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REVIEW: ‘The Beatles are freakin’ timeless!’: A BeatleFest overview

Annemarie Karabinus
Members of Abbey Road perform at Dominicks Pub for Kent’s 10th annual Beatle Fest in downtown Kent on Feb. 23, 2024.

Anyone who knows me knows I am obsessed with The Beatles.

They are one of my all-time favorite bands, and I am sure there are a lot of others too that share my sentiment. So last year, when I heard that Kent had a whole festival dedicated to The Beatles with many tribute bands, I immediately hopped on the opportunity to cover it.

I took amazing pictures for KentWired and had a great time. I went solo that time, so when Beatlefest rolled around again this year, I brought along my friend and fellow Beatles fan Cohlman. 

This year was the 10th anniversary of Beatlefest, so it was a big one. I had an amazing time seeing all the local bands.

The only complaint I have is the 21-and-under age restriction for bands that performed at bars. Though I am over 21, I didn’t want to abandon my friends, so this created a little dilemma.

Luckily, since we were there strictly on business and I had my press pass, the two of us were able to enter into the bars. I do feel bad for the under-21 crowd who had to miss out on certain bands, so maybe in the future for the event, they can hand out under-21 stamps or wristbands, that way people can still get the full experience.

I greatly appreciated that the entire event was free and they hosted 20 bands at 20 different venues, going from 6 p.m. to 11:30 at night.

You had quite the variety of bands to choose from.

However, I would have liked if it was an all-day thing rather than just 6 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. because it was a tad bit difficult to cram all those bands into that time frame. We ended up only seeing three bands, and I was personally very satisfied with the bands we did see.

I’ve also gone to many, many Beatles-themed events, and 9 times out of 10 I was the youngest person in the room. This was one of those 9.

Everyone goes around complimenting the fact that I am only 23 and I am a big Beatles fan. It makes them happy the music from their generation is getting passed down, and it makes me happy that people appreciate my taste in music.

Now, that being said, let’s get into the fun of the night.

We started out at the Kent State Hotel and Conference Center downtown, with the tribute band “Get Back” and it was an AMAZING set.

When we got there, we got a really good angle where we could see the band perfectly. I was off to the side, taking photos of the set while also enjoying myself and singing along.

I then look over and see a woman beckoning me to dance. I take a moment to think, and then mentally say “Screw it!’ and join her. I mean, they were playing “Get Back,” so I had to join in (One must dance during “Get Back,” I’m sorry, I don’t make the rules).

I took my two cameras off, set them on a table over by Cohlman, and said “I’ll be back” as I hopped into the dance circle the women formed.

What I didn’t realize were three things: I would dance to two more songs, Cohlman was recording me dancing each time, and most importantly is that the nice woman who pulled me onto the dance floor was the mother of the lead singer of the band we were currently watching. 

After dancing and singing along with her and a few other women, I learned her name was Sue Petrillo and her son, the lead singer, was Jackson Bowling. She took us to the next gig we saw, which was Gordon and the Gal at the 157 Lounge. Sadly, we were only able to see about the last half an hour of their set, so we didn’t get to see too much of them.

What we did see, though, was a group of three very passionate and talented fans of the Beatles performing their little hearts out.

Once Gordon and the Gal’s set ended, I got to interview Sue Petrillo. She told me her son plays in multiple different bands that have played BeatleFest throughout the years, citing herself as the reason her son is such a big Beatles fan.

“He grew up on music from the minute he was born, probably before he was born, actually. I’ve always listened to music every single day of my life, so, yeah, I’m sure he listened to The Beatles through me.”

She also said she has been all over to watch his gigs, going to places like Put-in-Bay, Louisville, Alliance and more. She grew up listening to The Beatles and hopes to pass that love on.

“The Beatles are freakin timeless!” Petrillo says, and I wholeheartedly agree with her sentiment.

Speaking of timeless, the last band of the night we saw was just that.

Cohlman and I went to Dominick’s Pub to see Abbey Road, a tribute band who has been touring for 41 years.

That is absolutely amazing and surreal to see because the actual Beatles were together for around seven years. They also perform with the same models of guitars, amps and drums that the original Beatles performed with, which adds to the authenticity of the performance.

Pete Best, the Beatles drummer who preceded Ringo, Cynthia Lennon, Louise Harrison and Mike McCartney have all attended Abbey Road shows.

The singer dressed up as Paul McCartney even showed off his guitar signed by Pete Best while performing. I met up with members of the band last year for Beatlefest, and found out that the man who dresses as Paul is ironically named John, his full name being John Gilbert.

The conversation I had with Gilbert was so inspirational, which is the reason I wanted to go see them so badly this year. He confided in me he was currently battling throat cancer, and that’s why he could only sing certain songs.

Seeing him again, seeing that he remembered me, and him throwing up a little heart sign as I went to take his photo was a very special moment. I hope he realizes the importance of what he is doing with keeping the love of the Beatles alive.

His voice still sounds absolutely amazing. 

I had an absolutely amazing time during my night at BeatleFest.

Knowing that this event can bring so many people together to enjoy one common thing makes me so happy, and I cannot wait until next year.

Annemarie Karabinus is an opinion writer. You can contact her at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Annemarie Karabinus, Photographer, Opinion Writer
Annemarie is very involved in student media. From Kentwired, to TV2, to Black Squirrel Radio she does it all.

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  • N

    Nick KellerMar 4, 2024 at 11:36 am

    I love this Annemarie!

  • S

    SusieMar 1, 2024 at 12:49 pm

    What an Amazing article! There will never be another band as timeless as the Beatles.
    You are a such a talented writer Anne Marie. ✍️❤️