Penticton’s own Paul McCartney impostor was invited to pay homage to his favourite band in its hometown of Liverpool, England.
Every year, International Beatleweek invites the most renowned tribute bands from around the world to celebrate the timeless success of the Beatles.
One the 70 bands from 50 different countries invited to play was The Fab Fourever from Vancouver. Performing McCartney’s role in the group is Jody Tennant who was raised in Penticton.
“I distinctly remember in 1980 while living in Penticton, at my house on Nelson Avenue, I remember listening to the news that John Lennon had been killed that struck a chord for me,” he said.
Long before the death of Lennon, before the Beatles became popular outside of Liverpool, they were known to frequent the Cavern Club – a dingy, crammed basement venue in the heart of the city. And for the occassion of Beatleweek, it was being used again to share the same music that put it on the map.
“In the brick cellars you could really feel the heat – as soon as you got into the club itself it would hit you, you would walk into thick, hot air,” said Tennant. “It was so moist – our guitars were soaking wet, we were soaking and the crowd was soaking wet.”
Before the Beatles were even locally famous, they found their rhythm while practicing at the Casbah Coffee Club, which was owned by the parents of drummer Pete Best – the predecessor of Ringo Starr. Through a chance encounter during another tribute act, Tennant met Best’s grandson’s girlfriend in a crowd, and he was able to get the Fab Fourever invited to the Casbah Club to watch a performance by the original Beatle.
“There were 100 people crammed into a 30 by 30-foot room, with six foot tall ceilings; old brink walls – it was the coolest thing. It showed to me that rock ’n’ roll isn’t dead, it’s just gone underground again,” he said. “To meet him in the Casbah Club was icing on the cake from everything we had seen that week.”
Travelling to Liverpool for Beatleweek was Tennant’s first time in Europe. He was enthralled to meet Beatle tribute artists like himself from countries including Russia, Holland and Paraguay.
“It really shows that the music is global and timeless.”
However, most bands that were invited were not tribute bands like the Fab Fourever, rather many acts were simply well-known for covering Beatles music.
In his efforts to perfectly replicate the work of McCartney, Tennant taught himself how to play the bass with his left hand.
“You have to – the Beatles just have this great symmetrical look with Paul McCartney playing left handed with John and George playing right handed. To have that look is important, so I taught myself to play the bass years ago left handed, and now I can’t switch back.”
Of all the members of the Beatles, Tennant said he chose to imitate McCartney because of the positive imagery that comes through in his song crafting.
“Sometimes Lennon could be dark and verboding, but Paul was almost more light and airy. I like the whimsical nature of his music.”
While they were in Liverpool, the Fab Fourever performed 10 times – five different sets twice each. Differing performances saw them play out the Beatles through the ages – in their early days at the Cavern Club; the North American breakthrough during the Ed Sullivan period in 1964; and the psychedelic phase in 1967.
“I left Beatleweek with a good sense that this music is alive and it’s really thriving and kicking. It has an innocence that you can’t find in music nowadays.”
Tennant especially enjoyed the reverberation of Beatlesmania in Liverpool – he said kids as young as four years old were in the taverns and clubs singing along to every Beatles song.
He said his Liverpoolian accent was passable to the locals, and apparently Canadians can pull it off better than Americans.
“I always tell people my accent is from Naramata though.”
After graduating from Pen High and finishing hockey with the Silver Bullets, Tennants moved to the coast with his parents in the early 1990s. But he’ll be back in town to perform with the Fab Fourever on Sept. 17. The show takes place at the Cleland Theatre at 7:30 p.m.
Opening for the Fab Fourever in Penticton will be Zachary Stevenson, whose a Buddy Holly impersonator.
“It’s Buddy Holly recreated, he’s very dynamic and charismatic,” Tennant said. “We’ve got a phenomenal show for Penticton. It’ll be more early Beatles music, and it really shows the roots of rock ’n’ roll – which is great because we just came from the Cavern Club doing that.”