Barbershop Quartet Preservation Association

2015 Spring Festival Report

Well, another fine Festival of "do-it-yerself" quartetting in the old style has been chordially completed - thanks to our Tempe Festival Chairman, Mr. Jim Miner. Nearly 100 singers and guests populated the Tempe Ballroom at the Embassy Suites Tempe for our Saturday evening show, and close to 70 were on hand for our traditional "pick-up" quartet contest Friday evening. Close to two dozen singers had checked in at the Embassy Suites by the end of the day Wednesday, the 8th of April. A good deal of QUARTET singing ensued (what a surprise), and foursomes were assembled for purposes both musical and golf-oriented.

A great spaghetti and meatballs dinner was consumed at the American Italian Club in Phoenix, followed immediately by considerably more than 20 cycles of do-it-yerself pick-up quartetting, hosted by the Arizona Quartet Club. There were some good sounds, and lots of camaraderie (read that as "cat-calls" and "friendly","helpful" comments...)

Thursday morning dawned early and bright, and - after the complimentary breakfast - the golfers drove off for their rounds, which included singing at every tee, as usual. Also as usual, nobody would admit to their scores when the golfers returned to join those who preferred just to sing (in QUARTETS) rather than spoiling a good walk by swinging a club. (Many said they had more fun singing than golfing that day...)

Our BQPA/Pioneers Board conducted the usual meeting on Thursday afternoon, after the golfers had returned. The confab was chordial and salubrious, without very much rancor, approving the continuation of our efforts to reach out to the general barbershopping population to encourage them to join us for a few days of fine, fun singing - IN QUARTETS. This past year, we've shown big screen ads at SPEBSQSA International, the Mid-Atlantic District convention and the Harmony, Inc. International convention, as well as posting and emailing - at a raft of events - flyers announcing our Festivals.

On Thursday evening, our Registration table opened up, staffed by our volunteers. And there was much QUARTET singing. (DUH!!!)

Friday morning came and the golfers perversely departed again for the links, and got back just in time for the pick-up QUARTET contest draw. Once the pick-up QUARTETS had been drawn, there was - as usual - much confusion, with folks searching for their other voice part singers. Some left, then, for somewhat leisurely dinners, but rehearsals of the die-hards continued until moments before the contest started. But the contest went off very nicely, as usual. BQPA/Pioneers Founder, Tom Neal, was the MC. The "round robin" judging methodology caused the quartet named UPSTARTS to be declared the champs. Second and third place quartets were awarded ribbons again this year, but the presentation of medals to the winners had to wait for our parade on Saturday evening.

Again as usual, there was a bit more singing after the contest session. (Well, umm, HOURS more...) All four corners of our gathering room were occupied by quartets, and the singing spilled out into the corridors and down into the bar and restaurant downstairs. That informal QUARTET singing went on until well after midnight. As seems to occur at every Festival, I personally experienced hours of the best barbershop QUARTET singing available. A group of us spent hours singing through about half of the song titles listed in our 2013 Old Songs Survey. Another group sang bunches of old but established arrangements and more unfamiliar songs from the Harvest of Harmony songbooks.

On Saturday morning, the BQPA/Pioneers annual Membership meeting went pretty quickly, as discussions in the Board meeting had taken care of most business earlier in the week. The names of Departed Friends were read off, including some who may not have been members of BQPA/Pioneers. We remembered especially BQPA members Arlene Bauder, George Hoffman and Frank Goode, as well as Thom and Carla Hine, Dick Grapes, Dan Henry Bowser and Charlie McCann. A reverent rendition of The Old Songs was sung, to send them all on their way to the Chorus Eternal.

Gerry Carroll, the Chairman for our Fall Festival in the Chicago area, announced that we will again be meeting at the Best Western in Hillside, Illinois, September 9th through the 12th, 2015. We will have a combined room on the same familiar hallway, which will be available for us to sing in all day Thursday, Friday and Saturday. (See all the details on the website: Gerry encouraged reserving guest rooms early, even if you might have to cancel later if your plans or your calendar change. The hotel has a very lenient cancellation policy, but late reservations are very difficult to switch into the group room rate. That rate is a bargain: $69.00 per night for a queen or king guest room! And the rate includes free breakfast! Come one, come all... Members were encouraged to email the Embassy Suites hotel, to thank them for their hospitality again this year. Jim Milner tells us that this helps significantly in his negotiations for the next year's Festival in the Phoenix area.

After the membership meeting and into the afternoon and early evening, QUARTET singing abounded. There were QUARTETS at the Registration table, in the bar, on the patio, in the halls and the lobby, etc. A large contingent - about 25 or 30 - went out to the Four Peaks Brewing Co. for a repast together, but got back in good time to attend the QUARTET Parade at eight o'clock.

Our Parade was a rousing success. The pick-up contest champs, who had renamed themselves STARTUPS, led off on stage, singing Down Mobile, in honor of the 77th anniversary of SPEBSQSA. And with much ceremony, they were invested with blue ribbons from which depended gold medals inscribed in honor of our dear departed member, Jinny Janis (of The Chordettes.) The Parade, MC'd by our Talent Chairman (West), Paul Ludwig, proceeded with The Other Guys (a number of whom appear to sing also in other quartets); SUIT UP, a young quartet who sound GREAT; 2 UNDER PAR, one of the regular local groups, who share singers with The Other Guys; HIGH PRIORITY, the Seniors quartet who placed second in this year's Seniors contest at Mid-Winter; BROADCAST, from the Vegas area; and our perennial headliners, AUDACITY, the 2009 Seniors Champs. Wonderful to have all of the groups as our Parade entertainment - THANKS! The Parade ended with our traditional rendition of Keep America Singing.

With the formal elements of the Festival completed, we all adjourned to the corners of our meeting room, as well as areas immediately adjacent, and proceeded to sing some more. Again, it lasted well past midnight. I have to say I was in not quite the last quartet left on the field of battle, and we left the room before we really wanted to, as people had to get up in the morning to travel homeward. But I got to sing a couple that really rang! This was a most successful and enjoyable Festival. LOTS of QUARTET singing. (Well, yeah, that's what we came for, no? That's the bottom line...) There were MANY gents with medals of one color or another from SPEBSQSA, but just as many and more "Joe Barbershoppers." Didn't matter who you were or what your past accomplishments - everyone got a chance to sing some good stuff in QUARTETS.

THANKS - as usual - must go to all the folks who made it all happen! The Chairs of all the committees that DO things. The Board members who remind the Chairs of what the Chairs already know. The registration volunteers who labor but also get to sing with everyone who comes up to the table to register. The QUARTETS. Everyone! Remember the Fall Festival, in Chicago. Don't remember who they were, but a couple of folks said they already had their reservations at the Hillside Best Western! See you there!

Barily yours, Tom Noble,
President BQPA/Pioneers

Top Placing Pick-up Quartets:

Win: Upstarts / Start Ups
Tenor - Barney Griffin
Lead - Chuck Guthrie
Bari - Paul Ludwig
Bass - Ron Criswell

Tenor - Jim Jarosz
Lead - June Noble
Bari - Rex Touslee
Bass - Jim Milner

Tenor - Harlan Mellem
Lead - Earle Holt
Bari - Pat Lanphier
Bass - Jim Gallagher