Epiphone kicked off its weekend-long 140th birthday celebration last weekend with a killer rooftop concert at the exclusive Nashville bar Aerial which is situated high above Lower Broadway, Nashville's infamous honky tonk highway. The all evening throwdown featured two sets from The Beatles-themed band The Return along with the Magnolia Sons and Young Hines on a much loved-Casino.
The Return kicked off the night around sunset with a scorching rendition of "Get Back" while down on the street, families, rockers, tourists, and street musicians looked up to the roof of Aerial to catch the unlikely site (and sounds) of a classic four piece bandguitar, bass, and drumsmaking a joyful racket that had all the grit and passion as the original concert that inspired them, The Beatles rooftop romp (and final concert) at the London headquarters for their label, Apple Records in January, 1969.
Unlike The Beatles' send off, no police came to shut the show down (Lower Broadway is used to a lot of music, after all) but the evening definitely made an impression. The Magnolia Sons brought along a killer three piece horn section and Young Hines even got some help on back up vocals from The Return (minus "Ringo," of course).
Epiphone's 140th birthday, which we will be celebrating throughout 2013, honors the opening chapter of the Epiphone story which began 140 years ago when the Stathopoulo family left Greece for the coast of Turkey where they settled in Smyrna, a bustling seaport with a strong Greek immigrant population of merchants and craftsmen. There, young Anastasios, the future father of Epi Stathopoulo, began training to be a luthier in the family business of repairing and making instruments. By the time Anastasios' first son, Epaminondas, was born in 1893, followed by Alex, Minnie, Orpheu and Frixo (future custodians of Epiphone up until the late '50s), the entire family was deeply involved in designing and manufacturing musical instruments.
After moving his family to America in the 1900s, Anastasios continued his instrument trade, quickly assimilating the pace of American business practices. He filed his first and only patent March 25, 1909 for an Italian style bowl back mandolin. His son Epi would later take over the company and with intense spirit and panache, move Epiphone into the modern world of banjos, Masterbilt acoustic guitars, electric archtops, and a flurry of new ideas (electric pianos, pedal steels, push/pull amp designs). Today, Epi's energy is still what drives and inspires Epiphone. Our past is ever present and the commitment to quality instruments is still the bedrock of our vast, world wide company that delivers professional affordable instruments everywhere - and anywhere - in the world.
It seems entirely appropriate that Epiphone is today located in Music City USA with a brand new state of the art headquarters, too. Nashville and Epiphone have a lot in common. Music City is the premier spot on Earth to compose, arrange, record, manufacture, and perform music and for the first time, it too is enjoying a hipster renaissance. As evidenced by the attendees at Aerial - an easy-mixing group of Epiphone forum members, dealers from around the world, fans, musicians, producers, as well as Epiphone President Jim Rosenberg and Gibson President Dave Berryman, Epiphone is now at the epicenter (we couldn't resist) of the music world. On Friday night, everyone got into the spirit. And judging by the music and the crowd's good fellowship, it's clear that Epiphone is a name that people equate with quality, history, and progressive ideas in instrument making.
But as we like to say at Epiphone, Friday night was only the beginning! What happened the next day at the Epiphone Open House is a whole other story. For now, check out The Return as they kick off the weekend and appropriate so performing on Epiphone Casinos and an Epiphone Viola bass.