The Acapodcast #7, 4.20.06 – Harmony Sweeps!

Acapodcast #7 for April 20th, 2006 – The Harmony Sweeps 2006 Special!

It’s a Sweeps Sized Episode!

It’s Sweeps season again! The Harmony Sweepstakes are a U.S. competition for semi-pro and professional A Cappella groups that number between three and seven members in size. There are an awful lot of jazz, barbershop, and contemporary groups that fall into this category. There are eight different regions from the East to the West, and groups must send in an application and demo tracks. To borrow a sports metaphor (inspired by Joey C’s discussion of the ICCA’s), The Harmony Sweepstakes are a bit like baseball; each region has their teams, and winning the regionals is like winning the pennant. The Finals in San Rafael, CA are like the World Series, and these groups put in as much or more effort to get there as any baseball team. And it’s truly a team effort as well, because your whole team has to be a top notch organization to make it to the Finals! One major difference though; once a team has won the Harmony Sweepstakes, it can’t compete again. This means that every year, there’s a chance for another great group to rise to the top!
This episode starts off with one of the Finalist groups from 2005, Firedrill! They were the Boston Regional Winner last year, and hosted this year’s Boston Regional. They have a great version of “Just The Two Of Us“. Firdrill! formed just for the competition, but have recently gotten back together, and look like they’ll be a permanent fixture of the A Cappella scene.

Next up is Clockwork, the San Francisco Bay Area finalists. This is Clockwork’s second time making it this far. In 2004 they also won the Bay Area Regionals (You must take a year off between competitions). Thanks to Angie for sending me a CD! Clockwork has a smoxy, jazz-infused sound. I’ve picked two songs of theirs: “Moment’s Notice“, a Coltrane tune, and following that is their cover of Radiohead’s “Creep“, just because it’s so much fun. Clockwork is Angie Doctor, Eric Freeman, John Paddock, Jim Hale, and Stephen Saxon, who just wrote an excellent article on composing bass lines, which you can find at CASA.org.

I’d like to take a moment and welcome all the new listeners this week – there are twice as many listener’s this time around than at the time of the last show. Most of you came by way of Joey C’s Acappella U, after he played a promo for me, so a big Thank You goes out to him. For those of you not familiar with Acappella U, Joey has an incredible podcast on Collegiate A Cappella music. The current A Cappella world really was born out of the collegiate scene of the 80’s and 90’s, and some of today’s hottest stuff is coming from there as well, so go over to Acappella U and subscribe to Joey C’s podcast too!

Next up is Curious Gage, a 5 member group based in the Denver area. Nic Widhalm sent me a couple of tracks. He does note, however, that these are a few months old, when the group was composed of 5 guys. Now the group is 4 guys and a sweet sounding soprano. He thinks this change up in the group dynamic helped propel them to the championships in a few weeks. I think he might be a bit biased, seeing as he shares a last name with their new soprano Carleen! They don’t have a CD yet, so I can’t link to that. The first song is Breathe, followed by Anatomy, an original work. Hot, hot sounds there from Nic and Carleen Widhalm, Zach Tait, Phil Thompson, and Tom Miles.

The Harmony Sweeps will be the the top groups from eight different regions of the US, and will be taking place on Saturday, May 6th in San Rafael, CA. You’ll get to hear three of this week’s artist compete, as well as five other extremely talented groups, and last year’s sweepstakes winners, Groove For Thought, who are hosting this year’s show. If you are in the area, or can be in the area, get tickets. It promises to be a knockout night of A Cappella.

It seems as though at least one barbershop group makes it to the sweeps every year, and this year is no different. ‘Round Midnight is a group of four guys who are Music Educators by day, and A Cappella Dynamos by night! Their name comes from the Thelonious Monk classic. I don’t have a website available for them, but as soon as I can track one down, I’ll update the post here with the link. They can also be found on MySpace. ‘Round Midnight is made up of Larry Bomback, T.J. Carollo, Wayne Grimmer, and Jeff Glemboski, and they’re your New York Regional Champions, so if you’re from NY, give them a shout, and support them at the Harmony Sweepstakes! Here they are singing ‘Sweet and Lovely’ followed by ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’, which some of you may recognize.

I’ve closed the show out with Firedrill! again, singing Martin Sexton’s “Can’t Stop Thinking ‘Bout You“. They’ll be performing with Martin Sexton in Tarrytown, NY on May 19th, if you want to catch them live!
That wraps it up for this extra long Sweeps special edition of the Acapodcast. If you would like to get in touch with me about the show, or to submit your groups music to be on the show, you can e-mail me at chad (at) acapodcast.com.

I’m your host Chad Bergeron, and I’ll see you again in another two weeks!
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