Musical Showdown.”

Each band spends about half the year working independently as full tribute shows to each respective band. But they also budget some time for their showdown between the two groups that influenced and changed rock ’n’ roll forever beginning in the early 1960s.

“We (each) do over 100 dates a year (as the Stones and Beatles),” LeGrand says. “But we also put together blocks of tour dates that are two or three weeks long so we can do Beatles versus Stones. We’re putting together more and more of these blocks of dates as the show gains popularity.”

LeGrand first had the idea for the dual tribute show years ago, after he formed Satisfaction in 2001. He tried to hook up with a Beatles tribute to do this non-battle-of-the-bands concept.

It was the right idea, but didn’t pan out the way he’d planned. Finally, in 2011, LeGrand met the Abbey Road people, and a partnership was born.

“I liked what they’d been doing, they liked what we’d been doing,” LeGrand says during a call from his Texas home. “So we put the two minds together a (few) years ago and we’re just starting to take off now.”

Clarke, who teaches drums in high school and college and has a master’s degree in percussion performance, says one of the biggest challenges with the two groups performing together is trying to figure out whether it’s a Beatles- or Stones-friendly audience.

“Every audience is a little bit different (and) you can feel within the first few songs whether it’s a Beatles-friendly crowd or a Stones-friendly crowd,” says Clarke, who usually picks the set list for each show.

“When it’s a Stones-friendly crowd, it’s fun for us to try and win them over. But it doesn’t take too much,” he adds.

“Our first set is usually the early, more up-beat danceable rocker stuff, so that one kind of wins them over,” Clarke explains.

Despite the playful rivalry between the two, the show isn’t that it a “battle of the bands.”

“We don’t really have any kind of (audience) voting or anything like that,” LeGrand says. “We’re truly just a celebration of the two bands. There’s actually no winners. The winner is the audience, because (they) get to see these two iconic bands and hear all of their great songs.”

Okay, so maybe there’s a little friendly competition between the two groups throughout the show, LeGrand admits with a small laugh.

Despite his post-graduate in percussion, Clarke has to basically ditch everything he learned about the right way to play drums and — at least during their shows — pick up some Ringoisms that drum teachers would categorize as bad habits. Starr was a completely self-taught drummer.

“I really had to dial into his style and emulate everything he does, from his choices to his sound to his posture to the way he strikes the drums,” Clarke says. “It’s interesting, because pretty much everything Ringo does is the exact opposite of what you would teach someone to do if they were starting out on drums.”

Although both bands make costume changes during the show to keep up with physical appearances, changing times and groups’ growing musical maturity, Clarke auditioned for Abbey Road as himself — no Ringo-style clothing or quirky physical gestures, which some candidates did.

“I auditioned as myself doing my best drumming impression of Ringo, (and) I just played his parts as best as I could,” he remembers.

The members of Abbey Road and Satisfaction weren’t even gleams in their parents’ eyes when the real Beatles and Stones ruled the charts in the 1960s. But Clarke and LeGrand said there was also plenty of Beatles and Stones music in their respective homes.

My dad was a frustrated guitarist-singer type, so the Beatles were on the family turntable,” Clarke says. “I think I learned the Beatles music by osmosis.”

Source: Tribute bands unite at Levoy for ‘Beatles vs. Stone: A Musical Showdown’

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Martin Nethercutt

Martin Nethercutt

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