When he was 3, Addison Love was voted the "Beatles Fan of the New Millennium" at Beatlefest by playing a toy guitar and singing "A Hard Day's Night" with his father.
Now 16, Addison is getting a chance to take his fandom to the next level — playing Beatles songs live in front of an audience with fluorescent lights and cameras that project his image on a screen behind him.
"It's always a rush getting up on the stage performing music, especially since this music is so close to me and a part of my life," he said.
Addison is one of 145 Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Arts students who will perform songs from the Beatles' iconic "Revolver" album, as well as hits by Electric Light Orchestra at this weekend's annual Music Media and Entertainment Technology (MMET) classic rock showcase.
For the last six weeks, the MMET students have been practicing tirelessly, learning chords and choreography in nearly five-hour rehearsals four nights a week.
Like the Beatles, who utilized new technology to help make them one of the biggest bands in history, the students learn all aspects of concert production. For the nearly two-hour show, the students will not only perform the music, but also embrace all the duties of a live concert, from filming clips that will be projected on screens in the venue to creating graphics and controlling sound and lighting, among other jobs.
Jamie Knight, an MMET instructor, called the program "edutainment."
"We look at it as an extension of our classroom, and we teach the audience with our performances," he said.
Knight said that the program is unique in that the students learn popular music, not classical.
He also said that he and fellow MMET instructor Michael Simmons believe that this generation of children has grown up with music-editing software and video-editing software, so it is important that they learn how to use these technologies if they want to be musicians.
The Beatles, Knight said, are a perfect group for his students because the band is "timeless," and he looks to them as a "launching point" for the program.
"Whether you like the Beatles or not, they came of age as a band when things were changing," he said. "They wrote their own music and created new techniques in the studio."
For each MMET concert, the performers have a six-week period to learn the music, create projected films for intermissions between songs and learn choreography.
"It's intense, but that's what they have to learn for the real world," Knight said.
To prepare for the show, the students listen to the music individually on their iPods or smart phones, as well as take lessons from APA instructors.
Addison, who will primarily sing and play guitar on ELO songs in the show, said learning the songs was a bit difficult.
"The way ELO's music is, it's a very big sound," he said. "It's harder when you're going in and learning your part. It's hard to pick out your part past all the other instruments."
He also said the Beatles and ELO songs have more thought put into them than modern music, but they are still easy to follow and have simple melodies that are easy to memorize.
The concerts Thursday and Friday at First Christian Church will serve not only as a showcase for students, but also a fundraiser for the academy. Items, like a signed Beach Boys guitar and cruises, will be raffled and auctioned off at the event to raise money for a new computer lab for the students.
Knight said the program's current computers are more than six years old and can't keep up with today's technology, which is essential. He said if the concert sells out, the program will be able to purchase a new computer lab.
If You Go
What: "The Beatles Classic Album Showcase"
Where: First Christian Church, 1207 Main St., Huntington Beach
When: 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday; raffle at 5:45 p.m. each day
Cost: $20 general admission; $15 for students and seniors
Information: (714) 536-2514 Ext. 4025 or http://tinyurl.com/RevolverELO.