BeatleFest returns to Kent for ninth year in a row

Sydney Brown, TV2 reporter

Kyle Kuchta, Reporter

The ninth annual BeatleFest returned to downtown Kent yesterday with a total of 22 tribute bands playing at the bars and venues downtown.

“It’s absolutely phenomenal, the crowd response is amazing and you can’t beat it here,” said Tim Williams, a Cortland, Ohio, native and Liverpool Lads band member.

Bands like Abbey Road, The Sunrise Jones and Liverpool Lads played live music starting mid-day and finishing at midnight after packing the local venues and bars with Beatles-lovers.

These tribute bands play cover songs of the famous Beatles group from the 1960s.

Hard Day’s Night’s Frank Muratore as Paul McCartney at the Kent Stage for the 9th annual Beatlefest Feb 17th, 2023 (Annemarie Karabinus)

The band Abbey Road has much experience in the downtown area of Kent, providing the ultimate tribute show for over three decades. The band originally formed in 1983 and is rated in the top-five Beatles tribute bands in the world.

Similarly, the Liverpool Lads have been entertaining audiences since 2009. The Northeast Ohio band returned for their fourth year in a row as they performed Beatles music from 1962-1970.

“People are like two inches from me when I’m playing, I like close contact with maniac Beatle fans,” Scott Duress, Liverpool Lads band member, said. “I’ll tell you what’s great about it, before we started playing, I walked up and down the street and caught three other bands in the ten minutes that I had.”

Todd Kowalcyk is a Streetsboro resident and hosts a radio show twice a week on Wolf Rock Radio. He goes by Triple T Todd and said music has had an impact on him since his early days.

Kowalcyk plays 50s through the 80s music on his show. He’s a big Beatles fan and believes that BeatleFest has had a great impact on the Kent community.

“There is nothing like live music, to hear some of the best music ever made live — there is something about the Beatles music that brings the generations together,” Kowalcyk said.

“This is a great place to have a festival. With all these bars and local businesses open, you could see they’re letting people in more than they would on a normal day.”

Kowalcyk believes the future of the festival and music from back in the day is bound to grow. With a variety of age groups present, Kowalcyk doesn’t see a reason for these festivals to slow down.

“If young people like the Beatles’ music, why would this festival stop, why wouldn’t it grow? If it was good music 50 years ago, it’s good music today,” Kowalcyk said.

Tribute band The Boozles put on a show at The Pub. Band members Patrick Masalko and his drummer have been playing together for about a decade, entertaining countless audiences.

This was The Boozles’ third time playing at Beatlefest.

“Two and a half hours — all we played was Beatles songs, that’s fun,” Masalko said. “When it comes down to what music is, the Beatles were a facilitator that made its way around the world.”

Dan Edmondson is the booking manager for Crooked River Arts Council, a non-profit organization that hosted BeatleFest.

“This is probably the best collection of Beatles tribute bands in Northern Ohio that are here tonight,” Edmondson said. “This is a popular festival, every place in town is packed. The Beatles, they run through a lot of generations, you get 80-year-olds down to 20-year-olds, it’s one of those bands that stands the test of time.”

Edmondson says the numbers continue to go up, and the festival grows every year as people come in from all over the region.

“That’s why it’s packed, people love the music, all these bands do a great job,” he said. “It’s a cool thing for Kent, it’s a cool thing for the university, and it’s good for the city.”

Kyle Kuchta is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected]