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August 20, 2009

Tonic Sol-fa takes a liking to country

Argus Leader (SD):

Minneapolis a capella group Tonic Sol-fa reworked cover songs from Fatboy Slim, Keith Urban and Alison Krauss for the band's latest album. Members of the quartet say even country music fans will find something to like on their eighth album, "Just One of Those Days." In fact, Tonic Sol-fa could even develop a country music following. "We just may," Mark McGowan says during a phone interview. "We have a fondness for country music."

Tonic Sol-fa performs Friday in Sioux Falls, as part of a fundraiser for Holy Spirit Church. The group includes Sioux Falls native Greg Bannwarth (tenor), McGowan (baritone), lead vocalist Shaun Johnson and Jared Dove (bass).

Choosing songs that can adapt to the group's signature a capella style would seem challenging. But members say it comes down to likeability and how well the song can potentially fit the group. "Ultimately we find songs we like, trying to come up with a basic arrangement. Whether or not it continues or makes the cut is how well it translates," Bannwarth says. "This Old Pair of Jeans" by DJ/remix artist Fatboy Slim "happened to work well. ... It sat well with our voices," Bannwarth says.

The album, which the group recorded with Grammy-award winning producer Steve Hodge, also contains fan requests and favorites. Working with Hodge was beneficial for the group, as members previously had worked with the producer. "As an engineer and producer, he knows what we want, how to get that song. It's been fun working with him," Bannwarth says. The title track relates to a number of audience members, says Bannwarth. "Every show (fans) want to know the reason why (we wrote the song). They think it relates to their day. It's open enough," he says.

That's the goal for all of the Tonic Sol-fa songs, he says. "When we are listening to these songs or write them, (we want) them to be relative to people." Tonic Sol-fa included the song "Highway Patrol" because of fan requests. The song, originally recorded by Junior Brown, lightheartedly tells a policeman's side of the story working on the job.

The band recorded a new PBS special this past year in Des Moines, which will air this fall. It will include non-holiday music from the group's repertoire. "We're excited to see what response this garners for us. ... The first PBS special was huge for us, playing for hundreds of stations across the country," Dove says.

Posted by acapnews at August 20, 2009 9:49 PM

Comments

I love your new album "Just One of Those Days", but I was really shocked by the lyrics of "Sail Away".
I wonder what non-Americans think of:
"You just sing about Jesus"
"...drink wine all day"
"Everybody is as happy as a man can be"
"Every man is free to take care of his home & family"
...happy as a monkey in a monkey tree".
As an American Sr.Citizen, I know that not all of us chose to sing about Jesus, are alcholics, or are that happy. I guess 1972 lyrics don't apply to the large population of unemployed in 2009 who are not happy nor able to properly take care of their family's needs.
I think you should have left out this "pie in the sky" song of Randy Newman's during this US Age of Recession! Maybe this is why "the world hates us"-- this song epitomizes US braggadocio.

Posted by: Marcia at August 29, 2009 9:09 AM

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