The Beatles are coming! Okay it's not THE Beatles, but they sure look and sound like them, and they are coming to the South Okanagan Events Centre on November 2, 2012.
It's a sad fact of life there will never be a Beatles reunion; however, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy their music, live. RAIN, a Beatles tribute band, is coming to the Okanagan. Now this isn't just any run of the mill tribute band; no, it is not. RAIN is one of only two performing groups granted licensing from Sony and Applecore; the other is LOVE, performed by Cirque du Soleil. With that kind of backing, you know RAIN (which ran on Broadway for 300 shows and eight preview performances) is not to be missed.
In the late 70s, Mark Lewis founded Rain (formerly called Reign). The band gathered steam and recorded the soundtrack to the made-for-TV movie Birth of the Beatles.
Today there are 14 members in RAIN. Considering their schedule, it's no wonder they need so many musicians. We spoke to Douglas Cox (Ringo) at his hotel room in Saskatoon. "There is an understudy for everyone if there is a long tour," he explained. "Typically five at a time go out."
The line up for this part of the tour consists of Jim Irizarry (John), Tom Teeley (George), Mac Ruffing (Paul), and Douglas Cox (Ringo) with Chris Smallwood on keyboards. He may leave on October 30 and Mark Beyer will replace him.
RAIN has been around, in some way, shape or form, longer than the Beatles themselves. They have mastered every song, gesture, and nuance of the legendary foursome.
Cox has been with the group for almost three years now and recalls the whirlwind this gig has taken him on.
"I used to go see RAIN all the time," he said, "because I enjoy the Beatles. Before they were a Broadway show, they did dinner theatre. I enjoyed the theatrical part. Their John Lennon guy died and he was the soul of the show and I stopped going to see them. Then three years ago I decided I'd like to go see the show again. It was on a Wednesday night. I ran into a friend who was a guitar tech and he brought us backstage. The band had just let someone go and they needed a Ringo. I auditioned on Thursday and started touring on Friday!"
Doing Broadway was a blur for all the band members. "We all rotated through the lineup when we played on Broadway. We'd be in town for two or three weeks and doing eight or nine shows a week. It was a gauntlet of work. The only thing you do is work. The show is so thought out and so precise, it is very exhausting. I never thought two hours of my life would wear me out at the end of the day. It's a pretty daunting day, and you do it every day so that at the end of the week you pray for the dark day so you can sleep in and go eat normal food."
RAIN is now off Broadway and touring across the country. Several of their stops are small towns across North America. Cox loves it.
"In the US and Canada we'll go through a small town and there is always a theatre that's a pretty decent size. The average theatre in Broadway has 1,400 seats. Some of these small towns have a 1,500-seat theatre with a fly house and everything. Some of the smallest towns have the coolest venues. The people are always really receptive because they are getting top entertainment."
As for being in a tribute band, Cox loves the challenges. "It is interesting doing the role playing. It is so externalized in a way… you have to be a particular caricature. You have to be larger than life. In that way, it is make-believe while you are on stage. Yet, at the same time, you are also trying to play very precisely. You play the music as if it was yours; like they are your songs," he explained. "It's like stepping back in time. You get that Beatles vibe when people are really into it.
Cox likens being in a tribute band to going back to the days of vinyl records. "Tribute bands are the records of today. They stand for the same thing. They supply the same results of bringing people to together. Tribute bands make good sense because the media form has changed so much," he said. "For years, people could buy a record and it would be there physically. You could hold it, see it, and invite friends over to listen to it. Now everything is a digital media. It's in a computer somewhere; it's not in sight. Records were a great social format in the past, and we just don't have that anymore."
Cox believes true rock and roll, the kind that kick started it all with bands like the Beatles, is making a come back. "You see tribute bands everywhere and bands like Aerosmith and Rolling Stones have just released new albums. Then there are bands like Green Day. They are popular because there are so few bands out there with social conscious. That is what rock and roll is supposed to be all about."
As for RAIN, Cox thinks everyone should come out and see the show. "For music to last, its availability to the public in a live format is priceless. We have a lot of kids come and see the show and they had no idea the songs we were playing were the Beatles," he said. "We just revamped about 12 songs. Our line up has changed and it is at is freshest point right now. Just come on out … bring the kids. That's the most awesome part. When they see this they'll get hooked and carry this forward into the future."
You heard the man! See you November 2 at the SOEC.