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Baja Bugs impress Queen Bee audience at Beatles Fair John Philip Wyllie | Fri, Apr 04 2014 06:04 PM

The two remaining Beatles and their legions of fans recently celebrated the 50-year anniversary of the band’s historic 1964 “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance that kicked off a musical and cultural revolution that is still being felt today. 

Judging from the enthusiasm witnessed at last weekend’s San Diego Beatles Fair at North Park’s Queen Bee Art and Cultural Center,  the Beatles’ popularity won’t be dissipating any time soon.

Longtime Chula Vista musician and Sweetwater High alum Hector Penalosa participated in the annual event along with his Baja Bugs bandmates. Their high-energy renditions of many of the Beatles’ Hamburg-Liverpool  era songs was one of the many highlights of the all-day event. 

Penalosa founded the Baja Bugs 15 years ago. Through the years, and through continuous lineup changes, the band has participated in a half dozen similar  Beatles celebrations.  Its current incarnation features Nick “Nico” Peters on drums, David Fleminger on lead guitar and keyboards, Ron Silva on rhythm guitar and Penalosa on bass.

Silva and Penalosa share most of the lead vocals, but having skillful Ringo Starr lookalike Peters on drums  and vocals is a definite plus, as is Fleminger’s instrumental finesse.   

The event, organized by Queen Bee owner Alma Rodriquez along with Carmen Salmon and her group of longtime Beatles fans, Beatles Fair 2014 featured distinguished Beatles authors, speakers, memorabilia vendors and artists. The major focus, however, was where it should be: on the music. 

Besides the Baja Bugs, inspired sets were performed by Joey Harris, Bart Mendoza & True Stories, Dave Humphries, Rockola and Britain’s Finest. Each band or performer had a different emphasis and focus so that a large portion of the Beatles impressive catalogue was covered.

“The music that the Beatles created digs deep into your heart and soul,” Penalosa said. “Back in the day it had an emotional impact on their fans. It continues to have an impact on younger listeners today. I’ve seen little kids totally obsessed with them. The Beatles had an aura about them that projected happiness, good feeling and love. Who wouldn’t want that in their lives? Their music is never going to die or fade away. It’s here to stay just like the music of Mozart and Beethoven.”

Upcoming Baja Bugs performances: Riviera Supper Club, 7777 University Road., La Mesa,  April 5 and first Saturday of every month;  Pal Joey’s, 5147 Waring Road,  San Diego on April 25; and Southwestern College (noon) on May 18.
For additional information, visit The Baja Bugs Facebook page.

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