It’s well known that the Beatles inspired the most fanatical response from audiences of any pop band in history, so it’s no surprise there are people out there willing to forego their own shot at songwriting immortality in exchange for a chance to play the Beatles’ music to hordes of adoring fans. What’s not as well known, or understood, is how seriously these tribute bands take their work, or how influential in the movement RAIN was back in the 1970s, when they first birthed the idea of playing all Beatles songs, only Beatles songs, always in the same key they were recorded in.
Mark Lewis, RAIN’s founding member, put the band together under the name “Reign” when he was playing clubs in Los Angeles and Orange County back in the day. But it wasn’t until Lewis recruited the cast of the hit Broadway and touring productions of Beatlemania that RAIN really took off. With Joey Curatolo (vocals, bass, guitar, piano), Joe Bithorn (vocals, lead guitar, guitar synthesizer), Ralph Castelli (vocals, drums, percussion), and the later addition of Steve Landes (vocals, guitar, piano, harmonica) in 1998, RAIN put all of the world’s top interpreters for the Beatles’ music together in a kind of tribute supergroup, and one that has been touring pretty much ever since. The band will perform at the Granada Theatre (1214 State St.) for three nights beginning this Tuesday, April 13, at 8 p.m. For tickets and additional show info, call 899-2222 or visit granadasb.org.
I spoke with drummer (and professional Ringo Starr impersonator) Castelli last week by phone. Below, you’ll find his top three reasons to check out RAIN when they stop through Santa Barbara.
1) The production is amazing: “We have a different set and costumes for every album, and we do a re-creation of the 1964 Ed Sullivan Show appearance that’s breathtaking,” Castelli explained.
2) “Phony Beatlemania” lives on: Apparently Joe Strummer got it all wrong. “Four of us met in Beatlemania some 30 years ago, and we’ve been touring and playing the Beatles together ever since,” he said.
3) The kids will love it: “The show is full of stimulating video clips and memorabilia. We show television commercials from the period alongside our re-creations of the band’s television appearances,” said the drummer, before encouraging attendees to “bring the children. Before you know it, you are up and burning calories yourself.”