San Geronimo (photo: Carolyn McCoy)
Words by Carolyn McCoy
When the Beatles released Abbey Road in 1969, the band was in great turmoil and on the verge of breaking up. Although the album did well in the UK, it came to the US under mixed criticism. It took many years after the fact for this amazing group of songs to become truly appreciated.
Although the Beatles never performed the album live, many bands over the decades have done their best to honor the songs and the legacy that the band gifted us within Abbey Road. Marin County rockers San Geronimo set forth to bring to life these great songs, words, and melodies by recreating, in its entirety, Abbey Road in an epic, sold-out night at Terrapin Crossroads‘ Grate Room.
In order to capture the true authenticity of the album, the band added three violin players and a cellist, New Monsoon keyboardist Phil Ferlino and Mother Truckers’ vocalist Teal Collins-Zee, along with the five regular members of San Geronimo, guitarists/songwriters Darren Nelson and Jeremy D’Antonio, bassist Mike Anderson, drummer Danny Luehring (“The Beatles ARE the reason that I play the drums.“) and guitarist Dave Zirbel, (“The Beatles are probably the hugest influence on me in my entire life”). From the opening track of “Come Together” to “I Want You,” then on to “Sun King” and the final track “Her Majesty,” the band upheld their own sound while simultaneously nailing the essence of the Beatles.
The second set was pure San Geronimo songs; hard driving, story-based Americana at its best. The band showcased their favorites such as the rocking “Josey,” the sweet love song “Carolina” as well as the bluesy romp of “Pay Day” and a short tribute to Aretha Franklin, with Collins-Zee performing a smoldering “Respect.”
Recreating Abbey Road live is no doubt a tricky thing, as it can be difficult to imitate the freshness first heard in 1969 — when many of the effects, vocals, arrangements, and strings were unusual additions within a rock album. But San Geronimo stretched the sonic limits and recreated something magical.
Says Darren Nelson, “I actually was intimidated by the notion of doing this album. I’m such a big fan of the Beatles and Abbey Road speaks to me as well as so many others worldwide that I was afraid our take on it might ruffle some die-hard feathers. But then as we got working on it I realized I am so proud of my bandmates for putting in the amount of hours to respectfully do this album justice.”