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2001 International Convention

Nashville, Tennessee
July 03-July 08, 2001

(Last Update: 07/05/01)

Quartet Quarter Finals, Session II
Wednesday, 07/04/01

After a great barbecue dinner with fellow chapter members 
in the convention center, I headed back to the Gaylord
Entertainment Center for the second half of the quarter
final round. This is really a great area of downtown for
the International convention, with the large hotels right
near by and lots of places to eat along Broadway as well as 
inside the arena building.

Things got started on time, with Southern Cross (AAMBS)
singing the Australian National Anthem, "Advance Australia
Fair," and the New Zealand representatives, Phoenix Rising,
singing their anthem, "God Defend New Zealand." Our 1998
Quartet Champions, Revival, came out to do the mic testing,
and did their usual great job on "Sugar Cane Jubilee" and
"Where The Southern Roses Grow." This time there were no 
problems with the mics, and we were underway!


This quartet always looks elegant and classy. Their crisp
black tuxes fit well and they looked like pro's as they
opened this round with "That Old Feeling." Like Tulsa
Tradition, these guys have been on the International stage
many times before, so they knew what they had to do to score
well, and they did the job. Clean, energetic, non-stop sound.
Great! "I'm Beginning To See The Light" was next, and it 
was fine too, should be enough to get them to the next round.


I was thinking, "Holy cow, where did these guys come from?"
as I jotted down their song titles as they sang. I really 
liked their version of "When It Comes To Loving The Girls"
and "South." They have a really good sound and I sure hope 
they continue on! 


Though I felt a good command of the rhythm and tempo during
"I Found A Million Dollar Baby," it seemed a little ragged in
spots, overall it seemed too loud (again, this seemed to prevail
throughout the rounds, at least to my ears) and it needed more
soft dynamic on places. A cute song, nonetheless. On "That's An
Irish Lullaby," the mic seemed to pick up too much bari, and again,
I sensed an abundance of "muscle" in the tone quality. This is a 
lullaby, and should be sung with softness and tenderness. We don't
need every song belted to the back wall.


Now...HERE is a quartet that knows a thing or two about dynamics
and interpreting a song. They were consummate professionals out
there, in total control, smooth and clean throughout. They sang
"Mr. Jefferson Lord, Play That Barbershop Chord" and "Lucky To
Be Loving You" (or was that "Time After Time? I am not getting 
these song titles right...), and man, they just had the audience
in the palm of their hand. Such finesse. Oh, umm...did I mention
that they were just on our chapter show a few weeks ago? I really
like these guys! 


WEELLLLLLL...we were all wondering what Rumors was going to have
up its sleeve this time. You may recall in Kansas City last year
how they created a stir by singing a parody of "Please Mister
Columbus," attacking the judging community for allowing the style
to go too far afield, as evidenced by the rewarding of Northbrook's
controversial "Les Miz" package in the previous year's chorus contest.
They called for the Music Category to "turn this ship around" and 
get the barbershop community to sing more traditionally styled and 
arranged songs. Afterward they took a lot of heat for their stand,
and so it was a wonderful sight to see first a white flag of surrender
poke out from behind the curtain, followed by them appearing on stage,
their outfits torn, bloodied and filthy, their faces made up like 
they'd just barely escaped with their lives from a furious battle.
They also carried a flag reminiscent of the French flag carried by
the Northbrook chorus. Staggering to the microphones in mock pain, 
they struggled to even take the pitch, but gathered their strength 
and began, again to the tune of the verse in "Please Mr. Columbus",
"In fourteen-hundred ninety-nine plus one we sang this song..."
and they branched into another parody of "Forgive Me," begging the
judges, the Society, everyone, for forgiveness for causing such an
uproar. They offered apologies and kissed up to Northbrook with 
signs that said, "Hey, Northbrook, we'll sing for beer" (but the word
"beer" was crossed out and replaced with "free"), and "We Love Jay"
(the "love" was actually a heart)...the big laugh came when they
unfurled the flag they were carrying to reveal the words "We feel
Les Miserables" and they sank to their knees in abject humility and
contrition. After much laughter and applause, they changed attitudes
and pulled out mock copies of the Society's quarterly magazine, "The
Harmonizer," and began singing about some incredible turns of events
in the barbershop world, such as the Society dues being lowered to
a mere $7 annually, or news that ACOUSTIX actually sang a barbershop
song, or that the Vocal Majority had gotten disqualified in contest,
and that the Harmonizer actually arrived on time...then the chorus,
"Hell Froze Over Yesterday," delivered the stinging punch line again,
as they revealed that no, they really weren't sorry for what they'd
done, and that they were sticking to their guns. It was a funny and 
clever set, and probably cost them a slot in the semi-finals! Oh
well. You can't fight city hall (or is that Harmony Hall?)...


This is Sean Milligan's newest foursome, and it's good to see his
smiling face and great lead voice back in it again. They opened
with the beautiful "Moonlight Becomes You," singing very nicely
throughout, and treating it with tender care. I also liked "Jazz
Baby" and thought they had a great shot. I was sure they'd make it 
to the semi's...later in the evening, when their name was called
for the top 20, one of their significant others was seated in front
of me and let out a big sigh of relief. I just smiled and thought,
How could you doubt it? They were great!"


I had not heard this quartet before, and after the Cardinal District
prelims the word from the District was "oh boy, wait till you hear 
this new quartet!" Featuring past gold medalists Ken Hatton and Jay
Hawkins, it was a good bet that they were going to be hot. They came
out in stylish black tuxes with yellow carnations in the lapels, 
and began "Embraceable You." Something didn't click with me, and it
took me a while to sense that they were just too heavy-handed with 
this song. I wanted to hear a loving, beckoning call to come into
his arms, but the attitude I got was, "Get over here and hug me, NOW!"
It was just too commanding an attitude, I thought. Still, it sounded
good, and I like their voices together. The second song, "I've Got A
Gal In Kalamazoo" was more fitting, I think. They did a really good
job with the rhythm and vocal expression, and I liked their dynamics
and command of the song throughout. I think they're still good enough
to make the cut.


"How Deep Is The Ocean" was pretty solid throughout, a nice clean
presentation, though I sensed a couple of minor vocal quirks between
blending voices, most likely a minor one-time execution error. They
sang "They Go Wild, Simply Wild, Over Me" was also good, but they 
just didn't wow the crowd like they need to in order to advance. 


This is, I think, the fourth year that Jambalaya has competed at
International, and it's always good to see them in the line-up.
Their opening song, "The Key To Success With The Beautiful Girls"
was one I'd heard many times, and it was, as usual, chock full of
fun and crazy antics. "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" was a
good number as well, I'm just not sure if it's enough to make the


I was delighted to see this new quartet with Chuck Sisson (Lead,
Chiefs of Staff '88) back in the saddle again. He still has a 
huge voice, and the other three have to work hard to keep up,
but they did a great job overall, with "That's Life" and "If You
Love Me, Really Love Me." I have them in the semi's no problem.


The lead, tenor, and bari came out one by one, as Allen Gasper
started the first song alone on stage. The tenor strolled in and
joined him on a short duet, and the bari chimed in a few measures
later...they looked for the bass to enter on cue but he didn't show,
and they repeated the cue, looking frantically off stage for him
to appear...then we all got a shock as bass Brian Beck appeared 
from the opposite direction in full Star Wars costume as...Yoda!
He wore a long flowing robe and had the full bright green Yoda head
with ears and bright green face. This was Brian's answer to the
nickname given to him by FRED in one of their contest songs (in which
they were making fun of the other quartets in the contest). They 
sang the praises of their wonderful space friend and top bass, as
they sang "Yoda, He's Got a Gold-a" with Yoda adding some typical
Yoda phrases...They followed this with "Let The Rest Of The WORLDS
Go By" gesturing to outer space and doing a really fine job overall.


They sang "I'll Try To Forget You In Vain" and "Pal Of My Cradle
Days" and did a nice job, but it was a little rough in spots and 
not enough to move ahead. Hopefully they'll be back again!


Their songs, "If We Can't Be The Same Old Sweethearts" and "Oh!
You Beautiful Doll" were nice, but just not up there with the rest
of the pack. I have to emphasize that ALL of the quartets who make
it to International are GOOD quartets, or they wouldn't be here to
begin with. It's just that at this level of competition it's the 
smallest things that often mean the difference between making the cut
and not. 


The second of three quartets from the host Dixie District to appear
on stage, Overture strode out in confidence to loud hometown crowd
applause, and charmed us with "Song Of The South." The climax at
"singing a song" as they went into the spread was awesome! They
then started with a serious-sounding second song, singing about 
the wonder of love, but suddenly turned away from the mics and 
shed their tuxedoes to reveal grungy T-shirts, tattooed arms, 
baseball caps askew and grotesque false teeth, transforming 
themselves into stereotypical rednecks to continue singing about
love their own way, in "I Love Y'all"...they have done this bit a 
few times in the past and they've really got it down to a science,
and the crowd loved it. Good going guys! We love y'all too!


They did a nice job on "I'd Rather Be Blue Over You," a nice 
arrangement I hadn't heard before. I also liked their medley of
"It's You" coupled with "My Romance" but thought it was a bit long.
I kept anticipating the tag but they kept going.


They sang the "Railroad" medley ("I've Been Working On the Railroad"
and "I'm a Railroad Man"), the second time I'd heard this unique
arrangement in contest. Not bad, but uninspired. "How Deep Is The 
Ocean" was good, but again, in this environment they need more
to hang with the big boys.


"When It's Night Time In Dixieland / Dixieland One-Step" medley was
rocking, with great Dixieland jazz band stuff, good rhythms and good
tempo and control. "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody" was 
great too, with a different interp than I've heard before, very 
interesting. Both songs started out slow and controlled and built to
big rousing finishes. Great hit! I think we'll hear them again.


Solid energy and drive sold me on this set, "Make 'Em Laugh" and 
"You Keep Coming Back Like A Song." By this time I could tell from
the audience response if a quartet had that certain "zing" or not.
If not, they responed with cordial but polite applause. If it was
there, you'd hear a roar build up and enthusiastic response. These
guys "had it!" Definitely in the top 20! Really good job.


The sang "Side By Side" and "Jeannie With The Light Brown Hair"
and did an adequate job thoughout, but not enough to make it. Hope
to hear them again in the future!


I like the drive and forward energy in "1927" but in "Bye Bye Blues"
I felt the tenor got out of control and was too loud, and the tag
semed too elaborate, something I've noticed in many of the songs
this year. Does the Music category reward extended tags that seem
to go on and on, or should the song just end when it's supposed to?
I'm no judge so I don't know...I just know what I like.


I've always liked this quartet, and they've always tended to sing
complex stuff. Long time bari Greg Volk has been replaced by Brent
Graham, and they moved bass John Korby to the outside in this new
shuffle. They sounded just as terrific as always, and Brent seemed
perfectly comfortable in Greg's shoes as they caressed "Young and
Foolish." I didn't get the name of the second song, I was caught
up in the moment, just listening to was so smooth from
lead Greg Dolphin's cool intro throughout the song. Nice!


Hmm, ok who is the arranger responsible for this new "Railroad
Medley" that everyone is singing? This is the third time this 
song appeared in this round, so the quartets must really like it.
These guys did a good job on it, along with "I'll Take You Home
Again, Kathleen." I remember this wonderful old time barbershop
classic as a tender ballad. Did they really need to add that big
loud tag? 


"Moonlight Becomes You" was ok, but a bit plodding, and I thought
the chorus was too loud (I'm complaining a lot about the sound
on a lot of songs...maybe it's just from where I'm sitting? I dunno).
I liked "Naughty Angeline" though, had some nice musical interest.


Fraser Brown's (relatively) new foursome treated "Somewhere Over 
The Rainbow" masterfully, and "That's My Weakness Now" as a 
standard "Standing Room Only" Fraser special. Great!


"I'll Be Seeing You" and "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" was 
nice throughout, putting them somewhere in the middle of the pack.


Riptide had been moved from their third place slot in the previous
round to the very end of the contest as lead Tim Reynolds had to 
dash back to Atlanta to see his wife and his new triplet boys, born
Tuesday afternoon. A quick visit to be with mom and the new future
quartet (some are dubbing them the "Rip-lets") and back on the plane,
and Tim was in fine form as they came out to wild applause, in part
due to their extensive fan base, and in part congratulating Tim on
his new boys and thanking him for making the effort to be back with
us. It was well worth the wait as they cruised through "I'll Try To
Forget You In Vain." When they started "For Me And My Gal" we looked
to Tim's smile as he reflected on this being his "lucky day"...
later when they got to the chorus, "...I'm gonna build a home two..."
they looked at tenor Eric King, whose wife recently had twins, 
"...for three or four..." they looked in at Tim, who just smirked and
shrugged, then over at bari Rich Lewellen on "...or MORE..." and
Rich just frantically waved his hands and shook his head NOOOO! Funny.
It was a great way to end the round and close out the contest session.

We all waited a few minutes for the scores to be tallied and they
announced the order of appearance for the Semi-final round:

Mic Tester: Common Ground

 1) Cheers
 2) Power Play
 3) Heyday
 4) Four Voices
 5) Riptide
 6) The Sensations
 7) 3 Men And A Melody
 8) Applause!
 9) BSQ
10) Overture
11) Saturday Evening Post
12) Metropolis
13) Michigan Jake
14) Endeavor
15) Bay Rum Runners
16) Excalibur
17) Flipside
18) Finale
19) Uptown Sound
20) Gotcha!

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