December 5, 2021

Rev ‘n’ roll

Cars gather for rooftop concert at Cort-Lanes

Photos by Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Lila Reistetter, 6, sings from the driver’s seat of a 1966 Mustang convertible Tuesday to the tunes of the BeatleCuse All-Stars at the annual rooftop concert and car cruise at Cort-Lanes in Cortlandville.

A twangy guitar riff laid over a mellow percussion landed in your ear canal like a feather falling to the ground.

It was comforting, and to most people, instantly recognizable before the iconic lyrics “Oh yeah, I’ll tell you something” to the classic Beatles song, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

But a new sound accompanied the familiar song. A thunderous sound.

The sky was overcast, but no chance of rain. It was the sound of engines whining and exhausts howling.

It was the sound of the 10th annual “Rooftop Concert” car show, hosted by the CNY Mustang and All Ford Club, Tuesday evening.

On the roof of Cort-Lanes in Cortlandville was Paul Davie’s BeatleCuse band performing classic Beatles hits, along with songs of other famous British bands, including The Who and The Kinks.

“When I came back from L.A., I thought, why can’t we put a band on the roof like Apple Studios did?” said Bill “Killer” Kulikowsky, chairman of the event, referencing the Beatles final public performance in 1969 on the roof of Apple Corps. in London.

BeatleCuse played for about four hours to several hundred people scattered around nearly 200 cars, filling Cort-Lanes’ parking lot.

The assortment of cars was an international affair. American cars dominated the show, but a Porsche 914 represented Germany and a Jaguar F-Type R represented Britain, among others.

The years spanned from the 1930s to current models.

Cortlandville resident Phil Gilbert and 13-year-old son Tyler trekked around the parking lot, eyes wide. Phil pointed out details of the cars from his era, and Tyler studied them with interest.

“I’m trying to show my son what real cars used to look like,” Phil Gilbert said, after showing Tyler the details of a candy apple red 1930s Ford coupe.

Paul Davie, left, and Christopher Ames, right, of the BeatleCuse All-Stars, perform on the roof of Cort-Lanes Tuesday during the annual rooftop concert and car cruise.

The show was a new experience for the father and son. They don’t usually go to car shows, Phil Gilbert said. But it was around the corner from their house, and he couldn’t resist the cluster of cars and classic music.

“I like the music, and seeing what old cars use to look like,” Tyler Gilbert said. It was too hard for him to pick a favorite.

Like the Gilberts, many attended the show to see the cars, listen to the music and maybe dance. Those who brought a car, plopped their yard chairs in front of it, sat back and enjoyed the evening.

Ed Kazel sat next to his friend Bonnie Merchant, both of Cortland, by the rear of his 1970 Chevrolet pickup he just finished restoring and did the thing that keeps bringing him back to the event: watch the band perform.

“It’s a relaxing night,” Kazel said.

Merchant added the event is a good time to catch up with people you haven’t seen in a while.

That was the case for Mick Lowie, president of the CNY Mustang and All Ford Club, as in a matter a seconds standing in one location he had several people walk by, shake his hand or stop and talk for a few seconds.

“You just see everything and everyone,” he said.

The event is free thanks to the help of several sponsors. There is a 50/50 raffle benefiting several charities, Kulikowsky said.

With the sky black and the band having played its final guitar cord and beat the head of the drum one last time, a symphony of mild explosions erupted across the parking lot from engines turning over.

A couple slaps to the gas pedal, cranking the revs of the motor, were common place among the older cars to keep them running. It was a comforting, and instantly recognizable sound, just like the Beatles.