That in a nutshell is the idea behind this Saturday’s BEATLES-themed fundraiser, wherein renowned BEATLES tribute band “STRAWBERRY FIELDS” will perform in the St. Margaret’s Parish Center to help kick off the Middle Village church’s 150th Anniversary celebration and to help raise much-needed funds for a wide variety of community programs and parish activities.
Longtime St. Margaret’s parishioner John DeBiase is the one who helped spearhead the effort, and it is as much his passion for St. Margaret’s as it is for THE BEATLES that has kept him working tirelessly to make the event such a success. DeBiase and his family also have a particular fondness for this Saturday’s featured group, “STRAWBERRY FIELDS,” which will be making its second trip to Middle Village, thanks to DeBiase’s enthusiasm and persistence. “My son got us tickets to their Saturday show at BB KING’S, and we just loved it. I went to their website, and contacted them about performing at St. Margaret’s – and they said yes.” And the rest, as they say, is history…
“STRAWBERRY FIELDS,” comprised of former members of the cast of the Broadway hit “BEATLEMANIA,” was formed in 1992 and not only features performances of some of THE BEATLES’ most popular hits, but also rarities from the group’s catalog that are sure to win over the most die-hard of BEATLES fans. Made up of three acts – the early BEATLES, the Sgt. Pepper BEATLES, and the Abbey Road/Let It Be BEATLES – a “STRAWBERRY FIELDS” performance is impressive not just for its incredible visual recreation of THE BEATLES – haircuts, accents, vintage guitars, drums, amplifiers, etc. – but also for its note-for-note homage to the music we’ve come to know so well after all these years. Members Tony Garofalo (JOHN); Billy J. Ray (PAUL); Marc Vacaccio (GEORGE); and Gerard Barberine, Jr. (RINGO) have honed their BEATLES vocals to perfection over the course of several years on Broadway in the mega-hit “BEATLEMANIA.”
Just to give you a little bit of an idea as to their pedigree ever since, you should also know that “STRAWBERRY FIELDS,” amid the highly competitive field of such tribute bands, were selected to perform on-field at Shea Stadium just a few summers ago to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the legendary BEATLES concert that was held there in 1965. Not only that, they very recently did a screen test for inclusion in the upcoming DISNEY re-make of the animated classic “YELLOW SUBMARINE,” and are now awaiting word as to the studio’s future plans.
A remake of “YELLOW SUBMARINE” in the works! The recent debut of a BEATLES RockBand! CD reissues of the entire BEATLES catalog! All in all, it’s definitely an exciting time in the life of a BEATLES fan.
Founder/band leader Tony Garofalo, who assumes the role of John Lennon in “STRAWBERRY FIELDS” – or rather, inhabits the role of John Lennon, his impersonation is so uncanny – was asked why he thinks THE BEATLES are still so popular.
“BEATLES music is timeless,” Garofalo points out, “as is Shakespeare, as is Mozart's classical music…Very few times in history are the cosmic tumblers of Time's secret lock aligned in such way that a combination of minds or a single mind are able to produce great things, memorable things, that are never duplicated again – such is the case with the music of THE BEATLES.”
Yes, it probably defies explanation, and 40-plus years later, those four young lads from Liverpool are even now bringing new fans to their music – even the very youngest among us, who will no doubt pass it on to their kids one day, and so on and so forth.
“Being a father and musician combined," Garofalo tells us, "it’s great seeing children and teenagers enjoy this music and coming out to see our live shows [at B.B. KING’S in Times Square], because very few people actually got to see the real BEATLES live and in person, so this is the next best thing. The kids know the music and lyrics just as well, if not better, than their parents, which is astounding to me!”
It’s definitely what DeBiase had in mind when he first put forward the idea of staging the “STRAWBERRY FIELDS” performances in the Parish Center – a casual, communal gathering, almost like an indoor block party – where kids could feel as comfortable singing along or dancing in the aisles as the grown-ups.
“My hope is that the kids will come and hear the BEATLES music for the first time,” says DeBiase, “and they’ll know a little bit about what it was like back then.”
So what should people expect when they head over to St. Margaret’s this Saturday evening? “I’m going to go with that line from ‘Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!’” DeBiase says with a smile. “‘A splendid time is guaranteed for all!’“
For more information and to purchase tickets for this Saturday’s “STRAWBERRY FIELDS” performance, which will take place January 30th at 8:00 pm (doors open at 7:00 pm), please contact John (718-894-8591) or Jim (718-457-6517). Adults: $30 / Kids $10 (under 18 accompanied by an adult). Ticket includes: Soda and Snacks – BYOB. (Beer and wine will also be available for a nominal charge.) St. Margaret’s Parish Center is located at 66-10 80th Street in Middle Village.
Learn more about Strawberry Fields and watch performance clips by visiting their website.