Boston Shrimp Notes - Kansas City International
- Dear Harmonet,
My mother was a very diplomatic woman. She had her favorite things and she never wanted anyone to feel unappreciated or unloved. Mom had a saying. "You're my favorite because you're my only daughter." She said a similar thing to my youngest brother, Stuart. "You're my favorite because you're the baby. Somehow I think my brother Doug was her favorite because he could quote history like a living encyclopedia...but I digress.
This year in Kansas City, I couldn't help but think of my mother's sage quotation. How could I root for one quartet or chorus over another since I enjoyed several of them over the years and many of whom where in new configurations competing against one another?
Since I'm an old fashioned Barbershop enthusiast, I'd root for Gary's Spirit of Phoenix Chorus and also for several of my Barberteen pals, but especially Main Street.
Gary once said "...a convention has a vibe. The buzz is about a particular quartet or chorus.'' He was right, of course. This year's buzz was for the quartet Old School and the chorus was The Masters of Harmony. The last time The Masters won was in Nashville and Gary was singing with them. This year Gary had a full schedule of rehearsals booked for his Spirit of Phoenix Chorus and I attended as many of them as I could. Being that I'm an 'old school' barbershop fan, I wore the bright red Phoenix logo shirt to their rehearsals and passed out Phoenix Chorus buttons to everyone and anyone I met.
Decades ago, going back to the Atlanta '72 International, there was a woman named Anita Buss. She had gorgeous glass pins made especially for her favorite competitors. I still have the Regents and the Gentleman's Agreement pins. They were a treasured item and worn proudly for many years thereafter.
Keeping with the theme of supporting the Spirit of Phoenix, I wore a similar ensemble of Black Satin with a Royal Satin Jacket on Friday for the Chorus contest. It's one of those things that you can do to root for your favorite group or competitor and makes you feel like a million bucks.
Upon arriving Tuesday afternoon, there wasn't much time until Gary and the gang were in Contest mode. As if it were Kismit, one of the first friends I ran into at the Westin Hotel and invited up to the Phoenix rehearsal was Wally Cluett and his wonderful wife Betty.
As you already know, Wally arranged Caroline and was the original Baritone with The Boston Common. What a grand sight it was to see Betty and Wally were also staying at the same hotel as the Phoenix Chorus. Wally and Betty came to sit in at the chorus rehearsal and later we talked and remembered Grossingers and so many fun times he shared with The Common. Wow - What a legend!
After a two hour rehearsal, it was still early so Gary invited Mark Matonic to join Dave Warkentin and me for dinner. Dave moved from the Evergreen District to the Phoenix area. Another fun coincidence was how many friends of Dave and Gary's were at the Crown Center Westin. The Salem Senate-aires under the direction of Steve Morin were regularly in the lobby along with Steve's quartet - The Quadraphonics. It's like playing six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon on it's Gary Steinkamp.
Mark sings with The Masters, The Quardraphonics Tenor is Kenny Potter who also sings with The Masters (whom Gary used to sing with) the Quadrophonics Bass is Steve and Dean Waters is the Lead...both of whom also sang with Gary. Later in the week, this same fun fact arose when we ran into Scott Kidder at Gordon Biersch at Friday's Dinner...but I'm getting ahead of myself.
After chatting it up until the wee small hours of the morning, the Shrimp went to bed so that she could get an early start on Wednesday for the Quartet Quarter Finals.
Ah, the Quarter Finals with ALL those familiar faces from my Barberteen Days. Who sang with which quartet member from what other quartet? I'll tell you in the next installment of the Boston Shrimp Notes - Kansas City International.
The Boston Shrimp