Young white man with both arms up in the air singing at a mic

Man of the Year 2018: Joe Peppercorn, purveyor of our annual dozen-hour Beatles Marathon at the Blue Stone, an event of such precise performance by him and his merry band of precision players I could've sworn I was in Liverpool's The Cavern or Hamburg's Star-Club or even Shea Stadium 1966.

Oh, and Abbey Road Studio. Joe, his lads and his lasses, did a technically killer job of recreating the George Martin sounds the Fab Four concocted so brilliantly and so seemingly effortlessly.

But absolutely get one thing straight: Marathon #9 was no cheesy stroll down memory lane, trading hollow nostalgia for an actual feeling. The band's superb, sure, but only a true believer could bring the soul of the Beatles to life.

Once the first salvo of Beatles albums had been performed, our man Joey Peeps had all the comfort zone he needed: his fantastic band around him, his children at his feet, a throng of ecstatic fans Jesus could've crowd-surfed. With total confidence in his super-band, the man sang his Beatles-loving heart out and supplied more personality and emotion than anyone could expect. Very entertaining, and much more than a mere tribute. It often bordered on mass transcendence.

Sorry for The Sopranos reference. It's how I spent my Christmas: Season 5, episode 10 – the Joey Peeps tombstone screw-up.

But oh, what an emotional experience, to close one's eyes and listen to entire albums of Beatles beauty. I made sure I got there right at starting time of 12:15 p.m. second Saturday in December at the stone-built former church, a magnificent turn-of-the-19th-century edifice just right for modern popular music worship. Joe's first song was John Lennon's Across the Universe as he mainly sang to a passel of young children at his feet, including at least a couple of his own. Nice. Then the band came out and...

One, two, three, foh!

"Well, she was just seventeen, you know what I mean..."

A thrill shot straight up my spine. I Saw Her Standing There and the album Introducing The Beatles – how often do you get to hear that album in its entirety? The ravishing Arthur Alexander heartbreaker, Anna (Go To Him), a melodically laconic stroll through a guy letting his love go to the arms of another was delivered pitch-perfect by Peppercorn and his harmonizers. I just got chills reliving the moment.

More early Beatles followed and then their golden age: A Hard Day's Night, Beatles For Sale, Help!, Rubber Soul and Revolver – oh, man, more chills just typing those titles.

The Bluestone mood? Exuberance, many singing and swaying and smiling like moonies on the moon. When you see people lilting with eyes close and singing, they've gone someplace wonderful. Joe, practically a holy roller possessed, singing Liverpudlian in an Ohio tongue, that day was many things including American music reverberated back to us English-cized with mop-top soul. The power of the music, nothing like it.

I go to these things to get carried away, so carried away I was. Peppercorn was our shepherd, we his flock o' rockers rockin' 'n' swayin', dancin' an' brayin' like old imitations of the awkward teenaged donkeys we were.

Because we knew a fantastic song when we heard one!

Practically thirteen freakin' hours of every Beatles song in the order it more or less appeared plus a handful of solo stuff: Peppercorn, playfully and humorously rambunctious at time, showed yet another good side as he calmed down and sang George's Isn't It A Pity, one of the most plaintive songs ever written on ye olde human condition.

You know, the first song I ever walked in on at a Pepperthon was up at Oldfield's on North High and was maybe the third or fourth Marathon as I stumbled in from the cold to hear You've Got To Hide Your Love Away, the fine folk blues by Lennon from his Dylan-influenced days from Help!

Even though Joe usually gets the crowd to sing much of it you will never see a more emotional local performer than Peppercorn doing his Lennon-loving best, throwing his fist in the air, his eyes hermetically sealed, belting out those lyrics of self-doubt.

It happened again at the Bluestone: boyish Joe loosening his earthly bonds, letting fly with everything he's got. He doesn't hide his love on that one.

And that's why I go – I go for Joe.

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