Staying true to the Fab Four sound
The Honolulu Symphony Pops and guitarist Zanuck Lindsey celebrate with reverence as the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" turns 40
It's one thing to jam on guitars on the back lanai with your buds, and not much of a jump to becoming a guitar god in a small club. But sittin' in with the Honolulu Symphony Pops is a different gig altogether.
Honolulu Symphony Pops
Presents a tribute concert of the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" with special guests Anita Hall and Zanuck Lindsey
Place: Blaisdell Concert Hall
Time: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $15 to $83, with student tickets at $10
Call: 792-2000 or visit www.honolulusymphony.com
When Hawaii guitar whiz Zanuck Lindsey got tapped to strum in HSO's 40th anniversary tribute to "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," he knew that he wasn't going to be a front man and everyone else would have to keep up with him.
The key is to blend in "with as much musical sensitivity as possible," says Lindsey. "I've heard great rock guitarists blare out over a full orchestra, and their personal rig sounded great, but it was not very musical in the sense that they played without any empathy or connection to the symphony. Amplified or acoustic, I feel that the guitarist needs to know what's appropriate for the setting and musical piece being performed.
"I'm bringing one acoustic guitar, one electric, and a 30-watt Carr amplifier. It won't be over the top, but just enough. It's a joy to rehearse with the symphony, but playing the music of the Beatles is going to be a sacred experience for me. 'Yesterday' was the song that made me want to be a musician!"
Other songs added from the Beatles canon that weren't on "Sgt. Pepper" include "Can't Buy Me Love" from "A Hard Day's Night," "Lady Madonna" and "Eleanor Rigby" from "Revolver," "Penny Lane" from "Magical Mystery Tour" and "Here Comes the Sun" from "Abbey Road."
That's a lot of guitar history ...
"It would be difficult to replicate the Beatles' guitars unless I owned a bunch of 12-string Rickenbackers or Gretschs and a few Vox amplifiers," explained Lindsey. "I'm not a collector of vintage gear so I'm going to try my best to get the guitar part right and not worry about the authenticity of tone. Matt's been very open about personal interpretation, but I feel that we should honor the composers and be as accurate as possible. It's what the audience remembers and wants to hear."
LINDSEY went on to explain how it was the Beatles that started him down a musical path, "the profound impact their music made on me as a child. I ran for the nearest ukulele at age 5 to play along with 'She Loves You' and 'I Saw Her Standing There,' Lindsey said. "My first Beatles record was 'Revolver' and the first song I learned was 'Day Tripper' because the lick was too cool.
"I thought they were the greatest rock songwriters of all time, but then I was all caught up in Beatlemania like every other 6-year-old at the time. Since then, I've learned to appreciate them for their relentless drive and incredible creativity in the studio. We'll never hear music like that again."
Lindsey, who's been working with Ho'omalie -- whose penchant for sweet four-part Hawaiian harmony is on display on their "Only You" album -- has been recording demos for a new solo CD. "It will be my first in nearly 10 years so maybe some of this Beatles stuff will rub off on me!" he laughs.
His musical education was formal, and Lindsey says that "the Beatles weren't discussed very often in my classical education, but were the cornerstone for all of my commercial and song writing classes. How could they not be? Brian Wilson and the Beatles used all of their resources and imagination to get all the sounds they heard in their minds onto disc."
Any jamming allowed when the symphony gets into a cookin' groove?
"Absolutely! These songs were all 2- to 4-minute masterpieces, so we'll be adding some stretches of jamming to lengthen a few tunes, but no reharmonizations or 'artistic' renditions of these classic songs. We're being quite faithful to the originals."