A Beatles Tribute show Feb. 3 highlights preview of RCA history exhibit

From left to right: Chris Must, Ian Jones, Michel Cloutier, Mitch Gallant of A Beatles Tribute band.
Posted on: January 22, 2018

Hometown News Staff

In the mid-1960s the RCA Victor record pressing plant in Smiths Falls was humming like a finely-tuned machine. The plant ran around the clock in those days, pumping out records to keep up with the demand for new music by a band from England – four long-haired young men in matching suits who were on their way to becoming the most successful act in the history of show business.

The history of the RCA plant will be the focus of an upcoming exhibit at Heritage House Museum. The museum will present a preview of that exhibit the evening of Saturday, Feb. 3 at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 95 Hall, 7 Main St. East in Smiths Falls, featuring a live music performance by A Beatles Tribute. The band will be joined by special guests the Giocoso Strings. The local string quintet, under the direction of professional violinist Polly McCombe, will back up singer Ian Jones and guitarist Mitch Gallant on special performances of Yesterday and Eleanor Rigby.

Although all the staff members in this photo are male, the workforce at the RCA Victor plant in Smiths Falls was 80 per cent female. The plant operated from 1954 to 1979, pressing records from such world-renowned artists as Elvis Presley and the Beatles.

A Beatles Tribute also features Chris Must, bass and backing vocals, and Michel Cloutier on drums. A Beatles Tribute was launched in 2017 by long-time musical partners Jones and Gallant. In a two-year labour of love, the duo recorded their own versions of 108 favourite Beatles songs, in what they called the “Fab 50 per cent” recording project.

In a home studio, they recorded more than half of the complete Beatles catalogue. With 2017 being the 50th anniversary of the legendary Summer of Love, as well the anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, Jones and Gallant decided to assemble a full band to present many of the songs to live audiences.

The Beatles were together just 10 years – roughly 1960 to 1970. During that short period of time, a revolution took place; not just in music, but at all levels of society. It was a time that those who experienced it can never forget. Society evolved, and the Beatles evolved along with it – the fact that most pictures of the band are in black and white before 1967 and in colour afterwards somehow says it all.

Although the Beatles’ North American record label was Capitol, the Smiths Falls RCA plant, which operated from 1954 to 1979, pressed records under licence from Capitol. During the height of Beatlemania, the plant ran 24 hours a day to keep up with the demand.

Tickets for the Feb. 3 show, which gets under way at 8 p.m. at the Legion hall at 7 Main St. East in Smiths Falls are $20 each. Proceeds of the show will be donated to the Smiths Falls Community Hospital Foundation and Heritage House Museum.

One of the last projects carried out at the Smiths Falls RCA plant before it closed in 1979 was the production of these “picture discs” featuring a portrait of the late Elvis Presley (who died two years earlier) pressed directly into the vinyl.

Tickets can be purchased at Rideau Candy Shoppe, 20 Russell St. East, at Four Degrees Brewing at Settlers Ridge Centre, and from the Smiths Falls Community Hospital Foundation office (613-283-9743). The ticket price includes special Beatle-themed hors d’oeuvres prepared by students in the hospitality class at Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute.

The show is sponsored by Pankow Financial Solutions Ltd. and the Town of Smiths Falls, as part of the On the Roll music series.

This article was first published in the January 2018 issue of Hometown News. For more articles from our January 2018 issue, pick up a print copy at a local retailer (find a list of locations here) or read our digital version.