BEAT City Productions’ nostalgic Liverpool musical This Is Merseybeat heads back to the 1960s at at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, on August 6.
This vibrant celebration of all things Merseybeat features the Cavern Club’s resident Merseybeat combo since 2006, The Shakers, whose line-up includes York resident Kevin Benson on bass and vocals.
Every weekend he travels over the Pennines for their regular Shakin’ Sunday slot at the world-famous Liverpool club, in addition to playing their many other gigs around Britain and abroad.
This Is Merseybeat was devised, written and produced by Liverpool musician, actor and The Shakers founder Tony O’Keefe, building momentum around the North West since its Southport debut in 2018 until the pandemic intervened.
Billed as “Merseyside’s foremost beat combo around today”, The Shakers have shared a stage with Liverpool legends The Searchers and the late Gerry Marsden, as well as backing Sixties’ stars Tommy Roe, Chris Montez and Elvis Presley’s guitarist, James Burton, and performing with Hamburg legend Tony Sheridan at the Lennon Remembered concert at the Liverpool Echo Arena.
Add to that list such Merseybeat alumni as The Searchers’ Mike Pender; The Merseybeats’ Billy Kinsley; The Hollies’ Terry Sylvester; The Swinging Blue Jeans’ Ray Ennis; The Mojos’ Nick Crouch; the late Undertakers frontman Geoff Nugent; The Big Three’s Brian Griffiths; Kingsize Taylor; Karl Terry; Beryl Marsden and Lee Curtis.
For This Is Merseybeat, they will be joined by guest artists Neil Ainsby as Gerry Marsden and Sophie Irene, stepping in at short notice to cover the Cilla Black role. Liverpool actor Paul Codman will be the host.
“It’s very much a celebration, not only of Liverpool but also of the man who was the architect of the Merseybeat boom, Brian Epstein,” says Tony O’Keefe. “Uniquely, every song in the show was performed by a Liverpool Sixties’ artist and showcases the city’s world-beating musical heritage like no other touring production today.”
Here is Tony’s synopsis of the show. “It’s 1962 and there’s a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on in a backstreet beat cellar in Liverpool called the Cavern Club. This is Merseybeat, the Sixties’ sound of Liverpool, from the depths of Number 10, Mathew Street.
“The ‘Beat Boom’ starts here and during the next two years ‘Merseymania’ rules the world! You will hear the big Mersey Sound hits, classic Cavern stompers and a shot of rhythm & blues, with just a little rock’n’roll on the side, just for good measure, from The Beatles, Gerry & The Pacemakers, The Searchers, Cilla Black, The Swinging Blue Jeans, The Merseybeats, The Big Three and many more. It’s the beat that’s hard to beat!”
Tony continues: “Merseybeat was the bedrock of the ‘Swinging Sixties’ and the key that opened the door for the British Beat Boom in 1963 and the worldwide British Invasion of 1964 with The Beatles leading the way.
“As our story unfolds, you will experience the birth of the beat in the Cavern Club right up to the ‘Merseymania’ hit parade years, when Liverpool established its formidable status as top of the pops!”
Next Saturday’s audience is invited to “experience the ‘Benzedrine beat’ up close and personal, in all its savage glory, with Liverpool’s premier beat merchants, The Shakers, as this fab beat combo perform the hits, misses, B-sides and lost classics from the golden age of Merseybeat with a passion and energy not seen since the heady days of the Sixties’ beat boom”.
“Our ethos is based around the early Sixties when beat music was at its most exciting, so don’t expect anything past 1965,” says Tony.
Tickets for this 7.30pm show are on sale at £18 on 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.