Beatles legacy celebrated
Darcy "George" Windover, Jorge "Paul" Pacheco, Paul "Ringo" Lamarche, Beej "John" Bula, who make up The Beatlers, take a stroll across the re-created Abbey Road on Mississaga Street during the Orillia Beatles Celebration, Saturday. The Beatlers were one of the many Fab Four tribute bands who entertained the crowds that flocked to the downtown core during the festival dedicated to the English rock band.
All you needed this weekend in Orillia was love - love of the music and Fab Four styling, and, with a little help from some friends, you could re-create a rocking era of music.
At least that's the experience of Jorge "Paul" Pacheco, lead singer of tribute band The Beatlers, who rocked the main stage at this year's Orillia Beatles Celebration.
The band is made up of Beatles enthusiasts Pacheco, Darcy "George" Windover, Beej "John" Bula and Paul "Ringo" Lamarche, all of whom love to spend their free time getting better with every show.
"It's like a Star Trek club of the worst geeks ever," said Lamarche, about the group. "We just love the music. Why wouldn't you want to do this."
For the foursome, every little thing - costumes, harmonies and phoney British accents - is important to ensuring that crowds dig their performances and get off their feet to twist and shout.
Presenting more than just a Liverpool drawl, their knowledge of the Beatles behaviour - including Bula's all-too-familiar interpretation of John Lennon - go way beyond a simple accent.
"You have to forget it's you; you have to be that person," said Bula. "It'll take me an hour-and-a-half to get out of character."
Practising two hours a day, eight days a week were it possible, the band's ultimate goal is to slide seamlessly into the quartet's shoes.
"More than musicians, we are four really good impersonators. It takes a little bit of hard work and watching a lot of footage," said Pacheco. "This is a passion."
Dressed in matching black suits and boots, clad in mop top - save Rula whose own locks mimic the 1960s - the four-some attracted festival goers looking for photo ops.
"It's like a super-hero uniform," said Pacheo. "I think who am I going to be today? Oh, yeah Paul McCartney."
Being in a tribute band has been their ticket to ride on the coattails of the Fab Four while creating music that appeals to the masses.
In the crowd for The Beatlers performance, 72-year-old Diane Funk, was delighted to give her 5-year-old grandson a shot of rhythm and blues that they could both enjoy.
"It crosses all age groups. He's enjoyed singing and dancing along all day," she said.
"I think it's amazing. Collingwood's got Elvis, we've got The Beatles."
The Beatlers aren't the only foursome to be inspired enough to imitate one of the greatest selling bands of all time.
Known unofficially as Canada's youngest Beatles tribute band, the Stink Beatles - including Tim McDonald, 9, Ben Heffernan, 10, Daniel Rattray,11 and Kendal Rattray, 13 - rocked the up-and-coming stage and drew in the Mississaga Street crowd Saturday,
Though they didn't have the period hair or outfits - opting instead for matching Union Jack Tees - their ability to come together for the sake of the tunes moved the audience.
"The first song I ever learned was by the Beatles," said Kendal. "To play their music you have to listen to the songs a lot, and practise them a lot, so you better like the band a lot."
With the celebration running all through the afternoon and well into the evening, with more musical acts, film screenings and trivia contests, it was a hard day's night for Fab Four maniacs dedicated to taking it all in.
" With me, it was a passion that turned into an obsession. I've been a Beatles fan my whole life," said Denis Kuglin, founder of allbeatlesstore.com. "People connect with the music. They are timeless. Everybody always loved them."
Kuglin was glad all over to get to share his lifelong passion - he was first exposed to the tunes when he came across an old record of his uncle's - with other fans.
"From little kids to grandmothers, we sell to everybody," he said. "You know nearly every Beatles song has the word love in it.
"It is all about peace and love."