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Ray Routhier

Portland Press Herald staff writer Ray Routhier will try anything. Once. During 20 years at the Press Herald he’s been equally attracted to stories that are unusually quirky and seemingly mundane. He’s taken rides on garbage trucks, sought out the mother of two rock stars, dug clams, raked blueberries, and spent time with the family of bedridden man who finds strength in music. Nothing too dangerous mind you, just adventurous enough to find the stories of real Mainers doing real cool things.

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Posted: November 19, 2018

Adoring local musicians channel John, Paul, George and Ringo

Written by: Ray Routhier

Michele Paccione/

Because the Beatles broke up 48 years ago, there are tons of fans who weren’t even born when the band was together, who never got to see the band play live.

But every year in Portland, thousands of people come out to see what’s perhaps the next best thing – local musicians who painstakingly recreate the Beatles’ albums they love.

This year’s annual Beatles event – titled Beatles Night with Spencer and The Walrus – will take place at the State Theatre this weekend, with shows Friday and Saturday night and a Sunday matinée.

The use of the word night in the event title seems odd, since there are three shows over three days. But that’s a sign of how much the event has grown, from a single show 16 years ago at the Big Easy nightclub to three shows at the 1,900-capacity State Theatre.

The Beatles are pretty much universally recognized as the most popular and influential rock band ever. Their songs still show up all the time in TV shows, commercials and on the playlists of other bands. So it’s not surprising fans still want to hear their songs live.

“Their music is universal, everybody knows at least three or four songs they can sing all the lyrics to and enjoy the heck out of,” said Tim Goad of Bath, 42, who went to the annual Beatles event in Portland a couple years ago and is going again this year. “I think what (the musicians) do, how they capture the Beatles, makes for a great experience.”

In past years, the musicians who’ve come together have recreated one original album, like “Magical Mystery Tour,” plus other songs. But this year the musicians involved are tackling two compilation albums that span the Beatles career as hit makers, from 1962 to 1970. The two albums are officially known as “The Beatles: 1962-1966” and “1967-1970” but known more widely as the red album (early songs) and the blue album (later songs).

Portland musician Spencer Albee (left) is one of the organizers and performers for the 16th Annual Beatles Night at the State Theatre in Portland. Shows are Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Also in this photo is Griffin Sherry from The Ghost of Paul Revere.
Photo by Lauryn Hottinger

The musicians are planning to do a total of 64 songs between the three shows, said Spencer Albee, one of the show’s organizers and core performers. And each show will be a little different.

Friday’s show will feature all the songs from the red album, including hits like “Love Me Do,” “From Me To You,” “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “Eight Days a Week.” Plus there will be a few later songs, with orchestral parts, plus some later material done by the group’s members later, when they were solo.

Performers and audience take a picture together last year at Portland’s annual Beatles Night at the State Theatre.
Photo by Lauryn Hottinger

Saturday’s show will feature everything from the blue album, including “Penny Lane,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Lady Madonna” and “Hey Jude.” Also at that show there will be a sampling of earlier hits.

And Sunday’s matinée will feature a mix of songs from both previous shows. The matinée was added a few years ago so families with children could come out, Albee said.

The Fogcutters horns will perform at Portland’s 16th Annual Beatles Night shows.
Photo by Lauryn Hottinger

Besides Albee, who produces the show with Sean Morin, other members of the core band include Katie Matzell, Morin, Jon Roods, Andrew Hodgkins and Dan Capaldi. Orchestration will be added by the Fogcutters horns and the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra. Guest vocalists scheduled include John Stirratt, bass player for Wilco, as well as Dominic Lavoie, Zach Jones, Hannah Daman, Dead Gowns, Max Garcia Conover, members of The Ghost of Paul Revere, Chuck Gagne, Jonathan Sarty and Neil Collins. Each show will be about two hours.

“We’re playing material people love, and that’s a big reason why people come out,” said Albee.

Beatles Night with Spencer and the Walrus

WHERE: State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $18 in advance, $20 on the day of the show, or $30 for a two-day pass
INFO: (800) 745-3000

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