Guilderland library celebrates 50 Lennon plays the garden

GUILDERLAND — Put a flower in your hair and head over to the Guilderland Public Library, because, 40 years later, it’s the summer of love all over again.
As part of its golden anniversary celebration, the Guilderland Public Library is honoring each decade every month this summer and fall. Tonight, Beatles Tribute band, "Imagining Lennon Live," will play a free concert from 7 to 8 p.m. in the library’s Literary Garden.

This month takes a look at the library’s 10-year anniversary in 1967, remembered by many as a time of social turbulence as America’s youth opposed the Vietnam War, and the civil rights movement was changing the status quo.

For some, however, it was the music from that summer that can never be forgotten. British bands invaded American airwaves in the sixties with the introduction of bands like The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, The Who, and The Kinks.

But it was four lads from Liverpool who took the world by storm. On June 1, 1967, The Beatles released an album which would change the landscape of Western music — Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Tonight’s show will commemorate both the band that created the soundtrack of a generation and the Guilderland Public Library in 1967. Imagining Lennon Live will recall the music and nostalgic nuances of the Sgt. Pepper’s album.
Tom "Lennon" Raider creates an uncanny portrayal of the life and sounds of music legend John Lennon as a solo performer. When his mates join him, they become Imagining Lennon Live and deliver a powerful replica of electronic melodies ranging from "Norwegian Wood" to "Come Together."
Raider impersonates Lennon and plays guitar, while Don "Diego" Ackerman plays guitar, Jeff Sohn plays bass, and David Twarog plays drums.

However, Imagining Lennon is actually the fab five, since keyboardist Rich Coogan backs up the band.

After performing, the band will mingle with the audience. Audience members are encouraged to take photographs, Raider said, and get some snaps with John Lennon.

Although he was born in Chicago and raised in upstate New York, Raider sounds like Lennon when he adopts his Liverpool accent. He currently lives in Delmar.

He’s grown his hair to look like Lennon, and dons the signature wire-rimmed glasses.

Raider told The Enterprise he likes bringing fans back to their own fond memories.
"This band made the soundtrack to people’s lives. To bring that entertainment back into their lives"it’s amazing," Raider said. "I’m sharing my interests through music to others."

Art imitating art
Raider credits his older sisters with turning him on to The Beatles at a very young age, saying "I grew up on it." He describes himself as being "comfortably over 40."
"I do a very precise job of impersonating him: The way he walks and talks, the way he stands and plays"I’ve done a lot of researching and studying of Lennon’s life," Raider said. "It’s like an acting role that I really care about."

But in this act, according to Raider, playing the part also means playing the music, which can be a daunt-ing task when emulating one of the most recognizable bands in the world.
"I had a group called The Brits"and I started doing the John Lennon thing on the side"but then I at-tracted some fine musicians," said Raider. "I was interested in playing the whole era."
When it comes to the younger generation familiar with the works of the Beatles, Raider said, "They sort of expect the whole thing," because of the November 2000 release of The Beatles 1.
"The Beatles 1 CD collected hits from different eras over their entire career. Everything from ‘Love Me Do,’ to ‘Day Tripper,’ to ‘Lady Madonna.’ That’s what they expect you to do," Raider said of his younger fans.
Raider’s solo performance is more of a "storytelling act" and is acoustic, he said, as opposed to when he’s playing with Imagining Lennon Live, which is electric and designed for a concert setting.
"If you’ve got all those costumes and all those instruments, you might as well use them, right"" Raider asked.

And instruments he has.

Raider uses over a dozen authentic and replica trademark instruments that were used by Lennon during his career, including Gibson acoustic guitars with sunburst and natural finishes. Raider also has an Epiphone 1965 Casino recreated to the exact specifications of Lennon’s original; a Rickenbacker Black 325 V 59 Jetglo; a Martin D-28; a Honer Chromatic Harmonica; and a Vox AC 30 guitar amp.

When it comes to clothing, Raider isn’t lacking there either.
For "The Early Years," Raider has collar-less gray Edwardian-style suits and Ed Sullivan Show suits con-sisting of a black jacket, pants, and a tie with a white shirt, or a black turtleneck top with black pants.
For "The Psychedelic Years," Raider wears the "very colorful Sgt. Pepper suit complete with accurate patches and medals."
For "The Later Years," Raider uses costumes that include: the denim jacket and beige T-shirt worn on the photos for The White Album; the "crosswalk" suit worn for the Abbey Road cover; the famous New York City shirt and blue jeans; and the purple T-shirt, black jeans, and black vest in the Let it Be film.

Any time you see Raider in his Lennon getup with shorter hair, it’s not the real thing. Raider’s long strands of hair, which he uses for the later-years gigs are actually the real thing. But the glasses are 100-percent genuine antique Windsor model prescription glasses.

Some people know exactly where they were and what they were doing when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated — for Raider, the Dec. 8, 1980 killing of Lennon was no different.
"I was in shock"I woke up that morning with an inkling that something was wrong and, as I got up for work, I heard it on the news," Raider said. "I was in total shock; in complete disarray for some time"It was the first time we knew the world without a Beatle," he said of the first death of a Beatle.

But Lennon is safe in the 1967 recordings and in the hearts and minds of his fans, Raider said, and, he added, he is looking forward to playing at the Guilderland Public Library tonight.
"Me and the mates are look’n’ forward to it," Raider concluded in a Lennon accent. "Guilderland is a great place to play."


Upcoming Guilderland Public Library events include:

— Friday, July 27, at 7 p.m., a presentation on the events of 1967 and ’60s Jeopardy, including trivia on songs, movies, sports, politics, TV shows, and other facts from 1967;
— Saturday, July 28, at 2 p.m., a movie matinee of 1967’s "The Jungle Book," which will be shown in the Helderberg Room;

— August 24 and 25, celebrating 1977;

— September 28 and 29, celebrating 1987;

— October 26 and 27, celebrating 1997; and

— November 16 and 17 will take a look at where the library will be in 2057.

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