Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Fab Faux Provide a Fab-ulous 2-Night Beatles Fest @TheHamiltonLive

For 32-year-old navy attorney Elizabeth Kiessling and her 62-year-old mother Marcia it was a chance for some mother-daughter bonding with their beloved Beatles' songs in the background. For 60-year-old John Marion and his wife Diana, it was a chance to hear favorite Beatles songs performed live as part of a bicoastal business trip.

The Kiesslings and the Marions were among the few hundred Beatles fans who gathered at the Hamilton Live here last weekend to hear more than 60 classic Fab Four tunes performed by the Fab Faux, a band critics agree is the most talented Beatles tribute band in the country.

Here's how legendary rock critic and Sirius/XM host Dave Marsh describes the New York City band: "The Fab Faux have the hardest job in the history of rock and roll and they pull it off damn well. All rock bands want to be like the Beatles; these guys have the nerve to BE the Beatles. Amazingly, they're so good at it you learn new things about the originals".

Even if you've never heard of the Fab Faux, there's a good chance you've seen some of its members. 

Bass player Will Lee spent 2 decades as the nightly bassist on The Late Show with David Letterman. Guitarist Jimmy Vivino is the musical director for The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. They are joined by three of NYC's best session musicians: drummer Rich Pagano, keyboardist Jack Petruzelli, and guitarist Frank Agnello. Individually, the five have performed with a series of stars that reads like a list from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. George Harrison. Paul McCartney. Ringo Starr. James Brown. Aretha Franklin. Ray Charles. Diana Ross. The Bee Gees. Carly Simon. Billy Joel. Steely Dan. Ray Davies. Levon Helm. Mick Jagger.

Twenty years ago, Vivino and Lee kicked around the idea of forming a band to recreate the Beatles sound as they rode up an elevator together in a New York City. Since that day, The Fab Faux has grown from a quickly tossed-off idea to a touring band that has headlined the annual International Beatles Festival in Liverpool 4 times.

Often, the Fab Faux perform two different Beatles' theme nights in the cities they visit.
Sometimes, they will perform an entire album in sequence. Other times it will be a night of Beatles' Number 1 chart hits. Here in DC, on this visit, they performed Beatles songs from 1966 and 1967 on Friday night and tunes from 1969 and 1970 on Saturday.

I've seen the Fab Faux 6 times and to me, even more impressive than the way the perform almost note-for-note reproductions of all the Beatles classics, is he way they incorporate extended jams in the middle of a few of the Beatles' tunes that sound just as they might were the Beatles still performing today. They also nail endings since it impossible to just fade out live as many of the Beatles songs did on record.

When Elizabeth Kiessling learned that Fab Faux would be playing at The Hamilton, she knew she wanted her mother to travel here to DC to see the performance with her. Both the Kiesslings and the Marions, great Beatles' fans that they are, attended both shows.

"This is the music my parents played. I don't remember a time when I didn't know a Beatles song," Elizabeth told The DC Day Tripper. "It's a big part of my life. It (her love of the Beatles) confuses my friends - they ask 'why do you listen to that old music?' But it's just such a big part of who I am.

Elizabeth's mother still remembers her first conversation about the Beatles with her father.

"I was sitting on the couch and there was this picture of the Beatles in the paper and my Dad asked 'Look at these haircuts. What do you think?' and I said 'I think they look pretty cool,'"Marcia explained, adding her favorite Beatle was Paul since he "seemed approachable and friendly. He was always smiling."

So, if she has children one day, will Elizabeth introduce them to the Beatles musical catalog she loves so much? "Oh, I'm already doing that," she said with a laugh. "With my nieces and nephews I got them all Beatles' lullabies and Beatles' onesies".

The Marions, who live in the San Francisco, found out about the two shows, from an employee of John's.

"He goes to the Hamilton a lot and said they're going to have a couple of shows there I know you would like," John explained.

John vividly recalls his first Beatles experience. "My older brother borrowed 75 cents from me so he could get the first Beatles album. We (John also had one younger brother) would play it and dance all over the living room. We literally wore out those early Beatles LPs"

In fact, the brothers were so taken with the Beatles they fashioned crude instruments and pretended to be the group. John was John Lennon, his older bother was Paul, and his younger brother was Ringo.

John admits that he never really gave up his fascination with the Beatles. Today, he has more than 450 rare and original tapes of actual Beatles recordings that he listens to, studies, and rerecords in his basement studio. He said he spends about 10 hours a week with that hobby.

Diana says that while she also loves the Beatles and their music, her primary job is to be a listener. "John will discover something (on his tapes) and then I'll listen to it and we'll talk."

So how did John, who describes himself as a Beatles' purist, enjoy the 2 performances of the Fab Faux?

"These aren't people who dress up like the Beatles and pretend to be the Beatles. They play the Beatles' music exactly as it supposed to be played, so they scratch the exact itch that I have," John said.

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