JON Keats is a busy man this August. As entertainment manager for the Cavern, he works on the International Beatles Week Festival as well as the Mathew Street Festival. Plus, this year he’s also hosting the 53 Number Ones stage in Derby Square on Bank Holiday Monday.
It will celebrate Liverpool’s 53 number one singles.
“I think the fact that we have had so many number ones from the 50s to the present day speaks for itself,” says Jon.
“There’s so much to choose from, spanning so many eras of the Liverpool music scene. The Merseybeats will be playing all the Frankie numbers which should be fun. We have a special appearance from Ken Dodd singing his 1965 classic Tears (That’s me doing my Doddy impression by the way!).
“So many Beatles and Merseybeats classics on the one stage is never a bad thing. We’re closing the stage with a special George Harrison 10th Anniversary tribute with Nube 9 from Argentina who are the world’s finest George tribute band.”
The number ones span from 1953 – Lita Roza’s How Much is that Doggy in the Window – to 2002, with Atomic Kitten’s The Tide is High.
“Obviously there is a huge Beatles/solo Beatles presence, but we are a music city full stop,” says Jon.
“The number ones really don’t tell the full story as we have produced so many great artists throughout the last 50 odd years and long may it continue.”
The festival is now marking 19 years since it began, and during that time it has evolved.
“I think the Mathew Street Festival reflects the changes that have happened in the city in general during that period really,” explains Jon.
“Both have become world class in so many ways. The infrastructure behind the festival reflects the size and scale of the event and the council’s handling of it really is impressive.
“I always say it is Liverpool’s street party. Great live music to suit all tastes. From the array of cover bands to the emerging Liverpool bands, something for everyone.”
As well as his own stage, Jon also recommends taking a stroll around the festival.
“The Radicals stage should be good on the Monday – Lennon, Dylan, Neil Young, The Jam,” he says. “Also the Made in Liverpool stages on both days should be excellent. We have old favourites like China Crisis, Supercharge, Up & Running alongside the likes of The Red Suns, Amsterdam and the fantastic Delta Maid.”
Jon’s tip for festival-goers is to set your alarm clock.
“Get there early to make the most of it,” he says. “You can’t see all the bands you would like to but try and plan your stages in advance as getting to and from the stages can take a while, but above all, just enjoy the atmosphere – there’s nothing and nowhere like it.”
And, he says, don’t forget to take a pitstop for food.
“Take your pick, we are now truly spoilt in that depart-ment,” he smiles. “The new Pan Asian restaurant Matou at the Pier Head is well worth a try. Views of the river from the restaurant and spectacular views of the Three Graces from their outside terrace.”
After the main stages finish, there are plans for aftershows in venues across the city.
“The whole of the city is the aftershow,” laughs Jon.
“The music in the bars just keeps on going ‘til the wee small hours. If you are looking for more Beatles, we have The Fab Four Beatles Show direct from Las Vegas at the Philharmonic Hall on the Monday which features Liverpool’s own Gavin Pring as George – it’s a great show.