Thursday, 31 May 2018

Preview Review- Maharishi and Me: seeking enlightenment with The Beatles’ guru

The following review is just a sample the content that is in the June issue of the magazine which will  be published in just a few weeks.  Members get four issues a year.  Join here.

Maharishi and Me: seeking enlightenment with The Beatles’ guru
Susan Shumsky
Skyhorse Publishing, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-5107-2268-2 (RRP $26.99)

Susan Shumsky is well-placed to write a book about the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – she was a pupil of his for over twenty years and immersed herself in his teachings, his method of meditation (Transcendental - TM) and in his Spiritual Regeneration Movement. In 1966 a teenage Susan, like many of her peers, left home and headed to the hippy scene in Oakland, California. There she began to indulge in the sex and drugs lifestyle, trying LSD and similar mind-expanding drugs in search of something deeper and more meaningful. During this time, she met someone who suggested that there was another way and within days she chanced upon Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda just as George Harrison had during the filming of Help!. This book and encounter was to change her life. Susan then was introduced to Transcendental Meditation and her lifelong spiritual journey began.

“This memoir will raise the veil to uncover how Maharishi captivated me, transformed me and then released me to find self-empowerment in my own spiritual pathway.” Shumsky does not hold back. This is a ‘warts and all’ account of her direct experience with Maharishi and his methods of teaching, his manipulation of his students and staff and his personal foibles. But all throughout she maintains a strong regard and respect for Maharishi as a spiritual teacher (guru) and a man.

Shumsky makes a clear point that the methods practiced by Maharishi may seem cruel and uncaring but were intended to free his students from their egos. “Once we let go of ego attachment, we become our own guru and miracle maker.”

A significant portion of the book and accompanying images is devoted to the Beatles’ experience at the Maharishi’s ashram in Rishikesh. It must be stressed that the author never met the Beatles but her stories about them in India come from known sources and, more interestingly, from people who were there, people other than the ones we have already heard from. One can’t help but wonder that her publisher asked Shumsky to add these stories to make the book more appealing to a wider audience. Well, it works. Shumsky covers the episode with Alexis Mardas, aka ‘Magic Alex’, and the now-identified woman he probably collaborated with to discredit Maharishi, leading to John and George and their wives leaving the ashram abruptly. Without giving too much away, Shumsky’s account of the Beatles’ time in Rishikesh is an eye-opener and one that every Beatles fan should read and consider carefully in light of the author’s experience of meditation and Maharishi’s methods.

As to the contemporary negative views of Maharishi and his teachings, Shumsky rightfully points out that it had always been the case that gurus came from the Brahmin caste in India. Maharishi did not. Also, the teaching of meditation to achieve a higher spiritual status was intended to be provided with no charge. Maharishi was heavily criticised for his focus on Western pupils who were very willing to pay sometimes quite large sums of money to learn from him. But…”Maharishi transformed the world by introducing and popularising meditation into Western culture.”

Her recall is astonishing; the level of detail in her descriptions of the events spanning from 1966 to the present implies she kept a diary although nowhere in the text does she state this. The reader must take it on trust that she recalls these events and those that she was told about accurately. The chapters are presented chronologically which is a big help in following the complicated machinations of her spiritual journey. Most of the chapters start with one of Maharishi’s sayings which, for me, gives so much more insight into his actual teachings then I have hitherto encountered before. Some years ago, I underwent a weekend training course and subsequent follow-up sessions in TM near Marylebone Station in London and although the Maharishi was still alive at the time, I was never privy to any of his teachings.

In this book Susan Shumsky presents an intense insight into TM and Maharishi in an easily understandable manner. This book is a joy to read.

Terry Bloxham

Thursday, 10 May 2018

The Mersey Beatles Following In The Footsteps Of Their Heroes

Following In The Footsteps Of Their Heroes – THE MERSEY BEATLES Announce Biggest Ever UK Tour
After sold out shows in the USA and Europe, the world’s favourite Liverpool-born Beatles tribute band – THE MERSEY BEATLES – are embarking on an historic UK Tour.
Their GET BACK 2018 TOUR visits the very same towns, cities and historic British venues that the original Fab Four first rocked in the 1960s. Tickets are on sale now from
Fewer than 80 of the 200-plus British venues The Beatles played between 1957 and 1966 remain today as so many historic dance halls and theatres that shook to the original Merseybeat sound have been demolished.
In a unique bid to celebrate both The Beatles’ music and the special places that helped shape that world-changing Rock 'n' Roll sound, The Mersey Beatles will play 12 original Fab Four venues in October and November 2018.
The Get Back Tour hits Wirral, Stockport, Whitchurch, Blackburn, Rhyl, Aldershot, Bedford, Norwich, Stoke, Coventry, Lydney, Walthamstow, Margate, Salisbury, Alloa, Aberdeen and Newcastle.
Within a stunning two-hour show – which brilliantly captures all the hits from Love Me Do to Let It Be – The Mersey Beatles will play the exact same songs John, Paul, George and Ringo did at the venue, allowing audiences to really ‘Get Back in time for a true Fab Four experience’.
Ranging from town halls and ballrooms to old cinemas and theatres, the tour opens on October 31st at Port Sunlight’s historic Hulme Hall where, in 1962, Ringo Starr made his first appearance as The Beatles new drummer.
Other venues include Newcastle’s Majestic Ballroom (now the O2 Academy). It was here, after a 1963 show, that John Lennon and Paul McCartney penned the worldwide smash She Loves You in a hotel around the corner.
The 17-date Get Back Tour visits England, Wales and Scotland, including a show at Alloa Town Hall which, in 1960, the then ‘Silver Beetles’ played as part of their first ever professional tour – just months before they famously headed to Hamburg for the first time.
When it comes to stage performance, The Mersey Beatles brilliantly exude the inner and outer spirit of the original Fab Four from the costumes, the haircuts, the instruments and, of course, that unmistakable and legendary Liverpool-born sound.
Julia Baird, John Lennon’s sister and director of The Cavern Club, said: “When I hear The Mersey Beatles, it really IS The Beatles”

Joe Flannery, Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein's assistant, added: “When I saw them play in The Cavern, they perfectly recreated the atmosphere that the original Beatles produced. It was just like listening to The Beatles again.”
Formed in 1999 in Liverpool by four school friends, The Mersey Beatles have toured the world many times over. And the band – Mark Bloor (John), Steven Howard (Paul), Craig McGown (George) and Brian Ambrose (Ringo) cannot wait to hit the road in 2018.
Steven said: “This tour is going to be amazing! We are, of course, all Beatles fans and, as Liverpool lads we’ve been obsessed with the band since we were in school. It’s going to be great to follow in the Fab Four’s footsteps and truly recreate those special shows at these wonderful and historic venues.”
Mark added: “We pride ourselves on bringing a true Beatles experience, covering all the eras from the days of The Cavern Club, through Beatlemania to Sgt Pepper and the band’s final gig on the rooftop of the Apple offices. We cannot wait to Get Back to where it all began for the greatest band of all time.”
OCT 31                 PORT SUNLIGHT – Hulme Hall
NOV 6                   STOCKPORT – Plaza
NOV 8                   WHITCHURCH – Civic Centre
NOV 9                   BLACKBURN - King George’s Hall (Windsor Suite)
NOV 10                RHYL – Pavilion
NOV 13                ALDERSHOT – Princes Hall
NOV 14                BEDFORD – Corn Exchange
NOV 15                NORWICH – Epic Studios
NOV 16                STOKE – Kings Hall
NOV 17                COVENTRY – Albany Theatre
NOV 21                 LYDNEY – Town Hall
NOV 22                WALTHAMSTOW – Maud @ Mirth, Marvel and Maud
NOV 23                MARGATE – Winter Gardens
NOV 24                SALISBURY – City Hall
NOV 28                ALLOA – Town Hall
NOV 29                ABERDEEN – The Beach Ballroom
NOV 30                NEWCASTLE – O2 Academy
Tickets are on sale now  via

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

The Beatles liked the Crickets - do you?

One of the many early rock and roll groups who influenced the boys who would meet and eventually become The Beatles was Buddy Holly and the Crickets.  We happen to like them too, so we are happy to spread the word about this show in Twickenham coming this June.

With audiences around the world dancing in the aisles this legendary production hits The Exchange, Twickenham. Oh Boy! Rave On! Peggy Sue! That’ll Be The Day! - All smash
hits of the golden days of rock ’n’ roll, when ‘doo-wops’ and ‘ah hey, ah hey, heys’ rang out
from every jukebox!

If you weren’t born then, or were too young to be a part of this exciting period of musical history then you won’t want to miss out on the electrifying party that is Buddy - The Buddy
Holly Story!

Experience the ups and downs of Holly’s ‘budding’ musical career as he strives to fulfil his potential genius. The heart-warming tale of a small town all-American boy is told with care, detail and humour. Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story finally explodes into a celebration of youth and lust for life in a re-creation of his last concert at Clear Lake!

This immaculately stages production gives some of the nation’s best musical talent the chance to perform Buddy Holly’s music as it will always be remembered and always should be performed - with youth, joy and bounces enthusiasm. Remember, there are many imitations but only

Box Office - 020 8240 2399

Online booking

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Lennons's Banjo Opens to Rave Reviews

Pete Best (credit Anthony Robling)

Danny O'Brien & Stephanie Dooley (credit Anthony Robling)

Alan Stocks & Lynn Francis (credit Anthony Robling)

The Beatles’ original drummer Pete Best thrilled
Liverpool audiences by making his stage debut
First look at images - Show continues at Epstein Theatre until 5 May
New stage comedy Lennon’s Banjo had its world premiere in Liverpool last night – starting its two-week run, last night’s press night performance has received a whole host of rave and 5-star reviews.
The show opened earlier this week with preview performances at the Epstein Theatre, where it will continue its run until Saturday 5 May.
The all-star cast and creative team have generated rave reviews for the new show, in which Beatles’ original drummer Pete Best made his stage debut.
The eight-strong cast feature Eric Potts, Mark Moraghan, Jake Abraham, Lynn Francis, Danny O’Brien, Stephanie Dooley, Alan Stocks, and Roy Carruthers.
Pete Best also appears as himself in three special performances. Two yesterday and the final performance being the last show in the run on Saturday 5 May. Alan Stocks will portray Pete Best in all other performances.
Lennon’s Banjo is based on the 2012 novel Julia’s Banjo written by Rob Fennah and Helen A Jones. The play is produced by Rob Fennah and Pulse Records Ltd in association with Bill Elms and directed by Mark Heller.
This is what the critics had to say about Lennon’s Banjo:
“two hours of high jinx, rip roaring antics and perfectly timed one liners”
North West End
“A fast-paced, entertaining retelling of Rob Fennah’s and Helen A. Jones’ acclaimed novel which will have audiences captivated till the end.”
YM Liverpool
“The strong cast deliver Rob Fennah’s witty script to perfection in this laugh out loud production… Lennon’s Banjo is a fun and fast paced comedy romp.”
Opening Night
“A captivating drama with great touches of comedy, filled with honesty, a dynamic between the superb cast which is tremendous to witness”
Liverpool Sound and Vision
Writer Rob Fennah commented: “Wow, what a fantastic reaction we’ve had to the world premiere of Lennon’s Banjo – and in Liverpool too, where the magic of The Beatles first began. The story about John’s missing banjo on which he was taught to play music by his beloved mother has really struck a chord with audiences. And our super talented cast, crew – and not forgetting original Beatles’ drummer Pete Best have really bought the story to life on stage.
“We’re looking forward to introducing audiences to the story until 5 May – the mix of fact and fiction really is fascinating.”
Lennon’s Banjo is set in present day Liverpool. The quest is on to find the holy grail of pop memorabilia – the missing banjo on which John Lennon was first taught to play music by his mother Julia Lennon, who introduced the youngster to rock and roll.
Mysteriously, the banjo went missing shortly after Julia’s death. One thing is certain though, if it did resurface it is estimated to be worth in the region of five million pounds.
The race to find the holy grail of pop memorabilia is on!
When Beatles tour guide Barry Seddon (Eric Potts) finds a letter written by John Lennon, he unearths a clue to solving the greatest mystery in pop history – the whereabouts of Lennon’s first musical instrument which has been missing for 60 years. But Barry’s loose tongue alerts Texan dealer Travis Lawson (Danny O’Brien) to the priceless relic.
In an attempt to get his hands on the letter and the clues, he persuades his wife Cheryl (Stephanie Dooley) to befriend the hapless tour guide and win his affections. The race to find Lennon’s Banjo is on!
The Salvation Army’s Strawberry Field project is the official charity partner of Lennon’s Banjo.
Lennon’s Banjo’s are delighted to be working with its Fab Four Production Partners who are The Cavern Club Liverpool, The Beatles Story, Hard Days Night Hotel, and The Beatles Shop.
Watch the promo video here   
For more info visit

Epstein Theatre Liverpool
Until Saturday 5 May 2018
Evenings 7.30pm | Wed & Sat Mats 2.30pm | Sun 29th April 5pm
Group Rates Available

CALL:               0844 888 4411
IN PERSON:     Hanover Street, Liverpool, L1 3DZ | Mon-Thu 2pm-6pm, Fri & Sat 12pm-6pm


CALL:               0844 8000 410
IN PERSON:     Echo Arena Box Office, Kings Dock, Liverpool, L3 4FP |
12noon on Echo Arena event days, and from 9am - 6pm on Fridays