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August 25, 2005

They call it Acappellastock

Standard-Examiner (UT):

If you ask people almost anywhere to name a choir, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will likely be the first on their list. Utah is world-renowned for that vocal tradition. Jeff Petersen, the baritone voice of the Weber/Davis county-based vocal group T Minus 5, grew up benefiting from that climate, first seriously studying vocals at Bear River High School.

"There are so many enthusiasts for chorale music, for a cappella, here," said Petersen. "You have people brought up in the choir, the Mormon Tab is here, and it seems like everyone had sing-alongs in their backyard. Yet, we don't have a venue or event that really celebrates this music. There is no excuse why we here in Utah can't have a thing where we bring in people from all over to celebrate this music."

Petersen and his partners in T Minus 5 (tenor Karsten Longhurst, tenor Jared Allen, vocal percussionist Shawn Satterthwaite and bassist Jason "Fish" Salmond) are bound and determined to make an a cappella festival that will draw performers and audiences from far and wide. Saturday, they host the second of what they hope to make an annual festival, dubbed Acappellastock. The show, at the Ogden Amphitheater, features four vocal groups, all sans instruments.

"That's right -- it is all done by the human voice," Petersen said. "We have a good mix of styles this year. We have Reprise, a nationally recognized barbershop group from Utah. They were the 2001 collegiate national barbershop champions while they were at BYU. The Cadillacs, also from Utah, are right on top of the doo-wop world. "And the one we're really excited about is the one we're bringing in from Seattle, Groove For Thought. They are the current National Harmony Sweepstakes Champions, with a style that is jazz-based."

T Minus 5 started out in 2000 at Weber State University. "A couple of us were in Weber State under the direction of Evelyn Harris. We decided to break off and do some contemporary a cappella." Of the original group, only Petersen and Salmond remain. "After a year and a half, we got Karsten and Jared and have been together ever since. Shawn has a master's degree in conducting and vocal jazz, and Karsten will graduate with a music degree." Longhurst and Allen are still attending Weber State University. The balance of the band are alumni. "The reason we call ourselves T Minus 5 is that it represents a countdown to something big which is about to happen -- 'T minus 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 -- we have blastoff.' We like the imagery it represents ... We want to do it like the big boys, like Rockapella does it .... With a lot of hard work, we could do that."

Posted by acapnews at August 25, 2005 10:34 PM