Archive for the ‘Barbershop style’ Category

American Harmony, The Movie… Revisited

April 20, 2009

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American Harmony

Barbershop singing like you’ve never imagined

By MEG DOWNEY • The Tennessean • April 14, 2009

Start humming…
Gonna take a sentimental journey.
Yes, sentimental, fiercely competitive, charming and obsessive. American Harmony, a music documentary about barbershop singing, exposes the passion and friendship of the men drawn to this peculiarly American style of a cappella singing.
Influenced by African-American gospel and European hymn chorales, the music, for some, may seem stuck in the early 20th century. We think of men with sleeve garters, handlebar mustaches and straw skimmers on heads bent together in harmony on “Sweet Adeline.”

Get past that. Today, many may dress more like dons and sing 1960s pop. The film sets up four gladiator quartets seeking to be No. 1 in the international competition held by the eminent Barbershop Harmony Society, which is based in Nashville.
Max Q is the revered dream team of older singers who’ve won before with other groups but can’t seem to get the gold; the OC Times (for Orange County, Calif.) are attractive young turks who could easily wow American Idol fans; Reveille is a group of middle-aged friends with a comedic bent; and Vocal Spectrum is a foursome of upstarts just out of college.

These musical Olympics attract 10,000 fans, and the singers practice with the intensity of Lance Armstrong, while mowing the lawn, playing poker and for hours in front of a coach. The blissful ringing chords they produce are only half of it. Watch their faces contort with emotion — eyes popping for surprise, eyebrows bent up in sincerity, half-closed eyes and crooning lips oozing love. They are all hams, and that’s the kick.
Shawn York, the tenor with the OC Times, works as a manager in a Chick-fil-A, then suits up and becomes a rock star on stage or enchants a waitress when his quartet spontaneously erupts with “So In Love” in a luncheonette. No wonder these guys have groupies following them.

As Joe Hunter, a baritone with Reveille, said: “It’s you, your voice and the audience, and when it’s done right, it moves people.”
While winning may drive the singers, it’s the camaraderie that binds them. American Harmony shows that effectively. The teams deal with challenges from rookie nerves to brain cancer. The 86-minute film, written, produced and directed by Aengus James, is a rose in the lapel for these songsters.

Stay “Tuned”

Jerry Braack

California  USA

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Orange Crush… On The Move…

April 10, 2009

orange-crush

Elaine                 Sally                  Tracey                  Anna

My wife Elaine’s Sweet Adeline quartet “Orange Crush” is moving strongly towards the first “Official” Competition since they put this combination together. (the addition of Elaine to replace their lost Tenor). Their performances are getting powerful, magical, inviting and most of all pleasurable.

They have been getting specific quartet coaching for the quartet as well as going to visit various chapters, both men’s and women’s and singing a “set” of songs which will be their contest performance on stage in Pasadena, CA on April 24 & 25.

Last night I had the privilege of video recording a session where a small group of very capable people in the “know” (judges and the like) had Orange Crush run sets, and then critique them on what could be made better.  It was a great session and the quartet (who sounded GREAT at the begining) learned a few more little tips that will make their performance on stage (and therefore their scores) all that much better.

We all look forward to hearing them on stage and seeing how happy they are with the high scores they attain after doing the superb job we know they will do.

Stay “Tuned”

Jerry Braack

California USA

Good Friends Gone…

April 3, 2009

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I am sad to hear of several of my long time friends passing away from cancer.  Both friends I have known for many decades, and it hurts me to know I am at the age where  the people I know are leaving this world.  I do have health issues, but I am still “above ground”… and that’s a good day.

To attend the services for my friends means reliving old memories, seeing old friends and remembering all the good times shared with their families and all who knew them.

One man, Stan Lang,  gave me my first job after my tour of duty in the Air Force, and was keen on getting an education, so it was mandated to me… go to school, do your homework and tell me when you can work and we will make it all work.

Another man, Jim McKee, I have known also throughout my Barbershop career as a teacher, director, quartet enthusiast, official BHS judge and friend.

Both were men of good character, both loved the Barbershop music and both loved family.

They will be missed!

Thanks for reading

Stay “Tuned”

Jerry Braack

California  USA

BHS International Qualifications…

March 17, 2009

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This coming weekend my wife Elaine and I will be in Las Vegas, Nevada at the site of one of the many qualification competitions for the upcoming International Convention and Competition for the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS).  This particular convention will combine both the Far Western and the Rocky Mountain Districts.

The International Convention will be held in Anaheim, California, held from June 29, thru July 4, 2009.  It will be a thrill for my wife and I to attend this International convention since it is close to home. 

This convention will be the first time that a Sweet Adeline Chorus has been invited to attend and perform on one of the shows outside the main competition.

It will also be a monumental calling card to see the 11 time International champion chorus Vocal Majority and the 7 time International champion chorus Masters of Harmony perform together on the same stage.  Approximately 275 men will perform several songs together, as well as separate selections from each of the choruses by themselves.

I will be sure to post results for all to see, and possibly to hear, following the events.

Thanks for reading

Stay “tuned”

Jerry Braack,  California  USA

American Harmony, The Movie…

March 2, 2009

 American Harmony

 What a boost to the Barbershop Art Form! Here is a reprint from the official BHS website. 

American HarmonyThe Single Biggest Public Relations & Membership Recruitment Opportunity Ever Presented To Chapters of the Barbershop Harmony Society

American Harmony, the documentary, had a very exciting and  successful  screening at the Barbershop Harmony Society’s 2008   International Convention in Nashville. Now the producers, Aengus James (who is also the writer/director) and Colin Miller, want to take it beyond the barbershop devotees. The film, which is a tribute to the  human musical spirit, is more than three years in the making and was edited by Kate Amend, the editor of two Oscar-winning documentaries. 

The movie is an in-depth look at the amazingly rich subculture of a true American art form. It follows the lives of some of the biggest names to emerge from international competition in the Society’s history, as well as interviews with rank-and-file members, called “Joe Barbershoppers.” The film features four prominent Society quartets – OC Times, Max Q, Vocal Spectrum, and Reveille – over a span of years, on stage and at home, in their personal quests for international recognition as they experience the thrill of victory, and the agony of not quite making it. American Harmony received an enthusiastic reception from film distributors and other non-Society audiences.

“The film is a mixture of obsession, singing, zany comedy and nail-biting competition,” says James on the website. “This is the story of several dreamers who journey from their ‘ordinary’ lives to the world stage in the hopes of winning the gold.”

 

American Harmony was filmed by James and his camera crews during the Society’s last three international conventions and is interspersed with footage and other graphic elements provided by the Barbershop Harmony Society. These elements combine to tell a very compelling story:

 

Watch the trailer

 

Thanks for reading

 

barber-pole2Stay “tuned”

 

Jerry Braack

 

California  USA

Masterpiece of Sheer Beauty… revisited…

February 10, 2009
Masterpiece
Once again from the Masters of Harmony comes the formation of a championship quality and caliber quartet – Masterpiece! 
Here is Masterpiece competing in the SoCal West Divisional in 2008.  They are getting better all the time!  Their next challenge is the International Preliminary Competition in Las Vegas in March 2009, to be eligible to compete at the Internation Competition to be held in Anaheim, California in late June 2009.
I read Mike’s blog piece on the quartet and realized I couldn’t do any better… so here is a reprint…
Have you heard of this new quartet coming into the limelight? The 5th Wheel has. Maybe not the name, but certainly the members. Yes, it is another quartet made up entirely of previous gold medalists. You may not think it’s fair to those who have never won an international contest to compete against another “power” quartet? I disagree. Masterpiece has the potential to be something very special for this Society and the art form. I’ll tell you why.

The members of Masterpiece are Rob Menaker (Nightlife, 1996), Mark Hale (Michigan Jake, 2001), Alan Gordon (Gotcha!, 2004) and Brett Littlefield (Nightlife, 1996). OK, pick your jaw off the ground and keep reading. Yes, this quartet has some very impressive singers in the group. Rob is a strong and accurate Tenor, Mark sings with musicality that is unmatched, Alan is, in my opinion being a fellow baritone, probably the best baritone in our Society. Alan can fill and sing like a Bass and yet match the musicality and sensitivity of the Lead. Brett… well, Brett is Brett. I believe Brett’s former life was one of the trumpets that took down the walls of Jericho. His resonance and deep voice is tremendous. OK, but we already know this about them. Yeah, they’re good. But what makes them so special?

Masterpiece represents all that is right about our Society and why we sing together. First off, they are all friends.  Read more…

Thanks for reading and listening
Stay “tuned”
Jerry Braack 
California USA

Balanced… Not “Going Postal”…

February 8, 2009

 

Harmony with Balance…

 

 

Creating harmony in your life through music (Barbershop Harmony is my choice) or with any other method you choose is going to place you on a higher level of balance and contentment. All too often we hear of people doing something totally outside their normal expected behavior.  Some have referred to this type of activity as “going postal”.

This “label” has come from the number of instances that United States Postal workers have done the unexpected… even to the point of taking someone’s life, which in my opinion comes from their daily activities (work or home) becoming so out of harmony/balance that they are driven to drastic measures.  This could result in merely a wakeup call or in the worst case, prison or even suicide/death.

Counseling, better relationships or support might very well have helped these people to regain their life’s harmony and balance.  We should all strive to “center” ourselves and constantly create that synergy and life force that the universe has given us.

We often hear of successful people not thinking of work as “work”, but as something they very much enjoy on a constant basis.  These are the people who have gained much more than an income for exchange of time or energy or dollars, but that sublime existence where you know you have found “that” which allows… yes even makes, you balanced and harmonious in everything you do.

The result of this is everyone enjoys being around you… the energy you emit is that of attraction, balance and harmony.  A state which we should all strive to become, reflect and impart to others.

Thanks for reading, harmoniously yours

Stay “tuned”

Jerry Braack

California  USA

The “Masters” of Harmony (and Balance)…

February 6, 2009

Masters of Harmony 2008

Listen to the 9 minute performance on stage in Nashville winning the coveted International Championship

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Here is a reprint from their website… The Masters of Harmony are based in Santa Fe Springs, California, the all-male chorus, uniting over 100 voices, is dedicated to musical excellence and the preservation of the uniquely American style of music known as “Barbershop.” In the years since their inception in 1985, the Masters have risen to the highest levels of a cappella singing in the world with seven international championships with the Barbershop Harmony Society and numerous other recognitions to their credit. The Masters of Harmony was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in Sharon, Pennsylvania in September 2002.

The Masters of Harmony will once again take a leadership role in supporting choral music education in local schools by presenting the 9th Annual Young Men’s Harmony Festival. The event will be an all-day clinic and rehearsal for over 200 young men from high schools throughout Southern California, culminating in a joint performance with the Masters that is open to the public. In addition to several guest clinicians, members of 2008 international gold medalist quartet OC Times and up-and-coming foursome The Crush will serve as section leaders and role models.

The purpose of the event, co-sponsored by the Southern California Vocal Association, is to expose young men and their choral music teachers to the barbershop style and give students an opportunity to experience the joy of “ringing a chord.” All proceeds from the performance will go toward supporting choral music education throughout Southern California.

Interested singers who wish to participate in the festival can download the registration form from:

http://scvachoral.org.

Saturday, February 21, 2009
Robert B. Moore Theater, Orange Coast College
2701 Fairview St.  Costa Mesa, California

Evening Performance: 7:30 p.m.  Tickets $5 (no reserved seating)
Free parking.  For tickets and information, please call (949) 559-9621

Thanks for reading and listening

Stay “tuned”

Jerry Braack

California  USA

Balance in Health… A Moment in Time!

February 5, 2009

  Acoustix

 

 

 

This music comes from a quartet called Acoustix  and it comes with a built in meaning.  This is the Moment can mean many things… some good… some not so good.  This song is about the good.  My post today is about something in my life that is not so good.

It is said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.  There comes a defining moment in everyone’s life that reveals itself by coming up slowly and subtly, or smacks you in the face with an alarming upstart.  That unfortunately was the case with me in September of 1996 when I was diagnosed as an “adult onset diabetic”. 

This was following several weeks of being extremely tired and complacent along with not being able to quench my thirst.  Little did I know that I had been making the situation worse by drinking lemonade to try and satisfy that dryness in my throat.  What I was actually doing was driving my blood sugar through the roof (neighborhood of 450) and making the situation even worse. 

I realized there existed a real problem that needed a doctor’s attention, when everything I looked at had a shadow behind it.  I later found out that the back of the eye is one of the last places in the body that actually gets rid of excess sugar in the blood stream, and the excess there for the extended period was causing my eye to swell which in turn caused the shadows.

I know where I get the diabetes from… I inherited it from my mother.  She has been injecting insulin for many years and my hope is that now with proper nutrition and exercise I can defer the injections for a looooong time down the road.   

Times are good now with the stress of 2008 behind me and my wife Elaine, and I find that the sugar levels are going down even farther.  This is a welcome site when I read the findings on the test meter. 

The unfortunate aspect of all of this is the neuropathy that has occurred in my feet (partial loss of feeling) and the constant pain that accompanies that as well. I wear insoles all the time and very seldom go without shoes especially on hard floors. 

The neuropathy is also the reason that I no longer am able to sing with the Masters of Harmony, since the rehearsals require hours of standing and rehearsing and then the performances that are more of the same.  As you can imagine I still love the music and support the Masters when and wherever I can.

Thanks for reading and caring,

pole_animate1Stay “tuned”

Jerry Braack

California  USA

Balance in Music, Business and Life…

February 3, 2009

Balance and Harmony

 

 

As we go through life, circumstances come at us from all directions and from many different sources.  The development of our lives comes from not what happens to us, but what we do as a result of what happens to us.

Vernon Law once said, “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward”.  This has held true throughout time and will continue for thousands of years in the future.  I believe our experiences create who we are, and our reactions create the harmony and balance in our lives… or the lack thereof in varying degrees.  The balance and harmony in mind, body, personal life and business life can be a natural evolution or a rude awakening depending upon the person and the current stage of their life.

Wikipedia defines balance: “In biomechanics, balance is an ability to maintain the center of gravity of a body within the base of support with minimal postural sway. Keeping balance requires integration of inputs from multiple senses with the motor system responsible for muscle actions. The senses must detect the change of the body position with respect to the base (whether the body moves or the base moves). The limit of stability of an individual standing quietly upright is defined as the amount of postural sway at which the balance is lost and the corrective actions are required. The limit of stability may be described by an irregular cone above the support base.”

In my humble opinion… through music (Barbershop Harmony) which requires harmony and balance, people can build a better base from which to deal with life’s ups and downs while evolving themselves as a person all the while.  I have certainly found this to be the case in my life.

I hope this has shed some light on the perspective of balance and harmony for you, thanks for reading.

Pole

Stay “tuned”

Jerry Braack

California  USA