John Lennon Examiner (reprint)
August 11, 2009
By Shelley Germeaux
Apple Jam delivered a great night of Beatles music for an enthusiastic and packed house at the Triple Door Friday night. Fans began lining up before 6pm for the 8pm show, which had been sold-out for weeks.
Apple Jam is an eclectic, exciting Beatles tribute group comprised of a special line-up of top Seattle musicians from two different local and well-known bands: the cover group The Beatniks, and Herding Cats. Jon Bolton, drummer and lead vocalist, has become a local sensation with his amazing drumming style and entertaining personality on stage; Rick Lovrovich, on bass and lead vocals, is the front man for the Beatniks. Lovrovich and Bolton take turns on lead vocals for Apple Jam as they both perfectly imitate all of the Beatles’ singing voices; Johnny Jones does keyboard and background vocals; Mike Mattingly is lead guitar and vocals; new to the group is the young and talented Kurtis Dengler on acoustic and lead guitar and vocals—reminding me of the late great Jimmy McCullough from Wings. Alan White (drummer for Yes, as well as Lennon, and Harrison) frequently sits in as guest drummer for their events, as he did for this event.
Their first CD, Off the Beatle Track, was released the same evening and was available at the event. The unique CD features fifteen tunes that the Beatles wrote but didn’t release themselves. Instead they were recorded and released by other artists. Apple Jam provides a glimpse into what these songs would have sounded like if the Beatles had indeed released them.
The show celebrated the release of the CD, and rocked with the Beatles solo hits from the 70’s, which was fantastic. The show opened with Macca’s hit Rock Show, taking us back to the opening song of the 1976 Wings Over the World tour. Maybe I’m Amazed was dedicated to Linda McCartney, which was acknowledged by the audience holding up the candles on the tables during the song. While some of Paul’s hits were expected, like Jet, 1985 was a delicious surprise.
Bolton grabbed a guitar and relinquished his drums to guest drummer Alan White for two different segments during the show. While Alan was on drums, the band performed the hits that he recorded with Lennon, such as Instant Karma, Crippled Inside, Mind Games and of course Imagine. Once again the audience held up lit candles in tribute during Imagine.
Throughout the years I’ve interviewed Alan White and thought I’d heard all the stories, but Friday night we heard some new gems. One was when they wheeled out a curious artifact---an old guitar strapped vertically atop a big box. You could have heard a pin drop, waiting for an explanation of this contraption. Alan told the audience that John wanted a stand-up bass guitar for Crippled Inside, but Klaus Voorman said he didn’t know how to play something like that. Alan joked that he could hit the strings with his drumsticks, to which John replied excitedly, “That’s a great idea!” So Alan treated the audience with a repeat performance on this make-shift instrument, with fascinating results, as Rick Lovrovich handled the chords while also singing the song.
Lovrovich did impassioned vocals on Lennon’s Gimme Some Truth, while keeping an eye on the lyrics in front of him, admitting that this is the one Lennon song that he cannot memorize all the words to. Alan White leaned to the microphone from behind his drums and pointed out that “John was angry when he wrote that song.” Other Lennon songs performed included Number 9 Dream, during which Lovrovich whispered May Pang’s part, “John” into the mic. On the later verse, when May’s voice was recorded backwards, and “John” sounds like “nahj”, Lovrovich whispered a rapid, “what do they say here?” So soft that I don’t think it was noticed by most, I was greatly humored.
Ringo’s songs definitely got their fair share and included the hits You’re Sixteen, Back off Bugaloo and Photograph.
George Harrison songs included My Sweet Lord, Dark Horse, and All Things Must Pass, another one that Alan recorded with George. Alan recalled his embarrassment at Harrison asking him to do drums, while Ringo was standing there. Alan recalled, “I was just a young kid at the time, and I said, ‘are you sure?’” to which George nodded and insisted he play drums, while giving the tambourine to Ringo.
Jon Bolton outdid himself on Dark Horse as he not only did the song perfectly but also recreated the throat hoarseness that George was troubled with during the original recording of the song. Another jaw-dropping moment when you realize the professional standards and ability that make up Apple Jam are not just a gimmick but true talent mixed with dedication.
The songs from their CD were performed during the second part of the show after intermission, giving the audience a definite throw back to the style of 1963 British pop, barely hinting at the Beatles’ unique style that would soon change music history. Jon Bolton joked to the audience that they could do all the songs quickly because the songs were all “about a minute long.” The most famous of these are A World Without Love, released by Peter & Gordon. Other songs have been heard in part on bootlegs or demo tracks through the years, such as Love of the Loved, You Know What to Do, I’ll Be on my Way, Hello Little Girl (Lennon’s first song), Like Dreamers Do, and Bad To Me. Several others were really obscure, such as I’m In Love, I’ll Keep You Satisfied, Tip of my Tongue, and One and One is Two. Lovrovich joked on stage that John Lennon quipped to Billy J Kramer that if recorded this rubbish, (One & One is Two) that his career would be over, which of course was not true.
The show ended after a vibrant encore of “I Saw Her Standing There” and the band was treated to a standing ovation. Apple Jam’s shows are just as delicious as their name. You are left craving every Beatle note down to the last Beatle bite, as you look forward to the next jar, which will always have a fresh new flavor with enticing surprises.
For those of you going to Liverpool for Beatle week, Apple Jam will be performing with Alan White, so don’t miss them. For more information, go to www.offthebeatletrack.com where a video about the band can be seen as well.