‘Rain’ Tea w/Steve Landes

If there’s one thing that we can all agree on as time (quickly!) flies by, it’s that the sound, style and legacy of the Beatles will remain timeless for all of music eternity. 

Not only did the Fab Four change the entertainment landscape for which we lay our headphones upon into a brighter, bolder place, but they also provided us with a soundtrack that is still very, very, very much celebrated today just the same as when they stole our hearts appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show all the way back in 1965. 

Remember? Of course you do. 

In music fact, one of their most celebrated records, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, is celebrating fifty years of captivating our lives this year. So, to commemorate this truly golden occasion, members of the critically acclaimed stage show, Rain:A Tribute to the Beatles, have incorporated the entire album in their standout act.

And guess what?

They’re taking it to the beloved Academy of Music stage this Friday for a limited engagement that’s not to be missed…seriously. 

Yes, get those tickets and join Paul Curatolo(Paul McCartney), Aaron Chiazza, (Ringo Starr), Alastar McNeil  (George Harrison) and Steve Landes (John Lennon) as they not only deliver a show full of that one-of-a-kind Sgt. Pepper life and legacy, but a night out that any Beatles fan will never forget anytime soon. 

And as fabulous luck would have it, the multi, multi-talented Mr. Landes was kind enough to stop by Philly Mixtape for a hearty spot of Rain tea, where he broke mugs about his favorite tunes, what he wants the audience to take away from the show, and of course, just how he came to play the legendary John Lennon. 

It’s all here and so much more. There’s really nothing else to say except….get ready, Philly. 

Okay, first up….how does it feel to be a part of such a legendary show like Rain? It feels really great to be performing this particular version of our show, with the whole Sgt Pepper album included in our performance. The songs on that album were really groundbreaking at the time, and they hold up. This album really could’ve been made this year, and not 1967!

Tell everyone the story of how you came to play John Lennon…. My parents and my older sisters were Beatles fans back in the day. So by the time I came along, years later, The Beatles’ records were still some of the albums my family would play regularly. So The Beatles were always a part of my life. From there, I sang around the house as a kid, and wanted to learn to play guitar. My parents bought me my first guitar for my 10th birthday, and some of the first songs I learned to play were Beatles songs, of course! From there, I came to connect to John Lennon, his music, and his message of peace & love, more so than the other Beatles, so when the chance came up to do this sort of thing onstage, it was he who I wanted to portray. Studying the recordings & videos, reading all of the books I could get my hands on, just doing as much research as possible to him embody his character onstage, was, and is, an ongoing process.

Besides the Beatles–obviously!!–what are some of your personal musical influences? One of my favorite artists outside of The Beatles is New Zealand singer/songwriter Neil Finn, of the bands Split Enz & Crowded House. But growing up in the Philly area, I was really immersed in the Philly sounds growing up, from listening to Fifties and Sixties music on Oldies Station WFIL, to all the pop-soul stuff going on as I was growing up, like Hall & Oates, and the Philly Soul sound. I think that really helped shaped my tastes and musical styling. I love everything in that rock/pop/soul vein, from Marvin Gaye to Adele.

Speaking of Philly, as well as audiences everywhere, what is the one thing you hope they take away from this production of ‘Rain?’One of things I hope, when they see us performing the songs live, is that people realize what a great band The Beatles were. I feel that they’re still underrated as musicians (except – maybe people realize what a great bass player Paul was). But they were all incredible rock musicians, and really just a good solid rock band altogether. Also, the message of John Lennon’s and The Beatles’ music is one of positivity, and hope – Give Peace A Chance, ‘take a sad song and make it better’, All You Need Is Love. These are important messages, and I think we need them now more than ever. I hope audiences take that hope, positivity, and peace, love, & happiness with them after seeing our show. I know The Beatles’ music has the power to do that.

What has doing this show meant to you personally? Personally, this whole experience so far has been a dream come true, a real labor of love. The rest of the original Rain band members and I created the show, so seeing some of the things I suggested actually get used as a part of the show was exciting, and seeing what the other guys had come up with to create the show was equally exciting. It was quite the creative process for all of us, and we continue to add new elements to it all the time, such as the Sgt. Pepper album this time out. So that side of it is exciting for me, and I’m sure for the other guys as well.

What words of wisdom would you give any young dude or diva out there who decided right this second to enter this crazy music and entertainment business? If you find something you love to do, and it makes you happy, like singing, acting, playing guitar, or creating something — do it, do it, do it, do it, do it!! People can be negative sometimes – Don’t let anyone or anything keep you from doing it. Keep your options open, be willing to listen & pay your dues. And in the words of Del Paxton from “That Thing You Do”, “Watch your money; you’ll land on your feet”.

One last spot of tea……describe ‘Rain’ in 1 word….  LOVE. Audiences love The Beatles, what their music means to them, and how the love and brotherhood of those four guys affect them. We do what we do because we love the music, we have an admiration and respect for what The Beatles accomplished musically, and have a passion for recreating it live onstage.

For much, much more Rain tea (and to get to know the talents of each of the guys), check this out

Cover photo courtesy of The Kimmel Center

Get those tickets. 


Tuesday Music Truth

1.Is there music shade between Sia and Katy Perry? 

Although “Chandelier” songstress Sia may have written for all the divas including Rihanna, Beyoncé and Adele, there’s one A-list diva whom the camera-shy Aussie songwriting pariah hasn’t had the easiest working relationship with: Ms. Katy Perry.

During a spill to Rolling Stone about her forthcoming studio album This is Acting -which will showcase songs she originally wrote for other artists – Sia revealed that she originally quit a writing session with Perry because their working styles were polar opposites,  with Sia describing the “Dark Horse” singer being too “dominant” during writing and recording sessions. 

Sia spilled, “That’s what was interesting about writing with Katy Perry because, again, it’s her voice at the end of the day. She’s also quite dominant, and she’s extremely analytical. I actually quit within the first hour of our first session. I was like, ‘Can we both agree this doesn’t work? Like our whole songwriting dynamic?’ And she was like, ‘I love it. It’s like a puzzle to me. It’s like a crossword.’ And I was like, ‘But this is boring for me. The analysis is totally boring for me. It feels like the enemy of creativity.’

However, despite not having chemistry in the beginning, the two divas did manage to sweat it out and come up with “Double Rainbow,” which was featured on Perry’s 2013 Prism set. Only time will tell if the two gals will work together again in the future, but in the meantime, Sia’s This Is Acting will take the music stage on Jan 27th. 

2.Years & Years take on “Toxic” will give your Tuesday new life…

During the Jingle Bell Ball at London’s O2 arena this past Saturday night, groovy trio Years & Years decided to tackle Britney Spears’ “Toxic” in front of thousands of screaming fans. The result? You just have to watch. 

3.Billboard counts down John Lennon’s biggest Billboard hits…

Thirty five years ago today, the entire world was stunned to hear the news that legendary Beatle John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman in front of his apartment building in New York City.  Just 40 years old at the time, news of his unfortunate death gripped the nation, with many marking it the end of an era. 

A masterful songwriter who helped define rock and roll, Lennon quickly modified the powerful creative velocity of his Beatles days into a flourishing solo career that produced several timeless and iconic Billboard Hot 100 smashes, including 1970’s “Instant Karma,” 1971’s powerful “Imagine” all the way to 1984’s “Nobody Told Me,” which became a posthumous hit for the fallen singer. 

Take a listen right here to John Lennon’s 10 biggest Billboard hits and pay homage to the gone-too-soon musical hero who created one of the most astute legacies in music history that still holds its merit and will continue to do so for all of music eternity. 

4.Scott Weiland’s ex tells fans not to “glorify” the tragedy of his death….

“December 3rd, 2015 is not the day Scott Weiland died. It is the official day the public will use to mourn him, and it was the last day he could be propped up in front of a microphone for the financial benefit or enjoyment of others,” Scott Weiland’s ex-wife recently wrote in an essay in Rolling Stone.

Forsberg also describes the tale of the former Stone Temple Pilots singer’s troubled life and of the damaged family members he left behind, all while telling readers and fans that his death is “not a rock ‘n’ roll story to celebrate.” 

She also explains that, spending so many years “immersed in Scott’s multiple illnesses led to my own depression.” At one point, she notes, “I was misdiagnosed as bipolar. I feared the same would happen to the children.” Scott and Mary’s children, Noah, 15, and Lucy, 13 also helped write the essay.

The message concludes (you can read it in its entirety right here) with a warning to others suffering from addiction to choose a different path. “Our hope for Scott has died, but there is still hope for others. Let’s choose to make this the first time we don’t glorify this tragedy with talk of rock and roll and the demons that, by the way, don’t have to come with it. Skip the depressing T-shirt with 1967-2015 on it – use the money to take a kid to a ballgame or out for ice cream.”

Weiland, who fronted STP and Velvet Revolver, died last Friday in his tour bus at the age of 48. He long suffered from substance abuse issues. He will be missed by many. 

5.What was your favorite late night music moment of the year? 

Christina Aguilera taking on Britney, Ariana Grande taking on Britney and Celine, really, so many impressions of diva doing divas, and we’ve got all day to sort them out. Other than those now infamous late night music moments, it was certainly a great year for late-night TV, with the introduction of Stephen Colbert’s new show as well as the continued craziness of whatever viral treats Jimmy Fallon happens to serve up over at his Tonight Show stomping grounds. 

Billboard rounded up 10 of their favorite late-night music sketch moments of the year, so take a break from your day and revel in them all once again…you’ll be glad you did.