What is Sgt Peppercorn’s Marathon?
The only Beatles tribute show in the world, wherein all 200+ songs by the Beatles are performed live in a single performance by a single group.
Wait what? You don’t actually play ALL the songs?
Yes, we do, and yes we play Revolution 9, You Know My Name Look Up The Number, Sie Liebt Dich, etc.
How long does that take?
Somewhere around 12 hours, although we started adding songs from the solo albums a few years back, culminating in a performance of the entire All Things Must Pass record in 2022. However this year we are doing away with solo songs and will be performing just the core catalog of the Beatles.
So you play recordings what do you mean by play live?
We play the drums, bass, guitar, piano, violin, etc live. Every song, every chord, every vocal harmony we can hear, some harmonies we’ve added to some songs. Everything performed live and in person.
How do you choose the order?
We play them chronologically, playing the albums in their original British order, and sprinkling the non album singles in between the albums.
What time is Abbey Road?
Probably some time around 10:00pm this year. It’s really hard to predict precisely when everything will fall, but as the setlist gets fine tuned, we will be publishing an estimated time for each record. For the record, we play Please Please Me, With The Beatles, Hard Day’s Night, Beatles for Sale, Help!, Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour, White Album, Let it Be, Abbey Road as well as all of the singles which were later collected on the Past Masters comps.
How many different bands are there?
There really is only one band, but there is a shuffling of people in and out. Joe, Matt, Chris and Phil play the entire show, and Jesse and Paul rotate on the drums. There are strings, horns, and a number of guests, but it is a smaller core group of people. We all play in original bands and do other cover bands and a million other projects, but we rarely play Beatles music outside of this show. With that said, we plan on doing a McCartney solo show in February.
What time do you start?
11:30am and probably will wrap up this year some time around 11:00pm. A lot of variables. 220 song setlist, so taking a one minute break between songs would add 4 hours to the show. This stuff is rehearsed to be wham bam thank you m’am.
This sounds so cool, do I need a TICKET TO RIDE!?
First, don’t, second, yes, there are tickets online here and you can also buy discounted tickets CASH ONLY at these Brick and Mortar stores around Columbus: Lost Weekend Records, Elizabeth’s Records, Spoonful Records, Music Royale, Mug and Brush, Little Rock Bar.
I think I heard of this years ago, someone else did it and it was called The Beatles Marathon?
That was us, I changed the name to Sgt. Peppercorn’s Marathon because me and my brother have the ultimate last name (Joe Peppercorn and Matt Peppercorn) which nobody believes is real when they first hear it. Copyright and trademark laws are weird and we didn’t want Ringo to sue us, so we changed the name. Then Paul McCartney heard about the show and sent a video to introduce it by saying “Welcome to the Beatles Marathon” so who knows, it was very hard to predict that Paul would send us a video and introduce the show.
Wait what? Paul McCartney sent you a video?
Yes, a lovely girl named Amy wrote him a beautiful letter and he sent her a video to give to us to introduce the show.
Can I see the video?
Paul asked us not to post it so we have never posted it. But if you come to the show you can see it.
What does he say?
Well, I’m doing this from memory, I think I’ve watched it 400 times: “Hi everybody welcome to the Beatles Marathon, hey Amy I got your letter thank you very much and hey band ok guyyyyysss. I think it’s a great idea, I wish you good luck and GOOD STAMINA. The marathon is about to begin and I’m about to kick you off….with….our FIRST recording…..and then you’ve got to carry on, forever and ever and ever (Paul sings) LOVE love me do you know that I love you. (Speaking again) CARRY ON!
Did Ringo send a video?
Yes, it is on our peppercorn marathon INSTA page. It is very lovely and very Ringo.
Is there re-entry?
For most of the show, you can come and go. We reached capacity last year and so we will need to stop re entry at 8 PM. You can get back in after 8, but you may have to buy another ticket and could be subject to waiting in line to get in. We can hold your spot while you get dinner, but be back before 8 otherwise you may have to wait to get back in.
Can we buy tickets at the door?
Yes, but they cost slightly more, it helps us to prepare the show better if you buy a ticket in advance.
Can kids go?
Yes, kids are more than welcome but it is not an event catered to kids. Things can get ROWDY. There is seating though, and I try to make sure people are kind to one another. Kids can attend for free before 1 PM, as the day progresses and people are drinking, please use caution and your good sense. Hearing protection is HIGHLY encouraged.
Are babies allowed?
Yes but please bring hearing protection for them and don’t let them cry during Blackbird because I know that if they cry it’s because I used to be a piece of shit.
Where is parking?
It is downtown Columbus on a Saturday, so there is ample street parking around the venue, as well as a parking garage right next door to the north of the building.
Will you be streaming the show?
Probably, streaming requires a whole extra layer of planning that usually has to be finalized closer to the show. Stay tuned for more details on that one.
I don’t like the date you chose for the show, I thought it used to be always before/after/on/in/beside Christmas?
The date of the show is chosen based on the availability of the venue and the schedules of everyone playing the show. Sometimes it is early December, sometimes later. It has always been in December but we always need to move it around, it just depends every year on what works.
The Beatles have a new song! Are you going to play it?
ABSOLUTELY! We have toyed with doing Now and Then in the past when it was just a John demo, that we wanted to arrange ourselves. I’ve always loved the Lennon demo and am ecstatic that it has been finished. We are playing it twice at the show. Everyone will hopefully hear it, because we do a great version of it. I love the song so much, I think it really is the perfect proper ending for The Beatles, even if Ringo wears his own merch in the video.
Wow thIs is all wild, how is it possible to play for that long?
We train for it, holding long practices 6-9 hours long, running long distances, and then we drink bourbon when it feels like all hope is lost on stage. Things come and go in waves. Three hours into the show I always have that Gob Bluthe moment where I go “I’ve made a huge mistake.” There are moments of transcendence throughout the entirety of the show, and there are moments of despondent desperation, very Lord of the Rings epic battle shit except it’s music.
This is so cool, so who plays John and who plays Paul?
There is a massive misconception that in order to play Beatles music, the musicians must be dressed like assholes. We do not pretend we are the Beatles, we try to dress classy, and we try to convey a warmth and sense of humor that wouldn’t be out of place in The Beatles’ world, but we do not imitate them. You will not hear us repeat their banter or use a fake British Austin Powers voice. The Beatles music is like the scriptures of pop music, and there is a sanctity to this music that we all revere. Dressing like the Beatles and imitating them while playing their music seems, to me, a sacrilegious act of desecration. These songs are too special to be tarnished in the ways they are by Beatle cover bands, and our aim is to play these songs the way we would want to hear them. I also wouldn’t want to pay to hear someone play Mozart in a puffy wig.
When do you take breaks?
There are not really breaks. There’s a minute here and there where we change clothes, but that’s about the extent of the breaks we take.
When do you eat?
You’ll see us eating on stage, we try to hide when we smash a banana in our face, but by the mid point of the show we don’t really have the mindset of hiding that business.
How old are you guys and how do you know this music?
Most of us are around 40, and the Anthology series came out at a very impressionable time (I was 15 and couldn’t believe my ears when I listened to Revolver the first time).
When do you go to the bathroom?
You sweat it out for the most part, but Matt can sneak off while Joe plays Blackbird, Joe can tell Matt to take a longer than usual guitar solo, etc. Make it up as you go along, one song at a time.
Will there be drinks for sale?
Yes, and the venue is one of the most reasonable in pricing their drinks that you will find this side of the Scioto River.
I’m a good singer, can I sing with you?
Probably not, we have more talented musicians than ever and they are all chomping at the bit to sing more songs. I have no doubt that you would be wonderful in the show. This is the part I hate the most about the show, saying no to people who I know would be amazing in the show.
Is this for charity?
Will there be food there?
Yes, we have partnered with Donatos pizza, and they have been really wonderful in helping make the last few years as easy as possible for us. There will be Donatos at the show as well as some food provided by the venue.
The venue was really cold last year, this is a two part question, why was it cold and what are you going to do about the fact that I now hate you?
I apologize, but it was out of everyone’s control. The vibe of the old building is wonderful, but it also has issues. Last year there was an unprecedented cold front that blew in the week before and despite the heat being on full blast for days, the building could not be warmed up adequately. I am doing everything in my power to make it a better experience, but there are some things out of our control. It’s a $25 ticket to see 220 of the hardest songs to play, played live. We will do everything in our power to make it professional and comfortable, but in the end, there’s a lot of variables in the show out of our control.
I’m in, this is just too cool, when is Beatlemania?
I have no idea why so many people call our show “Beatlemania,” and I hate it and wish it would stop. Beatlemania is a reference to the cultural impact the group had decades ago. I understand it was important historically, but I also don’t care about it any more than I care about the Bay of Pigs. It’s something that happened before I was born. The music is everything to me though and this show is all about the music and the sense of joy and community the music fosters. Please stop calling this show Beatlemania. But, to answer your question, Beatlemania is Saturday, December 30 this year. Doors at 11:00 AM.
How did you come up with this idea?
A lot of things were happening in 2010, I had just become a father, I had experienced the sudden death of a friend with whom I had shared a love for the Beatles, and everything just kind of coalesced and I started the show as kind of a bar bet. There was only one other person in the room when I first started the show and it has slowly grown and become better over the years. Lots of things inspired it, but that’s for another FAQ of its own.
I know you do this show. I know you put in a lot of work and passion into it, I know you obviously have a love and affinity for the Beatles. Do I sound edgy and cool when I unsolicited and unprompted go up to you and tell you that The Beatles are overrated?
You sound like an asshole, and you’re unfortunately not even close to the first person to do this.
Well I don’t like the Beatles, what do you think of that?
Free country, please knock yourself out in spouting stuff that makes you less attractive to potential mates and makes you the one friend everyone dreads inviting to the party. They inevitably invite you anyway, feeling somewhat gaslit by your insufferable insouciant disattached dissatisfaction, with any potential joy in life. You know how the conversation went, your name came up and the hosts went “well maybe it’s just us, he seems to be liked and is really successful at his job, but he’s never dated anyone longer than 3 months and I don’t want to talk about the housing market but maybe its us lets invite him.” It only takes an hour for everyone to regret your presence when you take a giant pour of the top shelf scotch that was supposed to be hidden but was forgotten about in all the madness of prepping for the party, because it was a $700 bottle that was gifted by a now passed away rich uncle who was beloved, but the host is good natured and didn’t want to insult you so said yeah sure, you can have some of this very rare scotch, and after pouring five fingers, you went around telling everyone it’s nowhere near as good as the Macallan 21 you had every night when you went to Dubai last year. You also out of nowhere dropped the non sequitur that Elon Musk’s antics don’t make him any less of a genius. Then when Eleanor Rigby played on the stereo at the party, you went on about how The Beatles are over rated and then would not stop talking about the Tame Impala show you saw that “:smoked anything the Beatles ever did.” After the host graciously then changed the playlist to Tame Impala you asked if they could play Tame Impala. “This is Tame Impala, I thought you love them.” At that point you doubled down and insisted it wasn’t Tame Impala playing and said once again that “The Beatles suck.” Nobody likes you, whatever the version of “stick to sports” you need to hear, tell me, we don’t want you around anymore.
Beatles or Stones?
These things are not mutually exclusive, but there’s just no question that The Beatles are vastly superior. Fun fact: Joe bartends at Giuseppe’s Ritrovo in Columbus and was working when Mick and Ron Wood came in for dinner. Mick is as chilly and unapproachable as he seems, and Ron Wood is a warm guy. Mick’s musical director ended up talking to Joe about the show for 45 minutes that night (this was in 2015) and Joe asked for Paul’s cell number and he said no chance.
So the Beatles are the best band ever?
Regarding the baby crying during Blackbird, is Joe a piece of shit?
He used to be, but he’s not anymore.
People can change?
Yes, people can change.
You sure about all this?
This is my best guess.
What is the meaning of life?
I have no idea, I wouldn’t say music is the meaning of life, but life without music doesn’t seem to have much meaning.