The Sun Kings perform music that's stood the test of time drawing
fans of all ages
By BETH PEERLESS
It's like déj vu all over again. As if celebrations for the 40th
anniversary of the Summer of Love and the release of The Beatles'
landmark recording "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band" weren't
enough. But, you've got to admit it. You can never get enough of The Beatles.
Especially when there are such great tribute bands around, like the
Bay Area-based The Sun Kings. Drawing fans of all ages to their
concerts to enjoy songs that have stood the test of time to become
modern classics, this five-piece group from Alameda has grown in
stature over the last seven years to become one of the best-sounding
Fab Four imitators around.
It's not about trying to look the parts of John, George, Paul and
Ringo for Drew Harrison, Michael Barrett, Bill Zupko, Peter LoMenzo
and Steve Scarpelli. The Sun Kings instead rely upon their musical
chops and tuneful harmonies to re-create what it was like to hear the
legendary band live.
Over the course of this weekend, Beatles fans, as well as those who
are especially interested in the music of John Lennon, will have the
chance to be enchanted on two fronts. BackBeat Talent promoter J.P.
Mosoff has devised a one-two punch delivery of the music that several
generations of music fans consider to be the soundtrack to their lives.
Friday evening in Monterey at Carleton Hall, one of the founding
members of The Sun Kings, Harrison, will present a specialized
concert titled "In The Spirit of Lennon." Harrison's delivery of
Lennon's post-Beatles material, as well as several Beatles songs
closely associated with the songwriter who died tragically just over
28 years ago (on Dec. 8), has the power to touch listeners in a way
you may not think possible.
"The feedback I get from folks is that there's people that come to
the show who have walked out crying," Harrison said. "Hopefully it's
not because I haven't done the songs justice. According to our
manager, she thinks that these people are feeling something. I hear
people singing the songs along with me, but I consider that as the
circle completed. But I didn't expect it to be that emotional for
Harrison's ability to connect with his audience is quite amazing. He
has a strong affinity for Lennon's songwriting because, as a young
boy growing up in New York, he could identify with much of what the
ex-Beatle was writing about his family life and his emotions. Even
though he doesn't dress to appear like Lennon, he does have a look
that strongly suggests the peace activist's late '60s visage, with
his haircut, facial hair and glasses.
Also, you'll hear him banter a bit like Lennon did, and he holds
himself in a way that suggests the Englishman's persona. Of course,
he'll be doing "Merry Christmas, War Is Over," a song about peace and
the brotherhood of man.
On Saturday evening at the Fox Theater in Salinas, The Sun Kings
perform classic Beatles tunes from their early career all the way
through to the latter-day "Hey Jude" era. Presented as a festive
holiday evening for the whole family, this concert will showcase the
band in a new setting. They've been performing fairly regularly at
Don Quixote's in Felton for the past couple years and the band,
accompanied by a full orchestra, were one of the highlights of this
past summer's Monterey Summer of Love Festival at the Monterey Fairgrounds.
In recognition of the 40th anniversary of the release of "Sgt.
Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," the group hooked up with a full
orchestra and special guests to perform the album in its entirety.
They pulled it off quite well under the circumstances, and the vibe
the group created in the fairgrounds arena was never really
duplicated over the whole weekend.
"I always thought the way The Beatles made it was the way a band
should make it," Harrison offered. "It's like anything you do that is
working class. You work really hard, and with any luck, you make
something of yourself. They did, and then they turned around and were
quite self-effacing. With all the hysteria that was around them, they
were like, Huh? Wow!"
Chances are you'll have a similar reaction to hearing this group's
renditions of The Beatles' music. They really have nailed down the
sound, and their fans around the San Francisco Bay Area will attest
to that on the group's Web site at www.the-sun-kings.com.
Beth Peerless can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CONCERTS ·What: Backbeat Talent presents The Sun Kings, a Beatles
tribute concert ·Where: 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14 at Carleton Hall, 400
W. Franklin St., Monterey and at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15 at the Fox
Theater, 241 Main St., Oldtown Salinas ·Tickets: Friday's show $20
advance/$22 door; Saturday $25 adults/$15 for age 21 and under
·Information: Monterey tickets: 238-7425; Salinas tickets:
888-825-5484, or www.foxtheatersalinas.com.