OTR: Come Together

May 27, 2018

This is the first installment in the Gazette’s summer series “On The Road.”

Picture yourself in a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and marmalade skies. OK, how about in a park on a river, the Ohio, just outside Louisville, Kentucky? If you can, and it’s Memorial Day Weekend 2018, you’re probably at Abbey Road on the River. The four day event draws bands from the world over, all playing tribute to those lovely lads from Liverpool – The Beatles.


#AROTR is in its 17th year and the Gazette was fortunate to be there to soak up some great Beatles vibes, thanks to Ali at the Louisville Business Alliance. 2018 is also the 50th anniversary of the release of the band’s monumental White Album in 1968, and one set was dedicated to that record. In addition to the Beatles tribute bands, appearances were made by America and Vanilla Fudge.





Vanilla Fudge at Abbey Road on the River 2018.

Vanilla Fudge guitarist Vince Martell gave our armed forces, veterans, Police, Fire and EMS a Memorial Day shoutout before launching into Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” in their signature, thunderous style. The effect was at once bittersweet and inspiring, the song’s wistful optimism a perfect fit for the crazy times in which we live.


Estefy Lennon.

Estefy Lennon, a petite Argentinian firecracker who so resembles her namesake Beatle that she could be his clone, rocked “Isolation” “Cold Turkey” and “New York City” with an edge that would have doubtless made John smile, up above.




The BlueBeetles, from Brazil.

Danilo Fiani, the “Brazilian George Harrison” and the BlueBeetles ripped through a blistering set that included tracks from the Travelling Wilburys, one of George’s post-Beatles projects. The act built to a climactic Concert for Bangladesh style finish, with musicians from several other Festival bands, including Gavin Pring and Jay Goeppner,  joining the Blues onstage. A surprise standout was Shannon MacDonald whose ripping guitar solo blew the audience away. Shannon told the Gazette she’s only been playing lead for 4 or 5 years and she loves it. It shows.



The V-8’s and Wingsbanned at the Radisson.

The V-8’s and Wingsbanned put the finishing touch on Friday night’s concerts with a midnight set at the Radisson Hotel. This indoor venue quickly heated up as the band tore through rock standards such as “I Fought the Law” before segueing into a Paul McCartney inspired set. You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love songs but looking around the room, it seemed it wasn’t so.



The Newbees.

Beloved local rockers the Newbees drew a huge crowd to the main stage in Big Four Station Park on Saturday night. In addition to the standard rock mix of guitars, bass, & drums, the band adds a mini orchestra with strings, horns, and reeds to their lineup. Funny story – when the band was in UK they visited Apple Studios and the tour guide asked where everyone was from. When he heard Jeff & Misty were from Covington, KY he asked them if they played at AROTR since they’re so close by. Having never heard of it, they got to work and found a contact. After being initially rebuffed by the festival because they had more than enough Beatles tribute bands already, Jeff asked, “but do they have a string section?” They didn’t, so the band was booked and this is their 10th year playing #AROTR. Thanks for that one, Alex!

The crowd was ready for them, and the Newbees didn’t disappoint. Blasting through rock standards such as “You Can Leave Your Hat On” and “Bell Bottom Blues” before Misty rocked “Oh Darling”  they had the crowd on their feet from the get-go. Confirming the Janis Joplin influence the Gazette suspected, the band tore into a monumental rendition of “Piece of My Heart” that would no doubt earn the approval of the Hell’s Angels, just like the original did.


The Starclubbers and Danilo Fiani at 300 Spring.

The Starclubbers, a Brazilian Beatles trib band, took over the 300 Spring Street venue on Saturday night. They were joined by BlueBeetle Danilo Fiani, Gavin Pring, and the Kukes  for an eclectic jam that ranged from the Traveling Wilburys’ “Handle With Care” to the Fab Four’s “I Saw Her Standing There” that had the crowd going, “wooo!” just like when they played Shea Stadium back in the day.




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