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Review: At Skipper's, Tampa bands play 'The Beatles: Rock Band' ... for real




WMNF-88.5 FM and BAAMO called their second Beatles tribute event "Come Together" – and that it did. Saturday’s shindig was a fab success for the station, organization and Tampa’s beloved restaurant/bar/live music institution.

The 3 p.m.-to-midnight event at Skipper’s Smokehouse in Tampa, fully titled "Come Together: WMNF's Tribute to Abbey Road, Yellow Submarine and The Beatles," commemorated the 40th anniversary of the albums and was indeed a day in the life for local Beatles fans all ages. A cheerful, if at times hectic crowd, brimmed side to side and front to end, dancing, drinking, chowing down and singing along to the 20-plus bands reworking tunes from all strata of the Fab Four’s discographical spectrum.

No. 1 performance of the event: The Ditchflowers’ front-to-end finale performance of the entire Abbey Road album. It was truly one for the books. The band comprising experienced musicians from a slew of local bands through the years pulled off the album’s lush-to-gritty dynamics and vocal harmonies with breathtaking beauty and precision – and energy. Their love of the tunes came through and fed off the crowd. At times, some even got a little misty-eyed.

The crowd was so appreciative and the band was so energized, that they were able to return to the stage for an encore of Day Tripper.

That’s not to say there weren’t other stellar moments. Sons of Hippies put heart, soul and groin into one of the best, if not the best, all-out song performances of the tribute with a good-’n’-dirty take of Abbey Road’s raspy rocker I Want You. Katherine Kelly’s searing vocal brought the temperature up a few notches as bassist Michael Mok nimbly delivered the tune’s signature bouncy bass lines.

Around an hour later, Hat Trick Heroes belied its members’ young and tender age (yet again) with an expertly aimed shot in the gut: Happiness Is a Warm Gun. Have Gun Will Travel got a little dreamy-psychedelic with a cover of Revolution 1, also from T he Beatles (the white album).

Unique interpretations, ranging from klezmer pop (the Chicken Chasers) to Zydeco ( Gumbo Boogie Band) to reggae ( Tribal Style) to other fringe rock ’n’ roll acts filled the humid and breezy outdoor space.

The Chicken Chasers, one of the first bands to perform, added some interesting twists to their afternoon performance performed a medley using the orchestral build of A Day in the Life to tie the three songs together. (The band celebrates the release of its first CD tonight at Dave’s Aqua Lounge with My Little Trotsky, Judy Tampa and Crash Mitchell.)

In between sets, WMNF DJ Flee emceed the event with his usual charm and offbeat humor, dressed up in early Beatles garb and wearing a moptop wig (see top photo). Prize drawings drew the crowd to the stage

Throughout the day and evening, bands played three tunes each, and in between couples and groups of young friends milled about, with hippies and kids dancing up front. Sure, there were some sloppy but harmless drunks spouting nonsense, but interesting peculiarities – such as a spate of skinny long-bearded men who looked like Santas after Jenny Craig – made the Beatles tribute yet another fantastic people-watching experience.

Overall, the event’s good vibes and the impressive talent brought the crowd higher than the diamond-bedazzled Lucy in the Sky, in addition to or in place of anything else that usually gets the job done.

-- Julie Garisto, tbt*

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 3:13pm]


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