BeatleFest invades Kent


Joe Botta (left), Ray Flanagan and Rusell Flanagan perform during BeatleFest Friday, Feb. 23, 2018.

Lily Nickel

Downtown Kent came to life Friday night as a sea of Beatles fans took to the streets for the fifth annual Kent BeatleFest, celebrating the 54th anniversary of Beatlemania, a time in which the mega-hit British band rose to superstardom.

Twenty downtown venues hosted musicians of all genres, ranging from indie-folk to jazz. Tree City Coffee hosted two artists throughout the evening, starting with the female duo Babies in Black, who mostly cover rockabilly songs from the 1950s and ‘60s, as well as a few original compositions.

The final act of the night was Ray Flanagan and the Cranfords, a trio of housemates that have an indie sound.

Both bands incorporated multiple fan favorites from the Beatles into their setlists, as well as original music. The crowd sang back the lyrics from timeless singles, including “Norwegian Wood (This Bird has Flown)” and “Come Together.”

Ray Flanagan and the Cranfords included music from other artists as well, such as Bob Dylan and Tom Petty, both of which Flanagan mentioned were influenced by the Beatles.

“It’s impossible to say that you don’t like the Beatles. They’re in everything, every song,” Flanagan said as he addressed the crowd.

Flanagan mentioned that there isn’t a single artist that can say they weren’t influenced by the Beatles, due to their widespread influence in the music industry. The influence of the Beatles has managed to hang on for nearly six decades, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

The Beatles have fans from all ages, ranging from school-aged children to fans who were around to experience the initial wave of Beatlemania. Emma Merriman, a sophomore criminology and justice studies major, said that she’d been a fan of the Beatles for as long as she could remember, as she grew up with their music being played in her family home.

“I think the Beatles are just timeless. Their music and their lyrics are still relevant today, and their music was revolutionary for their time. I think that’s why they’re still so influential, I think they’re the only band whose music has managed to transcend time,” Merriman said. “This is my second year coming to BeatleFest, and I think it’s even better than last year. I love hearing new bands and their music, and I love hearing their take on the Beatles. I will definitely be back again next year.”

Lily Nickel is a business and downtown reporter. Contact her at [email protected].