By Chip Midnight

A few weeks ago I caught wind of a “holiday reunion” at a hometown bar on the west side of Cleveland where I grew up and bemoaned the fact that I wouldn’t be able to attend. It’s what the holidays are all about – getting together with family and friends – and sharing in the spirit of the season. Little did I know that the annual Beatles Marathon, now in it’s fourth year, would fill that reunion void.

While there’s no denying that it’s the love of Beatles music that got so many people together (rumored attendance for the 12-hour marathon held at The Bluestone was just shy of 1,000), I suspect that many people had ulterior motives for attending, just as I did, and didn’t want to miss out on the chance to bump into somebody they haven’t seen in a while.

jacob_chip_bluestoneAt any point in the day, a scan of the crowd revealed familiar faces. Generations of club owners. Musicians, young and old. Local music scribes, from the print era through the digital era. Record store owners and employees. On-air talent, past and present. Music fans. The lifeblood of the Columbus music scene was brought together by the common admiration of The Beatles catalog, played chronologically and in it’s entirety (stop and think about that for a minute … over 200 songs were performed), an insane idea dreamed up by Joe Peppercorn and delivered for twelve straight hours by Peppercorn, his longtime Whiles bandmates Chris Bolognese, Matt Peppercorn, Paul Headley (plus The Receiver’s Jesse Cooper) and a rotating cast of all-star talent.

As a rookie to this marathon, I thought I’d take it easy my first year and just attend to hear my two favorite Beatles albums (Rubber Soul and Revolver) back to back. Over four hours later (I made it through not only those two albums but also Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour and half of The White Album) – and after a series of texts to the wife (“U HAVE 2 come to this next year”, “I’ll leave when they play a song I don’t know ;)”, “The kids would love this!”) – I walked out of The Bluestone into the crisp December night, smile on my face, songs in my head, feeling like a kid who got everything he asked for for Christmas and a whole lot more, knowing that this is a tradition I’ll be participating in in the future and hopefully make it a tradition for my family as well.

(Here’s the entirety of Revolver, as filmed by Brian Griffin)

rickenbackergirlsIn the stack of CDs I was sent by a magazine I write for was an album I was already intimately familiar with, Todd May’s ‘Rickenbacker Girls’. I’d like to think that a few kinds words in this magazine might lead to a record sale or two though I’m not sure that’s how it works in 2013. Unfortunately, a few of the reviews I submitted were cut due to space issues, ‘Rickenbacker Girls’ being one of them.

As I’m scrolling through iTunes, trying to make some semblance of a year-end list (I think my theme is going to be “CDs I listened to more than 5 times in 2013”), I stumble upon ‘Rickenbacker Girls’ which will obviously go on that list and then remember that I still have this review that nobody has seen. So, while it’s not in an internationally distributed magazine, here’s what I have to say about Mr. May’s release.

Todd May – Rickenbacker Girls – (Peloton)

As Americana as a mesh trucker hat and flannel shirt, ‘Rickenbacker Girls’ is Todd May’s first solo album as the singer/songwriter has been occupied the last few years writing songs and performing with The Mooncussers, Fort Shame (with ex-Scrawl bassist Sue Harshe) and Lydia Loveless. Songs like the Steve Earle-sounding “Alphabet City” and “Mercy” (think Jay Farrar fronting Wilco) establish May as a peer rather than an imitation and, with the exception of Jason Isbell’s ‘Southeastern’, you’d be hard pressed to find a better album in this genre released this year. High, but worthy, praises for a songwriter who’s finally stepping out from behind a band name and into a spotlight of his own. (www.facebook.com/pelotonrecords)

Listen to ‘Rickenbacker Girls’