Beatles tribute picky about authenticity

Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Photo submitted BackBeat A Tribute will be performing as part of Chapel Hill's 200th anniversary celebration.

Chapel Hill is spending the Fourth of July celebrating its 200th anniversary and raising money for a new veterans memorial in Larry Lewter Park.

Highlight of the festivities is the evening appearance of BackBeat A Tribute, four men who take on the characters of John, Paul, George and Ringo and perform as The Beatles.

Norm Blanchard who works for the City of Chapel Hill was the driving force behind the musical portion of the homecoming event. Blanchard, who used to be in the music industry, says, "I don't believe Chapel Hill has ever done a music event."

Why a Beatles tribute band?

"We felt it would connect with all ages, and we're all about families and community," replies Blanchard.

While Blanchard hasn't personally seen the group perform, he says they've played at some great venues and the feedback is universally positive. According to their publicity material, BackBeat A Tribute recreates the excitement and thrill of seeing the greatest rock and roll legends of all time.

The first half of their performance consists of the best of the Beatles from the early years through the Abbey Road album. After intermission, BackBeat takes the stage as "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band," in costumes that make them look as if they stepped off the Sgt. Pepper's album cover.

Blanchard says they will have a great stage, with top-class sound and lighting done by a professional company. "It's going to be done well," he promises.

Elmer Hider, aka "Paul McCartney," was one of the founders of the group in the mid 90's. He explains, "I personally enjoyed the music and thought it was a good way to present it and perform it. It seemed like fun to be the Beatles instead of just playing their music."

At the time he and his friends started the group in Ohio Hider says they had no idea how many Beatles tribute bands there were. There are at least 10 or 15, but they tend to come and go. His group has seen some personnel changes, but they have stuck with their perfectionist attitude toward authenticity.

Hider says his favorite place to play is always the next place, but "they're all good." They did especially enjoy teaching some school children near Philadelphia about the Beatles.

"The music that the Beatles did has affected pop music in ways people don't even realize," he says.

"It's a lot of fun," concludes "Paul." So join him and the rest of the Fab Four in Chapel Hill for a Fourth of July that you're sure to remember.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.