Everyone loves The Beatles music, but how about Herman’s Hermits, Tom Jones, Petula Clark, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Procal Harum, The Who, Van Morrison, Rod Stewart, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Lulu, Eric Clapton, Shirley Bassey, The Animals, Spencer Davis Group, Donovan, The Seekers, Cilla Black, Peter & Gordon, Mary Hopkin, Elton John, The Kinks, The Troggs, The Hollies, Manfred Mann, Freddie Mercury & Queen, Joe Cocker, Elvis Costello, STING, George Michael, Annie Lennox, or Adele, just to name a few?
And where could you hear all that music on one stage?
This Wednesday, August 1 is when Leisa Way is bringing her show, Across the Pond: The British Invasion, to the Rotary Stage on the beach. Concert goers will remember Leisa’s hit show on the beach last summer, when she celebrated Canada’s 150th Celebration with her Oh, Canada production. This year, her Wayward Wind Band has been renamed the Lonely Hearts Club Band and they are starting their own British Invasion. In the band are Fred Smith, Bobby Prochaska, Nathan Smith, Sam Cino & Bruce Ley.
“The concert celebrates the music of an era that really defined a generation. From beginning to end this concert thrills audiences who sing along to every song. This show makes audiences feel young again, as it takes them back in time to a time that was so happy for so many,” Leisa explains.
Her show will tell the story of the British Invasion, from the day that Ed Sullivan and his wife were at Heathrow airport, and heard the screaming of thousands of fans. Ed Sullivan asked someone what was going on, and when they said “The Beatles,” Sullivan asked, “Who the hell are the Beatles?” He went back to his hotel room, got the name of their manager and arranged for the Beatles to cross the pond and perform three shows for him, Leisa says, “The rest, as they say, is history.”
Of course, the British changed the fashion industry, as the mini skirt shocked the world when designers in Britain raised the hemline, exposing the flesh above the knee. Leisa makes several costume changes during her performance that will show the British influence on fashion.
Leisa says she has a special place in her heart for both Petula Clark and Dusty Springfield. “Both were inspirational females. Petula made television history when she reached out to touch her guests arm. The guest happened to be Harry Belafonte, and it is believed to have been the first time two people of different races touched on US prime time television. The network wanted to cut the segment and Petula refused, fighting to keep it. Her courage opened people’s eyes and changed lives when the show was eventually broadcast all over the world,” she says.
Leisa Way and her band will be on the Rotary Stage at the end of Grand Bend’s Main Street on Wednesday, August 1st, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., part of the Wednesdays’ Familiar FavouritesConcert Series, offered by the West Coast Lions Club of Grand Bend. Every other Wednesday throughout the summer, entertainers with a local connection are performing on the beach, singing popular songs that concert-goers will recognize.
“All the talent taking part in the Wednesday night concert series either lives in Lambton Shores, or grew up here, or has family here. And they sing the familiar songs that Grand Benders want to hear,” says organizer Mary Alderson. “Leisa is often in Grand Bend, visiting her mother, her aunts, and her sister and family, all of whom make their home here.”
“This show has been touring all around Ontario and Quebec at theatres and concert halls. We are so fortunate that they could fit us into their schedule and make a stop here ,” Mary adds.
The West Coast Lions Club, with Mary organizing the concert series, is working to ensure greater use of the Rotary Stage. The Municipality of Lambton Shores, NextEra Energy, Grand Bend Community Foundation, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 498, and Tourism Sarnia-Lambton are financially supporting the Concert Series. In addition, several community-minded businesses are sponsors: Geo-Teck Heating & Cooling; Physiotherapy Alliance; Hair Bend’rs; akSence Café, Catering & Gift Boutique; T. Harry Hoffman & Sons Funeral Home; and Denny’s Drive-In.
On August 15, popular local band Second Wind will be back on the Beach stage, after shows there in 2016 and 2017 that attracted huge crowds. This year, Second Wind will present an all Canadian show, paying tribute to many Canadian recording artists. Concerts continue every other Wednesday evening all summer.
The West Coast Lions Club encourages everyone to come, and ask that you please pay what you can to help with the costs. The Lions will have their popcorn cart on hand, with the freshly popped treat on sale. “Bring your lawn chair and enjoy the beautiful Lake Huron sunset,” Alderson adds. On Wednesdays, Beach Parking is free after 7:00 p.m. and Main Street Parking is free after 5:00 p.m. In case of rain, the concert will be moved to Huron Shores United Church at 25 Main Street.