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January 26, 2008

Reviewer tough on the Knudsens

Daily Record (NJ):

Chuck Darrow

A couple of years ago, the Knudsen Brothers made a huge impression as one of the acts in an edition of "V -- The Ultimate Variety Show" at the Tropicana.

During the 10 or so minutes allotted, the sextet wowed the audience (and this critic) with its unique act combining wonderful a cappella harmonies with the brothers' ability to accurately recreate the sounds of such instruments as drums, bass and trumpet.

And while the group's individual and collective talents are no less prodigious than they were then, there is a one significant problem with "SIX," the brothers' presentation that runs through March 20 at the Palace Theater inside Bally's Atlantic City: The unit simply doesn't have enough of a repertoire to sustain a 65-minute turn.

Put another way, by the end of the group's second number, "On Broadway," the audience has seen and heard virtually everything Barry, Owen, Kevin, Jak, Lynn and Curtis Knudsen have to offer. The bulk of the show simply regurgitates that which has already been offered. Which means the novelty of this most novel act tends to wear off in a hurry.

This is especially true in the case of Owen Knudsen. The first couple of times he does his "human beat-box" riff by approximating with astounding accuracy the sound of various percussion instruments, the effect is nothing short of astounding. But by the fourth or fifth song, the astonishment has turned to tedium, and you realize why most acts use actual musicians playing real instruments.

The same can be said for the brothers' vocalizing. There is no question the Knudsens are masters of intricate harmonies. And when they use their gifts on material that is especially suited to their talents -- like their Beach Boys tribute -- the result is especially satisfying. But if a cappella harmony isn't your cup of aural tea, you may ultimately be more bored than entertained.

To be fair, that certainly wasn't the case at a recent performance, during which the Knudsens were regularly rewarded with vociferous applause. And there's no debating there were several segments that were especially enjoyable, including medleys devoted to Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons and a number of Motown hits.

"SIX" also includes a fair amount of attempted comedy, like aping such performers as Wayne Newton and Tom Jones, as well as some sibling rivalry shtick. Let's just say that as comedians, the six Knudsen Brothers are great singers.

Ouch. As one of earliest winners of the Harmony Sweeps we have always been fans of the Knudsen Brothers (Now called SIX) and have followed their career as full time a cappella singers. They have been working the casinos for awhile now and beneath the now rather slick exterior are real decent and talented guys making a living singing a cappella. Back in the day I used to produce quite a bit of theater and almost lived and died by the word of the critics and have long since developed a thick skin toward their words. Casino shows are much less dependent on reviews and I'm sure the group is entertaining the audiences and will do just fine with this run.

Posted by acapnews at January 26, 2008 12:11 AM


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