One way the festival remains profitable is its careful budget management. Most of the bands that perform at the festival are paid. Besides compensating bands’ travel expenses, hotel, meals, and beer (“Beatles bands love beer,” Jacob said) their talent budget is 25 percent of the entire festival operating budget. Talent, production, stages, sound backline and the like all make up 50 percent of the entire festival's operating budget. Sometimes new or local bands volunteer to play for free just for the love of playing and the festival tries their best to fit them in the schedule.
The process of selecting bands begins during the current festival where the bands are being evaluated for the next year. On average about 60 percent of the bands are invited back, and the festival tries to invite approximately 20 to 25 new bands for the next year. The festival receives hundreds of band submittals, so the selection process can be difficult. Jacob explains that he really only wants to hear a band play two songs: either "Help" or "Nowhere Man." By hearing those two songs he really hears everything he needs. Jacob is particularly open to European bands. “I am inclined to select bands from Europe more liberally than I would from USA-based bands. The European bands usually bring a new edge to the music that I believe is the main reason for our festivals longevity and success.” This year the festival will have 10 international bands from Italy, Holland, Sweden, Germany, Norway and England.
All the bands have their own ways of rehearsing and preparing for the festival, but one show in particular takes extra preparation. Last year was the first year the LOVE show was presented, a Beatles compilation based off the Cirque du Soleil show. This year the LOVE show will be performed again letting listeners re-live the whole Beatles musical lifespan in a condensed period. All You Need Is Love, BritBeat, The Newbees, Rachel Blanton, Classical Strings, Kevin Ashba, and Jesse Jordan will be teaming up to present this show on the lawn stage Saturday, May 26, 7-9 p.m. This production is one of the hardest shows for the bands to prepare since they are all from different places and normally don't play together. Last year took several months of planning, phone calls, and meetings with a week of rehearsals. This year there will be one big rehearsal the day before.
When asked if there was anything Jacob would like to say to readers he responded, “If you attend Abbey Road on the River, you know exactly what I mean, but if you have never been to Abbey Road on the River, you need to treat yourself to our festival. No one leaves Abbey Road on the River unhappy; more clearly stated everyone leaves Abbey Road on the River feeling a lot better about whatever it was that was ailing them before they arrived.”
Photos and video: Courtesy Anna Blanton