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One British Invasion Ends; Another Begins

November 24, 2009 - Jim Price
The British Invasion is nearing its end on area stages.

But a new gang of Beatlemaniacs have arrived.

Confused?  Don’t be.

Local British rock celebrants The British Invasion will finish out their five-year run on area stages this Saturday night, Nov. 28, when they headline the third annual Mya’s Miracle Autism Benefit at Altoona’s Bavarian Hall.  The benefit begins at 7 p.m. with openers Chris Vipond and the Stanley Street Band.  Tickets are $15, which includes the music, dinner buffet and prize drawings.

The British Invasion formed in 2004, and throughout their tenure focused on Britain’s contributions to rock music from the ‘60s through early ‘80s.  The group’s current edition of lead singer Bob Gates, guitarist Rick Wertz, keyboardist/rhythm guitarist Harold Hayford, bassist Kent Tonkin and drummer Beau Saller will perform hits and time-tested classics from such British rock names as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Zombies, Deep Purple, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Moody Blues, Uriah Heep, Dave Clark Five, Rod Stewart, Pink Floyd, Badfinger, David Bowie and more. 

The group has always prided itself in not just covering British rock, but striving to capture the sound and atmosphere of the original classics, with attention to guitar textures and tones, keyboard effects, vocals and vocal harmonies and more.  And expect The British Invasion to tackle some of British rock’s more challenging classics during their swan song; including versions of Deep Purple’s “Highway Star,” the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin,” Pink Floyd’s “On the Run/Time,” Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” and The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

The British Invasion is concluding their run to devote time to other musical ventures.  Rick Wertz and Beau Saller are in the process of assembling a new funk/dance rock-geared project in the vein of their popular late ‘80s/early ‘90s band Xeno.  Kent Tonkin will focus attention on his modern rock venture Lies, Inc.  Bob Gates will stay busy manning the microphone for the band Bedlam, and he and Harold Hayford may surface together in occasional reunions of popular Altoona band legends The Front.

But while this British Invasion ends, another begins.

Members of popular variety/rock bands White Shadow and The Boomers recently joined forces to form a group devoted to celebrating the legacy of the most popular of the British Invasion bands, the Beatles.  And judging by the response at their initial shows, Beatlemaniacs is quickly catching on.

Beatlemaniacs features most of White Shadow; singer/drummer Jerry Carnicella, guitarist/singer Johann Von Schrenkel and keyboardist/singer Harry Young; along with The Boomers’ Bob Helbig, who sings and plays bass.  The group celebrates hits from throughout the Beatles’ career; from early favorites like “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Help” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to later classics like “Get Back,” “Hey Jude,” “Back in the U.S.S.R.” and more.  The group uses vintage instruments similar to what the Fab 4 used, and closely replicates the Beatles’ two- and three-part vocal harmonies.  Beatlemaniacs generates a lively, upbeat party that fills the dance floor, and they frequently encourage Beatle song requests from the audience.  And according to Jerry, if they do not know a request, they will work on learning it for a future show.

Beatlemaniacs have done well in their initial two Altoona performances at Pellegrine’s, drawing strong attendances at both shows.  Their next performance at Pellegrine’s will be on Wednesday, December 23 from 8 to 11 p.m.

So although The British Invasion is ending, British rock will continue to have a presence on area stages.

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Beatlemaniacs, during a performance earlier this month at Pellegrine's.


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