Tribute can’t be Beat

Mantorville / Beatles Bash

Group headlines salute to Fab Four

By Tom Weber

It’s not difficult to get cheers by playing Beatles songs, donning collarless suits and speaking in phony British accents. Dozens of Beatles tribute bands do it all the time.


But if you’re going to do that in Liverpool, in the same Cavern Club where the Beatles began their career, you’d better be good. The Beatles tribute band known as Cavern Beat apparently meets that standard.

Last August, just a few days after performing at Beatles Bash 2008 in Mantorville, the Chicago-based band flew to England for a series of concerts, including in the Cavern Club.

"They sing along, they know all the words," said James Lynch, who portrays George Harrison in Cavern Beat. "They respected what we do. You can’t beat the Cavern Club."

This year Cavern Beat is back at Beatles Bash — and will follow that up with another trip to England.

Lynch talked by phone from his home in Chicago:

You guys perform primarily the music of the early Beatles.

We are definitely focused on the early stuff, specifically the American albums. That’s what most people who are of an age to remember the Beatles remember — the American albums. They were different than the British albums.

We’ll play music from any Beatles record. But with that said, about 1966 is where we really cut it off. We like the touring years.


After playing Beatles music for several years, what have you learned about it?

The music sounds so simple. It’s almost ridiculously simple. But when you really break it down, it’s more involved than you ever imagined. You gain a real respect for their talent. They were able to craft these songs so perfectly. The voices and harmony — nobody’s ever done it better. The Beatles still stand alone.

What about George’s guitar playing?

When you listen to the guitarists who came to popularity in the ’60s, you hear their influences. With Clapton is was the blues. With George, it was rockabilly. He was influenced a little by British skiffle music, but he was almost countryish. That’s great for me because I love all that — rockabilly, ’50s rock, Chuck Berry.

His solos were never long and showy. They always fit into the song.

That’s the magic of the Beatles. George was able to come up with great stuff within just a few bars. He never gets enough credit, because it was always (John) Lennon-(Paul) McCartney. But where would the Beatles be without all those special moments George came up with?

Which of his guitar solos do you like to play most?

I love his solo on "Till There Was You." He’s got a great solo on "All My Loving" and "Roll Over Beethoven." He does great stuff on "Rubber Soul." Then "Taxman" — that one is really challenging to play.


Cavern Beat seems to dig deep into the Beatles’ catalog to play fairly obscure songs like "Don’t Bother Me" or "Run For Your Life."

We really love to explore all those album cuts.

Cavern Beat did a concert tour of England last year, including Liverpool. What was it like playing in the home of the Beatles?

It was amazing. The British people — they own the Beatles. If you’re not good, they’ll let you know. We’re going back, we’re going to be headlining an outdoor festival, so we must have made a good impression.

For more, go to


What: The fifth annual Beatles Bash in Mantorville, held this year on the grounds of the former Relay Station.

When: 4 p.m. Saturday, rain or shine.

The lineup: Music starts at 5 p.m. with Fat Lemon, followed by Lost Faculties at 6:30 p.m. and Cavern Beat at 9 p.m.

Tickets: $12 in advance at the Hubbell House (507) 635-2331, and the Mantorville Saloon (507) 635-5557; $15 at the gate.

Lawn chairs are welcome. No coolers allowed. Beverages and food available at the site.

The Cavern Beat

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