The Fab Four-The Ultimate Tribute band will bring their precise portrayal of The Beatles to Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino for two shows at 3pm and 7pm on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016.
Founding member Ron McNeil, who portrays John Lennon, met Ardy Sarraf, who portrays Paul McCartney, at a Beatles convention in Los Angeles, California and their vision of the Tribute band was on its way to reality.
Having been asked to perform in Liverpool, they met who would be the next member of the band, Gavin Pring, who portrays George Harrison, at a Beatles convention there. The final member, Erik Fidel, who portrays Ringo Starr, came aboard after they met him in Sacramento, California.
Playing at least 100 shows a year all over the world in places like Japan, Australia, France, Germany and more, this tribute band takes you through three different eras of The Beatles music singing and performing such hits as “Yesterday”, “Hey Jude”, “Twist & Shout” and more.
I had the chance to catch up with McNeil to talk about the show and what put him on the path to create this extraordinary tribute band. We also talked about the added responsibility he takes on while portraying John Lennon.
“This is a family show,” said McNeil. “Even if you are new to the music and the history of The Beatles come out and see us … learn about the music as we take you on a magical journey of one of the greatest bands of all time.”
For ticket information visit www.senecacasinos.com and click on Seneca Allegany. For more about The Fab Four, go to thefabfour.com.
A CONVERSATION WITH RON McNEIL
HULICK: I saw some of the videos on YouTube of you guys and it’s incredible how much you sound like The Beatles … even your look, accents and mannerisms are dead on.
McNEIL: Well thank you. It’s a lot of hard work and we appreciate the compliments.
HULICK: You are the one that started the group, right?
McNEIL: Yes … it’s all my fault. (laughs)
HULICK: (laughs) What made you decide to do this? I mean, I know you are a die-hard fan, but why the decision to start a tribute band?
McNEIL: Well who wouldn’t want to be one of The Beatles? It’s kind of every guy’s dream. When I was a young lad I learned to play the music because I loved it so much. My dad took me to see a show here in Los Angeles when the show Beatle Mania was on Broadway and I thought … Oh my gosh … there are four guys who are The Beatles, that aren’t The Beatles, and I thought maybe I could do that one day. Fast forward a couple years and I met Arty, who plays Paul McCartney, at a local Beatles convention here in LA and we took it from there.
HULICK: You’ve learned the accents, the mannerisms and Arty, who is right handed, even learned to play the guitar left handed because that’s how Paul plays the guitar, and Eric, who plays Ringo, takes two hours to put on a nose that looks just like his. Have you received any comments from the original members or their families?
McNEIL: Only from their attorneys. (laughs) Actually, we worked with Olivia Harrison, George’s wife, and their son Danny came to see us when we were working on the film “Yellow Submarine” that Robert Zemekis wanted to put out for Disney … maybe he’ll do it now that Disney has more money with the Star Wars thing.
McNEIL: So we met with them and some other people around The Beatles, but as far as we know, neither Paul nor Ringo have come to see us, but there’s always an open invitation and we’ll give them half off the ticket price.
HULICK: (laughs) The fact that you guys have three costume changes to reflect three different periods of The Beatles history takes you to the top of the tribute bands versus some that just come out and sing the music. You totally submerge the audience into what it was like, not only for The Beatles, but for their fans that went on the ride with them.
McNEIL: The one thing we try to do is … before each show there is a secret handshake we do that means we are going to do the show as if The Beatles themselves are in the audience and would they have enjoyed it … and show the respect and the love we have for their music. We hope that reflects in our show.
HULICK: Your show is something that has to be experienced live I would imagine.
McNEIL: Yes … it has to be seen live. A lot of people have come up to us after the show and said they saw us on YouTube, but seeing it live is so much better. There is some magic that happens when you see it live. We have an Ed Sullivan for instance and there are moments that aren’t captured on video. You get to watch the history starting when they were young and innocent, then we move on to the psychedelic period and into the late period when Yoko Ono starts coming in and breaking the band up.
HULICK: People need to know that you guys play all your own instruments and everything is done live … no backing tracks for the singing; it is you guys in every way. What else can we expect from the show?
McNEIL: Yes, we do all the singing and playing. There’s a lot of fun and some lows, like when I talk about John Lennon and how ironic it was that he was taken from us in a very violent way when he was always singing about peace. We do feel that their story was shared by the fans as they went through it all with them, and if you didn’t go through it, you learned about it.
HULICK: John Lennon’s message is still so relevant in the world today with everything that is going on. How does that make you feel inside to be able to make that contribution, through what you do, of continuing to spread his message?
McNEIL: I think that’s exactly it … his message lives on through our music every time we perform for someone new to the music, a new generation if you will, when parents bring their kids. They hear that message along with the music. I sing “Imagine” three or four times a week and it always affects me every single time. Like you said … today, more than ever, that message rings true … put our differences aside and let’s make peace.