It began as a Luthier’s dream, to put together a crack team of top local musicians to perform the Beatles’ “White Album" live, in a theatre setting with lights, dance and a full-screen video presentation. After selling out both debut shows and creating a considerable buzz around town, the word of mouth from neighbors, friends and co-workers about the quality and vibe of the performance persuaded the group to keep on doing more concerts.
After six more sold out performances, including the Rio Center for the Performing Arts in Santa Cruz, Ca, and the Henry Mello Center, the group decided (rather ambitiously) to add another show, RubberRevolver, performing the Beatles’ Rubber Soul and Revolver albums, along with the four singles that were released concurrently (“We can work it out” and “Day Tripper” were released with Rubber Soul; “Rain” and “Paperback Writer” with Revolver). No small task, as many considered these to be the peak of creativity for the most popular group in history.
Once the "mission" was established, it became impossible to stop- performing post-touring era ( they stopped touring in 1966, at Candlestick park in San Francisco) Beatles recordings live, with real instruments, and no tapes. Wherever possible they began using horns, strings, indian instruments, additional background vocalists or whatever it takes to recreate the many overdubs which are the records' sound and feel.
There is an attitude when approaching this task of "What would the Beatles do, if they performed this song live?"
That is really the essence of White Album Live, RubberRevolver, Sgt. Peppers Mystery Tour, Let Abbey Road Be, then after all post tour albums were represented, including Across the Universe (songs from the film) shows: live performance with very high standards; music that many agree is timeless — the “classics” of our time. There is no attempt to be a “look alike” or “tribute” band; this is more like a symphony performing Bach or Mozart.
With a nod to the Beatles stance of standing for peace, love, and non violence- as well as WAE members' own beliefs. the group has set aside portions of concert proceeds for music in school,programs; Guitars, not guns, a pro youth, anti violence non profit; the Santa Cruz County Symphony and other such causes, the WAE has raised over $200,000.00 to date.
The White Album Ensemble has spent months of rehearsal, and research to make these performances authentic. They wondered “How would the Beatles have approached this as a live performance?” and made that the virtual standard for decisions about instrumentation and arrangements.
The group has a core of longtime friends who've played together for decades in different configurations, former members of the Doobie Brothers, Quicksilver, Snail, the Little River Band and many more. Additionally, there is often a string quartet added for songs like “Eleanor Rigby,” with George Martin’s original charts, adapted by local cellist Barry Phillips (who's played on the “Concert for George” DVD and concert along with McCartney, Starr and Clapton, and who regularly performs and records with George’s sitar teacher, Ravi Shankar).
Then Barry created charts for very Beatles song that had orchestration, including horns, tympani, harp, dilrhuba, swardmandel and other exotic instruments, a monumental task which pays off when hearing " A Day In The life" or "I Am the Walrus" executed flawlessly (well, almost!) with a full orchestra!
As the Beatles post-touring catalog has been explored in depth, the solo careers of Beatles is a treasure trove of great material, so the band now includes such gems as "Imagine," "Maybe I'm Amazed," "Photograph," "My Sweet Lord"and many more, as well as doing less familiar songs as "Hey Bulldog" from "Yellow Submarine," or 45 rpm singles that weren't on LPs like "Lady Madonna" or "Day Tripper."
Hope to see you at a show soon!
With Love from the White Album Ensemble, and gratitude to John, Paul, George, and Ringo, not to mention Billy Preston, George Martin, Geoff Emerick, Eric Clapton, Nicky Hopkins, and YOU!
Many people have asked us for more information about the cast of great musicians who perform with the White Album Ensemble!
The WAE 2013:
- Richard Bryant – vocals, keyboards, percussion
- Ken Kraft – vocals, guitars
- Stephen Krilanovich – guitars, vocals, keyboards, recorder
- Omar Spence – Lennon vocals
- Dale Ockerman – keyboards, guitars, electric sitar, trumpet, harmonica, vocals, show producer
- Endre Tarczy – bass, vocals
To this core group, we often add (depending on the show)
- Drew Harrison – vocals and guitar
- Trey Sabatelli – drums
- Paul Revelli – drums
- Peter Booras – drums
- David Tucker – drums
- Donn Spindt - drums
- Steve Robertson – tabla, and percussion
- Barry Phillips – cello, dilrhuba, tabla, chartmaker/arranger for symphony, quartet mission leader
- Shelley Phillips – swardmandel, zither, saxophone, english horn, tanpura, flute, recorder
- Jesse Autumn – Celtic harp
- Esther Centers – Violin
- Ella Bacon – viola
- Aria Di Salvio – cello
- Rennatta Bratt – cello
- Nicci Welsh – cello
- Chad Kaltinger – violin/ viola
- Timba Harris – violin, trumpet
- Mic Gillette – trumpet
- Stan Soroken – trumpet
- Nick Bianchini – trumpet
- Roger Eddy – sax
- Brian Stock – trumpet
- Steve Wilson – trombone
- Tammi Brown – vocals
- Alysha Antonino – vocals
- Will McDougal – keys
- Nick Wallace – keys
- Mark Thornton – video projection design
- AND the Santa Cruz County Symphony
- Monterey Symphony
- Redwood Symphony
- And more!