Fair rekindles Beatlemania

Published 4:35 pm Tuesday, July 30, 2013

1964: The Tribute at the Cass County Fair July 29.

1964: The Tribute at the Cass County Fair July 29.

CASSOPOLIS — From “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally,” 1964: The Tribute reeled through 32 songs to reignite dormant Beatlemania Monday night at the 162nd Cass County Fair.

The Fab Four tribute artists —Mark, Graham, Tom and Bobby — paused in between just long enough for some cheeky banter about Beatle boots (painful like corsets) and breakfast (“no grits for Brits”).

“In England, you can’t get breakfast after the sun comes up, then it’s straight to supper,” Mark Benson from Ohio as John Lennon said. “You can get tea. In America, you can get breakfast any time of day. Eggs, bacon, sausages, potatoes and this big dollop of mashed potatoes with a square of butter melting on it. We tried salt and pepper, jelly, but nothing changes the taste” of grits.

1964 has been touring for 29 years, playing 100 shows a year and perfecting the Beatles’ music and mannerisms.

They played Carnegie Hall a dozen times, with another booking for Jan. 11, 2014.

Lennon lamented that a lark turned into that long a time in bowl haircuts and asked, “Are you having fun? We’ll take care of that right now.”

After breezing through such early hits as “I Saw Her Standing There,” “From Me to You” and “Please Please Me,” the spotlight shone on lead guitarist Tom Work (George Harrison), who lives in Ohio, for “Happy Just to Dance With You.”

They plunged on at breakneck pace with “All My Loving,” the first Beatles song many Americans heard because it led off the first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” on Feb. 9, 1964; “This Boy,” “Act Naturally” featuring drummer Bobby Potter from Indiana as Ringo Starr, “Eight Days a Week,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “I Should Have Known Better,” “If I Fell,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Everybody’s Trying to be My Baby” (Carl Perkins is from Tennessee, not Michigan), “Twist and Shout,” The Night Before,” “I Feel Fine” and “Things We Said Today.”

Shifting gears, 1964 delved into the middle Rubber Soul/Revolver era, playing “In My Life,” “And Your Bird Can Sing,” “Taxman” (cough included), “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl,” “Nowhere Man,” “Day Tripper” and “Help,” the trademark bow following each number.

George introduced “Till There was You” from “The Music Man” and “Meet the Beatles” with, “It’s a song Paul thinks is great, so we have to do it.”

Graham Alexander portrayed McCartney. The right-handed guitarist learned to play Hofner bass left-handed. He replaced Gary Grimes, the original McCartney, who died of brain cancer on Dec. 13, 2010. Mark and Gary started 1964 in 1984.

The band finished the set with Ringo’s (and the Rolling Stones’) “I Wanna Be Your Man” (Lennon quipped the drummer wanted to play it “in the worst way” — and succeeded). Potter played in a Tijuana brass band in high school.

The Stones opened 50th anniversary shows covering the November 1963 Lennon-McCartney-penned hit.

After a finale of “She Loves You,” 1964 returned to the grandstand stage for a rollicking encore of “Rock and Roll Music,” “Matchbox,” “Roll Over, Beethoven” and “Long Tall Sally.”

“Be good to each other,” Benson said leaving the stage.

Paul Davies of Niles, Sixth Generation bassist, which played the Cavern Club in Liverpool on Ringo’s July 7 birthday, made his first trip to the Cass fair to hear 1964.

1964: the year saw the birth of Southwestern Michigan College and the Ford Mustang, Sister Lakes monster sightings and the introduction of Arby’s roast beef sandwiches in Boardman, Ohio.