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Nothing really changes the taste of grits, said Mark Benson as “John Lennon” during the 1964 the Tribute concert inside a raucous Bundy Auditorium at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster.
Nothing really changes the Beatles, either, as the tribute band proved while rocking the house Saturday.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, The Beatles would be flattered by Ricky Vacca (Paul), Tom Work (George), Bobby Potter (Ringo) and Mark Benson (John), said Kim Burgess.
“They’re really good,” said Burgess, who left the Bradley Arts and Sciences Building on Saturday night with a T-shirt.
When Jimola Wade, director of See Lancaster SC and the Performing Arts Series, walked out on stage, the four musicians followed her.
“I knew the applause wasn’t for me,” she said, as Benson put his fingers in his ears.
That was all the quiet that Benson would get for almost two hours as 1964 the Tribute played 28 of The Beatles top songs from 1964-66. From “I Saw Her Standing There,” to “Eight Days A Week” and “Ticket to Ride,” most of the crowd sang, clapped and swayed right along.
“If you fancy this sort of thing, you can take us home with you,” said Benson, to hawk that band’s CD.
After seeing 1964 the Tribute recreate the “British Invasion” with period instruments, clothing, hairstyles, onstage banter and trademark unison bow at the end of each song, Jerry Witherspoon said he can understand why Rolling Stone magazine calls them the best Beatles tribute band on earth. The band’s recent sellout at Carnegie Hall was no fluke.
“They have it down pat, all the mannerisms, everything,” Witherspoon said.
The Beatles were together for 10 years (1960-70), which makes the 27-year run of 1964 the Tribute all the more amazing. Nobody, Benson said, intentionally has the same hairstyles for almost three decades.
Benson said backstage after the show the only thing he and his bandmates were trying to do was create a family-friendly show they wanted to see.
“We never thought it going to be serious,” he said. “All we ever wanted to have good time.”
The concert ended with a 4-song encore that left the crowd wanting more. In the past, some patrons have left. However, this time, everyone stayed.
Work said the members of 1964 the Tribute were appreciative by the reception they were given.
“How did we do?” he asked. “Gosh, I hope everyone had as much fun tonight as we did.”
Benson said they would love to come back to Lancaster if given the chance. He said they were especially impressed with the acoustics inside the 440-seat Bundy Auditorium and the stage that’s level with the first row of seats.
“You don’t know what to expect in a small setting like this, but it provides a great atmosphere. We just hope everyone had a great time,” he said.
2011-12 concert series
Wade said the 2011-12 concert series has been set.
“We’re excited,” she said. “We tried to offer just a little bit of everything, including bluegrass music. Patrons asked us to bring a bluegrass act back and that’s what we’re going to do.”
The schedule includes:
– Aug . 27 – Billy Ocean
– Sept. 23 – Diamond Rio
– Oct. 15 – The Entertainers (Beach, R&B, dance and variety)
– Nov. 19 – Roy Clark
– Dec. 10 – Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
– Jan. 14 – 3 Man and a Baby Grand (A “Rat Pack” tribute featuring the music of Sammie Davis Jr., Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra
– Feb. 18 – Jimbo Whaley & Greenbrier (Bluegrass)
– Mar. 9 – Let’s Hang On – (A tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons)
– April 14 – Jefferson Starship
Jerry Temple, business development and vice president of Audio Ethics, said signing Ocean was quite a coup.
The Trinidad-born English Ocean (Leslie Sebastian Charles) rose to the top of the charts in the 1970s and 80s for his string of rhythm and blues hits, including “Suddenly” and “Caribbean Queen.”
“He lives in the U.K. and rarely tours in the United States,” Temple said. “He’s very selective, which makes us feel very blessed. From top to bottom, we feel like this is our best line-up yet.”
Temple said he knows performing arts series patrons will also enjoy Diamond Rio.
“It’s the same six as when they started and all of them are great guys,” Temple said.