BEST BETS: Yellow Dubmarine mashes Beatles with reggae for Smyrna concert

Baltimore-based Yellow Dubmarine will perform its versions of Beatles songs set to a reggae beat Wednesday night at the Smyrna Summer Concert at George C. Wright Jr. Memorial Park. (Submitted photo)

Robbie Cooper says a sign of great music is that it can be interpreted in many different ways. That’s the notion behind his Baltimore-based band Yellow Dubmarine, which puts tunes from The Beatles to a reggae beat.

“It’s kind of a no-brainer if you think about it. That’s the one thing about all Beatles music. They are great songs no matter how you play them,” he said.

“It’s a testament to any great songwriter. Great songs hold up no matter what way you play them. A good hook is a good hook. We just settled on reggae. It was something we could sink our teeth in and there’s no shortage of material.”

Yellow Dubmarine will perform Wednesday night as part of the free Smyrna Summer Concert Series at George C. Wright Jr. Municipal Park starting at 6.

The band was formed about a decade ago by chance. Mr. Cooper and a bunch of musical friends put on some benefit shows in honor of a deceased classmate at The 8×10 club in Baltimore.

“Each year we would pick a fun concept. One year we did a Bowie and Hendrix tribute. The next year we decided on reggae Beatles and just kind of stuck,” he said.

“It was a successful show. We got a good reaction. I’m really not sure why it stuck but it did. Christine was very well liked and we donated the proceeds to the National Wildlife Federation since she was a geology major.”

The band quickly took off. Mr. Cooper, the group’s drummer, said they hired a good manager and began touring across the country and into Canada for a couple of years. The eight-piece band has played in 44 U.S. states.

“We had nine people on the road, which took a lot of logistics and being organized,” he said.

“We would go out for six, seven weeks at a time. Because we were playing Beatles music, we were pretty well received. You get the occasional Beatles purist who had some problems with it. But most realized we weren’t trashing Beatles songs.”

These days, Mr. Cooper says the band goes out about twice a month and just plays now for the fun of it. Being on the road can be tiring and they are glad to just go out occasionally. Yellow Dubmarine has almost all of its original members.

“If all of us can’t make a show, we don’t take the gig. We don’t have any people subbing for us. We’re all in this together,” he said.

Mr. Cooper is quick to point out that mixing Beatles and reggae is not a new idea. He notes the British record label Trojan Records, founded in 1968.

“They put out a Beatles reggae box set. They also put out covers of American Top 40 radio and put it to their own beat. Some of those covers are 50 years old. We were by no means the first people to think of this,” he said.

Yellow Dubmarine has put out recordings of its own, most notably a dubbed out interpretation of the iconic album “Abbey Road” called “Abbey Dub.” They have several seven-inch singles as well.

Mr. Cooper said the audience for the band is diverse.

“We just did a show for WTMD radio. It’s the college radio station for Towson University, a very popular, well-run station. It was a show in the morning that drew kids, infants, people in their 20s, 50s and 80s,” he said.

“We absolutely don’t have one demographic. We have reggae fans but we tend to have more of a Beatles crowd. We play in lots of different idioms — dub, rock steady, punk elements, rock elements. We even turn into a jam band at times with lots of improvisation. We just let things happen and leave it open ended.”

Mr. Cooper said Smyrna fans should “expect the unexpected.”

“We’re getting together to rehearse for the show soon. We’ve expanded our repertoire to a few more songs than just the number one hits. We’ve even talked about doing some Paul McCartney and Wings stuff. It should be fun.”

Originally scheduled to be the final show of the concert series, a cancellation earlier in the year has Pittsburgh-based rock band Lovebettie, a Smyrna favorite, wrapping things up on Aug. 22.

The concert series was put in place by Gable Music Ventures, creators of Smyrna at Night and the upcoming all-female Ladybug Music Festival in Milford. It was organized to coincide with Smyrna’s 250th anniversary celebration.

Jeremy Hebbel, co-owner of Gable Music Ventures, said it’s been a successful series.

“The feedback has been great from residents as well as town officials. The biggest crowds so far were for local band Country by Night and for Steal your Peach (an Allman Brothers tribute band).

“Along those same lines we’re expecting Yellow Dubmarine to be a very big night, and of course Lovebettie’s return is highly anticipated since it’s been so long since the band has played in town.”

George C. Wright Municipal Park is on North Main Street, north of Route 300.

Belmont Hall tours

Staying in Smyrna, Historic Belmont Hall will be open for tours on Saturday and Aug. 18 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults and $1 for kindergarten through 12th grades. Members are free.

Belmont Hall is at 217 Smyrna Leipsic Road.

For more information, visit www.belmonthall.org. Belmont Hall is also open for tours by appointment. Call 264-9048 or visit belmonthallde@gmail.com.

Second Street season

Shows for the 2019 Second Street Players season in Milford were recently announced. The season will showcase some classic stories along with some new shows that have not been performed in the area. There will be five Main Stage Shows and three Children’s Theater shows.

The Second Street Players are also putting out a call to directors. Anyone that is interested in directing one of the shows should submit a letter of intent by Aug. 31. If interested in directing, send a letter of intent to matjead@comcast.net.

Main Stage shows are as follows:

“To Kill A Mockingbird” Feb. 1,2,3,8,9 and 10.

It’s 1935, and racial tensions are high in Maycomb, Alabama, Nonetheless, young Jean Louise Finch – or Scout, as she is fondly called- manages to live a rather carefree, privileged existence, insulated from issues of race. All that changes when Scout watches her father, Atticus Finch, defend an innocent man, Tom Robinson, against a potential death sentence, which looms threateningly against him because of prejudice due to race.

“Brighton Beach Memoirs” April 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28

This is part one of Neil Simon’s autobiographical trilogy: a portrait of the writer as a young teen in 1937 living with his family in a crowded, lower middle class Brooklyn walk up. Eugene Jerome, standing in for the author, is the narrator and central character.

“Hairspray!” July 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28.

It’s 1962 in Baltimore, and the lovable plus-size teen, Tracy Turnblad, has only one desire — to dance on the popular “Corny Collins Show.” When her dream comes true, Tracy is transformed from social outcast to sudden star.

“Clue: On Stage” Sept. 12, 13, 14, 20, 21 and 22.

It’s a dark and stormy night during a very unusual dinner party. Each of the guests has an alias, the butler offers a variety of weapons, and the host is dead. So whodunit?

“The Homecoming” Nov. 29, 30, Dec. 1, 6, 7 and 8

Known on television as the Waltons, they’re called the Spencers in the original book. The time is the Great Depression and the large Spencer family, living at the foot of a Virginia mountain, is struggling hard just to survive.

Children’s Theater shows are as follows:

“The Hobbit” March 1, 2 and 3

This one-hour version of Tolkien’s classic novel is a suspenseful, fast-moving journey through the sometimes dark, sometimes charming, always compelling world of Middle Earth. Bilbo Baggins is a comfortably well-off hobbit with a love for rousing adventure stories.

“Sally Cotter & The Censored Stone” May 17, 18 and 19.

When Sally falls asleep while reading books about a certain juvenile wizard, she dreams that she is a student at Frogbull Academy of Sorcery. There she meets Headmaster Albatross Underdrawers, Gamekeeper Ruebenon Ryebread, and Professor Shiftia Shape. But danger is lurking, and it’s up to Sally and her new friends Dave and Harmonica to defeat the schemes of the evil Lord Murderdeath.

“The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow” Oct. 11, 12 and 13.

Adapted from Washington Irving, it begins when Ichabod Crane, a lightly goofy schoolmaster, comes to the farming community of Sleepy Hollow with all his worldly possessions. He’s looking for a good life and a wealthy wife who will supply it. Once he sets eyes on the local beauty, Katrina Van Tassel, he’s sure his dream will come true.

For more information on the Second Street Players, visit www.secondstreetplayers.com.

Now Showing

New this weekend in theaters is the action-adventure film “The Meg,” the Spike Lee comedy-drama “Blackkklansman,” the horror film “Slender Man” and the family comedy “Dog Days.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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