Drew Harrison plans to sing “Imagine” on Dec. 31, just as he has done each New Year’s Eve for the past 38 years. In many ways, he feels it to be the perfect song for fresh starts. It is, as he says, “about possibilities, and it means as much to me now as it ever has.”
Harrison is the John Lennon of the Sun Kings, one of many Beatles tribute bands out there, but one he says is different from the others. Rain, for instance, looks back at the history of the band. The Sun Kings, in its own way, looks forward.
“We try to answer the question, ‘What would it have been like if they had not broken up in 1971?’” he says. “We create the experience you would have had, and we make the music as authentic as we can.”
Calling from a pub in the Czech Republic, Harrison and his bandmates are set to play Harrah’s Tahoe on Saturday (7:30 p.m.; $22; Ticketmaster).
Harrison first heard the Beatles when he was a youth at a recreation camp. His counselor put on “The White Album” and he fell in love with it, especially with his favorite Beatles song, “Dear Prudence.” He went on to earn a degree from UC Berkeley in peace and conflict studies. Then he started singing Beatles songs professionally, and the Sun Kings resulted 15 years ago.
“The Beatles are a genre, a genre to themselves,” he says. “There are so many people out there who love them. The songs are so much about the power and effect they have had on us.
“In live concert, it was not so much that they were talking to you. It was as if they were talking with you. The fourth wall came down and that is what we offer. A Sun Kings concert is an interactive experience.”
The band also includes James Funk, who handles the Paul McCartney vocals; Bruce Coe (George Harrison); Steve Scarpelli (Ringo Starr); and Ruben Salis, who accompanies with all sorts of instruments, sort of in the role of Billy Preston. The full name of the concert is “The Sun Kings, A Beatles Tribute as Nature Intended.”