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Monday, May 2, 2016

The next best thing to The Beatles

Thursday, April 9, 2009

OK, so it's not going to be exactly like it was shortly after midnight on Sept. 18, 1964.

That was when an airplane touched down at the Walnut Ridge Airport carrying a cargo more valuable than a B-52 bomber stuffed full of the entire contents of Fort Knox.

For on that night, pilot Reed Pigman's American Flyers Airlines' craft landed in Lawrence County with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr - The Beatles - on board.

Even though it's highly unlikely that the original Fab Four will find its way back to these parts any time soon, the Spring River area is still bracing for another British Invasion, featuring the next-best-thing to The Beatles.

The Liverpool Legends.

Spring River Performing Arts (SRPA) and Liberty Bank are bringing the Liverpool Legends to the Omaha Center in Cherokee Village for one special performance April 19, with show time starting at 2:30 p.m.

Hand-picked by George Harrison's sister Louise, Liverpool Legends takes audiences back to that magical time in the 1960s when The Beatles ruled the world.

Consider that when The Beatles made their brief stop in Walnut Ridge after a show at Dallas' Memorial Coliseum in 1964, the group had already played to more than 73-million viewers on The Ed Sullivan Show and had placed five singles in the top five spots of the Billboard charts, all at the same time.

That's world domination.

And according to Louise Harrison, Liverpool Legends are as close as it gets to the real thing.

"Liverpool Legends present the very best portrayal of The Beatles since the only four guys to play The Beatles were John, Paul, George and Ringo," she said.

When not on the road, Liverpool Legends currently calls the Starlite Theatre in Branson home and the group was voted Branson's best show in 2006 and 2007. No small feat when you take into account that the Vegas-like strip of Branson is home base for over 140 shows.

More than just sounding like The Beatles, Liverpool Legends also recreates the look of the Fab Four. The group performs songs from every chapter of The Beatles' storied history, complete with costume changes that span everything from the Cavern Club days, to the St. Pepper's era and on to the famous roof-top concert at Abbey Road Studios. Liverpool Legends even digs into solo work from John, Paul, George and Ringo.

"It's one of those shows that you don't want to end," said SRPA's Gary Lawrence. "They do such a great job that the time just flies by. They have got the sound and the look of The Beatles down pat. You can tell that there's more to it than just a group of guys playing The Beatles' songs. These guys have every little detail covered."

Recently, Liverpool Legends mirrored The Beatles in more than just look and sound.

Just like Ringo Starr took over the drum throne from Pete Best in the Fab Four, Bob Beahon has replaced Davey Justice as Liverpool Legends' Paul McCartney.

And according to Liverpool Legends' publicist Barbara Ladner, the response has been overwhelming.

"People are in awe when they see how the show has changed with Bob's energy and greater attention to performance detail," she said. "Reception to Bob has been outstanding."

Kevin Mantegna is John Lennon in Liverpool Legends, while Marty Scott is George Harrison and Greg George is the fun-lovin' Ringo Starr.

Famed producer George Martin, the mastermind behind The Beatles' ground-breaking recording techniques, was the "Fifth Beatle," so Liverpool Legends, too, have a fifth member -- keyboardist Bob Dobro.

Since John Lennon and George Harrison are in "Strawberry Fields Forever", the chances of a full-blown reunion of the original Fab Four are non-existent, making Liverpool Legends' show even that more memorable.

It doesn't matter if you lived through the wave of Beatle mania that swept the world in the 1960s or you just know John, Paul, George and Ringo from hearing their timeless songs still played on the radio in 2009, Liverpool Legends give a first-hand account of why The Beatles are one of the most important and influential groups of all time.

Liberty Bank President Bob Evins as one of The Beatles' life-long fans who understands what all the fuss over the group is about.

"They're (The Beatles) fantastic. It's like a walk down memory lane. All the girls screaming and crying," he said. "As a youth, seeing them perform on TV and the crowd's reaction to them was really something. Until they came along, I'd never seen a crowd react to a singing group like they reacted to The Beatles. They really changed the landscape of music in general. I have children that like a lot of their songs and enjoy listening to them now. And Liverpool Legends do an excellent job. People that lived during that time and have seen them perform, it's like seeing them again. You see Liverpool Legends and you shut your eyes -- it takes you back."

So from Liverpool Legends to actress/singer Mare Winningham to singer/songwriter/guitarist Michael Johnson, Spring River Performing Arts has been able to bring an entertaining mix of talent to the area for the 2009 season.

"We try and get names that people will remember -- whether from the past or the present -- something that will hopefully appeal to all ages," said Lawrence. "We aim for a wide variety of entertainment at these shows, and through our sponsors we've been able to bring in the caliber of acts that we've had. These acts would be cost-prohibitive without our sponsors, so we're thankful for them."

Tickets for the Liverpool Legends are $20 and may be obtained by calling 870-847-0360, or purchased at the door.

Season tickets for the 2010-11 Spring River Performing Acts will also be available at the Omaha Center.

"Support of the arts in any community is very important. People need a break from the everyday life they're in. These kind of events give people a good opportunity to kick back and relax and enjoy themselves," Evins said. "I think think without support of organizations like Spring River Performing Arts -- in any community -- there's a big void."

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For those that love the Beatles Music you will also love the #1 Hits of the 60's Show in Branson Missouri. You'll hear all the Great Pop Music Artisits of the 60's Decade. A live band and cast will make the 60's come alive on stage through music, dance, comedy and unique video segments. Fun for the whole family!

-- Posted by Hitsofthe60s on Sat, Apr 11, 2009, at 3:14 PM

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