Thursday, September 14, 2006

Beatles convention sure to be fab-tastic

Beatlemania is about to hit Toronto. The Toronto Beatle Celebration promises to be the biggest Fab Four convention ever held in Canada. Dave McGinn spoke to convention producer David Goyette.

Q The convention sounds huge, but will it be bigger than Jesus?

Goyette: Bigger than Jesus? This is a matter of judgment, isn't it? It is without doubt the biggest Beatles convention we've ever had in Toronto or in Canada.

Q Former Beatles drummer Pete Best will be at the convention, as will John Lennon's former companion Mary Pang and a slew of musicians from the Beatles' heyday. Was it hard to get them to come?

Goyette: My co-producer is a fellow by the name of Peter Miniaci, who's the president of the Toronto Beatlemania shop. He's known all of these folks for quite some time and has good working relationships with them. It's one of the reasons we're able to attract people to our event that other conventions have not been able to.

Q Why are Star Trek conventions nerdy while Beatles' conventions are cool?

Goyette: What's cool about it, I suppose, is that for many people, particularly people of the Boomer age, Beatles music represents a kind of cultural anthem for the times.

Q: The cover band that will be there, 1964 The Tribute, which Rolling Stone once called the best Beatles tribute band in the world -- do they have bowl cuts?

Goyette: They do. They are stitch for stitch, guitar for guitar, amp for amp, perfection in every way. They cover the period roughly from 1964 to 1966. It's exactly like seeing the Beatles.

Q: Paul McCartney has never given his backing to any Beatles convention, but he gave it to this one. How'd you score that?

Goyette: This is a coup without any doubt. This is the first time any Beatle ever has given his blessing if you will to a Beatles convention anywhere in the world. We had decided early on that we would contribute some of our revenues to a charity of choice, and the charity we decided on was called Adopt a Minefield. It seemed to be timely because of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. It turns out that McCartney took kindly to this because he's a goodwill ambassador for the Adopt a Minefield movement. He got in touch with the Canadian Landmine Foundation who got in touch with us and said, 'Would you like some support and recognition?' We were just floored.

Q Who's your favourite Beatle?

Goyette: My traditional answer has been John Lennon. But I think because of Paul's letter I'm going to switch my alliance.

Q: There's plenty of guests coming from around the world. Are many of them Canadian?

Goyette: We were determined to make sure we had sufficient Canadian talent and local talent. For example, there's a guy from Halifax named Hal Bruce. His claim to fame is he is a regular at the Liverpool Beatle convention. He's a one-man band and he does every Beatles song ever recorded -- if you want -- in a row.

Q: Awesome.

Goyette: Yeah.

- The Toronto Beatles Celebration runs Sept. 16-17, Queen Elizabeth Building and Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Exhibition Place.


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