I arrived at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) with just a few minutes to spare before the 1:00pm show. The Jamboree team had assured me that there would be a ticket waiting for me at the door. Sure enough, they found it, and I was in. Front row center, perfect for capturing pictures and taking in all the action. It turned out that Producer Jim Pyle's wife, Betsy, had given me *her* seat, and I was a little surprised to see Jim sit down next to me in the front row as Song Leader Don Amos finished leading the audience in a couple of songs to warm them up before the show got under way. Betsy joined us a few minutes later, and we ended up shuffling a seat or two so they could sit together, as there were a few more available seats in the front. A recorded message came over the sound system, informing us of house rules and locations of emergency exits. I could see Presenter Mike Maino offstage right, waving his arms as an airline hostess might do during pre-flight instructions. Mike was then introduced as "the voice of Bolton Landing, and husband of Gail" and took the podium to run the afternoon's show. (Note: Some of the material that follows was taken from the show program or performers' web pages) LIKELY LADS (BABS) The Likely Lads (Duncan Whinyates, Lee Sperry, Tim Braham, and Rob Barber) took part in the International Quartet Quarter Final round as BABS representatives, having won the British Association of Barbershop Singers Quartet Contest last year. They appeared in sparkling red shirts and opened with a really jazzy "I've Got A Gal In Kalamazoo." Tenor Duncan graced us with a beautiful solo with "When I Look In Your Eyes" as sung by The Gas House Gang on their "Rough and Tumble Best" CD. His voice was sweet and clear, and the haunting chorus transitioned to a sweet full falsetto at the tag...nice! They closed their short opening set with their "seam thong" (theme song), "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." They included some funny animal sounds and swayed back and forth, effectively shutting out Dunc behind them...they even used some popping slaps on their bare tummies t oproduce some impromptu percussion effects, and the audience really enjoyed their moment of fun. Thanks guys! CHANGE OF HEART (Harmony, Inc.) Change of Heart (Janet Foster, Sara Stone, Susan Spencer, and Robin Gould) won their crowns and became Harmony Inc.'s Harmony Queens in 1999, having been together since 1993. Three of these ladies are members of the Heart of Indiana chorus in the Indianapolis area, and one is a member of the Village Vocal Chords from Chicago. These ladies seemed to have a playful axe to grind against men, getting in our faces with "Take Another Guess/You Can't Pull The Wool Over My Eyes Medley," one of those "kiss-off, pal" songs with an attitude. They delivered it with great faces and full involvement, and I was just glad they were looking past me into the audience! They softened their "attack" with a really nice solo by lead Sara Stone on the beautiful "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" from the animated movie, "The Lion King." "...wide eyed wanderer..." was a particularly nice spot as the chords locked and rang, ooohhh! I detected a bit of a nervous (?) vibrato in a couple of spots (Queens? Nervous? Come on!) but they loo-ed nicely into the tag. Sweet! Uh oh, but they wrapped it up with another classic man-basher, "Goody Goody." Hey, don't get on the bad side of these gals!
THE NIGHTINGALES (Russia) This young quartet has been making appearances all over the convention all week long, and it was a perfect fit to have them as part of today's show. Their music teacher, Alexander Nikitin (pronounced "Nikeeten") first learned about barbershop singing when he heard Rumors sing some years ago. He attended the past two years of master classes at the Russian Barbershop Harmony Festival in St. Petersburg. The Nightingales perform Russian folks songs in the barbershop style. They've been in the US since mid-June, and also appeared in the Sing! A Cappella concert prior to the convention. Their names are: Ilfat Bayatitov ("Eelfat Byazeetov") on tenor, Yaroslav Nesterchuk ("Yaroslahv Nesterchuck") on lead, Alexei Repine ("Alexay Repeeneh") on bass, and Denis Morozov (like it sounds) on baritone. They were also accompanied by Eugene Nikitin, Alexander's son, who assisted with translation. He explained their first song which was in Russian, about 2 farming brothers who come to the big city and buy a boat, but it sinks. They had elaborate arm moves and synchronized choreography to illustrate the song, and we didn't need to know the language to get the idea of the piece! It was cute. The Gas House Gang came out and joined them on stage briefly, to help present certificates of appreciation to the boys for participating in this Jamboree. They then donned four plastic red derbies and did a cute rendition of "Yes Sir, That's My Baby" in English. Their neat moves and steps forward and back, snapping fingers and swaying side to side were well rehearsed and "typical" barbershop. CAMBRIDGE CHORD COMPANY (BABS) Representing the United Kingdom, European chorus champions Cambridge Chord Company broke the mold back in 1994 when they became the first small chorus ever to win a BABS medal with just 22 men on stage. They went on to win the BABS championship in 1999 and the BABS/LABBS Millennium all-comers championship last year, still competing against choruses several times their size. Last May they won the coveted European chorus trophy with just 35 men, all of whom were here in Nashville. BABS music judge Paul Davies is their director, and they continue to be in great demand at shows and festivals all over Great Britain. They hit us with a big opener with "Tonight's The Night I've Waited For...!" Director Davies commented that they were from East Anglia, which he described as "most like your Texas...if Texas had a few more US air force bases, it would be just like Cambridge!" They did a neat medley of "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen" and "You're Sixteen, So Beautiful, And You're Mine" ala Neil Sedaka...The next song title was a fake but I liked the setup, as the singer parts with his Lorraine, only to take up with his new love, Clara, singing, "I Can See Clara Now, Lorraine Is Gone"...ugh! They continued with a wonderful Swingle Singers-like version of "Your Kisses Take Me To Shangri-La" with a high floating tenor melody that was so sweet. The small chorus had bunched in together for this intimate number, and then spread out again as a kilted Scotsman strode out and introduced the next number, "Skye Boat Song." It was a stirring and dramatic traditional Scottish folk ballad about a prince fleeing war in the mid 1700's, speeding his "bonnie boat like a bird on the wing" in hopes of ruling again some day. This was countered with their closing number, a light and funny "Teddy Bear Picnic" as the chorus danced and pranced their way around the stage, munching on their various picnic goodies like so many singing Yogi Bears...cute! PHILHARMONIX (SPEBSQSA/SAI) Philharmonix is a mixed quartet (two male, two female) with a unique musical style developed from their successful experiences in the barbershop world. Based in the Philadelphia area, they have performed on many chapter shows, community concerts and events, including singing for the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. They won gold medals in both the 1999 Mid-American Barbershop Quartet Expo in St. Louis, Missouri, and at the 2000 Buckeye Invitational in Columbus, Ohio. In February of this year they were named runners-up in the New York Regional Harmony Sweepstakes, sponsored by Primarily A Cappella. Their songs included "Lazy Day," a light and lyrical happy song, followed by a precious "This Little Piggy Went To Market" lullaby, and then "Happy Together," with Tom on the solo, Rick providing the bass percussion, and Donna and Amy rounding out the background vocals. Nice sound! SCANDINAVIAN SHUFFLE (SNOBS) This Swedish quartet from Stockholm formed in the spring of 1999. They had sung together in the same barbershop chorus, A Cappella Academy, and they enjoyed getting together on occasion to sing. Just recently they won the Nordic Championships, qualifying them to compete in our International Quartet Contest. The members are: Torgeir Dahlen on tenor, Charlie Buchheim at lead, Peter Lindholm on baritone, and Joakim Flink on bass. They opened their set with "Slap That Bass," and Joakim reached lowwww for those bass notes! They described the "Shuffle" part of their name by the fact that one of them is really Norwegian...the problem is for us to figure out which one! "Tenderly" was a nice ballad with great mood created throughout, and they finished with a song that serves as their philosophy for living, "I'm Gonna Live Till I Die," with a laser-powered drive to the tag that was terrific. SIGNATURE SOUND (SAI) The 2000 Sweet Adelines Champions, Signature Sound, formed in 1990 and quickly rose to the forefront of Mid-Atlantic regional quartets. The quartet began competing on the international level in 1992 and over the last seven years has continuously been in the top ten. In 1998 in Nashville, Tennessee, Signature Sound won the silver medal at the international competition, and in Atlanta the following year they finally struck gold. Signature Sound is composed of four women: Christine Cook, tenor, a special education administrator, from Rockville, Maryland; Leslie Taylor, lead, administrator for a private practice ophthalmologist, from Annapolis; Janet Ashford, baritone, master director of Pride of Baltimore, the 2000 International 6th place chorus, from Columbia; and Lloyd-Ellen Thomas, bass, from Glen Burie. Their opener was "It's A Brand New Day" and they showed good command of the stage and confidence throughout. "Fit As A Fiddle" came next, with FRED-like comic bell ringing in the middle and even a Pookie-reminiscent squawk thrown in for good measure. The stage lights faded to a rich blue as the quartet sank into "Imagination" and we floated along right with them. They brightened it up again with a closer song asking that question that seems to plague women's quartets everywhere, "How Do You Find A Low-Voiced Woman" to the tune of "What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor" ... the answer was obvious...at the *men's* conventions..."auditioning for the Vocal Majority, singing low notes with authority..." Lloyd-Ellen Thomas was in her glory as she flexed her resonant bass voice and posed menacingly. Great stuff! PHOENIX RISING (NZABS) Phoenix Rising first sang together as the learning quartet for the Canterbury Plainsmen Chorus in late 1999. They stayed together and selected their name from the fact that all of the quartet members had risen from previous champion quatets. They captured the gold medal and the National title in their first competition in September of 2000, qualifying them to compete in Nashville this week. Quartet members include David Merriman on tenor, Ed Dempsey at lead, Bruce Early singing bari, and Tom Buckley on bass. "Give Me A Barbershop Song" was their first number, and a repeat of their second contest number in the Quarter Final Round. "Empty Chairs At Empty Tables," another wonderful song from "Les Miserables" was their next offering, and it was poignant and sad, touching on the aftermath of the French Revolution during that time in history. They concluded with "Roll On Waikato" and wrapped up a nice second half kickoff. SMOKY MOUNTAIN HARMONY SHOW CHORUS (SAI) This almost brand new Sweet Adelines chorus officially chartered in December of 1999, and ony three months later won their first Region 23 chorus contest! They will be heading to Portland Oregon for the International contest this October, under the masterful direction of Nancy Shumard, who brings 15 years of chorus directing experience to the fore. The 55-lady chorus sizzled as the curtain rose, opening with the eery "Prince Of Darkness." Two quartets stepped out in front, flanking the chorus on either side and helped drive this intense opener. They followed this with a "Dixie" intro that rolled into "Sweet Georgia Brown" and gave them an opportunity to strut their show choir moves. Man, it was hot! These gals know how to smile, sing and dance up a storm all at the same time. "The most popular song in America" was how they described their next offering, "You Are My Sunshine" (actually I thought it was Roger's Railroad Medley, but I digress)...the hot yellow stage lighting up in back of the chorus poured down to give a sunset-like glow to the chorus, setting an interesting mood. "They fired it up again with a rousing gospel tune, "Ready For A Miracle" and that front row was looking awesome. Two soloists, one on each end of the front row, stepped up and echoed each other as they belted out the repeated question, "Are you ready for a miracle?" It was interesting to witness the iron grip of Director Nancy Shumard, as all eyes were on her for almost the entire set, even the front row folks, causing those on the very ends to have to look at a sharp angle in toward the center so they'd make solid eye contact with Nancy. SOUTHERN CROSS (AAMBS) From Brisbane, in the state of Queensland, Southern Cross is Australia's champion quartet. Daniel Beckitt, tenor, is a business consultant and the quartet's web designer. He and John Newell, the lead, first quartetted together in 1993. John is a call center team leader and trainer. Bill Staff, baritone, is a Project Manager for F111 Aircraft Software Development, and the Musical Director for Australia's silver medalist chorus, The River City Clippers. He is also Australia's only two-time quartet gold medalist. Mark Penman, bass, is a former singer with the Australian Opera, and owns a jewelry business. I liked their opening number, "All Aboard For Dixieland" with their steady, strong tempo, good forward motion and a fine blend. "Melancholy Baby" was just pure barbershop, and so very enjoyable. Their awesome tenor was right there, adding the perfect touch. They finished their short set with a song made famous by the late Peter Allen, one that is familiar to Aussies everywhere, when they are a long way from home, "I Still Call Australia My Home." Very nice set, mates! G'day! CRACKERJACK (LABBS) Crackerjack is a ladies championship quartet, representing the Ladies' Association of British Barbershop Singers, winning their championship in 1999. They have appeared at the Roaring 20's Festival in Killarny, Ireland, and gave "an electrifying performance" during a spectacular thunderstorm at the Ohio State Fair while visiting the Buckeye Invitational with their chorus, The White Rosettes. They made a national television debut last Christmas Eve, appearing in a 60's police drama. Members include Annmarie Connett, tenor; Jo Braham, lead; Louise Williams, bari; and Pauline Winn, bass. They danced their opening song, "Dixieland One-Step" and looked good in their black gowns with dazzling purple and silver vests. They sang a heart-wrenching ballad called "Two Little Boys," in which two little boys grew up as best of friends, playing with little toy soldiers and horses until one day one the horses broke. The other boy consoled his pal, inviting his soldier to get on the other horse, saying, "do you think I'd leave you crying when there's room on my horse for two?" Years later, when the boys had grown to men and were in the thick of a real war, one of them is struck down on the field of battle, but is rescued by his life-long friend who carries him to safety on his own horse, saying, "do you think I would leave you dying when there's room on my horse for two?"...very emotional and moving. The quartet closed their portion by celebrating that magical time when love is sparked at the moment when eyes meet, in Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." Lead Jo Braham gave a stunning solo performance as the quartet backed her up softly. Wonderful job, ladies! JAMBALAYA (SNOBS) Jambalaya made this their fourth appearance here in the US, representing the Society of Nordic Barbershop Singers in International competition. They won the SNOBS gold medal in 1996 and 1998, and are always a delight to see and hear. Members include Jambatenor Ronny Karlsson, Jambalead Richard Ohman, Jambabari Joacim Stappe, and Jambabass Orjan Hedene. They started with a contest song they've used in the past, "Why Do They Waste All The Love On Babies?," and bemoaned the fact that the girls all like his baby brother and just ignore him...Ronny was holding an imaginary baby and making goo-goo and gurgling noises all over...it was funny. Tom Jones' "Kiss" was a rock and roll sendup that had us all grabbing for our air guitars so we could jam along, and their too-short set concluded as they donned black cowboy hats and rode off into the sunset with a killer country uptune by John Michael Montgomery, "Sold". They were whooping it up on stage in typical Jambacraziness, and we enjoyed it a lot! Let's do it again next year! TORONTO NORTHERN LIGHTS (SPEBSQSA) I had just a vague sample of TNL's wonderful sound at Tuesday's Senate-Aires party, but the sound system didn't clue me in on just how good a job these guys do with their vocal production. This chorus was formed just three years ago, and their goal of excelence in all aspects of the barbershop craft has really paid off handsomely. They qualified for International, representing the Ontario District, in their first-ever District contest, where in Anaheim, California they placed a very respectable 11th. Last year they came back even better prepared and soared into the medalist ranks, taking fifth place. Coming in to Nashville seeded third, we have been anticipating great things from this little chorus, and they did not disappoint! From the very first strains of "It Had To Be You," their rich, clean sound was immediately evident. A wall to wall flow of sound washed over us, and the overall horizontal motion of sound and dynamics was wonderful. "...make me feel blue..." the basses were a solid single fat bass voice wayyy down there...while the tenors were another total unit sound perfectly tuned on top. Amazingly clean. the front row dangled their arms as if suspended like marionette puppets, as they sang "Why do I do everything you say?"...cute. Their spokesman pointed out some of the unshaven faces in the chorus, and explained it by saying, "Next week, when we go home...winter starts!" They moved on with a touching "Embraceable You," and were joined by a female soloist who appeared on stage in a lovely gown and sang along nicely. They segued into the next song nicely as one member came out nervously, calling her back as she was leaving the stage, then describing to her in pantomime as the chorus sang, that he had written a special song just for her. He walked with her as he read the lines, consisting of "Blah, Blah, blah, blah, ..stars, Blah, blah, blah, blah ... moon, blah, blah blah, blah, ...love, blah, blah, blah, blah ...June..." and continued on like this in funny fashion as she became more and more fed up. Finally the song ended with "...blah blah balh blah you...blah you!" at which point she took offense and gave him a hearty slap in the face and stormed off, indignant. Funny stuff! They ended their super set with a folk song from the east coast of Canada, "She's Like The Swallow," and we were all buzzing about the upcoming chorus contest on Saturday and where this excellent chorus might end up! PLATINUM (SPEBSQSA) Our current International Champions, PLATINUM needs no introduction. This simply amazing quartet, only in existence since 1998, was the perfect end to an already stellar showcase of talent. They opened with "It's Only A Paper Moon," and it was full, rich and smooth throughout, masterfully done. They hav etotal control over every song they sing, and it's simply a marvel to observe. Bari Tony DeRosa made a passing crack about the Tennessee Titans, and then picked it up again with the mesmerizing "Smilin' Thru." Bass Kevin Miles mentioned how he was grateful for his wife's recent recovery from a potentially serious ilness, and was delighted to tell us that she was here in the audience enjoying the show and that everything was fine. They sang the next song, dedicated to Kevin's wife, "You Are The One I Adore." Sooo nice. They put the cap on the show with their wonderful "Cuddle Up A Little Closer" which builds gradually from its slow easy beginning to a jazzy uptempo climax and had us on our feet at the last chord. Great! Once again, HUGE thanks go out to the many people who worked to make this show a reality, especially to Jamboree XII Producer Jim Pyle, Director Joan Darrah, and all the crew members and representatives on the World Harmony Council. Another Great Show! Let's do it again in Portland!
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