World’s top Ringo Starr tribute artist set for Lanesboro appearance

Ringo Starr tribute artist Ringer Star will be performing at the St. Mane Theatre in Lanesboro on Friday, Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m. Local favorite “The Lost Faculties” will perform as the “All-Star Backup Band.”
By : 
Bluff Country Reader

One of the original “Fab Four” is making an appearance in Lanesboro this month. Ringo Starr tribute artist Mike Callahan of Detroit, Mich., will play a show on Friday, Sept. 28, at the St. Mane Theater, starting at 7:30 p.m. “The Lost Faculties,” a local band, will perform as the Ringo Starr “All-Star Backup Band.” Callahan said his love for the Beatles, as well as music in general, started very early in life.

“When I was 10 years old, we’d seen the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show,” Callahan recalled. “My sister and her friend had put together a pretend band, complete with cardboard guitars, mop-top wigs, and they asked me to be (drummer) Ringo (Starr). We mimicked the new Beatles album that had just come out. I played drums on pots and pans.”

Born and raised in Detroit, Callahan remembers that experience as his first “official Ringo gig.” He’s been a drummer for more than half his life. Callahan has been in several bands, including a Jimi Hendrix cover band. He’s also been in a Beatles tribute band that came complete with the suits and wigs.

However, Callahan didn’t look a lot like Ringo Starr until someone brought up the subject roughly eight years ago. “The last time I saw Ringo and his All-Star Band, he was still wearing the wild satin clothes and other far-out stuff, complete with ponytail and a good-sized beard,” Callahan recalled. “I found out that he’d replaced the big beard with a smaller scruffy one. We also had roughly the same hairline at that time. About five years ago, we were going to the Beatle Fest in Chicago, but we’d lost two of our guitar players. I thought it was a good time to put together an All-Star Band of past winners that everyone would know at Beatle Fest for the ‘Battle of the Bands.’ That’s when I decided to do a Ringo character. The crowd loved it.”

Due in no small part to his Ringo performance, Callahan’s band won that year’s Battle of the Bands competition. But when he walked off the stage, Callahan planned to go home. However, an Arkansas promoter at the show had other ideas. Arkansas had its own Beatle Fest and the promoter wanted Callahan to make an appearance.

“It was an overwhelmingly positive experience,” Callahan said. “People really thought I was Ringo and they responded. I played the part for around 13 hours. That’s when I decided to put some effort into my Ringo impersonation efforts. I went to Abbey Road on the River (the ‘60s and Beatles music fest in Jefferson, Ind.), unannounced, dressed as Ringo. I asked several bands if I could sit in with them. At that point, I had to become a lead singer, which I’ve never done before.”

After that, it was off to the International Beatle Fest in Liverpool, England, for the very first time. Beatles fans can take a trip called the Magical History Tour, seeing sights like the filming location of “A Hard Day’s Night,” as well as the Abbey Road Studios. Callahan brought along a videographer and photographer to document the trip.

It was such a big hit that the Beatles Fest promoters invited Callahan to sing a song at a George Harrison Tribute at the London Philharmonic, easily one of the highlights of his career. For the next three years, he had an appearance scheduled somewhere in the world for about nine months out of the year. “From the humble beginnings at Abbey Road on the River,” he said, “I’ve been to seven countries multiple times and toured with seven All-Star Bands. It’s been an amazing journey after starting with such a small concept.

“I’m the only Ringo tribute artist in the world currently that looks as much like him as I do,” Callahan added. “And that’s with a lot of good tribute artists working today.  I started off my Ringo career by studying all of his performances I could find on YouTube. I studied his moves, the way he talks, what he wore, and the way he moves. The drumming was much less of an effort because I already played the drums.”

Callahan is really surprised at just how influential and loved Beatles music still is today. He said they wrote some of the most incredible music in history, noting that a “good song is a good song forever.”

Callahan feels the Beatles set a standard that really changed the world, musically. “I go to these gigs and see kids that aren’t more than ten years old singing along with Beatles songs,” he said. “Their parents have clearly been playing Beatles songs as the kids were growing up. And, it’s the same thing all over the world, no matter where I go to perform.

“The show I put on is the closest thing I can do to put on the exact same show that Ringo is currently putting on as he tours the world,” Callahan said about his appearance in Lanesboro. “I’ve designed the performance based on the ‘Ringo at the Ryman’ performance that people can find on YouTube. It’ll be a lot of the songs that Ringo is doing now with his band, as well as some songs from his days with the Beatles.”

He’s looking forward to playing with the Lost Faculties in Lanesboro. Nathan Davidson of the Lost Faculties had been talking with Callahan about performing in Lanesboro for years, and their plans are finally going to happen. Fans will hear a lot of familiar songs, including “It Don’t Come Easy,” “Never Without You,” “Photograph” and “You’re Sixteen.”

“Music back then was timeless and easy to relate to,” Callahan said. “It still is, even to this day. Music that’s written and performed from the heart will always be easy to relate to, and that’s what people are going to see and hear in Lanesboro on Sept. 28.”

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