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February 8, 2005

The Bobs keep their performances fresh

The Herald (WA):

There's a beauty to a cappella music, said Matthew Stull: "No instruments to lug around, no equipment to lug around. If the sound system breaks down, the show doesn't stop. We can sing in the dark." Odds are that The Bobs will be singing in the light Saturday in Shoreline. The contemporary a cappella group has earned a Grammy nomination for an arrangement of the Beatles' "Helter Skelter" and spent time in the spotlight at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

"Most a cappella groups were men way back to the Inkspots and the Persuasions, even most of the Motown vocal groups were men (and) after Gladys Knight and the Pips and the Supremes, they were all men again," saidStull, who co-founded The Bobs with Richard Green in 1981. "We made the conscious effort that we had to have a woman for her perspective for songs." The female voice adds vocal range to The Bobs. Soprano Amy Engelhardt has been a Bob for six years. "She has a big huge voice in the high places that men can't sing, yet she has a thee-octave range and can sing pretty low as well. There's a quality to women's voices that men's voices don't have. It's a sweeter, rounder and more melodic quality," Stull said.

The Bobs are an ever-evolving group. "We keep it fresh because we all get bored easily, especially Richard and I. We find that putting in new stuff and trying things out is really the only way to keep involved," Stull said. "We've had changes in the group and each new person brings something to it, a new energy and a new way of looking at a piece of music that we had never thought about before."

The Bobs' first arrangement of "Prisoner of Funk" was written by Stull when he was still a short-order cook. "We hadn't done that song in 20 years. But Dan (Schumacher) joined last year and came across it and said, "This is a great song, let's do it like this!' It was a great idea." The Bobs continue to pull the same "bizarre demographic," Stull said: "The very old to newborn, people who bring their children. ... After so many years, people come up and say to us, 'My parents used to make me listen to you all the time.' "

Consistency has been the key to their success. "We've been consistent for 25 years, and we have a funny sense of humor. We see funny in a lot of day-to-day stuff. "We still don't plan our shows. We come there and look at our list of songs, and someone says, 'Hey, I'd like to do this song ...' And we play off the audience. An audience can change the show entirely for us. "Our goal is to make everybody stop in laughter at some point, to make their faces hurt from smiling. That does it for me. That's great."

Posted by acapnews at February 8, 2005 12:12 AM