The Fab 254: MHS students to play with Beatles tribute band
Never got to see the Beatles in concert? Visit the Corn Palace next week.
Liverpool Legends, a Grammy-nominated Beatles tribute band, will perform at 7 p.m. Monday at the Corn Palace. Tickets are $15 for adults or $10 for K-12 students. All tickets are general admission, and are available in advance from any Mitchell High School music student or from the Corn Palace box office at 995-8430.
But MHS Director of Bands Ryan Stahle said this is not just another tribute band — or just another concert, for that matter. All of MHS’ music students who participate in band or choir will join the Liverpool Legends for five songs during the show.
“Their band with 250 kids on the stage, it should be really pretty cool,” Stahle said. “This is every kid in the program.”
Stahle, who said he has every Beatles song from every album, discovered the Liverpool Legends at a state music conference in Brookings last year. What struck him and his students, he said, was how much the Liverpool Legends look and sound like the original mop-tops.
“They were not even done with their first set, and everyone was up in the aisles clapping and dancing,” Stahle said.
After visiting with other band directors, Stahle got in touch with Marty Scott, who portrays George Harrison in the group. Liverpool Legends had worked with other South Dakota schools and was interested in coming to Mitchell.
Stahle said the school was able to fundraise to bring the group to town with the help of several local sponsors. Ticket sales from the event will benefit the school’s music department.
While Beatles tribute groups abound, Liverpool Legends distinguishes itself as the only group with a direct link to the original Fab Four — George Harrison’s sister, Louise. Scott said he met Louise Harrison shortly after George Harrison died in 2001. The two hit it off, and Scott said Louise was instrumental in getting the Liverpool Legends off the ground.
“We just decided we wanted to put something together that’s really good,” Scott said. “There’s a lot of Beatle groups out there, some good, some bad.”
Having George Harrison’s sister around certainly hasn’t hurt, Scott said.
“She’s just sort of like one of the band members,” Scott said. “It’s definitely a dooropener for us. People expect it to be good, and it is good.”
Scott said the group is now based in Branson, Mo., where it fell into working with high school music groups. He said many student groups visit Branson for field trips and workshops, and every once in a while, Liverpool Legends has a student group open a show.
“We’d be backstage getting dressed and putting on makeup, and they’re playing ‘All You Need is Love,’ ” Scott said. “We started saying, ‘why don’t they just play it with us?’ ”
He said the effort has snowballed since then, and now the group does about 10 concerts with students across the country every year. It gives music students a taste of what it’s like to perform professionally, and also gives the behind-the-scenes experience to the students who help with lighting and sound. Scott said high school students get their own mini clinic with lighting directors with 25 years of professional experience and sound professionals who have worked with Andrew Lloyd Weber and Paul McCartney.
“It gives the kids sort of like a real-world experience on what it’s like to put a show on, and you’ve got a day to do it,” Scott said. “We try to make it a full experience.”
The show encapsulates the history of the Beatles, one of the most iconic bands in music history. Scott said the band travels through the Beatles’ origins on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” through the “White Album” and “Abbey Road” years. Student participation comes in with songs like “I Am the Walrus” and “All You Need is Love,” which require more instrumental and vocal backing.
“The Beatles are so universal. They’re the only group in history that is always transferred down to every generation,” Scott said. “You’re not supposed to like your grandparents’ music. The Beatles have some kind of magical thing.”
Liverpool Legends has amassed an impressive list of critical and popular accolades, including a 2012 Grammy nomination and star-studded list of fans, from Jerry Bruckheimer to an actual Beatle, Paul McCartney. But Scott said the group still enjoys meeting and playing with students, and visiting small towns, like Chester, S.D. Scott said when the group played in Chester, he estimated the small town with fewer than 300 people had close to 1,000 at the show.
“The smaller the town the better, because it’s a big event then and it’s easy to promote,” Scott said. “You put a poster up at the gas station and everyone knows about it.”
He admits the Liverpool Legends probably wouldn’t be visiting Mitchell if not for the group’s participation with high school groups like this — which is just another reason why the band likes to do it.
“It gives us a chance to get out to towns that aren’t really major markets, but it doesn’t matter,” he said. “It’s something for the community to remember — that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Scott said they often have students tell them the experience will be one to relate to their grandkids.
“We just realized that it’s something that is everyday norm for us, but a student in a band is not used to getting a reaction that a Beatles concert would,” he said. “Every time we do it’s just a blast.”