By Molly Shoulta ‘13
GC News Bureau Intern
The Epics, top row, left to right, Steve Hartley, David Sisk and Tony Ratterman; sitting, Lynn Cline, Toni Renfro, Jean Ulmer and David Beck.
At the height of the sock-hop era, right off of World War II and the Great Depression, the air was thick with hope and readiness for something new. It was the “let’s try this, and let’s try that” attitudes that shaped the music of the late 50’s and early 60’s, as Lynn Cline, lead vocalist of The Epics, puts it.
“The envelope was being stretched in every direction,” he explains. And The Epics stretched it just a bit farther, incorporating and emphasizing female leads into their group. For more than 52 years now, The Epics have performed around the Lexington region, Southern Indiana and their home base of Louisville as a labor of love and for the love of the music.
Saturday (March 6) at 8 p.m. in John L. Hill Chapel, The Epics – perhaps best-remembered for their 1963 hit “We Belong Together” – will share their love of Rock-n-Roll with a Georgetown College and central Kentucky audience. This fourth and final event in the Foust Artist Series was scheduled in conjunction with President’s Dinner, which will take place at the Thomas & King Conference Center earlier in the evening. The public may purchase concert-only tickets at the door, however – adults $10, senior citizens $8 and students $5.
“Determination,” Cline says, is the spark that keeps a group going when almost half a century has gone by in the lives of their prime audience. After over half a century of entertaining, breaking apart, and realizing the joy of reuniting, the group still possesses “the sheer love of music and desire to perform music.”
The Epics’ program today still pays homage to the advent of female performers. Though different members have floated in and out, today’s group consists of Drummer David Beck, Lead Vocal Lynn Cline, his daughter Toni Cline Renfro, Bass Guitarist and Vocalist Steve Hartley, Keyboardist Tony Ratterman, Lead Guitarist and Vocalist David Sisk, and Vocalist Jean Ulmer.
Musical experience of the Epics is by no means limited to the band. All members have branched out to share their talents with local churches and audiences in all venues. “I don’t always love the music business,” Lynn Cline wrote in an email, “but I definitely love music and the performance of it.”
Cline’s music career began in 1953 with a part in the Men and Boys Choir in Louisville and he still carries the classical element with him; even today, he is the bass soloist at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Louisville and has performed with the nationally-renowned Louisville Orchestra and Louisville Bach Society. His daughter, Toni, performs in the same church as the Alto soloist and fellow group member Jean Ulmer is song leader and soloist at St. Albert the Great Catholic Church of Louisville.
Their program at Georgetown will incorporate both music and narrative based on the time periods between the late Fifties and early Seventies. Their entire repertoire spans 40 years, but their performance style encases the “doo-wop” style which exhibits tight harmonies and particular attention to rhythms.
The Epics were officially formed in 1960 – all talented young men out of Louisville’s Atherton High School. Their first record, “Diamonds and Pearls,” was recorded on their own label that same year. In 1962, the group made that ground-breaking addition – female voices.
In 1963, the first release on the newly formed Joni label was The Epics’ recording of “We Belong Together/Baltimore.” Both sides of the record received airplay. “We Belong Together” went to number 2 on WAKY radio and number 1 on WKLO radio. It was only the third Louisville record to reach the number one spot.
The group’s follow-up record, “Theme For Janet,” went to number 9 on WKLO. The Epics toured regionally and appeared with such national groups as the Beach Boys and the Lettermen and remained together until late 1965.
In 1973, Sacred Heart Academy had a ten-year class reunion, and with the renewed interest in Sixties music, they wanted a Sixties group to play. Janie Moss and the other girls from The Epics had attended Sacred Heat, so it was decided the group would get back together one last time. The Epics were such a success they decided to reunite.
In November of 1980, The Epics released their first LP, and 2003 saw the release of The Fabulous Epics Live Over The Years CD. For a sample of their sound, go to.
Robin Oldham, Assistant to the President and Board Secretary, says The Epics’ sound continues the recent tradition of bringing in group with an “oldies” flair primarily for the annual Pawling Heritage Society banquet event. It was decided that the 2010 President’s Dinner would include the Pawling Heritage Society as well as bring together the President’s Club, Georgetown College Fellows, Giddings Society, and the GC Young Alumni President’s Club for one big celebratory evening ending with The Epics concert.
“Thanks to the generosity and thoughtfulness of the late Mary Louise Foust, a Georgetown College graduate who endowed the Foust Artist Series,” Oldham explains, “the concert is open to the public at a minimal ticket price – and we’ll all have a night of great music and wonderful memories together.”