— Days Without Shea —

How big were The Remains?

So big that The Beatles had to close for them at Shea Stadium in 1966.

In case you aren't hip to the Boston garage rockers, here is a clip:

And why do we bring this up now? Because Barry of Barry and the Remains gave this very cool interview recently, where he remembers that legendary gig when The Beatles re-rocked Shea:

Nashville's Barry Tashian remembers playing second base at New York's Shea Stadium.

Well, playing a guitar on a stage erected near second base. Tashian wasn't good enough at baseball to become one of the 127 second basemen in New York Mets history.

Not that it was ever an ambition. He was a Dodgers fan.

Also, he preferred music over hardball, and he stood on that infield stage at Shea in 1966 because he and his band, The Remains -- a collective launched when the members were students at Boston University -- were in the midst of a rock 'n' roll tour.

They were opening for a Liverpool combo called The Beatles.

So, what was that like? Funny, but a lot of people seem to ask Tashian that very question. Turns out it was pretty cool.

It was cool to be 21 years old and be part of the biggest rock tour in the world. It was cool to hang out with George Harrison in hotel rooms, playing guitar and listening to sitar player Ravi Shankar's music on Harrison's futuristic portable music device, a "cassette player."

"He had headphones for it," Tashian says. "He'd let me put the headphones on and listen, and he'd say, 'This is North Indian classical music.' "

George was a nice guy, as were John, Paul and Ringo. Tashian says they were just like their characters in the comedy film A Hard Day's Night.

Tashian says he'll never forget the shrieking, crying and roaring from the stadium crowds on that tour.

And Tashian says he really, really should have asked for autographs.

But why would he collect autographs? After all, he was going to spend the rest of his life around rock stars and adolescent shrieks and cassette players. He and The Remains weren't at fantasy camp, they were joining the club.

"Oh, I thought we were going to be world famous as soon as the tour was over," he says. "But...we weren't. And we broke up. Now, I think, 'Why did we ever break up the band after we did that tour?'

Because we were kids, and I guess that's what was going on."

The Remains became part of Boston rock lore: Beantown's no-hit wonders. They were way-pavers for Aerosmith, the J. Geils Band and others. In 2009, the America's Lost Band documentary explored the group's legacy, and last year Barry & The Remains were inducted into the Boston Music Awards' Hall of Fame.

As for Tashian, he found other doors through which to walk. He found himself drawn to country music, went west, joined up with country-rock innovator Gram Parsons and contributed vocals and guitar work to Parsons' now-legendary 1973 solo debut, G.P. He moved to Nashville in 1980 and spent nine years as a member of Emmylou Harris' Hot Band. And he and wife Holly Tashian have released seven studio albums and toured the world as a heralded country and folk duo.

Every now and again, at a concert hall or a folk club, a festival or a house concert, a fan would appear holding a Remains album, hoping for a signature and a conversation. Sometimes the autograph-seeker had seen Barry & The Remains play sweaty, energetic shows in 1964 at Boston club The Rathskeller. Other fans had seen stadium shows with The Beatles and remembered the hard-charging little rock quartet that opened the evening and then backed The Ronettes and Nashville-born Bobby Hebb (of "Sunny" fame) before ceding the stage to the Fab Four.

Those fan interactions were reminders to Tashian that The Remains had been a fun thing for people, that the lack of popular success hadn't negated the good feelings folks had for the music. And Tashian missed playing rock 'n' roll.

He and original members Vern Miller, Bill Briggs and Chip Damaini re-formed, releasing Movin' On in 2002. It was their first album in 36 years. They began playing live shows, too, and they noticed that much of their audience wasn't even alive when The Beatles were around.

As he prepared to turn 60, Tashian heard his first adolescent shrieks since August 29, 1966, when he walked offstage at San Francisco's Candlestick Park, just before The Beatles last-ever concert tour appearance.

"We have a young fan base," he says. "For the most part, it's not people our age."

Where do young people in Nashville go to hear music? One place is The Basement, a venue on Eighth Avenue South that holds approximately 55,500 fewer people than showed up for the Beatles/Remains Shea Stadium gig. (That one drew 55,600, by the way.) On Wednesday, Barry & The Remains will play a 9 p.m. show at The Basement. They'll play old favorites (including "Why Do I Cry," featured in the recent movie Superbad) for a roomful of mostly new fans, and in the days to follow they'll begin work on another new album.

From The Beatles to The Basement in 45 short years, and Tashian is pleased as punch with the whole thing.

But he still can't hit a curveball.

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