Boston Representing!

Wow.  This was an amazing weekend for the Boston A Cappella Scene.

For me it started with the Five O’Clock Shadow 20th anniversary reunion. 20 years is a long time in this community. A really long time.  Rockapella existed, but hadn’t yet started their sting with Carmen Sandiego.  The House Jacks would be formed a few months later. And like both of these groups, FOCS helped usher in a new sound, and a new style of professional a cappella.  And in the past twenty years, FOCS has changed, and evolved, with 22 different singers having been a part of the group at one time or another.  Some of these singers even joined other groups, to continued success. Groups including The House Jacks, Rockapella, Firedrill!, Overboard, Duwende, The Vantastix, 91 Ghosts, Slapdash Graduate, and more.

FOCS has notably had some of the top VP wear their logo, including Jeff Thatcher, Wes Carroll, Samrat Chakrabarti, and Dave Stackhouse.  In fact, they were one of the groups to pioneer VP, and Dave ‘Stack’ Stackhouse has helped pioneer the Thumper mic, and sings ‘Beatbass’, both VP and bass guitar lines. They’ve also been frontrunners in the use of distortion effects on vocals, the lead/rhythm/guitar structure of a vocal band, and outreach to schools and the community.

They managed to get 17 of the former members back together for this reunion, including several who flew from the west coast, and videos from a few more.  It was an impressive feat.  Besides a great concert with fantastic music from fantastic musicians, the show did a wonderful job of showing the evolution of the group, and of the sound.  They even made a few tongue-in-cheek references to some recent dormant times. More than that, though, the whole concert felt like a party.  Everyone was having a blast, audience and performer alike, and it was the -fun- that came through more than anything else.

It was an amazing show, and a real pleasure to spend a little time with everyone, both those I already knew personally, and those I didn’t.

(As a side note, unlike many groups, this one no longer has any original members in it. But as one of the early members fatefully said, “This is bigger than any one person”.  The group still rocks, and I hope does so for another twenty years.)

Ball In The House had sent FOCS a congratulatory video, and wished they could have seen the show in person, as FOCS was a big influence on them, but they were busy flying to Korea, for a VIP gig! So cool.

I came home from the concert and jumped onto twitter (@acapodcast) to see what all the folks down in New York had to say about the ICCA finals, which were the same night.  I was pleased to see that Pitch Slapped, last year’s bridesmaids, took home the winner’s bouquet this year! I know after their 2nd place last year, and their early elimination from the second season of The Sing-Off, they have been working hard and itching to put a checkmark into the ‘winner’ column.  Along with their recently released 5 track EP (edited, mixed, and mastered by the up-and-coming Plaid Productions), they definitely have a lot to crow about.

The next day was the Boston regionals for the Harmony Sweeps, in some ways the corresponding competition for professional and semi-professional groups.  The sweeps see a wide variety of groups every year, including pop, barbershop, doo wop, folk, and more.  It’s really a vocal competition, and not a genre competition.  This year saw groups like Mainely Acappella (Women’s Barbershop) and former Sweeps champions North Shore A Cappella (Doo Wop). Victory, and the pass to the finals in California went to Overboard, an especially impressive feat when you realize that one of the members, Caleb Wheldon, was singing his heart out the night before as part of Five O’Clock Shadow (He’s actually part of -three- currently active groups…).  Congratulations to them.

Overall, like I said, this was an amazing weekend for Boston A Cappella, and I’m thrilled to be in the heart of it.