Barbershop Quartet Preservation Association

2014 Spring Festival Report

Tom Noble Apr 29

Well, another fine Festival of "do-it-yerself" quartetting in the old style has chordially come and gone. Nearly 90 singers and guests populated the BQPA/Pioneers' room at the Embassy Suites in Tempe, AZ, for our traditional "pick-up" quartet contest Friday evening, the 11th of April, and more than 130 were on hand for our Saturday evening parade of quartets. But we were ALL there, really, to SING! In QUARTETS! For HOURS!

Wednesday, the 9th, saw the arrival of die-hard quartet singers and the golfing barbershoppers who would be leaving for the links REALLY early Thursday morning. (Barbershopping addicts of the golfing persuasion said, when they returned from their Thursday rounds, that they had sung on every tee.)

Registration opened Thursday afternoon, and quartetting really got underway, with folks also putting their names in the voice-part bags for the draw for the pick-up quartet contest held Friday evening. Friday dawned and the golfers perversely decided to go out and do it again, and then professed to have had good rounds when they returned late in the day, although nobody would admit their scores. They all got back in time for the draw for the pick-up quartet contest, so golfers and everyone else scrambled about, trying to find their other three voice-parts. Rehearsals for the competition then continued until moments before the contest started.

The competition was fierce and well-fought, resulting in the presentation of medals to the champs, “The Haymakers”, named for their tenor, Stan, and which also included lead Bill Freck, bari Chuck Guthrie, and bass Bill Myers. They were very well-received as being by far the loudest competing group. Second was “The Next Quartet” (who sang first and whose name therefore provided a great deal of material for the emcee), and third place went to “The Association” (whose name perhaps infringed on another famous group’s, but only for the life of the competing quartet, which broke up immediately after the competition.)  After the announcement of the top three quartets and presentation of ribbons and medals, woodshedding and other informal QUARTET singing resumed and went on into the wee hours.

On Saturday evening, after we all had a full day of singing, in QUARTETS, seven guest quartets appeared in a parade which featured “Audacity”, the 2009 BHS Seniors Champs, as our headliners. Four other men’s quartets: “2 Under Par”, “Crook’s Trail”, “Broadcast” and “Joint Venture” sang for us; and we were honored to have TWO great quartets from Sweet Adelines International: “Havin’ A Blast” and “ConTempo”. Once the parade had concluded, quartetting resumed and lasted well past midnight, as usual.

We all had a BLAST, like a four-day afterglo! Joe Barbershopper was very well represented, and we also had quite a number of folks who sported medals of one color or another from as far back as 1948. We weren’t really there to listen – we were there to SING! In QUARTETS! And we DID! For HOURS and HOURS and HOURS!

The next BQPA/Pioneers Festival was announced for the Fall of 2014. It will be held at the Hillside Best Western hotel, near Chicago’s O’Hare airport, the weekend AFTER Labor Day, September 3rd through the 6th. If you enjoy singing in barbershop quartets – men’s, women’s, mixed or whatever – with no pressure or assigned music, please join us in Chicago. You can find details on the BQPA/Pioneers website, Come sing with us in September!

Tom Noble, President BQPA/Pioneers