The Beatunes have one purpose whenever they hit the stage, to honor the music of The Beatles. The San Fernando Valley-based Beatles tribute band will return to SOhO Restaurant & Music Club for a gig on October 6, during which it will attempt to replicate the sound captured on the Fab Four’s classic albums. According to founding member Berington Van Campen, this entails focusing squarely on the music and foregoing the wigs and costumes utilized by many other Beatles tribute bands. Also unlike many tribute acts, The Beatunes doesn’t pigeonhole its members into playing John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr.
“We’re not trying to be The Beatles,” Mr. Van Campen told the News-Press.
Instead, the group delegates whichever member is best at singing a particular song to handling lead vocals. Though Mr. Van Campen could be considered the band’s George Harrison as he plays lead guitar and sings lead on songs Mr. Harrison wrote like “Here Comes the Sun,” “Something,” and “If I Needed Someone,” he also sings about half of the John Lennon-sung Beatles songs in The Beatunes’ repertoire.
The Beatunes use no pre-recorded music, so everything the audience hears is produced by the band’s instruments. This includes orchestral parts, which The Beatles used in some of their most famous recordings, recreated by Mr. Van Campen’s guitar and co-founding member Dale LaDuke’s keyboard. Mr.Van Campen’s non-traditional rock instrument parts include the saxophone on “Lady Madonna” and the orchestral crescendo on the psychedelic “A Day in the Life.”
“We do everything as accurately as we can to the record,” MR. Van Campen said.
“A Day in the Life” in particular is one of his favorite Beatles songs to perform live, in part because its orchestral build generates a big audience reaction.
“It’s very exciting. It gets really huge and we nail the audience with that one, Mr. Van Campen said.
Describing The Beatles’ songs as “music that hasn’t been duplicated,” the singer and guitarist called it a “privilege” to professionally play their music for audiences, which consist of six year olds, octogenarians, and everything in between. The best compliment Mr. Van Campen has ever received from an audience member came from an elderly man named Earl, who for many years hated The Beatles. As a young man, Earl was a fan of crooning singers like Frank Sinatra and early rock and rollers like Elvis Presley. When The Beatles arrived in America in 1964, they supplanted his favorite artists and relegated them to second-tier status, for which Earl resented the group for many years. Whenever a Beatles song came on the radio, he changed the station.
But the day Earl stayed to listen to Mr. Van Campen and his group perform The Beatles’ songs, the old man was surprised at the musical variety in the band’s catalogue. As Mr. Van Campen recalls, Earl told him that finally he would listen to The Beatles’ albums and said, “I have 50 years of catching up to do.” Though many people come to Beatunes gigs knowing every word of even the deepest Beatles cuts, Mr. Van Campen especially likes it when people discover the band through his group’s performances.
“It’s fun to see people wake up to what The Beatles did,” he said.Tickets for The Beatunes’ October 6 gig cost $10 and can be purchased online at the SOhO Restaurant & Music Club website www.sohosb.com. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. and doors open at 6:30 p.m. SOhO Restaurant & Music Club is located at 1221 State St.