For Ed Turner and Number 9, putting on sold-out shows at which the timeless music of The Beatles is performed is as much about musical perfection as it is helping children in need.
The group will perform at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 10 and 11 at the Imperial Theatre. Tickets cost $15-$40 from (706) 722-8341 or www.imperialtheatre.com. The shows are sponsored by the Columbia County Exchange Club and benefit Child Enrichment.
“For many youths, Child Enrichment fills the ‘missing link’ in the lives of kids,” Turner said in an e-mail interview. “The band and I like children, as we were once kids too. Most of us are.”
Child Enrichment provides services to aid children, including running the Court Appointed Special Advocates program, in which volunteers speak up for abused and neglected children; the Child Advocacy Center, which aids law enforcement in child abuse cases; the Children’s Clothing Closet, which provides clothing to kids in need; and a program to train volunteers.
“(Ed Turner and Number 9) have been fantastic for us, and a great form of support,” said Dan Hillman, the executive director of the organization.
Turner said audiences go to the shows to hear great music in a nonsmoking, family-friendly, all-ages environment. The band will perform three sets, including the entire album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, complete with strings and horns, and will also perform music from artists such as Chicago, Stevie Wonder and Rod Stewart.
“The Beatles’ music is as timeless as good food and drink,” he said. “Their irresistible melodies, clever lyrics, superb musicianship and astounding teamwork of the Fab Four assures that their music will be popular forever.”
The band strives to perform the songs to a high level of excellence – although it’s a great challenge, Turner said, because the songs were never performed live by the Fab Four, especially Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever.
“Those songs are outrageously tough, even with our 14-piece Number 9 strings and horns orchestra,” Turner said. “You have to take some liberties because of the tape loops, backward sounds and Indian instruments such as sitar, tamboura and table drums – but we have those instruments, too.”
The historic Imperial Theatre is the perfect setting for the shows, Turner said.
“The Imperial is simply a magnificent venue, especially in the acoustic and aesthetic sense,” Turner said. “That’s why folks like Robert Earl Keen and many bluegrass bands keep coming back again and again.”
Keeping up musical excellence is hard work, but is a must in order to give the audience the very best.
“We rehearse two to three days a week for three to four months for these shows as folks have paid good money for their seats and deserve nothing less,” Turner said.
The cause they’re playing for has been around since 1978, and Hillman said awareness of child abuse is needed now more than ever.
“You’re never going to see an actual picture of an abused child,” Hillman said. “I think there’s a disconnect and as long as (people) can’t see it, it’s easy for them to not get involved.”
The fundraising that Ed Turner and Number 9 are doing during their performances is critical to Child Enrichment’s mission, Hillman said. Beyond that, the organization needs all the friends it can get.
“We need friends, and they turn into volunteers and ambassadors,” he said. “And a lot of the people who become our friends end up doing something to help us in a big capacity.”