‘Rockin’ the Shop’

A few weeks ago, Ross’ barbershop chorus performed its spring concerts. This year’s theme was “Rockin’ the Shop” where the chorus performed rock ‘n’ roll and pop numbers from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’90s. (I was kinda bummed a little that the ’80s weren’t represented) Anyway, Ross had a couple of teddy bears he found at thrift shops in the back of the truck one day for the chorus’ opening number “Teddy Bear” by Elvis. The emcee was decked out as Elvis to introduce the chorus and the chorus members were wearing red scarves around their neck. The bears themselves were placed around the stage and in front of the risers. I’m chuckling to myself as the guys did their best Elvis moves.

Besides the chorus, the concert also featured a quintet of high school students from Paynesville — Quintessence. The ensemble comprises three girls and two boys and they were impressive for such a young group. They sang one of their numbers in the style of Pentatonix. The audience enjoyed their music.

For the rest of the concert’s first half, quartets Sound Image and Kordal Kombat took the stage. Some of the songs they performed I’ve heard before, but these quartets do a heckuva job blending the four voices (tenor, lead, baritone, bass) and keeping the audience entertained (even if some of the jokes are a tad bit lame).

Since I arrived early to the venue on concert day (the joys of being with a barbershopper), I get to hear the various groups warm up. And I was surprised to hear the opening words to Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling” when the West Central Connection Chorus (the one Ross belongs to) was practicing — “Ooga-chaka Ooga-Ooga, Ooga-chaka Ooga-Ooga” etc. Ah, the ’70s have arrived. A couple of other highlights from the chorus’ set include “Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)” by Billy Joel, which was inspired by his daughter, Alexa Raye, and “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond. “Lullabye” even had some of the chorus members emotional as they sang it. And of course, no matter how many times you’ve heard it, “Sweet Caroline” was a crowd-pleaser. The audience was singing along with the chorus — “so good, so good, so good.”

Last year, the chorus did a western theme, with cowboy and Southern stage dressing and the guys wore cowboy hats and western shirts. I have to say that it’s nice to see the chorus try things like this — from the outfits to the song choice to how it’s going to gussy up the stage. Hopefully the audiences will continue to support the chorus as it does put on a fun and entertaining show using just their voices. Who knew that more than a decade ago I never really listened to barbershop music and now it’s become a part of my life.

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