March 29, 2012

Barbershop made internet history

The Guardian (UK):

Twenty years ago this month, 100 American web geeks opened their inbox to find a bizarre email. Inside the message were two attachments. The first was a photograph of the Telephone Chords, an a cappella quartet comprising four hirsute IT researchers. The second: the Chords’ recording of an old barbershop favourite, Let Me Call You Sweetheart.

But the attached content wasn’t the weirdest thing. It was the attachment itself. This was the first functional attachment ever, or at least the first one most people could actually open. People had sent attachments before, but they were mostly useless because recipients couldn’t open them unless they shared the sender’s email system. This was the first time someone had sent something that was compatible across most email programs. And that someone was the quartet’s tenor Nathaniel Borenstein. Read more.

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March 27, 2012

24 Singing Protestors Arrested

Village Voice (NY):

If last Friday's People's Bailout turned out to be anti-climatic, the singing protestors--made up of activists from groups such as Occupied Wall Street, Organizing For Occupation, Judson Memorial Church, Union Theological Seminary, and Occupied Faith--got their fair share of action yesterday at the Bronx Supreme Court, as 24 people--about half the group--were arrested for interrupting the foreclosure auction.

The day's action started at a little past noon with the group meeting at Joyce Kilmer Park near Yankee Stadium. There, the diverse group--ranging from young men to old women--warmed up their vocal cords with singing exercises, followed by a skit mocking the foreclosure proceedings.

Just like the Queen's blockade from last month, their plan was to split into groups, and interrupt the court procedure multiple times. But when the first group's singing couldn't quite deter the sale--the auctioneer and investors actually continued the bidding process as the first group sung--other protestors had to join in ahead of schedule.

The court guards reacted swiftly, a two dozen singers were taken to the back room. Despite the disturbance and arrest, Roth said the protestors and the guards were mostly amicable. Read more.

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March 26, 2012

Stretching Vocal Cords Across Time

New York Times:

With its sweeping survey of vocal groups from the early 1930s into the mid-’70s the 92nd Street Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists series moved further into rock ’n’ roll territory on Saturday evening than I can remember it venturing. At the first of five shows, songs by Abba, the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Ronettes shared common ground with the Boswell Sisters, the Andrews Sisters and the Mills Brothers. The unlikely host and artistic director, the gifted conductor and musical theater archivist Rob Fisher, was not the person you would expect to oversee such a project.

The show, “In Perfect Harmony: Celebrating the Vocal Group,” featured only two acts: New York Voices, a versatile pop-jazz vocal quartet that includes Kim Nazarian, Lauren Kinhan, Darmon Meader and Peter Eldridge; and the DiGiallonardo Sisters (Nadia, Daniela, and Christine), a Brooklyn trio. The program required both groups, which frequently joined voices, to stretch way outside their comfort zones.

Instead of offering a chronological history of pop harmonizing, the show jumped around in time, with segments devoted to doo-wop, the Beach Boys and ’60s girl groups. Punctuating the songs were radio-station call-letter jingles and famous commercials.

The New York Voices have a smooth blend and a comfortable mastery of pop-jazz harmony not unlike the far more vigorous, swinging and adventurous Manhattan Transfer. Their best moment was a light, jet-propelled rendition of the Lambert, Hendricks & Ross classic “Cloudburst.” Too often they were required to apply their technique to songs like the Mamas and the Papas’ hits “California Dreamin’ ” and “Monday, Monday,” in which individual voices within the blend gave the original hit records a much stronger personality. Read more.

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March 21, 2012

Les Swingle Singers

Check out this video of Les Swingle Singers, the original French group. From a 1969 Croatian TV appearance the clip features most of the original members including Ward and the amazing Christiane Legrand.

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March 19, 2012

The Most Interesting Man in the Choir

And I absolutely believe him!

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March 16, 2012

Somebody That I Used To Know - Peter Hollens

Here's the latest video from Peter Hollens, one of the leading solo a cappella singer singing multiple parts with multiple video. These videos often are quite inventive and creative however how does he perform live? I never have been much of a fan of effects or excessive studio wizardry and now we have performers who can't perform on stage.

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March 14, 2012

Clint Eastwood's wife, Dina, loves a cappella

Well this is interesting. It has been announced that Clint Eastwood's wife, Dina, is to get a reality show on E! network. The series will center on Dina, as well as daughters Francesca and Morgan, but also on the South African a cappella group Overtone. Dina Eastwood manages them and hopes the reality series will help launch the group who she found when her husband was filming "Invictus". "I flipped out for them. I said, 'I'm moving them over here.' From the day they got off the plane, everyone said, 'This has to be a show,' " she gushed in an interview with E! Online.

I do know there is also a popular vocal harmony group on a major label in the UK called The Overtones. Plus there are a bunch of collegiate groups with that name as well. I wonder how they are working that out.

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March 13, 2012

A cappella on Cougar Town

 

Ted's band from Scrubs makes an appearance on this week's episode of Cougar Town. The a cappella group is now called the Peons with actor Sam Lloyd playing a very similar role to his character Ted. The group is the very real Blanks who are currently touring in Australia.

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March 9, 2012

Russian grannies win bid to sing at Eurovision

Associated Press:

Russia on Thursday ignored established stars to choose a group of singing grandmothers from an obscure provincial village to represent the country at the 2012 Eurovision song contest.

The group, Buranovskiye Babushki (Buranovo Grannies) from the far-flung Udmurtia region, won Russia's qualifying tournament for Eurovision in the early hours of Thursday with their cheerful folk-disco song "Party for Everybody".

"Party for everybody, come on and dance!" sang in heavily-accented English the elderly group of six women in traditional costumes as the studio audience at the televised qualifying contest clapped along to the beat and cheered with delight, giving them a standing ovation.

The singing pensioners beat off competition from some of Russia's top pop stars, including a duet by 2008 Eurovision winner Dima Balan and former member of popular female duo Tatu, Yulia Volkova.

Their song is likely to be the first ever sung at Eurovision in a mixture of English and Udmurtian, a language from the Finno-Ugric group.

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March 8, 2012

Cheryl gets better!!

After undergoing chemotherapy for Hodgkins Lymphoma, Manhattan Transfer's Cheryl Bentyne was thankfully declared cancer free. "Thank you to everyone in the world who has helped me with prayers and all good things," she said. "I am a big lump of gratitude."

Janis Siegel referred to her incredibly fast recovery: "Just heard the miraculous news that my dear partner and friend Cheryl Bentyne received a PT scan report that she was CANCER-FREE. We are all so grateful to fans and friends that prayed and sent healing wishes. I'd personally like to thank Margaret Dorn, who stepped in, in an impossible situation and helped us and will continue to help us till Cheryl's full return. Margaret...you have been a godsend. So very happy and grateful. Cheryl kicked cancer's ASS."

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March 7, 2012

Zac Efron and Conan sing a cappella

During Zac Efron's visit on Conan last night he talked about singing barbershop when he was younger so Conan challenged him to sing some harmony. They enlistied band member La Bamba to sing bass and sang an impromptu a cappella version of Barbara Ann. I actually had seen Conan sing a cappella once before when he sang with the Alley Cats when he was filming a bit about barbershop at the convention for his show. My daughter Emma ended up with a cameo on that episode which she still talks about.

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March 3, 2012

Chirigota carnival choirs of Cadiz

After learning about the Uruguayan Murga choirs I looked up the tradition of the Chirigota choirs from Cadiz and the carnival there. These choirs sure know how to dress! I always like groups who make an effort with their stage outfits with many of the top barbershop quartets I have worked with being some of the snappiest dressers. Male contemporary groups not so much.

And of course traditional American and British choirs can often be the most boring dressers of all. You don't have to go to Chirigota levels but still some color would be nice. Everybody loves a little pizzazz! Now check out these costumes.

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March 2, 2012

'Despicable Me 2' teaser gets Minions performing a cappella

There are so many things that are great about having children however having to watch every new animated movie it not necessarily one of them. This trailer will make some laugh I imagine.

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March 1, 2012

New Take 6 video

Here's a just released video from the new Take 6 recording "One" with a street date of March 27th.

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A Doo-Wop Shop Prepares to Close, Signaling the End of a Fading Genre

The New York Times:

The end is near for Ronnie I’s Clifton Music after 40 years on Main Avenue — yet another victim of the Internet, the economy, and changing tastes in music and shopping.

But this time it is not just a store that is dying, four years after its founder did, but perhaps a whole genre of music as well. For the aging fans of the group harmony of the Harptones and the Heartbeats, the Orioles and the Ravens, the Five Keys and the Five Satins, the passing of Clifton Music is a reminder that rock ’n’ roll may never die, but one hyperbolic sect, the fading kingdom of doo-wop, just might.

In a world where fans and the remaining performers are almost invariably in their 60s and 70s, or older, no one did more to keep it alive than Ronnie Italiano, a beverage company delivery man turned doo-wop dynamo. He ran the store, which carried only doo-wop, and put out around 150 CDs, either compilations or originals he produced and recorded, and at least 50 LPs and more than 100 45s. He formed an organization, the United in Group Harmony Association, with 2,000 members at its peak, that became the community square for fans and put on 354 monthly doo-wop shows.

His efforts, and those of others, will provide a permanent historical record, whether on dusty liner notes or on YouTube videos, that augments iconic songs like “Rama Lama Ding Dong” by the Edsels or “In the Still of the Night” by the Five Satins. But fans and collectors say that as a business, a living tradition and a part of American entertainment, doo-wop seems destined to go the way of Clifton Music. Read more.

Funnily enough not five minutes before reading this article I was reminiscing with somebody about the old days with Ronnie I. He certainly was a colorful character and did tend to stir things up however he did so much to preserve the doo wop legacy. I just wish he would of spent more than around $10 for the recording of his albums (or so it sounds). I think there will always be a niche for doo wop and will probably get reinvented every decade or so. Currently Bruno Mars seems to be using the doo wop sound in his music and style.

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