Nashville Logo

2001 International Convention

Nashville, Tennessee
July 03-July 08, 2001

(Last Update: 07/06/01)
AIC MAsthead With Medal

AIC Show: Old Songs, Old Friends
Friday, 07/06/01

The Collegiate Quartet contest got out right around 1:30, and
I had just enough time to dash up the street to the Tennessee
Performing Arts Center (TPAC) for the 2:00pm AIC Show. Once 
again, ticket chairperson Holly Beck saw to it that I got an
incredibly good seat, right down front and center, a perfect
view. To my immediate left sat Society photographer Jim Miller,
armed with his massive camera and lens system, and to my right
was a couple from Indianapolis who had actually never heard
about barbershop until they saw the "Voices" video on their
local PBS station. They were enthralled at what the tape showed,
and they found out about the Society and our conventions, and 
decided to come down to Nashville for the convention. They had
found Holly's name as the contact person and got on the phone 
right away and Holly took good care of them, like she does with 
all her customers. Holly, you're the best!

OK, back to the show. Folks were still trickling in as the show
began, with MC Hank Brandt (Grandma's Boys, '79) welcoming us
to the showand bringing the curtain up on the AIC Chorus, under
the direction of Fred King (Oriole Four, '70) who, I am delighted
to report, looks just great. He wielded his director's might and
led this rowdy bunch through a beautiful "Dear Hearts And Gentle
People," followed with "Tennessee Waltz." Harlan Wilson, lead
of the Suntones ('61) stepped forward to sing his signature solo
in this number, and was joined by Royce Ferguson (Revival, '98)
in front as a duet. Beautiful! 

The curtain came down and MC Hank Brandt watched it descend until 
it hit the stage, and then introduced Happiness Emporium ('75) as
a large projection screen descended to show a short slide presentation
on the Schmitt Brothers' ('51) 50th anniversary. They sang a few 
tribute songs to the Schmitt Brothers, including "Shine" (it was
neat how they showed a group photo of the Schmitt Brothers, and then
as the Haps sang "Shine" and each voice part came on, the screen
showed the corresponding Schmitt brother for that voice part) and 
"Brahm's Lullaby," featuring tenor Bob Dowma on the solo. They moved
to center stage as the screen went up, and sang a three song set 
of gospel tunes as they have recently taken on the mission of the 
"Good News" gospel promotion program for the Society. The set 
included "Gonna Build A Mountain," "Here I Am, Lord" and "For The
Cause." An image of a church window was projected in red on a
background screen behind the quartet for a nice effect. 

ACOUSTIX ('90) was next, opening with "It's A Grand Night For
Singing." They brought out wooden bar stools to sit on for their
next song, "dedicated to all the women in our lives who let us
take part in the great hobby of ours." It was "You Are So Beautiful
To Me" and was beautiful! They got rid of the stools and went into
a tribute to Simon and Garfunkle, singing some of their greatest
hits, including "Scarborough Fair," "Sounds of Silence," "Mrs. 
Robinson," "Feelin' Groovy," and "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

The Ritz ('91) came out sporting long knee length coat jackets
and opened with "No No Nora," the same hot new arrangment as sung
by Four Voices in the semifinal round. "I'm a Chk-a Train" was
a vocal teaser for us, as they mimicked the sounds of a train
coming and going in this neat little ditty. Very precise and 
together throughout! Nice job. Bass Ben Ayling mentioned how
today was The Ritz' 17th birthday, having decided to form a 
quartet that summer of 1985, and on their way to earning the
gold six years later. They sang a montage of their six contest
songs that they won with, including:
- When The Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin' Along
- I'm All That's Left Of That Old Quartet"
- Toot Toot Tootsie, Goodbye
- Keep Singing Those Barbershop Songs
- She Didn't Say No
- Sweet Adeline

After a few choice airline travel related jokes, they went into
"Missin' Mommy's Kissin'" and wrapped up their part of the show.
As they left the stage Hank Brandt watched them go off and said,
commenting on their slick red and white patent leathers, "You 
should have seen us backstage trying to get the cleats off those

Hank took an informal poll of the audience to see how many people
thought "short" jokes were appropriate...a good number responded
yes with their applause. A few responded in the negative, including
one lone clapper behind Hank on stage...he turned around to see
Jim Henry peeking from behind the curtain, showing his disapproval.
Hank commented how Gas House Gang had certainly accomplished a major
outreach effort by going all the way to Russia..."which is certainly
a big reach, especially for short guys..." Anyway he brought out
The Gas House Gang ('93) to thunderous applause, and they opened with 
"It's Gonna Be A Great Day." They followed that with a dramatic 
version of Mark Lowry's Christmas song, "Mary, Did You Know?" 
featuring Jim Henry on a gorgeous solo. Just stunning. The lights 
then dimmed as the quartet closed ranks and began a haunting "Moscow
Nights," and as they ended the verse, The quartet of Russian boys,
The Nightengales, sliped onto the stage in the darkness and moved 
to stand in front of the Gas House Gang at the mics. The lights came
up and they continued in an octet. The audience gasped in delight,
and in spite of the numerous stern warnings about taking pictures,
the audience was unable to resist the urge to capture this magic 
moment on film, and flash bulbs popped all over the auditorium in
desperate defiance. Nobody minded, sine we all knew we were capturing
an unforgettable moment. The crowd roared their approval, and the
boys made a half-hearted attempt to leave the stage, but weren't 
quite sure if they were supposed to go or not...the Gas House Gang
began to usher them off stage, and one boy still lingered, until 
Jim Henry playfully gave him a shove and propelled him into the wings.
Jim said, "Yeah, see, we had to go all the way to Russia to find a 
quartet shorter than us!" This was a perfect setup for their next
funny song, "We're Little But We're Loud," poking fun at their 
lack of altitudedness, saying they'd rather be this way than be like
"Bob Dowma, with his head up in the clouds" (the very tall tenor of
Happiness Emporium). Bari Rob Henry's solo verse mentioned they had
learned to sing loud like Chiefs of Staff by just "rearing back and
opening wide", and they repeated the chorus, plugging in "ACOUSTIX,
with their heads up in the clouds" and mimicking ACOUSTIX's use of
handheld mics and huge fat sound, then blasting to the tag with final
snippets of "Short People" and "It's A Small World"...too funny!
The Gas House Gang ended their set with a show stopper, as two of them
ran off stage and tenor Kipp Buckner introduced Jim Henry as "Ed 
Sullivan"...Jim stepped forward, arms wrapped around his chest in 
the classic Sullivan stance, and did a fair impersonation of the 
famous TV variety show host, as he announced that they would now
do the entire Ed Sullivan show in "two minutes and 37 seconds." Rich
came out in a Spanish sombrero and beautiful poncho, and a sound
track started as he began "Lady Of Spain." The other three quartet
members proceeded to race on and off stage in a rush of typical 
vaudeville style acts seen on the old Ed Sullivan TV show. Jim came
on and did a fast juggling act with tennis balls, Kipp ran out in a 
black lace shawl and spun in a wild circle, Rob came out with a 
bullwhip while Jim sported a groucho cigar and glasses, then stood
as Rob quickly whipped the cigar from Jim's mouth...Kipp did a quick
handstand and "walked" a few steps...Rob and Jim appeared again,
this time Rob with a dart gun and mirror, Jim with a balloon in his
teeth, and Rob quickly turned his back to Jim, looked in the mirror
and fired over his shoulder, as Jim took the slug and dropped to the 
floor...Rob brought out a hula hoop and held it up as Kipp came in
with a cute stuffed dog, then hurriedly threw it across stage and thru
the hoop...Jim appeared with a classic three-box juggling bit, but
then took a quick bow and revealed the three boxes held together with
string...Rob came on spinning two plates on sticks, then also took
a bow and revealed the plates were glued to the sticks...Jim came
leaping across the stage in a pink tutu...Kipp and Rob came to the 
center, Rob with a blonde wig in long braids and a viking hat, doing
a quick opera thing, then joined Kipp with hand puppets and did a
"Sound of Music" takeoff...Jim brought out a ventriloquist dummy and
did a quick Edgar Bergen bit "hey, I saw your lips move!" Rob appeared
at the side mic and delivered the famous "My name Jose Jimenez"...
Kipp brought out a cigar box and did the classic "'s alright?' 
's alright'" bit...Jim came out with a black and white cloth pulled
tight over his head like a nun's habit and sang the first bew bars
of "Dominique," Kipp came out with a little toy mouse with huge ears,
and did the classic Ed Sullivan closer with "Eddie, kiss Topol Gigio
goodnight"...while all this frantic activity is going on, Rich has
been belting out "Lady of Spain" at center mic throughout, and the
other three finally join him, staggering and panting, at the center
for the big finish, pointing in a grand hand gesture to Rich who
holds the penultimate chord way past the cutoff point, then finally
sings the last note as the other three do a quick final dance step
before collapsing to the floor in utter exhaustion. If you haven't 
recognized this bit yet, it's from the hit show, "Forever Plaid."
Just find the soundtrack CD and you'll know what I'm talking about.
The crowd went wild with this song, screaming in hysterics at each
new bit and leaping to their feet in a thunderous standing ovation
at the end. Our sides hurt! They staggered off stage as we wiped the
tears of laughter from our eyes and sat, drained, in our seats...
truly amazing. MC Hank Brandt reappeared, and someone shouted, "one
more time!" which got another round of laughter...Hank was about to
go on when suddenly Jim Henry reappeared with the pink tutu and did
another set of running leaps across the stage, bringing more laughter
and applause...hilarious!

Hank reminded us of that age-old show biz addage, "Never follow an
act with children or animals," and then noted sadly that "our next
quartet is, unfortunately, being hosed on both accounts!" They brought
out Nightlife ('96), and they opened with their awesome "Basin Street
Blues" (in the evening show they did "Blues In The Night") and man,
did we love it! Their voices were just marvelous, and when they
followed with "When I Lift Up My Head," a great gospel tune with a 
high lead post at the tag, it was! Bari Jeff Baker
stepped forward with his characteristic "I wrote those songs" bit,
and bantered with the audience a bit as he does so well. They 
continued with a great Earl Moon song, "Mother's Boy," and closed
their short set with my FAVORITE Nightlife song, "Cross The Mason
Dixon Line." Excellent!!!

After a short intermission (in which we were admonished by the 
mysterious voice on the intercom not to "intermiss too much"), they
started the second half with a tribute to the 1976 International
Champions, The Innsiders. They came out celebrating their 25th
anniversary with a short medley of the six songs they sang back
then, including:
- Bring Back Those Old Vaudeville Days
- The Sunshine Of Your Smile
- Redhead
- Pal Of Mine
- Who'll Dry Your Tears
- Keep Your Sunny Side Up
It was great to see them still active and singing and sounding 
good! It's amazing how these champs of long ago can still belt 
out a chord today. Thanks guys!

Revival ('98) was on next, and looked so crisp and classy in their
sparkling pinstriped suits and white slacks. They opened with their
ever popular "Sentimental Gentleman From Georgia," and at this moment
I was thinking how great it is to just hear these wonderful champs 
singing the songs that made them famous. I know it's probably not as
fun to sing the same old songs, especially when you're actively
touring and doing the same ones over and over, but like a favorite
CD you play many times, it's just so nice to hear the old favorites
one more time. Forever Plaid seemed to be a popular source of music,
as they sang "Crazy 'Bout Ya Baby" from that hit show. "Lover Come
Back" was just as wondrous, and their gospel closer, "Joyfully I'll
Travel On" showed off bass Bill Myers' great solo voice as the other
three rocked with great background vocals. What a set!

FRED ('99) was next in the line-up, and they sang their great "You've
Got To Have a Silly Name" song, where they listed all the past
quartet champs with odd quartet names. They sang a new song I hadn't
heard before, a parody of "I've Got To Be Me," in which lead Rick 
LaRosa pointed out the shiny bejeweled letters "F", "R", "E" and "D"
on each of their lapels, and noted how he'd been in the "E" slot
for so long..."at least I'm not "D"!" he sang, pointing in derision
at Pookie, who looked surprised and hurt. Clay had a verse as "F",
and Joe joined him as "R", both of them glad that they were way on
the other side of the quartet and away from the horrible "D"...Rick
noted that he'd been standing there for ten long years and he 
thought it was time for a switch, and made a desperate attempt to 
get past Clay and Joe, who fought him off valiantly as poor Pookie
stood and watched, like the kid who's chosen last for the baseball
game. Resigned to his fate, Rick returns to the "E" spot in the 
quartet, protecting and defending the "F" and "R" against the evil
"D", realizing his place in the world as he belted out the final,
"I've Got To be 'E'!!" A thoroughly ridiculous and hilarious song!
They closed their too-short set by starting on a serious note, 
noting how the time has flown by as we've had such fun together with
"Where Does The Time Go?"...they went into a "loo loo" as Pookie 
stepped forward and began an impromptu soliloquy that quickly got
out of hand as he recapped the highlights of the show, poking fun
at everything and everyone in the show before them, and going into
a rant about all the time spent by the quartets, had to be
there, but it was clear he was simply ad libbing on the spot, as 
the rest of the quartet was in stitches behind him as they tried to
keep up the musical background. We were laughing uncontrollably until
he made fun of Platinum and Tony Derosa, complaining that Tony would
probably talk for at least an hour...they finally yanked Pookie away
from the mic and they finished the song and left to a standing 
ovation. What a bunch of nuts! My, how we love them.

The current International Champions, PLATINUM, was next, and we were
already in barbershop heaven, but they came out and made it even
better, opening with "Be Our Guest" and bari Tony Derosa's 17-minute
screamer note at the tag (ok it was maybe 13 minutes), reminding us
how incredible this quartet is in every part. They sang "Just In Time"
(I think that's the name?), a great tune, and then Tony stepped
forward to the mic, hesitated, looked at his watch and just stepped
away from the mic. We howled. Bass Kevin Miles introduced the next
number from "Les Miserables," bringing Tony up in a stunning solo
on "Bring Him Home." His voice is incredibly light and sweet on the 
highs, and the spotlight picked him up as the other three stood 
in a line to the side and backed him up. Awesome!!! Tony acknowledged
the huge applause and then said, "We hope you've enjoyed this half
as much as we've enjoyed singing for you...which means that basically
we've enjoyed singing for you twice as miuch as you've enjoyed... us..." He paused to do the math in his head, and then
shrugged and said, "You can tell I'm from Florida!" He joked, "You
know, there are three kinds of people in the world, those who can
count, and those who can't." He mentioned the whole Florida election
"thing" again, and noted that there are bumper stickers all over the
place making fun of it, his favorite being, "If you don't like how
we count votes, just go back to one of the other 57 states!" 
They finished their set with "Bye Bye Blues" and just brought the 
house down with their incomparable sound and showmanship. Another
standing O!

The AIC Chorus came out once more, singing "Old Songs Are Just Like
Old Friends," and then a special tribute to the late, great barbershop
arranger, Lou Perry, whom we lost a few short months ago at age 90,
began with the first song he ever arranged for a quartet, "Little Pal,"
performed by the quartet he wrote it for, the legendary "Four Rascals."
Terry Clark, bass of Boston Common ('80) filled in at the bass spot, 
and they did a nice job. The AIC continued their tribute to the great
Lou Perry with a marvelous set of video clips narrated by Terry. 
Lou's advice to quartets was always to let the music be the focus,
not the quartet. And, in a way, that's what this whole show was about,
setting aside the skits, costumes and talk and just getting the music
out there. Marvelous! The various quartets in the AIC then stepped
forward to give us a sampling of the 300+ songs that Lou Perry
arranged over the years:

Happiness Emporium: "If All My Dreams Were Made Of Gold"
The Ritz: "Who Told You"
Dealers Choice: (oops! I forgot to write the title!)
Acoustix: "Imagination"
Innsiders: "If There'd Never Been An Ireland"
Gas House Gang: "I'm Alone Because I Love You"
FRED: "We Kinda Miss The Good Old Songs"
Platinum: "Roses Of Picardy"
Revival: "From The First Hello To The Last Goodbye"
Nightlife: "Can't You Hear Me Callin' Caroline"

The AIC Chorus capped it with "Smilin' Thru," and then closed 
the show with "That Old Quartet Of Mine," bringing the audience
to tears of joy as we collectively recalled the incredible 
contributions that Lou Perry made to the Society and to quartets
and choruses everywhere. It was a wonderful show for all of us!
THANK YOU, AIC! You've outdone yourselves!!

Click here to return to the 2001 International Convention Main Page

Go to the 2001 Contest Scores Main Page

Return to the Harmonet Reporter Home Page