As church choruses sing holiday hymns and the strains of Wham!’s "Last Christmas" play over the radio, one Columbus band is offering some musical counter-programming this weekend.
Starting at noon on Saturday, Sgt. Peppercorn’s Lonely Hearts Club Band will embark on a trek through the entire Beatles catalogue. It’s a marathon that takes more than half a day, with singer and guitarist Joe Peppercorn helming the ship.
“You can come at hour 13 and we might have a little bit more rasp in our voice, but I’m very proud of the level we’re performing at for 13 hours,” he says.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Peppercorn's holiday tradition. While some musicians rotate in and out, Peppercorn remains on stage the whole time with his brother and his bassist.
The show does change year to year, with new openers (though the stalwart "Her Majesty," the last track on Abbey Road, always closes the show out) and different picks from the Beatles' solo careers mixed in. This year, the band has 238 songs on its setlist, beginning with their 1963 debut Please Please Me.
Repetition over a decade has made it easier.
“At first we used notes, now we don’t,” Peppercorn says. “Over nine years, we’ve accrued all this knowledge and we can dive in. A lot of it’s just repetitious of listening.”
But Peppercorn says the musical marathon, like any endurance feat, is physically taxing. He says the band stays in shape to prepare.
“I ran a marathon for the first time two years ago and part of the reason I did it was because I was curious as it would compare to the show. It’s much easier than playing the show,” he says with a laugh.
Sgt. Peppercorn's Marathon begins Dec. 21 at 12 p.m. at The Bluestone.