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RAIN tribute keeps Beatles music alive for fans

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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The web site for RAIN -- A Tribute To the Beatles clearly states that the show does not take requests.

But that doesn't stop fans from making them, according to Mark Lewis, who launched RAIN as a tribute band before turning it into a multi-media theatrical production that actually predated the ballyhooed "Beatlemania."

"There's so much visual and lighting and video on LED screens behind (the band) that you can't just improvise a show anymore," says Lewis, 63, who no longer plays in the RAIN band but instead manages the show from Reno, Nevada. "In the early days we used to take requests all the time, which would drive the crew nuts. We had a RAIN By Request section on the web site and we'd call people out by name -- 'Is so and so here? This one's for you!'

"It can't really be like that anymore."

Nevertheless, Lewis says he and RAIN's musicians and production principals do "revamp the show once in awhile," and there's an acoustic segment that leaves some room for the odd toss-in. "If it's something really unusual that we haven't done in a long time that gets us excited, it might get thrown in there," Lewis says. "It's hard to stump us. We've been together for so long we've played just about every song in the Beatles' catalog, even the really weird ones like 'You Know My Name, Look Up My Number.'"

With demand to hear Beatles music played live as strong as ever -- and possibly stronger thanks to a string of 50th anniversaries coming every year -- Lewis is confident that RAIN's reign will continue, and that the show is capable of sustaining itself. He even points that one of his current Paul McCartneys, Paul Curatolo, is the son of previous McCartney.

"It's like having a second generation to pick up the mantle, and we have younger guys that we've worked into the band so as we're getting older they continue on the tradition, the legacy so to speak, of RAIN," Lewis says. "The Beatles left this big hole in their career; when they were putting out some of their best music with 'Sgt. Pepper's' and everything, they weren't touring, so we offer people a chance to see a little bit about what it might have been like.

"As long as we keep up the quality, that's the main thing. We keep the show fresh and the quality of the performances strong. If we do that, people will keep coming, I think."

RAIN -- A Tribute to the Beatles

7 p.m. Sunday, May 17.

Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit.

Tickets are $30-$70.

Call 313-471-6611 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.

Web Site: www.olympiaentertainment.com

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