The Ultimate Battle of the Bands Comes to Bay Street: The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones

Inda Eaton, Michael Schiano, Dawnette and Mama Lee during the Beatles 50th Anniversary Concert at the Bay Street Theater on Saturday. Michael Heller photo.
Inda Eaton, Michael Schiano, Dawnette and Mama Lee during the Beatles 50th Anniversary Concert at the Bay Street Theater on Saturday. Michael Heller photo.

By Emily J. Weitz

Last year, to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles’ arrival in the United States, Bay Street Theater hosted a tribute show, with local musicians performing Beatles songs. The event was a wild success.

“It could have sold out three times over,” said Joe Lauro, who organized the event and played bass in the band. When he thought about what kind of creative winter programming he could add to the schedule at Bay Street Theater, he immediately thought of the magic of that night.

“Rather than do the same thing again,” he said, “even though it was so magical, I thought we could make it a good natured, totally danceable Battle of the Bands.”

This is the ultimate battle: The Rolling Stones versus The Beatles. They are two bands that changed the landscape of music forever, whose songs have been covered, sampled, and repurposed countless times in the decades since the bands’ inceptions. On Saturday, at Bay Street, local musicians will pay homage. On one side of the stage will be The Beatles, and on the other side The Rolling Stones. Okay, you’ll have to close your eyes and use your imagination. But the sound will be authentic.

“Michael Schiano of the Hoo Doo Loungers is a drop-dead John Lennon voice,” said Mr. Lauro. “And Mick Hargreaves is suited for the McCartney stuff. We’re not putting on Beatle wigs. We’re not trying to be The Beatles. We’re just celebrating their music and playing it with great respect and authenticity.”

Mr. Lauro will pay his own type of tribute to The Beatles with the type of bass he’ll use: a Hofner violin-shaped bass manufactured in 1965.

“It’s the exact same bass used by McCartney,” he said. “We’ll also be using 12-string electric guitars like the ones the Beatles used.”

The idea is that each band will get a 20-minute set, and they’ll go back and forth. At the end of the night, the audience will get to vote on which band they like best that night.

The bands are rehearsing on their own, and the only rule is that they can’t perform songs that were created after 1970, when the Beatles broke up. The Rolling Stones continued to churn out hits, and continue to this day, but in the interest of fairness, only their early work will be played.

Both of these bands started out in England in the early 1960s, both skyrocketed to superstardom, and both have lasting influences on the character of rock and roll. But Mr. Lauro thinks the similarities might end there.

“The Stones were the bad boys,” said Mr. Lauro. “The Beatles were sweeter, more candid and funny. When The Beatles were interviewed everyone laughed, and they were so charming. [When The Rolling Stones were interviewed] Mick Jagger kind of mumbled, everyone was afraid of Bill Wyman.”

That bad boy reputation was rooted in the music they played. The Beatles were known for their harmonies and their bright sound. The music of The Rolling Stones, on the other hand, came from a background in the blues.

“It had a harder edge,” said. Mr. Lauro.

Klyph Black, who put together the group that will cover The Rolling Stones, was deeply influenced by the band in his own musical development.

“I always loved The Stones,” he said, “and they had a big influence on the kind of songwriter, guitar player, and bass player I am.”

He appreciates that the kinds of music The Rolling Stones drew on.

“I was into blues, rock and roll and country as long as I can remember,” said Mr. Black. “And they mixed all that roots music together and came up with the greatest rock and roll band to this day! They inspired me to write and to rock, and still do.”

“We have this gem in our midst in Bay Street Theater,” said Mr. Lauro. “We can do creative, fun things in the winter, and this is a wonderful way to support live music.”

On Saturday at 8 p.m., the most congenial of battles will take place with The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones, bringing the community together in the theater in the round at Bay Street Theater, 2 Bay Street, Sag Harbor. Tickets are $25, and can be purchased at or by calling (631) 725-9500.