It’s an election year, but thanks to Bay Street Theater we won’t be asked to choose between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. On Friday and Saturday, February 5 and 6, tributes to both legendary bands will take over Bay Street. That’s right—not one but two nights of the best of both the Stones and the Beatles, live in Sag Harbor. And, unlike last year’s Beatles/Stones tribute when fans were asked to vote for their favorite band (the Stones won), this year it’ll just be a fun time to sing and dance to your favorites.
After all, should we really be forced to choose between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones? Those of us who love both bands pretty much equally would say no. Depending on our mood, we might find ourselves preferring the perky pop of “I Feel Fine” over the ramshackle soul of “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” The next day, we might decide that “Sympathy for the Devil” is the best rock song ever, maybe relegating a song like “Hey Jude” to second place. So while committed partisans of one group over the other might have relished another chance to make their voice heard, many will probably feel relieved to just celebrate the classic songs.
John Sparrow, who is heading up the Stones side of things for the Bay Street shows, is a longtime fan of both bands. “I don’t really have a favorite between them—they’re both incredible,” he says. Even so, Sparrow has long been especially associated with playing the music of the Rolling Stones, having played and sung in several very successful Stones cover bands. Sparrow brings a lot of experience to bear on the Stones’ music, evoking the unique appeal of the band’s live shows. “I first saw the Stones in 1969—I still have that ticket stub.” He subsequently saw the band on most of their US tours. Over the course of the two nights at Bay Street, Sparrow plans to focus on the band’s classic material, with a few surprises thrown in.
In fact, the theme of this year’s shows is “The Hits,” so most of what you hear should be pretty familiar. A few album-cut obscurities might creep in, of course. The shows at Bay Street are organized by time period. The first night, February 5, will feature music drawn from both bands’ early years (1962–1966), and the second night, February 6, will start at 1967. With both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, there is a fairly substantial shift in style that happened around 1967, so it makes sense to separate the music into two programs with a different emphasis. The first night should be the raucous dance party, and the second night promises to be quite a bit heavier.
Members of local faves the HooDoo Loungers will form the nucleus for the band heading up the Beatles part of the shows. Bass player Joe Lauro is looking forward to it. “It’s a great venue, we’ve got a bunch of the best players on the East End, and the local audiences are just great,” he says. “It’s a perfect show for this time of year, and I’m happy to be a part of it.” Lauro started these shows with a Beatles tribute in 2014, and has continued his organizational role as they have evolved into a celebration of both the Stones and the Beatles. He won’t miss the voting for best band that was a feature of last year’s event—and not because the Beatles didn’t win.
“It was a fun idea, but we did it and we don’t really need to do it again,” Lauro says. He just wants people to get up and dance and have a good time—they can argue their preferences among themselves!
“All the Hits” the Beatles and the Rolling Stones tribute concerts, sponsored by Dan’s Papers, takes place at Bay Street Theater on February 5 and 6. For tickets, $25 each, and more information, visit baystreet.org or call 631-725-9500.