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Summer report

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  • Roland Sharette
    For those of you who don t receive the Colorado Songster, here s a summary of the news that s in the summer 2002 issue: A Cappella survives and looks like it
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 14, 2002
      For those of you who don't receive the Colorado Songster, here's a summary of the news that's in the summer 2002 issue:
         A Cappella survives and looks like it may even be making a comeback. Several, including Deke Sharon, have apeculated about whether we might be losin' it the last couple of years, but I think we just have to dig deeper. The bloom may be off the club biz, but the music resources and local enthusiasm is still there.
      The summer schedules are quite bountiful.
         Most notably, coming into the state for two performances on August 30 in Longmont and August 31 in Grand Junction is probably the country's premier Christian group, "Acappella." Always an exciting evening, we're pleased to see them back here.
         The ever-working "17th Avenue Allstars" have nine dates listed in our Colorado Songster July-August calendar, and other biggies like "Cool Shooz" and the "LoDo Air Band" aren't far behind. Other groups are also working, in a season when the avocational and educational scene is usually very slow. And a couple of new groups (to me, at least) are making news. Let me expand on some individual groups in both categories.
         Michael Hume, founding member of LAB (LoDo Air Band) and current director of the group, credits part of its success to the good graces of other professional Colorado groups, who gave the Air Band opportunities to try out their material and test their skills as part of ongoing shows. Their appearances and awards at the Denver Harmony Sweeps have brought them many faithful new fans over recent years.
         "Cool Shooz" is also a Sweeps favorite and, like the Energizer bunny, is still going! These guys have a fan base that keeps showing up, no matter where they appear. In fact, the group has almost single-handedly created a monthly scene in the Littleton (Denver suburb) area at the Bourbon Street Bar & Grill where proprietor Mike now feels compelled to have a cappella there even if the Shooz are booked elsewhere!
         Of course, everybody knows Norm Silver and his 17thAA, CASA hardbodies since the beginning. I caught them recently at the Soiled Dove and was knocked out by their great show and sound. Now, this is not coming from an Allstars groupie. I may have missed their heyday, but, believe me, they are there again. The latest configuration, with one gal and four very talented and solid guy singers, is top-o'-the-line!
      How about these relative newcomers in the Colorado scene?
         The six "Groove Society" musicians have degrees ranging from vocal performance and music education to theory and composition. I witnessed their stellar runner-up performance in the hard fought 2002 Denver Harmony Sweeps. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for someone), their outstanding vocal percussionist/tenor has recently landed a singing job in Portland, Oregon. Undaunted, the group is auditioning replacements and, meanwhile, opening for "Drums Along the Rockies" at Mile High Invesco Field on August 3rd.
         From its beginnings as offshoot of a local choral group ten years ago, the nine-voice "Harmonia" now performs an eclectic repertoire that embraces new and standard versions of jazz, pop, ethnic, and folk. The group produces two concerts a year, always with the focus of bringing great a cappella music to their audiences while communicating their love of singing. The group will be releasing its first CD later this year.
         Taking its name from a local ordinance, "3-Story Limit" was formed in 1996 by eight Boulder singers who decided a cappella was worth taking time from families, jobs, and other hobbies to make it work. The group is known for its wide-ranging music tastes, from jazz and doo-wop, to folk and rock -- and a unique blend of novelty stuff thrown in for fun. Members are from a wide variety of backgrounds, including physicist, engineer, social worker, lawyer, vice president, editor, and graphic designer.  Hey, whatever it takes.
      It's amazing how many groups there are once you really start looking.
         The lineup at Julie Allen's Rocky Mountain Vocal Jazz Camp, an excellent contemporary music training camp for teen wannabe a cappellists and song stylists, looks top drawer again for 2002. The weeklong intensive is one of the greatest summer musical buys around and any kid looking for a musical life-experience, pro or fun, will glam onto all sorts of wonderful stuff from folks who have been there, done that, still doin' that and about to be doin' that. The Greeley-type and other counselors who guide the campers through their productive days already have a handle on what works, and the faculty (including m-pact members and others) cruises along with super productive sessions and performances. Got a teen? Know a teen? See if you can still get in this summer (Aug 4-10: 303-750-0420). You will absolutely never, ever regret it.
         I reported last spring that CVJS was going to have another go at an a cappella series in the Boulder area. Well, it worked this time. From the exciting first night by CU's mixed 14 voice "Extreme Measures" to the boisterous and exuberant June 17 date by the "LoDo Air Band," it's been a great run so far -- and there's more to come. Everyone seems happy with the results: high quality performances, good crowds, excellent sight lines and acoustics -- it's all adding up to evenings of fun, friends and good music.
         Steve Shenk, GM at the series venue, "Redfish New Orleans Brewhouse," and an a cappella newbie, has been on hand every Monday night to cheer us on and see that our audience is happy and well served. The staff has been very cooperative and conscientious, so it makes for a good experience by all. Following "Extreme Measures" was the 30-year Metro favorite group, "New Wizard Oil Combination," preparing for their guest appearance later in the month up in Canada. Then on May 20, everyone's favorite Barbershop quartet, "Storm Front," brought down the house (which we hope they also did at SPEBSQSA in Portland last week). For those who love the traditional jazz sounds of the "Swingle Singers," we next offered the "Denver A Cappella Project," 8 voices with but a single vowel sound.
         By the time "LoDo Air Band" arrived to close the inaugural run, they had a ready and waiting crowd. As generous as they could possibly be, LAB offered up some of their time to a brand new male sextet, "Tongue 'n Groove," who we hope to feature in October. The Bolder A Cappella series begins its fall run on Monday, September 9. Meanwhile, Steve Shenk refused to take a complete summer hiatus and talked CVJS into arranging for two very special shows on July 22 and August 19. Come and enjoy the fun!
      A couple of final notes:
      Here's one you may want to pass on -- or pass on:
         Have you ever arrived at the gig, reached for your pitch pipe and it's not in your pocket -- any pocket? If so, stick the following in your mental pocket:
         Any standard phone has a dial tone that's a pretty good "F", so you can use your excellent (we hope) relative pitch ability to set the starting note -- as long as your can grab a phone. Sometimes, of course, you may have to move the audience to the lobby where there's a pay phone -- small inconvenience, actually.
         In this day and age, there is the problem of the only phone around being your celfon, but hang in there. With a little foresight, it's usable. Check your phone out and then memorize the most practical pitch solution on the dialing keyboard -- some are truer notes than others. For example, one of the most popular cell models these days is the Motorola StarTAC. It has a pretty clear "Bb" on the "0" key, so, again, you can depend on that to solve your group's musical entrance.
         "Where there's a phone, there's a pitch," we always say.
      Colorado Vocal Jazz Society (and CASA-Colorado) has a new address:
         Please note our new snailmail address. Denver juggled its PO Box locations and closed the office we were using. It was across from the great LoDo bookstore, Tattered Cover, so who wants to roam around downtown trying to find another PO? And without a book or latte from the Tattered Cover? Please make a note if you want to mail us: PO Box 19137, Boulder, CO 80308. Our phone (888-WIZ-CVJS), email (rjsharette@...) and website (www.cvjs.org) addresses remain the same.
      While you're at it, why not send along your snailmail address and phone, so we can put you on the Songster mailing list? 
      Hey, did I miss anything?
      Rol Sharette, program director, CVJS
      Colorado Vocal Jazz Society
      Colorado Ambassador, CASA
      Contemporary A Cappella Society
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