Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Geezerpalooza Show

If last night's NCAA basketball championship game had been a person, he would have been known as Quasimodo - ugly. One team barely made 30% of their shots - and they were the winners! The losers shot an anemic 19%, helping generate a combined 100 rebounds. Next thing you know, they'll have to start issuing helmets to protect player brains from all the misses.

I've described before in this space my unlikely connection to the local barbershop music chorus. I spend a day or two per year traipsing around town helping raise scholarship money by joining a quartet singing musical Valentines. Of course, this involves some preparation, because fouling up this music results in sounds no one wants to hear.
But I never have joined the chorus itself. I did go to their big annual show last Saturday (paying for my ticket, mind you), which was held in the city's nice-but-not-big theater. This year, the chorus (The Humboldt Harmonaires) marked 50 years of existence, not only bringing in outside talent, but reuniting quartets who originally showed their stuff during the Eisenhower administration. The audience, as you might have guessed, was mainly made up of some seriously old people.
But I was surprised by the music. I thought I'd be hearing songs that made the hit parade at the turn of the century (the 20th century). There were some of those, but somewhere along the way, barbershop has morphed itself into a kind of latter-day burlesque in which the chord resolutions that the genre was built on seem to take a back seat to getting cheap laughs with some borderline vulgar stuff. Do you remember the barbershop hit "I Just Don't Look Good Naked Anymore"? No? Me either. I suppose you can only do "Let Me Call you Sweetheart" so many times before things get a little dull. And I personally have no desire to hear barbershop versions of Christmas songs, but I wonder what could be done with Lennon/McCartney or Johnny Cash material. Bob Dylan? That too.
I guess my position in the barbershop scene is about right. Not being a regular, I won't get tired of the stuff, nor am I obliged to officially declare myself "old". I don't have to sell ads for a massive printed program or confuse comedy with embarrassment. And I'm still free to be part of the local white guy Temptations tribute group - if it ever comes into existence.


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