Downtown Abbey: The Beatles Marathon

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

By the time I arrived at the fifth annual Beatles Marathon, I had already missed the first six hours of the Fab Four tribute; luckily there were still many more hours of Beatlemania at the Bluestone to go.

In what can only be described as a musical triathlon, Joe Peppercorn and his hodgepodge band went toe-to-toe with the entire Beatles catalog, performing every song from Please Please Me to Abbey Road in chronological order during the grueling 12-hour set.

We arrived around 7 p.m.; the only intermission had just ended, and Peppercorn and crew (including members of The Saturday Giant, Low Men, Ghost Shirt, The Receiver and more) were starting Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The crowd was littered with local musicians, small children, grandparents and barflies, all there to sing along to their favorite hits. Early-comers who sang along to AHard Day’s Night and Rubber Soul made their way toward the exit, only to be replaced by a fresh batch of revelers ready to dive deeper into the catalog.

As the band frantically barreled through the extensive set, zig-zagging across the stage, Phillip Cogley, Nate Rothaker and Peppercorn played musical chairs with lead vocal responsibilities. As soon as one song finished the next had started with hardly a breath between them.

The crowd mimicked the band’s frenzied pace on the floor. The twenty-something girls who had rushed the stage for “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” later fell back for the older couple tearfully singing along to “Let It Be.” On-lookers by the bar calculated exactly when their favorite hit would be played in an attempt to make a bathroom run without missing an instant of the action. The Beatles’ hit-heavy discography, and the band’s fervor in performing it, made leaving the stage area difficult to justify.

I was sure by the time “Helter Skelter” rolled around the group would be dragging. At this point, they were 9-hours deep into a non-stop set. Miraculously, Peppercorn (fueled by honey and maybe delirium) was still frantically running around the stage rallying the crowd — a huge grin plastered on his face. I left just as Peppercorn kissed a vinyl copy of Let It Be goodnight and tossed it aside — until next year.

Downtown Abbey is a nightlife column that covers everything from drag to magic shows, the club scene to fetish parties. It runs every other week.