After opening the tour in Janesville, WI on Thursday, I traveled to Madison, home of Jim Berkenstadt, "The Rock 'n' Roll Detective". Jim's latest book is The Beatle Who Vanished a biography of Jimmie Nicol, who played with the band in June 1964 and then mysteriously disappeared. Jim and I have been corresponding via Twitter for several months, but we had never met in person before going for lunch last Friday. We had tried to coordinate back in May, when I spoke in the Madison area, but we couldn't find a common time, so we postponed to November.
I arrived at his office in Madison to find it decked out in ever more Beatles memorabilia than my own office! (Granted, he has a larger office space, and so can fit more in.) We walked to the nearby Madison Sourdough bakery, where we continued chatted for about hour.
Turns out Jim is a Chicago Cubs fan (I've been wearing my Cubs hat everywhere and I've received quite a few comments on it - and my next Abbey picture, for my December newsletter, will feature her wearing the cap) and even worked for the Cubs back in the 80s. He told an anecdote about skipping school at the University of Southern Illinois to attend a Cubs/Cards game at the old Busch stadium in St. Louis. He made a spectacular catch on a foul ball that garnered replays, and thus his professors found out he skipped class. It reminded me of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine skipped work to attend a New York Yankees game, to which she wore a Baltimore Orioles cap behind home plate. The enemy hat in such a prominent seat attracted attention, and thus her bosses found out she ditched work. Turns out Jim is also friends with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the actress who played Elaine on Seinfeld. The two met when they were both students at Northwestern University.
Jim also commented on his next book, a series of "rock 'n' roll mysteries", including chapters on the FBI's investigation of The Kingsmen's 'Louie Louie', and the hazy story of a guitar stolen by John Lennon on 15 November 1959. Needless to say, I eager await the read!
Then on Saturday I dined with Aviv Kammay of the Beatles tribute band Get Back Wisconsin. I met Aviv at the 2014 Beatles conference at Penn State Altoona, and we've stayed in touch - in part because he lives in Wisconsin, a state I visit regularly because it's where I grew up and where my parents still live.
With plans for another Beatles conference at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor the first weekend of June to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper, we're both preparing presentations: I'm on schedule to published BEATLESTUDY volume I: Structural Analysis of Beatles Music in May 2017 in anticipation of the UMich conference, so I'll be speaking on how the band's music is structured. Aviv is working on "Beatles comic relief" motif - of how the band often counters profundity with humor, such as the run-out groove after the concluding piano chord of 'A Day in the Life'.
Finally, I was surprised to find Aviv turned 35 years old on Saturday - the same day I turned 31. "You say it's your birthday? Well it's my birthday, too!"
I'll be back in Wisconsin in August 2017, at which time I'm hoping to co-present with both Jim and Aviv at least once.
The busiest stretch of this less-than-greulling tour (just 9 talks in 20 days - compared to last month's 30 in 27 days) begins tomorrow, the first of four speaking engagements in four days:
Monday, 14 November 2016, 7:00-8:00 p.m.
Muskego Public Library, S73W16663 Janesville Rd, Muskego, WI
The Beatles: Band of the Sixties
Explore the music of The Beatles in this 60-minute multimedia presentation (part history and part musical analysis) spanning the full 1960's: beginning with the band's seminal visits to Hamburg, continuing through Beatlemania, and concluding with Abbey Road. The program will be supplemented with audio clips of music and excerpts from interviews with the band members.
This blog is a workshop for developing my analyses of The Beatles' music.