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The Queen of Beatlemania

North Park venue revives annual Beatles Fair

Chris Montez, headliner of this year’s Beatles Fair, with the Beatles back in 1963
Chris Montez, headliner of this year’s Beatles Fair, with the Beatles back in 1963

After a two-year hiatus, Queen Bee’s owner Alma Rodriguez is set to resume the annual Beatle Fair on March 26, promising a full day of music, talks, screenings, and shopping for all things related to the Fab Four. Rodriguez has been involved with the event for 13 years. “I took over the original 1970s Beatles fan club chapter from Carmen Salmon, who was a well-documented Beatle enthusiast and founder of the San Diego Fair,” she says. “My first artist was Denny Laine [of The Moody Blues and Paul McCartney & Wings].” Despite the inherent uncertainty of event programming in the post-covid landscape, Rodriguez is optimistic about this year’s show. “I feel confident that it will be successful. I’ve got a great team behind me, and we have been powering through all the motions.”

Past Event

San Diego Beatles Fair

Although the North Park businesswoman enjoys and presents a wide range of genres, she feels a personal connection with this particular music. “I actually discovered Ringo before the rest of the Beatles, because I wanted to be a drummer when I was a kid in New York City, having come from Puerto Rico. He was my favorite drummer in the world. I always dreamed of meeting him, and that’s still a goal.”

This year’s Beatles Fair will feature at least nine bands and one author, plus memorabilia displays and specialized vendors. The theme centers on 1963, which was just before the band broke out in America and when it was still opening for other artists. The headliner is Chris Montez, who had a hit in 1962 with “Let’s Dance,” which has been featured in many movies, most notably American Graffiti and Animal House.

Another top attraction is John Leo, who is described as a John Lennon tribute artist. He’s been doing the Lennon gig for a while, although he came to it from a non-musical angle. “Before I started impersonating John, I worked as an actor. Once, I was cast to play John Lennon for a TV ad in Mexico City. After the commercial was shot, most of the people in the set — the crew, the director, etc. — asked me to take pictures with them. Everyone was saying that I really looked like him. It was then that I thought, ‘I’ve always loved the Beatles, I kinda look like John. Maybe I should start a tribute band.’ That’s exactly what I did.”

Like most musicians, Leo’s performing schedule suffered under Covid. “I didn’t play for two years. I just started gigging again this year. You have no idea how good it felt. Before the pandemic, I was playing quite often. I have been fortunate enough to perform on three continents with my tribute band, although it’s not my main job. I work as a web developer, too.” And Leo is no stranger to our town, it turns out. “I was just here last Saturday. I came to see the Beatles Rooftop Concert at the IMAX theater; they didn’t play the movie in my town. We come here a few times a month to enjoy the weather and go to the beach. The last time I performed here was at the House of Blues a few years ago.”

In addition to Montez and John Leo, Beatles Fair 2022 will feature locals Falling Doves (who have recorded with original Beatles drummer Pete Best), True Stories, and The Original Starfires, as well as author John Borack (The Beatles: 100 Pivotal Moments In Music History), Courtney McKenna, and Porcelain Hill, with more acts to be announced. Regarding Covid protocols, Rodriguez says, “We are focusing on more precautions, checking masks, and we will be very vigilant of the event and crowd awareness. Todd Gloria has given us the seal of approval. We will have onsite testing as well.”

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Chris Montez, headliner of this year’s Beatles Fair, with the Beatles back in 1963
Chris Montez, headliner of this year’s Beatles Fair, with the Beatles back in 1963

After a two-year hiatus, Queen Bee’s owner Alma Rodriguez is set to resume the annual Beatle Fair on March 26, promising a full day of music, talks, screenings, and shopping for all things related to the Fab Four. Rodriguez has been involved with the event for 13 years. “I took over the original 1970s Beatles fan club chapter from Carmen Salmon, who was a well-documented Beatle enthusiast and founder of the San Diego Fair,” she says. “My first artist was Denny Laine [of The Moody Blues and Paul McCartney & Wings].” Despite the inherent uncertainty of event programming in the post-covid landscape, Rodriguez is optimistic about this year’s show. “I feel confident that it will be successful. I’ve got a great team behind me, and we have been powering through all the motions.”

Past Event

San Diego Beatles Fair

Although the North Park businesswoman enjoys and presents a wide range of genres, she feels a personal connection with this particular music. “I actually discovered Ringo before the rest of the Beatles, because I wanted to be a drummer when I was a kid in New York City, having come from Puerto Rico. He was my favorite drummer in the world. I always dreamed of meeting him, and that’s still a goal.”

This year’s Beatles Fair will feature at least nine bands and one author, plus memorabilia displays and specialized vendors. The theme centers on 1963, which was just before the band broke out in America and when it was still opening for other artists. The headliner is Chris Montez, who had a hit in 1962 with “Let’s Dance,” which has been featured in many movies, most notably American Graffiti and Animal House.

Another top attraction is John Leo, who is described as a John Lennon tribute artist. He’s been doing the Lennon gig for a while, although he came to it from a non-musical angle. “Before I started impersonating John, I worked as an actor. Once, I was cast to play John Lennon for a TV ad in Mexico City. After the commercial was shot, most of the people in the set — the crew, the director, etc. — asked me to take pictures with them. Everyone was saying that I really looked like him. It was then that I thought, ‘I’ve always loved the Beatles, I kinda look like John. Maybe I should start a tribute band.’ That’s exactly what I did.”

Like most musicians, Leo’s performing schedule suffered under Covid. “I didn’t play for two years. I just started gigging again this year. You have no idea how good it felt. Before the pandemic, I was playing quite often. I have been fortunate enough to perform on three continents with my tribute band, although it’s not my main job. I work as a web developer, too.” And Leo is no stranger to our town, it turns out. “I was just here last Saturday. I came to see the Beatles Rooftop Concert at the IMAX theater; they didn’t play the movie in my town. We come here a few times a month to enjoy the weather and go to the beach. The last time I performed here was at the House of Blues a few years ago.”

In addition to Montez and John Leo, Beatles Fair 2022 will feature locals Falling Doves (who have recorded with original Beatles drummer Pete Best), True Stories, and The Original Starfires, as well as author John Borack (The Beatles: 100 Pivotal Moments In Music History), Courtney McKenna, and Porcelain Hill, with more acts to be announced. Regarding Covid protocols, Rodriguez says, “We are focusing on more precautions, checking masks, and we will be very vigilant of the event and crowd awareness. Todd Gloria has given us the seal of approval. We will have onsite testing as well.”

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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