The Edmond Sun

Features

February 12, 2014

Beatles fans take magical history tour 50 years later

WASHINGTON — Under the concrete ribs of the barrel-shell roof of a crumbling coliseum, the capital awaits the Beatles. Or, rather, the Beatles tribute band. The real thing is exactly 50 years gone on this Tuesday night, in this exact spot in Northeast Washington, and Washington must make do with imitation, with nostalgia, with the reverb of the past.

"I'm listening to the Supremes and then all of a sudden on my transistor radio: 'I sawww herrr staaan-ding there,' " says Steve Daugherty, 59, who's in from Chantilly, Va. with his wife, Chris. They're wearing Lennon-esque spectacles and holding tall-boy beers, their breath fogging in the meat-locker air of the Washington Coliseum, the site of the Beatles' first North American concert, on Feb. 11, 1964. The Daughertys are here for the music, they say, but might they also be here to recapture a long-ago feeling?

"Oh, yeah," he says.

Behind the stage, in a cramped trailer that's 40 degrees warmer an hour before showtime, four men from America spray their wigs, pencil their eyebrows and button themselves into black-lapelled gray suits until they are four mop-headed lads from Liverpool. Beatlemania Now, the expert imitators of that night 50 years ago, are being watched by a man who was there, opening for the Beatles: the singer Tommy Roe.

"It's kind of spooky," says Roe, who will now open for an imitation, half a century later. Also, says Roe: "Surreal."

"They're Lennon-colored but when you get older, they're not as bushy," says Scot Arch, aka John, as he pencils away in front of a mirror.

"And I wonder how Paul and Ringo keep their hair so brown," Roe says with a glint in his eye, his hair a distinguished and well-adjusted gray.

"Ringo definitely dyed it recently," says Ringo, aka Eric Smith, 37, who adds that when he's on stage, "I'm not Eric Smith. It's not my interpretation. I'm trying to replicate. [Ringo's] mannerisms have become my own."

Roe exits the trailer, lopes through the cold, black backstage area, mounts the stage and plays "Sheila," as he did 50 years ago, when there was a thick vibe of anticipation.

Now, there are comb-overs in the audience, and Styrofoam cups of hot chocolate. The shrill hysteria over something new has been replaced by polite applause for something old. The national addiction to nostalgia continues, and the present stays bearable. The coliseum tonight is a physical place to hide away.

Oh we believe/

In yesterday.

Reality intrudes occasionally. After Roe'sset, there is an AARP sweepstakes drawing.

There are indeed young people here, people who were born years after the Beatles broke up, years even after John died. Legal assistants Jon Campbell, 24, and Daria Kasparek, 23, are here because of their parents, whose musical touchstones became theirs.

"In a sense, it's nostalgia," Kasparek says. The music "reminds me of driving to school in the morning and my mom playing the Beatles' greatest hits."

The re-creation isn't total, of course. The boxing-ring stage from 1964 is gone. The audience capacity in 1964 (about 8,000) is now about half that. John, Paul, George and Ringo were between 20 and 23 years old at the time. At least two of the men of Beatlemania Now are older than 30. Seats in 1964 were $2 to $4. On this Tuesday night, that won't get you a drink ticket ($5), let alone a seat ($100).

A competing Beatles tribute band called the Fab Four is scheduled to perform at the same time at the Howard Theatre in Washington. The coliseum — originally used for hockey, these days for parking, and in between for roller derbies, rodeos and the Ice Capades — will soon undergo a $77 million renovation and revert to its original name, the Uline Arena, thanks to the D.C. Preservation League and Douglas Development.

Where once there were music-driven riots and teenagers losing their minds, there will soon be a boutique honeycomb of offices and retail. The future wins, always.

But on this night, for one night only again, the Beatles haunt the coliseum in shadows and echoes.

"What time is it?" asks George, aka Chris Colon, from the backstage steps.

"8:27," says a stagehand. "No, 8:28."

"I have 8:29," Colon says.

They have to go on at 8:31, because that's when the Beatles went on.

And they do, as they did, and they bang out the hits that were banged out before. "I Saw Her Standing There," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "She Loves You." Ringo has that hangdog wince. Paul, aka Graham Alexander, is doing that guppy-mouth thing that Paul does, or did.

A lone redhead in the audience is standing and dancing during the first few songs. The rest of the crowd slowly joins her, until nearly everyone is shimmying upright for "Twist and Shout," and wiping their runny noses in the cold.

With the theatrical fog hazing the tableau, with the golden spotlights blurring the hard edges, with the right amount of beer in your gut — you can almost believe it was then and not now.

1
Text Only
Features
  • NAMI classes begin in September

    NAMI Edmond North-OKC, the local organization of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will offer its Family-to-Family Education Program beginning Sept. 2. It will contine Sept. 4 and 8-9. Classes will be at Crossings Community Church, Quail Springs United Methodist Church, Francis Tuttle Technology Center (Portland campus), Tinker AFB Chapel and the Thunderbird Club House in Norman.
    NAMI Family-to-Family is a free 12-session education program for family caregivers of adults living with mental illness. The sessions are offered once a week for a few hours each.

    July 30, 2014

  • clinic 1.jpg Edmond church to host free eye clinic

    An Edmond church and Feed the Children are partnering to provide a free eye clinic.
    Individuals will be able to receive a free vision test and free prescription eye glasses from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Waterloo Road Baptist Church, 3100 E. Waterloo Road. All ages are welcome and registration is not required.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • UCO forensic volunteer wants to aid more agencies

    A four-person group of forensic investigators who volunteer their time to help smaller Oklahoma police departments isn’t enough to meet demand, a member said.
    Kama King, who recently completed her graduate research and will be a member of the faculty at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Forensic Science Institute, said outside of full-time jobs, members of the group volunteer to assist these agencies.
    As her career progresses, King hopes to help establish a permanently funded organization available to any agency in the state to assist in remains recovery as well as related training.

    July 29, 2014

  • jc_ITS map.jpg City to improve traffic flow

    The Edmond City Council this week approved a services agreement with Electronic Technology, Inc. For the  installation of Intelligent Transportation Systems’ video wall system at a cost of $314,620. The vote was 3-0.
    ITS is a fiber optic, wireless or hybrid communication system of monitoring road events and equipment in the field, data archiving and predicting traffic volume, said Kent Kacir, an engineer with Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • jc_Earp Marlin 2 - photo credit Noel Winters.jpg Shootout of a sale

    An original article of the Wild West will be made available at auction Thursday. The rifle of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp will be part of the J. Levine Auction & Appraisal’s Summer Quarterly Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz.
    Earp was an Arizona deputy sheriff and deputy town marshal in Tombstone, Ariz. He is legendary for playing a key role in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. He died in 1929 at age 80.
    Wyatt Earp collector Barry Tapp of Edmond will be selling his 1895 Wyatt Earp Marlin rifle at the auction. The rifle has an estimated value between $50,000 and $75,000. It includes authentication documentation from Tombstone Heritage Museum, according to the auction house

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • 11.6.12 Mother and Cub (2).jpg UCO forensic researcher answers key question

    After working a few human recovery cases on a volunteer basis with a variety of police departments, a question kept bugging Kama King.
    “You spend the whole day,” the UCO W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute student said, “sometimes days, searching for someone and only find a skull or a few bones and it just ate at me. Are we not finding this or is it not there to be found?”

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Karan & Rwanda.jpg Peace through Business empowering women entrepreneurs

    Peace Through Business is part of the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW) based in Oklahoma City. It is a program that connects small business entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda with business owners in Oklahoma. One such entrepreneur found out about the program from a friend, applied, and was accepted to take part in this year’s session.
    Upon earning a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Universite de Sciences et Technique de Lille in Belgium, Lyliose Nduhungirehe began her career working for a construction company in Brussels, but she quickly switched paths to Information Technology.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • How to care for your pet without breaking the bank

    It’s a shame furry friends can’t pay for themselves. Though wagging tails after a long day at work may make pet ownership seem worthwhile, a happy pup won’t stop those bills from rolling in at the end of the month. Thankfully, quick and easy ways exist for dog owners to cut down on costs.

    July 28, 2014

  • MS_new pastor_Page_1.tiff Local church welcomes new pastor

    For one of Edmond’s newest pastors, faith and family intersect on a personal level.
    Sam Powers, pastor at Edmond 1st United Methodist Church, 305 E. Hurd St., and his family arrived in mid-May and his first Sunday in the pulpit was the second one in June. He and his wife Sheryl Heaton Powers, have two children — Kyla will be an eighth-grader at Cheyenne Middle School and David will be a fifth-grader at John Ross Elementary.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • pm_Ramona Paul.jpg Keith, 5 others to receive service awards

    The 2014 Door-Opener Awards Gala dinner and silent auction Sept. 4, benefitting ASTEC Charter Schools, will recognize five outstanding Oklahomans and one Kansan for lifetime contributions made toward helping others in society maximize potential and achieve dreams.
    Those selected to receive a Door-Opener Award at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel event include Dr. Harvey Dean, Pittsburg, Kan.; Toby Keith and Tricia Covel, Norman; Former Gov. George P. Nigh, Edmond; the late Dr. Ramona Paul, Edmond; and Natalie Shirley, Oklahoma City.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos