An­nual Lennon trib­ute, in 40th year, goes on­line

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - By David Bauder

NEW YORK » Like many other events, an an­nual John Lennon trib­ute con­cert that takes place in his adopted city of New York on his Oct. 9 birth­day has been forced on­line be­cause of the coronaviru­s pan­demic.

There was no way it was be­ing can­celed, not on what would have been Lennon’s 80th birth­day, not on the trib­ute’s 40th year.

“The idea of not cel­e­brat­ing John, of stop­ping af­ter 39 years, never crossed my mind,” said Joe Raiola, the trib­ute’s pro­ducer and artis­tic direc­tor of the Theatre Within or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Raiola had booked the Town Hall venue for this year’s show. With the pan­demic forc­ing it to stream for free from 7 p.m. to mid­night Eastern time on the Len­ web­site, the event could get more ex­po­sure than ever.

Taped per­for­mances by Jack­son Browne, Patti

Smith, Natalie Mer­chant, Rosanne Cash, Jorma Kauko­nen, Shelby Lynne, Taj Ma­hal, Marc Cohn,

Joan Os­borne and oth­ers will be in­cluded — many from past shows but some new.

Without ticket sales, or­ga­niz­ers will ask for con­tri­bu­tions for pro­grams that ben­e­fit peo­ple af­fected by can­cer. Theatre Within and Gilda’s Club of­fer free work­shops such as song­writ­ing, art and med­i­ta­tion to can­cer pa­tients and sur­vivors and to chil­dren who have lost par­ents to the dis­ease.

Raiola and other friends be­gan their in­for­mal trib­ute to Lennon in 1981, less than a year af­ter the former Bea­tle was shot to death.

It stayed small, at least un­til 24 years in, when Lennon’s wi­dow Yoko Ono read a story about the trib­ute in the New York Daily News and called Raiola to say, in ef­fect, what are you do­ing?

Learn­ing more about it, she of­fered sup­port, and said in a state­ment is­sued Thurs­day that “this is such a won­der­ful way to honor John and the val­ues he stood for.”

Cash, a fel­low New Yorker who was hon­ored with the John Lennon Real Love Award in 2018, has per­formed the former Bea­tle’s songs “I’m Only Sleep­ing” and “Look at Me” at a past trib­ute.

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