« The Solomon Linda story | Main | Struck down by the flu »

February 24, 2006

From Bald Spots to Broadway ballads

San Luis Obispo Tribune (CA):

The Bald Spots will be the first to admit it’s been a while since they went cruising down Main Street or shared a chocolate malt with a bobby soxer. They’re professionals in their 50s and 60s, men with expanding waistlines and thinning hair. But every so often, they squeeze into blue jeans and letterman jackets and belt out "Duke of Earl." "We’re a bunch of old guys trying to do songs such as ‘Teenager in Love,’ " the group’s self-proclaimed "elder statesman," Dale Wolff, said with a laugh. "There’s a certain irony about it that seems to appeal to people."

Whether they’re crooning "Duke of Earl" or breaking into some really bad jokes, the Bald Spots’ sweet-natured brand of nostalgia has thrilled Central Coast audiences for 15 years. They perform this weekend at the event that started it all for the band, the San Luis Obispo Vocal Arts Ensemble’s Pops Concerts. "(The Pops Concert) really is a chance to showcase the individual talents of people in the group and the ensembles," choir director Gary Lamprecht said.

Vocal Arts Ensemble members held their first pops concert in 1991 to raise money for a tour "behind the Iron Curtain" in Russia, he said. "We swore at that point that we were going to do this one time only," Lamprecht said. But popular demand brought back the concert again and again. This year, organizers sat through an unprecedented three hours of auditions before editing the show to two full-length variety-style concerts.

About 45 singers will perform songs ranging from the lighthearted to the lovely — pop hits, jazz standards and selections from musicals such as "West Side Story," "The Music Man" and Broadway’s latest hit, "Wicked." There’s even a tribute to the 16 coal miners killed in West Virginia earlier this year, Lamprecht said. The ensemble’s men will perform the folk classic "Sixteen Tons."

"One thing about the Vocal Arts Ensemble that’s really great is just the tremendous variety of music you’ll hear in any concert," said longtime member Craig Updegrove, who doubles as a Bald Spot. "With the Pops Concerts, it’s even more so that way." The Bald Spots got their start at the original Pops Concert as Gerry and the Pips, Wolff recalled. After founder Gerry Carnahan moved out the area in the mid-1990s, the group searched for a new identity.Somebody suggested the Bald Spots — a double reference to The Ink Spots, a popular singing group in the 1930s and 1940s, and to the men’s shiny pates. It stuck.

Posted by acapnews at February 24, 2006 12:04 AM