On the Trail: Turning over Stones, finding Beatles at the Gryphon Theater

 

By IKE FREDREGILL

A river of spilled beer raced toward the Gryphon Theater stage.
“I need somebody,” the band crooned.
My mind raced and panic set in.
“Not just anybody,” came the second verse.
Handing my camera, notepad and jacket to my wife, Shandra, I raced toward the exit in search of something to clean up the spill.
“Help!” Abbey Road singer Nate Bott sang as I fled the scene.
The Beatles’ song echoed through the room as I mopped up my mess, and by the time the audience was on their feet and applauding, I was back in my seat fumbling with a beer-soaked bundle of paper towels.
My wife — darling woman that she is — took the towels, handed me my camera and nodded toward the band.
“You’re missing your shots,” she said over the din.
Luckily, the Beatles tribute band had a couple more songs to play before their rivals at the Beatles Vs. Stones showdown took the stage.
“If you like what you’re hearing, we’re the Beatles,” said the Chris Paul Overall, the Abbey Road singer and guitarist playing the role of Paul McCartney. “If you don’t, we’re the Stones.”
It was the first rip of many and the crowd was a little slow on the take. The Beatles Vs. Stones Musical Showdown was my first competitive musical event, and I wasn’t sure what to think. I didn’t know a second band would be following Abbey Road, and imagined Overall was telling us they intended to play Rolling Stones’ songs poorly to illustrate how much better the Beatles were.
It was an odd approach, I thought, and judging by the sparse sound of forced laughter throughout the theater, I wasn’t alone.
Abbey Road strummed a heavy “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and serenaded us with “Across the Universe” before the stage went dark.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, and Shandra simply shrugged, smiling. She’s good with the unpredictable roller coaster of live performances. I tend to prefer the jarring, but foreseeable bumper-cars of prerecorded entertainment.
As the lights warmed back up, a new set of figures picked up their instruments and stepped up to the mic.
“The Beatles are alright,” said Satisfaction — The International Rolling Stones Show lead singer Chris LeGrand, the spitting image of a young Mick Jagger. “They all have the same suits, the same hair — it’s a bit like jail, really.”
The audience was in on the game now, and the joke was rewarded with a roomful of hearty laughter.

Groovy digs, man

Located in the Laramie Plains Civic Center, once a high school now repurposed for office space and public events, the Gryphon is a local staple for weekend entertainment.
The antique high school auditorium is home to film festivals, traveling musicians and the occasional burlesque show.
Two large gryphon inlays adorned the stage columns, framing the Stones impersonators as they belted out “Under My Thumb” and “Time Is On My Side.”
The lights darkened again after a few songs, and the Beatles retook the stage — this time clad in brightly colored uniforms bedazzled with ropes and buttons resembling a trippy marching band.
“We had the tailors make our coattails extra long,” Bott said in a British accent, “so the Stones could ride them.”
More than once, the singers pointed their mic outward and encouraged the crowd to join in the show. Based on the volume of voices singing along, I guessed the Beatles were winning the showdown, but only by a thin margin.
The bands jovially jabbed at each other throughout the concert, and each set was compiled from a separate era, accompanied by period-specific costumes, walking the audience through a British pop timeline.
Finishing out the night, Abbey Road joined Satisfaction on stage and the bands performed John Lennon’s “Imagine” as Shandra and the crowd sang along. I bobbed my head and moved my lips as if I knew the words, which I should have, but I’m not any good at remembering lyrics. I might have fooled any onlookers, but my wife nudged me in the ribs and smiled.
It was a good date, and we left the theater humming the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black.”

While the Beatles Vs. Stones Musical Showdown has rolled on, stop by the Gryphon and catch the next big event. Whether it’s film noir, battling bands or a traveling troupe, you’re in for a treat.