In performing the music of The Beatles, there’s no problem filling out a two-hour show. The challenge comes in sifting through the catalogue and paring down the set list: there are just so many great songs to choose from.
That exercise fell to local guitar virtuoso Kevin Ramessar in the run-up to this weekend’s concerts at the Registry Theatre, Get Back to The Beatles: The songs of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison.
“When you really look at it, you realize just how many great songs they wrote. I narrowed it down to my top 100, then 50, then 25,” he said with a laugh. “It was hard.”
Classics such as ‘A Hard Day’s Night,’ ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘Here Comes the Sun’ are among those that will
be in the spotlight.
As with his extremely popular presentations of the music of Paul Simon, Ramessar plans to put his own spin on the Fab Four. The concerts are also an hommage to popular music’s finest songwriters, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison. Some of the songs will be straight-ahead versions, while others will be given a more personalized treatment.
“We are taking the same sort of approach at last year’s Paul Simon evening. We will be reinterpreting classics, experimenting a bit, while trying to honour the songwriting by these great artists.”
The Beatles’ music lends itself to reinterpretation. Just think of how many different takes on their songs you’ve heard over the years, from Muzak through to full symphonic presentations.
In putting together his concerts, Ramessar has assembled a quartet of seasoned musicians. He’ll be joined by noted local bassist Matt Lima, at home with rock, jazz (Kellylee Evans) and country (Western Swing Authority); versatile keyboard player and vocalist Mike Janzen, who has played with such luminaries as Hugh Marsh, George Koeller and Steve Bell, and is currently working on a film scoring collaboration with Daniel Lanois; and rounding out the foursome is one of Canada’ great percussionists, Mark Kelso (Holly Cole, Michael Brecker, Jane Sibbery, Hilario Duran).
The musicians have spent the last couple of weeks fine-tuning the arrangements, refining the sound they want. This weekend, it goes live.
Ramessar said he expects to see a mix of people in the audience, a tribute to the widespread appeal of music that spans generations.
“Everybody knows these songs. When you mention The Beatles, there aren’t too many blank stares,” he laughed.
“I love the fact that my students can be there, my friends can be there, my parents can be there,” he added of the concerts. “This is music that has that kind of universal appeal.”
Kevin Ramessar’s Get Back to The Beatles: The songs of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison takes to the stage Mar. 18 and 19 at 8 p.m. at the Registry Theatre, 122 Frederick St., Kitchener. Tickets are $25, available at the Centre in the Square box office by calling 578-1570 or toll free 1-800-265-8977 or online at www.centre-square.com.