Archive for the ‘SPEBSQSA Inc.’ 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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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

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

Harmony Creating Balance…

February 25, 2009

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spebsqsa-logo-colorOne of the ways I choose to harmonize and balance my life is through the medium of Barbershop Harmony.  It helps generate feelings of excitement, contentment, cooperation, teamwork, excellence and of course… Balance!

When you have harmony in your life, there is a natural balance that emerges.  You may or may not feel it, but those around you can definitely feel its presence.  That feeling is subconsciously attracting people to you.  The universe acts in a multitude of ways no one understands, never the less, the “laws” of attraction (or repulsion if that is the feeling being eminated) are very strong and very effective.

Have you ever noticed that you feel better being around a certain someone, yet you don’t know why… well it often times is that underlying feeling being acted upon by one or both parties that creates a friendship or business relationship and yes even a better life partner relationship. 

This is all being accomplished by forces we don’t understand, but never the less, it happens.  It is similar to a “feeding frenzy” only in a positive way, in that the reaction isn’t to devour something or someone, it is just to make a situation better, more productive or more beneficial to a special someone, or the a group depending on the situation.

We should all strive to define, create, enhance and maintain harmony in all aspects of our lives.

I hope this helps all who read it to do just that… define, create, enhance and maintain.

Thanks for reading

Stay “tuned”

Jerry  Braack

California  USA

From the heart…

January 13, 2009

Jerry & Elaine Christmas 2009Hello to all,

As the new year opens with an infusion of new hope and energy for all, I too am looking forward to a “Devine 09”.  Over the active years of my Barbershop life, through all the chorus and quartet singing, performances in several countries, committee meetings and board meetings, I always did so with great enthusiasm.  Making costumes, learning music, attending conventions to compete or just as a spectator, or teaching a “tag” to 3 people I had never met before were just some of the wonderful times in my life. 

I truly believe that the active years I spent in Barbershop helped to define who I have become as a person.  My personality has grown, I have matured, I have become more intelligent, tolerant, appreciative, aware and all in all in my humble opinion a better overall person.  Music does wonderful and magical transformations to people who perform it… and hopefully to those who hear it.  I truly believe that it is the responsibility of the performer to take the audience down a “musical pathway” during the performance bringing them into an emotional experience that takes them for the moment to a mystical place in their mind.

Most of my initial 25 years were spent with the Riverside Citrus Belters (Riverside, California), then to Redlands Harmony Heritage (Redlands, California) and then to the International Champions… The Masters of Harmony (Santa Fe Springs, California… Los Angeles County).  In 1996 I was diagnosed as an “adult onset diabetic” which caused me to take a leave of absence from the Masters of Harmony after the 1999 International Convention in Anaheim, California (which we hosted and won!).  Being 6’6” tall I think helped to compound the problems I was experiencing with my feet gradually loosing feeling and hurting much more intently the day or two following rehearsal night.

After several years of not enduring the intensity of the rehearsals of the Masters, I began to realize that the feelings in my feet were as bad if not worse than when I was active with the Masters, and that I needed to make the unfortunate decision to not return to active singing with the chorus. I still support them by attending performances and purchasing CD’s so I can listen to them even thought I am not present there.

I now enjoy my barbershop through this blog… bringing back memories and learning new facts that I can relate to the world, and through the experiences of my wife Elaine who is active in Sweet Adelines both in the Harborlites Chorus and now having joined a quartet called Orange Crush.

Thanks for reading

Stay “tuned”

Jerry Braack

California, USA

 

Defining the Barbershop style…

December 5, 2008

The definition of this style is – 3 parts harmonizing to 1 melody line, wherein the melody of the song should be distinctly heard by the listener (no matter which person is actually singing the melody) just slightly louder than the harmony parts.  Normally the melody is sung by the second from the top of the 4 voices, but the melody can move to other voices as dictated by the arrangement, the chord structure or the voicing of a particular chord or passage within a song.  An example of that might be the bass singer (lowest of the 4) singing the melody of “Old Man River” since it is mostly in the lower register.

Unfortunately, Barbershop harmony is one of the best kept secrets in the United States today.  There actually is a formal society of people that was founded in 1938 by Owen C. Cash in Tulsa Oklahoma in order to preserve what had already become an ever expanding group of followers.  Not that The Barbershop Harmony Society, (formerly known as The Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America, Incorporated (S.P.E.B.S.Q.SA. Inc.), was or is trying to keep this style of music a secret, it’s just that not that many people really know about it.  The international headquarters was based in Kenosha, Wisconsin prior to relocating in 2007 to Nashville, Tennessee.

Jerry Braack

California USA