Elvis Tribute Artists Radio



When I asked Sandy about compliments the Caverners have received, he says that nothing beats a standing ovation at the end of a performance.....and they also love it when people who are actually from Liverpool come up to them and ask them what section of Liverpool they are from.

I mentioned that in the Elvis tribute world there are some performers who neither look nor sound like Elvis, and I was curious as to whether this was also the case with Beatles tribute acts. Sandy feels that in every tribute area there would be some acts that are perhaps longer on enthusiasm than talent, but points out the acts that are working regularly are doing so because they are good at what they do. He feels it’s probably easier to get an average sounding Beatles show because to excel, you have to have 4 strong individual performers who work together well..but on the other hand, because Elvis can be portrayed by one person, there may be more ETA’s who attempt a tribute act thinking they can do Elvis justice. On the whole, he’s found Beatles tribute members from other groups to be great guys..they all share the same line of work and, on more than one occasion, he’s called on a few of them to help the Caverners in emergency situations or double bookings. He's also had other tributes call him for the same reason.

I asked if, as in the Elvis tribute world, there were Beatles tributes that claimed to be “best” and Sandy wisely replied that there is never really a “best” because opinion is subjective. He says the Caverners strive to provide audiences with a high quality show and a great time enjoying the music that is such a part of their lives....and that the fans come back for more, so they must be doing something right, but he feels fans should go out and form their own opinions on the acts they see and support the ones they enjoy.

The Caverners haven’t yet recorded a CD of their music as they’ve always felt “why don’t you just buy the Beatles’ CD’s” but have come to realize that their fans want a bit of the “Caverners experience” to take home as a reminder of a good time at a show..so they are working on a merchandising program this year which will include a live CD. Down the road they also hope to add new repertoire and musical elements to their show and to take it to bigger and better new venues to reach more fans.

And finally, Sandy, speaking for the Caverners as a group, says that performing in a Beatles tribute band has been a wonderful experience. They’ve met fans from all over the world and made new friends who have been very supportive of the show...and he states that they’ll keep it going as long as people keep asking for it.

So, there you have it -- a little insight into the Beatles tribute world. And, take my word for it...if you have a chance to see a Caverners show, be sure to go. You'll have a great time!


And, just as ETA’s perform different eras, so do the Caverners:

The “Mop Top” era features the early hits such as
She Loves You, All My Loving, Twist and Shout...and the musical gear used is the same type that the Beatles used: Vox Ac-30 amps, Ludwig Black Oyster Pearl Drums, Gretsch Country Gentlemen, Rickenbacker 325 and 360-12, Gibson J-160E and the Hofner Violin bass).

The “Sgt. Pepper” era highlights songs like
A Day in the Life, Penny Lane, I Am The Walrus, with added Epiphone Casino guitars and a Rickenbacker 4001 bass.

The "Rooftop" or “Abbey Road” era, features songs such as
Revolution, Birthday, Something, and Hey Jude. A blonde Casino and a Fender Rosewood Telecaster are added to the guitar arsenal for this part of the performance.

The Caverners’ tribute ranges from a casino show which is a non-stop 90 minutes with 3 full costume changes to a theatre show with 2 sets and the 3 eras combined...while other times they may perform an entire evening of the more danceable mop top songs.

Sandy relates that the fans are equally responsive to all eras of Beatles music. The average audience enjoys the “hits” while the diehard Beatles fans prefer the “B sides” or lesser known album material. They see every age group at their shows and think it’s because the younger generations have grown up with the music through their parents’ CD collection. He recalls that at a recent festival show, there were teenagers grouped at the front of the stage
singing every word along with the band.

Click here to hear Twist and Shout

Click here to hear
I Saw Her Standing There

Click here to hear
Sgt. Pepper


Sandy Vine


Mike Wainwright


Doug Boudreau


Rick Labrie

It was February 9, 1964 that the Beatles made their live debut on American TV -- a day those teenagers who were glued to their TV sets still remember as if it were “Yesterday.” Little did anyone know the Beatles’ music and Beatles tribute acts would be going strong in 2004! As it’s the 40th Anniversary of that historic appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show (on which a congratulatory telegram from Elvis and the Colonel was read) and as Memphis, Tennessee (home of The King) and Liverpool, England (home of the Fab Four), have teamed up this year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rock and Roll, it’s a big year, not only for Elvis fans and ETA’s, but for Beatles fans and Beatles tribute acts. Next year will also mark the 40th anniversary of the only face to face meeting between Elvis and the Beatles, and you’ll likely be seeing lots more “Elvis Meets The Beatles” tribute shows!

This month’s column features one of Canada’s top Beatles tribute bands, so, as the song goes.... let me introduce to you, The Caverners, and their spokesperson, Sandy Vine, who provided me with an insight into the world of Beatles tribute artists!

The Caverners are Sandy Vine (Paul), Mike Wainwright (John), Rick Labrie (George) and Doug Boudreau (Ringo) They took their name, of course, from “The Cavern” in Liverpool, a club the Beatles frequented when they were starting out. The band members, all full time entertainers, are based in Ontario, Canada, and have been performing for the past 10 years. The “Caverners act” is one of the main shows in which they all participate, but they each also work with other musical projects and they perform in the US and throughout Canada for corporate events, in theatres, and at festivals. In their travels, they’ve also met up with Pete Best (the Beatles’ first drummer), Cynthia Lennon (John’s first wife) and Alan Williams (the Beatles’ first manager).

There are hundreds and hundreds of Beatles tribute bands worldwide, not just in North America. As Sandy (Paul) told me,
“Beatles music is universal and has transcended a few generations, so it’s not surprising that there is an interest in re-creating music that is so well received. Some tributes apply themselves to the spirit of the music only, while others (like the Caverners) perform in costume, re-creating the experience of seeing the Beatles perform live in concert.” He also said that there always something in the news to create interest in Beatles’ music such as new DVD releases or Paul and Ringo doing their respective tours. This year’s 40th anniversary is one of those milestones that also keeps the Beatles’ music in the collective consciousness.

When they started out 10 years ago, the initial group was going to be a “British Invasion” type of band, performing hits of the Dave Clark Five, Rolling Stones, Hollies, etc. for the local club circuit. However, once the band came together, the Beatles’ music sounded so authentic that they pretty much scrapped the “British Invasion” idea...and when the costumes, guitars, and amplifiers came into the picture, it was clear they’d made the right decision. They started with nightclub shows and once word spread, they received better offers and better venues to perform in, but even in the early days they tried to make the best of the shows even if they were put into situations with bad sound systems and lousy venues, and today they have a great reputation for not only the quality of their shows but for their professionalism and good natured manner.

When asked if he had any advice for other acts, Sandy says,
“Be nice to everyone..the guy sweeping the floor this year, might be the entertainment co-ordinator next year.”

Each member of the Caverners is a very big Beatles fan. Sandy also says, “
I think anyone performing any tribute has to have the initial interest in the character in order to give it their best effort...if you don’t have a liking for the artist you are portraying, it will show in your performance.”

The Caverners have worked with a number of ETA’s over the years (for example: Anthony Von, Max Pellicano, Stephen Kabakos, Roy LeBlanc) and Sandy says that, as Elvis and the Beatles together have collectively about “a billion hits,” it’s always a crowd-pleasing double bill show -- he adds that he’s a big Elvis fan, too! Although the Caverners usually headline by themselves as there are so many Beatles hits to get through in a typical evening, they have shared bills not only with Elvis tributes, but also with Roy Orbison, Rolling Stones, Shania Twain, Abba, Guess Who, and Bee Gees tribute acts.

I asked if they use English accents when they perform and how they refer to each other on stage. They do keep in character during the show, using Liverpool accents and introducing each other using their Beatles’ characters’ names...the people in the audience “get” it and enjoy being a part of it by allowing themselves for that moment to be listening to “the real thing.” Sandy does say, however, that he’s never understood the tribute artists who continue on with their character after finishing a performance, and that when the Caverners meet with fans after a show, the English accents are left on the stage and they are just regular guys who enjoy the fact that the fans had a good time and are willing to come up and express their appreciation.