CULTURE- FRIDAYS UPDATE- Copycats: Proud to be in the Beatles men's club

Many local folks are probably already familiar with Abbey Road since they're a popular party act at events like Fridays After Five and First Night. But things have changed since the last time they were on stage: new drummer Billy Ballard played his first show with the local Beatles cover band on New Year's Eve.

"Besides knowing how to play the drums, I think the other requirement is that you have to be interested in trying to duplicate the drum parts like Ringo did," says lead guitarist Paul Olko. He particularly likes Ballard's work on "Here Comes The Sun": "The drum parts are very intricate, but he gets them so exactly right," Olko says.

That's important, because even though the members of Abbey Road don't bother trying to look like the Beatles (which would be very difficult given that there are five members), they do try to nail it sonically. "We're not doing 'our own versions' of the songs," says Olko. "We continue to try to remain true to the records as the Beatles did it. The only alterations we make to the music is that some songs faded out, so we create our own ending."

To that end, Olko says, they all play carefully chosen instruments, including his Gretsch Country Gentleman archtop guitar and Ballard's' replica of Ringo's drum kit.

It's a pretty intense level of fanaticism– "There's a beautiful coffee table book about the kinds of instruments the Beatles used," Olko says. "There's a whole chapter on drum heads!"

But Olko says the others make him feel right at home. "Being in a band like this is like belonging to a Beatles men's club," he says. "Instead of going out and playing poker, I go play Beatles music."

Abbey Road performs at Fridays After Five on May 16, around 5:30pm in the Charlottesville Pavilion.