Now in its 16th edition, San Diego Beatles Fair is a true grass roots event, put together by fans of the Fab Four, the two-day show features numerous bands performing Beatles and related music, a photo exhibit, dealer’s room and much more, with this year’s special guest set to be original Beatles drummer, Pete Best.
“The Beatles music appeals to just about everyone, from everywhere,” explained Beatles Fair organizer, Alma Rodriguez. “It’s universal, their songs transcend genres and age groups. You can see it in the performers taking part at the show this year, from young kids to scene veterans, people from all over the city, almost everybody likes the Beatles.”
Besides Best, other performers set to take part include main stage artists The Rollers (the Ed Sullivan shows), The Baja Bugs (Rubber Soul era), Ringer Starr (solo era hits) and the Dave Humphries Band (Wings/Harrison songs). “We try hard to mix things up and include music from all phases of their careers,” Rodriguez says. “You won’t just hear “Day Tripper” or some of the big hits over and over.” Meanwhile a second, outdoor patio stage will feature acoustic performers, including blues favorites John January & Linda Berry and The Fire Brothers, featuring guitarists Tim and Manny Cien, as well as saxophonist Ed Croft, all three formerly part of ’80s favorites, NE1.
Best played with the band from 1960–1962, performing in Hamburg, recording with Tony Sheridan and at the BBC, taping early versions at EMI Studios of “Love Me Do” and others. He was most recently heard with the band on their No. 1, 1995 album, “Anthology.”
Speaking from his home in Liverpool, England, Best notes having performed in the area several times since the 1980s, with fond memories. “I played in San Diego many years ago and had a wonderful time,” he recalled. “On one occasion, apart from playing, I had a great day out on the bay, where myself and (Paul McCartney & Wings guitarist) Denny Laine, raced around on wave runners all afternoon. It was great fun, and that is what San Diego means to me, great fun. That is what Beatles Fair is all about, so it makes sense to return.”
Why does he think the music he made all those decades ago still resonates with young music fans? “I feel that anything creative, if filled with passion, resonates,” he mused. “We poured everything we had into our music from the very beginning, and the other lads without me, to the end. Having two great songwriters in the one band obviously helped,” Best continued. “Great music, great anything will last because it shines brighter and better.”
Best will be backed for his Beatles Fair appearance by local musicians, including longtime Ocean Beach residents, Mike Dorsey and Chris Leyva of Falling Doves. “Getting to play with a legend like this is almost unbelievable,” Leyva said. “The Beatles have been such a huge influence on my musical life. The younger me would never have thought something like this would be possible.”
Best remains active in Liverpool, with the iconic Casbah Coffee Club and the new Magical History Museum amongst his projects. “The latter is a Fab Four Experience on Mathew Street in Liverpool,” he said. “And housed in the museum building is ‘Lennon’s Bar,’ our venue. What sort of music will we have? Why only ‘The Best’ of course,” he quipped.
For Rodriguez, Best’s appearance is the culmination of years of hard work. “To have an actual former Beatle be a part of the event is pretty special,” she said. “But even beyond that, people coming together like this, over a band that represents peace and love, art and culture, feels good,” she continued.
“This event is a huge labor of love for everyone involved, it’s lots of hard work for the dozens of people that come together on the day to make this happen. However the reward is in the smiling faces and the sing-alongs.”
For his part, Best is happy to be heading back to San Diego and Beatles Fair. “I love the fact that we are all together under one roof sharing in something we all love,” he said.
Beatles Fair: Friday and Saturday, March 30 -31, at Queen Bee, 3925 Ohio St. All ages.