For The Benefit Of Mr. B: Area Musicians Come Together For Lennon Fest

Posted on:

< < Back to

When Eric Leighton was planning the first Lennon Fest back in 2000, he was worried about making enough money to pay the sound guy.

He needn't have worried. People came out of the woodwork to attend the celebration of John Lennon's music, and have been returning each year in larger numbers.

Eventually the fest was expanded from its original home at The Union to include Jackie O's Pub and Brewery, located next door on West Union Street.

Those two venues will play host once again during the 13th Annual Lennon Fest, scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 8, the 32nd anniversary of Lennon's untimely death.

Lennon Fest was created by Leighton (aka "Junebug") as a way to raise money for the Johnny B Fund, set up to help young local musicians pay for music lessons, and named after Leighton's close friend John Bartlett, who passed away in 1994.

In the past, the fest took place during Ohio University's winter break, when locals gleefully took advantage of a student-free uptown. This year, the show occurs at the end of OU's fall semester, which means there may be some new faces in the audience.

"I can only hope that there will be a strong student contingent at the show," said Leighton. "I also hope that it doesn’t keep some of the more tentative of our county denizens from attending as they usually do. Overall, fans of the music are always out for a good time and enjoy themselves, as do the musicians."

The evening will feature 13 local acts, many of whom have been poring over Beatles songbooks, trying to figure out unusual guitar chords and complex harmonies.

That includes Leighton, who, as a member of The Lennon Orchestra, will be performing twice on Saturday night.

"My Novembers and Decembers are spent learning Beatles songs," he said. "The material is challenging, but rewarding. It's a joy to play, and with so many other people around to help you sing the songs, it's one of the most satisfying shows to play."

As an added bonus, Emerson B, Johnny B's son, will close the night in the Brew Pub at Jackie O’s.

"It's nice to bring things full circle," said Leighton.

Doors open at 8 p.m. with the music starting at 9 p.m. A suggested donation of $5 gains admission to both venues.

The schedule:


Left-Hand Shake  9 p.m.
Poppycock  9:45 p.m.
Hook & Eye  10:30 p.m.
Bonzai!  11:15 p.m.
Dropdead Sons  12 a.m.
Lennon Orchestra  1 a.m.


Lennon Orchestra  9 p.m.
After Hours  10:45 p.m.
Broken Ring  11:45 p.m.
Nick & Joe Show  1 a.m.


Evan Wenner  10 p.m.
JJ Reed  10:45 p.m.
Leah Nairn  11:15 p.m.
Emerson B  12 a.m.