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Thursday, January 19, 2012

CVS Midwest Tape marketing specialist Chris Shope recently interviewed Louise Harrison, sister of Beatle George Harrison, and two-time Grammy Award-winning producer Dennis Scott about their new Grammy-nominated album, Fab Fan Memories, as well as their Help Keep Music Alive organization, George Harrison, and the Beatles. Broken into four parts, below is the first portion of our interview.

Broken into four parts, below is the second portion of our interview. Click here for Part 1.

Chris: What are some of your favorite memories on the [Fab Fan Memories] album?

Louise: Well, I don’t know. I can’t be very specific at this time because it’s been a while since I’ve listened to it, and I don’t remember all of the specifics. But I know throughout my life people will come up to me and whisper in my ear little stories about their own personal experience of the Beatlesfar beyond the ones that are actually on the album. I’ve been told thousands of stories by Beatles fans and to me it’s just always very, very inspiring and very gratifying to hear the positive influence that the Beatles have had on people’s lives.

Dennis: Well, I can add to that by saying that in the editing process of putting the album together I did have opportunity to hear those stories over and over again. Some of them had to be edited down because they went on for quite some time. And I do have some of my favorites. I’m just amazed and touched by what some people have gone through to express their love, or to make a connection to the Beatles.

I love the story about the girl who managed to find the hotel room that the Beatles stayed in, and she brought an empty jar and she told the chamber maid "I’m not here to take anything. I just want a jar of air." She took a big jar, scooped it up, and put the cap on it. I mean that was a great story. 

And then there’s a great story that actually intersected a fan’s life with Louise where this girl in Massachusetts, she was a junior reporter, she was still in high school, not even high school, and she and her friend got her editor to get them press passes, and she worked her way into a press conference where the Beatles were I want to say in Boston. And because they were such devoted fans, they knew what Louise looked like and they spotted her and befriended her, and Louise was kind to them. That allowed them to meet the press manager who was there, and they got to go into the interview. I mean the things that people have gone through to get in there is just astounding. I wish I had some of the nerve that they did.

Chris: Sometimes it just takes twenty seconds of crazy courage, and doors open for you.

Dennis: Also, when you don’t know it’s impossible, you’re free to try and do it, I think.

Louise: Absolutely. I know my dad always used to say to me "don’t ever give up." So I’ve always liked that attitude, and when I’ve met people who’ve had that attitude, I’ve been willing to help them.

Dennis: Well, then there’s the story of the girl who was trying to get to the Beatles concert, but she and her family had gone out into the water on Long Island Sound for a sail when they ran out of wind and they couldn’t find their way back. She’s freaking out, saying "I’ve got to get to dry land and get to this concert." 

They ended up banking the boat on the shore, randomly, and she had to run like two miles across the seashells and cut up her feet to get there but she did make it to the concert. That’s devotion isn’t it? 

In fact, here’s what helped prompt the making of this album. In Nashville, as in so many other cities, they have a Beatles meet-up group. And I’ve become a member of that and attended some of the meetings, and usually when there’s a new member, they will get up and introduce themselves and say a little bit of why they are fans of the Beatles. As people were talking and telling their edited down stories, I thought this is just too good to be true. These are all little treasures and I wondered if anyone had done an album of this sort. Upon further research, I found out that nobody had. I said, "well, this is just an album that has to be made."

Chris: It makes for great, great audio.

Louise: Well, everybody I’ve sent it to so far really is enjoying it.

Dennis: It’s just very gratifying because when you start out, at least as a producer, I thought "‘well, I think it’s a good idea, but will everybody think it’s a good idea? Is it just good in my head, or is it really as good as I think it is? Conceptually anyway."

It just really feels good to know we were on the right track. Not only because the fans appreciate it, but I think in some ways it’s a little piece of the historical puzzle that hasn't been told in quite the same way that other documentaries have. 

Chris: You’re continuing the conversation.

Louise: Exactly, the thing that I like about [the album] is that it’s not one of the glitzy things that have been put out. There’s been a lot of glitzy, high profile expensive stuff put out about the Beatles, and this is just something down to earth and real and not Vegas-glitz. This is the more normal stuff, which is far more real.

Chris: Yes, it’s about the people. There are the fans, and the meet-up groups, and both of you work with Beatles cover bands. Louise, you work with the Liverpool Legends over there in Branson. How often do they perform?

Louise: Well, we were doing five nights a week in Branson, but the season is over now, so we’ve started this Help Keep Music Alive program to raise funds for high schools and colleges all across the country, for their music departments. We’ve now just done the fourth show on that program. We’ve done one in Moline, one in Davenport, and now two in Chicago. 

I have a board of directors and have formed a non-profit organization. We’re just getting ready to blast off with this program, and I’m hoping that more people hear about it. We have our website up now, and we will also have a dotcom. We are hoping that people will go to the website. And if they are music directors at a high school or college, and they would like for us to come and perform there and incorporate their music students into our concerts, we hope they let us know. That is what we've been doing. 

We had 172 students at one concert behind the band [the Liverpool Legends] on risers playing all of their instruments, and it’s just absolutely fabulous. There’s a lot of travel involved and everything but it’s worthwhile because the atmosphere in these auditoriums, while they’re doing the shows, is just so magical. One of the kids the other night came up to the guy who plays my brother in the band, he was about 14 or 15, and he said to him "you know this is something I’m going to be able to tell my grandchildren about." Things like that make it so worthwhile. 

Chris: It sounds like this organization has wonderful goals. This is definitely something people need to hear about.

Louise: Let’s face it: the whole thing is networking and getting the word out. We don’t have money to be able to do lots of advertising, and even if we had the money to do advertising, we would rather give it to the schools anyway. The more we can get the word out by word-of-mouth, the better. 

Also, I just had a wonderful, wonderful break because the inspiration for this [Help Keep Music Alive] came from a PSA George had done in conjunction with Mr. Holland’s Opus, the movie. He had done a PSA urging people to help keep music alive in schools, to help fund the music departments, and so Mr. Holland’s Opus' people, who actually own that tape, have just now given me permission to use whatever part of the tape I want on our website. So I’ve got my own brother saying what we’re doing.

Dennis: I’m so glad that you work with libraries, Chris, because it seems like [our album] is such a good fit. It’s odd because the product feels like an Audiobook to me, although there isn't the reading aspect of it. But who knows, maybe that could be created and added on.

Chris: That’s true, it’s possible.

Louise: Well I’m working on my book at the moment, and I intend to make that into an audiobook as well.

Dennis: I know a good recording studio in Nashville, Louise.

Louise: I’m going to need somewhere to do it.

Dennis: Wow, that would be fun.

Chris: Dennis, you have your own recording company in Nashville?

Dennis: I do. I’m originally from New York, but I moved to Nashville about twenty years ago and really enjoy the creative element there. It’s such a community of musicians and artists and producers.

Chris: Researching music here at CVS Midwest Tape, we have seen that Nashville is definitely a hub of activity for the music industry, and not just Country Music either.

Louise: I know a lot of people there in Nashville, musicians. There’s a guy called Gary Nicholson; he writes under the name of Whitey Johnson, I think, and then another friend I just met recently, Harry Stinson, who plays with the Marty Stuart Band. So, I have a lot of good friends there in Nashville.

Chris: Honestly, I’d love to go to Nashville and see the life-size replica of the Parthenon.

Louise: Yeah (laughs).

Dennis: Well, that’s only about fifteen minutes from where I live, we would be glad to have you. I’m lucky that I can do what I do from almost anywhere these days. But Nashville has such a great talent pool so there’s really no reason why I can’t live in a town where you can raise your family, but you can also park your car.

Louise: Yeah, yeah. When I lived in New York I used to have to send my car to New Jersey, to some friends over there, to have a garage for it.

This has been part one of our four-part interview with Louise Harrison and Dennis Scott. Be sure to visit News & Views on Thursday to read part two of our interview.

In the meantime, shop Fab Fan Memories and Beatles music and DVDs. You can also learn more about Louise's organization, Help Keep Music Alive, by visiting their website or Facebook page.

>>Read part one now.

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