THE MAGIC OF THE BEATLES

Beatles super fan Ken Hoffman spotlights extraordinary night for Houston music lovers

Beatles super fan Ken Hoffman spotlights extraordinary night for Houston music lovers
British composer Howard Goodall will reveal the magic of The Beatles in an exclusive engagement. Photo courtesy of Apple Corps. Ltd/The Beatles Facebook

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

If you're a Beatles fan, a splendid time is guaranteed for all when British composer, music historian, and Paul McCartney's good buddy Howard Goodall brings his "Magic of the Beatles Explained" presentation to Houston on Monday, December 16.

Goodall will dig deep into the Beatles' legacy and reveal how John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr wrote and recorded some of the greatest songs in popular music history. It's a lecture that's got a good beat — and you can dance to it.

His presentation, making its U.S. debut, is sponsored by Gow Media (CultureMap's parent company) and St. Luke's Methodist Church Friends of Music. It will take place at The George Theater, home of Houston's A.D. Players repertory company (5420 Westheimer Rd.). Doors open at 6:30 pm, with Goodall taking the stage at 7:30 pm. Tickets, ranging from $30 to $50, can be purchased here.

After Goodall's presentation, I will host a Q&A session with the British composer. Since I'm listed as "perhaps Houston's biggest Beatles fan," I will pose fun questions for Goodall from a fan's perspective. If you've got a question that's always bugged you about a Beatles song, feel free to "Help!" me.

For example, I've wondered why the early Beatles spoke in thick, heavy Liverpudlian accents, but sang with Middle American newscaster accents, and what did their fans back at the Cavern Club think about that? It would have been weird if the Beach Boys recorded "I Get Around" sounding like Prince Charles. Putting my airfare where my mouth is, the day after Goodall's show, I am taking my son to Liverpool as a graduation gift. He's a Beatles' fan, too, and never been to the Fab Four's birthplace.

In addition to his Beatles work, Goodall is a celebrated composer and songwriter in his own right. He has written shows for London's West End, television, and movies. He was named Composer of the Year by the Classic Brit Awards (England's version of the Grammys), in 2009. He also won a U.S. Emmy Award for the HBO film, Into the Storm.

Much of Goodall's presentation will center on The Beatles' legendary Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, named the greatest rock 'n' roll album of all time by Rolling Stone. Goodall will examine several songs from Pepper, including "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," "She's Leaving Home," "Being For the Benefit of Mister Kite," and "Lovely Rita" — plus two songs originally intended for the album, "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever," which instead were released as a double A-sided single.

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"Magic of the Beatles Explained" takes place at The George Theater, 5420 Westheimer. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with Goodall taking the stage at 7:30 p.m. Tickets, ranging from $30 to $50, can be purchased at here. Special VIP tickets are $100 and include premium seating, a meet-and-greet and photo op with Goodall, early admission at 6 p.m., plus light snacks and drinks before and after the show.


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How significant Astros spring training revelation highlights even more reasons for optimism

The Houston Astros had a very successful season in 2023 which led them back to the ALCS for the seventh-straight season, but despite another deep playoff run, their pitching did regress from the prior year.

While many would point to their historic bullpen in 2022 and say they had nowhere to go but down, that doesn't paint the full picture. It was the starting rotation that really fell off in 2023. Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Hunter Brown, and Jose Urquidy all saw a spike in their ERAs from the previous season.

According to a recent report from The Athletic's Chandler Rome, we might have an explanation for Jose Urquidy's down year.

The Astros and Urquidy believe he was tipping his pitches. Which would explain why the slugging percentage against his fastball jumped from .482 in 2022 to .632 in 2023.

When hitters know a pitcher is tipping, they often start hunting fastballs. Also, his strikeout percentage went down last year and his walks went way up. He had 2 more walks per nine innings in 2023 than he had in 2021.

Part of that could be him aiming for corners and refusing to give in to hitters because his fastball wasn't performing up to expectations.

His WHIP in 2023 really jumped off the page as well. He finished with a WHIP over 1.4. While his career WHIP is 1.143. That's a huge difference.

Back to the big picture

Until last season, Urquidy never finished with an ERA over 3.95. He recorded a 5.29 ERA last year. So when we factor in his shoulder injury that cost him three months of the season, and the fact he was tipping pitches, we believe he's in store for a bounce-back season.

And the Astros are going to need him, especially with Justin Verlander and JP France possibly not being available for the start of the season.

What will the rotation look like early on?

The Astros haven't ruled Verlander out yet, so he could be ready to go. But if not, and we base this off what we saw last season. The rotation will likely include Valdez, Javier, Brown, Urquidy, Ronel Blanco, and Brandon Bielak.

Don't miss the video above for the full discussion!

Catch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) with Charlie Pallilo, Brandon Strange, and Josh Jordan every Monday on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel.

We'll continue to drop videos throughout the week!


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