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Charlotte's FabFest attracts Beatles fans from here, there, and everywhere

The third edition of FabFest, an all-out tribute to The Beatles, featured musicians, memorabilia, speakers vendors, art, and more.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — All you need is love... and The Beatles.

This was the reoccurring theme around FabFest, a tribute to the Fab Four held annually in Charlotte. 

Fans gathered from across the universe at Central Piedmont Community College's Parr Center and the Knight Theater on Friday and Saturday to celebrate the music made famous by those four lads from Liverpool.

Now in its third year, FabFest 2022 featured performances from touring Beatles tribute bands, a concert from Micky Dolenz of the Monkees, an art contest, vendors selling Beatles merchandise, a Beatles cover song contest, movie screening rooms, guest speakers, and an array of activities.

The whole event was put on by Tosco Music, a nonprofit organization focused on hosting musical events in the Charlotte area.

"There's a lot of good music but only so much music will live on for hundreds of years from now. Just like we're listening and talking about Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach, I believe that's what's going to happen hundreds of years from now with The Beatles," said John Tosco, the founder of Tosco Music. "The Beatles cover more than just [rock music], it's in their songwriting more than anything else [that makes them timeless]."

Tosco began hosting music parties around 30 years ago and eventually held Beatles tribute events starting in the mid-2000s. As his events grew, he knew he had to put together a full-on celebration of The Beatles.

"I would invite friends over to my home to have song circles and jam sessions. It would grow every month so we had to have larger places to host them," said Tosco. "Beatles music was always part of it. We decided 18 years ago to make a whole show for The Beatles. It was a dream of mine to have a festival like this."

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This year's FabFest kicked off Friday at the Knight Theater with a concert by The Fab Four, a Los Angeles-based band dedicated to playing all eras of Beatles music while dressing the part.

The Fab Four's set featured early hits like "Love Me Do" and "Twist and Shout" before switching to later material like "With a Little Help From My Friends" and "A Day in the Life" while draped in replica Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band uniforms.

Credit: WCNC
The Fab Four perform at FabFest
Credit: WCNC
The Fab Four perform at FabFest

The band closed out performing material from the Beatles' later albums such as "Revolution" and "Get Back." 

In between songs, the band would banter back and forth with each other just as The Beatles famously did at their concerts in the 1960s. 

While some tribute bands pretend they actually are the band they are replicating, the Fab Four openly conversed with the crowd about The Beatles and paid homage to the original creators of the music they perform.

FabFest continued on Saturday at the Parr Center for a full day of Beatles action. Thousands of people packed the place throughout the day.

Vendors selling Beatles albums, books, and all sorts of memorabilia filled the first room of the center. More memorabilia was housed in an exhibit room where Beatles-themed board games, figurines, posters, lunch boxes, and all sorts of knickknacks new and old were seen.

Credit: WCNC
Beatles For Sale: Memorabilia available for purchase at FabFest
Credit: WCNC
Some of The Beatles memorabilia on display at FabFest

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A Beatles cover song contest also took place with performers of all ages doing their best to wow judges. 

Three authors gave speaking presentations on stage at the event to talk about books they've written about The Beatles. These included Bruce Spizer, Candy Leonard, and Sean Gaillard.

An art contest took place with winners taking home cash prizes.

Credit: WCNC
This embroidered work mixing Yellow Submarine with Abbey Road won 1st place in the FabFest art contest

Concert performances were also given by musicians around The Beatles during their tenure in the 1960s. 

The Cyrkle performed at FabFest on Saturday and performed music they made during that era such as "Red Rubber Ball" and "Turn Down Day." The Cyrkle were managed by Brian Epstein, who also managed The Beatles, and were actually named by John Lennon.

Micky Dolenz headlined the FabFest lineup. He played music from his time with The Monkees as well as a few covers of songs by The Beatles.

Credit: WCNC
Micky Dolenz performs at FabFest

After the festivities at the Parr Center concluded, FabFest returned for an encore performance at the Knight Theater for the Tosco Music Beatles Tribue where an array of artists performed one Beatles song each in a different style.

The crowd heard a wide mix of takes on Beatles songs such as Spanish renditions of "Don't Let Me Down" and "Till There Was You" to an acoustic version of "Help" to even an Appalachian dulcimer adaptation of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." Tosco also stepped in with a cover of "When I'm Sixty-Four," which he dedicated to his late mother. 

Overall, 22 songs by The Beatles were performed on a night that would certainly make John, Paul, George, and Ringo smile.

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FabFest 2022 was a smashing success that emulates the camaraderie and fellowship captured in music by The Beatles. 

Fans of all ages were thrilled to have made it out for FabFest and are excited for what's to come for the event.

"I've been wanting to a Beatle convention for as long as I've been a Beatles fan," said Lupita Mendoza, 23, who recently moved to Charlotte. "It felt like a dream come true being around so many people who like the same things I like."

According to Tosco, this is the only festival of its kind in the southeast, which larger-scale Beatles tribute events happening annually in Chicago and New York. Tosco says Charlotte is the perfect place for a celebration like this.

"Charlotte decades ago was what Nashville is now," said Tosco. "I think it's gonna get back there at some point, another Nashville, another Austin. There's a lot of musical talent and music lovers here." 

Charlotte's FabFest will return in 2023 for its fourth edition. For more information, visit their website.

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