By the numbers alone, this year's version of the long-running John Lennon Tribute Concert has a few serendipitous connections that the legendary rocker might appreciate.
It's the ninth annual edition, a digit that Lennon immortalized in the provocative noise of the Beatles' "Revolution 9," and Saturday's concert by an array of Orlando's most beloved musicians also falls on Dec. 8, the day that Lennon was shot in 1980 at age 40.
"It's Lennon's number, isn't it?" says singer-songwriter Joseph Martens of the "No. 9" vibe. Martens has been at the helm of the event since its debut in 2004. Over the years, the concert has moved from downtown clubs to the Lennon Room at Hard Rock Live to private homes such as this year's venue: "The Dakota House" on Lake Formosa near Orlando's Loch Haven Park.
So did Martens imagine in the beginning that it would last this long?
"Not at all," he says. "If you asked me the details of the first one, it would be hard for me to remember it because I have a tendency to blur different events together. Over the years, there have been a lot of new faces. People come into it and have done it once or some have played it as many as six times."
This year's lineup has expanded to feature at least 30 performers, including Thomas and Olivia Wynn, the Redcoats, the Actomatics, Brian Chodorcoff, Dave Mann (funkUs), the Hindu Cowboys, Jessy Daumen, Jim O'Rourke and the Rugs and British Invasion.
Although there are a few obligatory targets in Lennon's catalog ("Imagine" and "Come Together," for instance), there's always the potential for interesting interpretations, Martens says.
"That's the beauty of this thing," he says. "Everyone who performs is a fan of Lennon's music, mostly from the Beatles years, but the degree to which they know his catalog varies. Some go more for the big hits, some go for the obscure albums. We always have some surprises."
Last year, the surprises included a professional Lennon impersonator, who wandered into the midst of the party unannounced.
"He looked as if he had walked right out of Central Park in New York in 1979. He was totally in character. As it turns out, he lives here in town. He recited poetry on the indoor stage and sang a few songs."
An attempt to arrange a return engagement this year was thwarted by one of those coincidental numbers. The faux Lennon was already booked for a gig in New York on the anniversary of the singer's death.
For the second consecutive year, the $10 admission goes toward the launch of the Heartstrings Foundation, an organization that aims to connect performers with the elderly, terminally ill or others in need of music's healing power in a system that also offers monetary compensation for the musicians.
Martens concedes that the Heartstrings concept hasn't developed as fast as he had hoped, especially with his time divided among projects such as his new holiday CD with Daumen. (The couple will celebrate that release at a Wednesday show at Maxine's On Shine in Orlando.)
Not so the Lennon concert, which has become one of the Orlando music scene's most beloved traditions.
"This was my chance to throw a Christmas party and a tribute to the one warrior of love who has influenced me the most," Martens says.
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John Lennon Tribute Concert
What: Benefit show to raise funds for Heartstrings Foundation
When: 2-10 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Dakota House, 710 N. Lake Formosa Drive, Orlando
Cost: $10 at the door