Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Dan E. Randle

I was cleaning out one of my storage sheds this weekend and ran across this old picture of the barbershop chorus I sang in. It brought back some good memories.

We used to travel around the state singing and entering contests. We never won first place, but we did usually come in in the top five.

The picture was taken in March 1974, just three months after I bought my first business, the full line music store. The old gentleman standing on the bottom row first on the left, Colin McNabb, is the person I bought "The Music Box" from. He was 72 and still working. I can remember wondering why anyone would want to work after 65. Now I know: with me, it gives me a feeling of accomplishment. Even though I have many hobbies, they just don't give me the same feeling.

I no longer sing with the chorus because of other interests. At times I miss the harmony, but all the other things I am involved in keep me too busy. I have to let singing in the shower act as a
substitute for the chorus.

Tom Pry

I don't sing anywhere; members of my orchestra used to make fun of my singing during rehearsals.

In kind of a left-hand-reference to earlier comments about “band kids” and what goes on with them after they leave school … I’d say Dan’s barbershop quartet is a perfect example. My kids (daughter pianist/flautist, son percussionist with a mallet specialty) manage to shoehorn time in a bell-ringing choir at their church.

Me, besides my band and orchestra playing with and/or conducting, also spent some time as director of a Sweet Adelines chorus. For those of you not familiar with the Sweet Adelines, they’re a female version of your local SPEBQSA organization.

(All together now … SPEBQSA stands for Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America, Inc.). It was intended as a stopgap while they searched for a new permanent director. It worked as intended, with one of their already-members finally bobbing to the surface.

However, during that six-month interval, in order to get me some training, the group sent me to the Florida state SPEBQSA convention in Orlando. LOTS of singing; in fact, there was a group energy and sound that has never been rivaled in my life, somewhat akin, I suspect, to Bob Fuller’s story of all the choir directors singing their way down the San Antonio Riverwalk. 800 experienced barbershoppers all singing the same songs in the same lush auditorium all at the same time is, at the minimum, sublime.

It so inspired me that I helped form the Naples, Florida SPEBQSA group, although I didn’t have time to sing with them. It had its own funny side-benefit. When I was tapped to direct stage and music for The Music Man, I needed a barbershop quartet that could act. None of the SPEBQSA quartet groups could clear their schedules … but two members of one group could, as could two members of another. So, temporarily, four people from two different groups teamed up to make one quartet and then, when the show finished its run, went back to their old partners.

All experience at anything eventually comes in handy.


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