Beatles Fest Returns with Peace & Love
- By Cory Crossman
With so many festivals happening in London, The Forest City is quickly becoming The Festival City! This weekends festival focuses on one of the most iconic bands in history: The Beatles.
After a successful launch in 2016, London Beatles Fest returns to celebrate the theme of peace and love with an impressive line-up sure to see Londoners 'Come Together'.
London Music Office caught up with Paul Rivard, London Beatles Festival Director and Founder, to discuss what it takes to present a festival in honour of such an iconic and important musical act.
LMO: Beatles Fest is a cool concept. How did you come up with the concept to present a festival centred on the world’s most recognized band?
LBF: Well, there were a number of things! A friend of mine, who is also one of the directors of the festival, connected with me on the idea. He didn’t know where to go with it. As a musician/songwriter I was seeing how influential the band is. My idea was to have indie artists included in the event. The Beatles connected with some many different types of artists, hearing that Motorhead grew up on the Beatles, and seeing tribute acts like Beatallic (Metal Tribute) shows how large their influence is. This festival has inspired me as a musician and hopefully will do the same for others.
LMO: How did the event morph from your original vision?
LBF: People added ideas and we said, as long as it’s not costing money… let’s do it! It’s all about community and culture with The Beatles. There’s no age restriction. I loved seeing the kids out with grandparents. Hosting the festival downtown allowed us to connect with a number of local venues, themes and concepts for each event. The urban feel of downtown was ideal for this festival!
LMO: So what was your first experience with The Beatles?
LBF: As a kid, my mother had a record player that had Day Tripper on one side and We Can Work It Out on the other. I wore that thing down! Later on, moving onto other styles of music, I saw how The Beatles opened a lot of people to music.
LMO: What do you look for when programming your festival?
LBF: Offering a wide variety of programming. There’s no way to see everything we have, people are picking and choosing which parts of the festival they want to see. Programming needs to support people’s interests.
Raising awareness for the charity partners is always something we look to incorporate. The charities are also bringing volunteers and helping the event. The Sunshine Foundation, Youth Opportunities Unlimited and Over 55 Organization all connect into a different part of the festival. We’re even doing a fundraiser for the victims of Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas.
We’ve been hearing from so many different artists. Acts from Peru, Russia, Columbia, Jamaica, Nigeria all over Canada and the US. It’s really been incredible. We’ve caught attention from cover and tribute acts around the world. People are taking notice!
LMO: London has a rich music history of music. How have you been able to involve the local music community?
LBF: It pieces itself together nicely. It’s supposed to go one way and eventually people go one way and it all works out. The opportunity with the City, Tourism and Celebrate Ontario have helped grow the event organically. We’ve been able to work with tribute acts and cover artists. The local venues are great. We have 18 local acts playing local venues.
LMO: There’s been lots of changes from year one to year two. What are you most excited about for this year?
LBF: This year there is less stress! The really big focus for us this year is to bring the event together tighter. The Youth Talent Showcase is new this year. Their creative has really inspired me!
Having a beer garden and collectable beer cans is cool addition we’re doing this year. I’m going to really enjoy the Octapus’ Garden Beer Garden. The whole theme and experience of community and family, peace and love is going to be amazing. It’s the 50th anniversary of the ‘Peace & Love Summer’ and that’s our theme this year.
Sunday evening the announcement of the awards for the international Beatle Awards is going to be incredible. We’ll be announcing the nominees that Sunday and open up for anyone to buy tickets to the first ever Tribute awards later this fall. We’re getting a lot of attention across Canada, the US, and internationally. Sunday is also International Grandparents Day, so bring the family along.
The big band aspect is great! We have a 30 piece big band, 18 piece brass band performing in support of the Houston Relief Fund. Again with the Summer of Love (1967) and the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper made for a natural connection to come together and support.
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