Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Pioneer District Barbershop Convention (introduction)

Before I begin, I'd like so send a hearty congratulations to all of the Sweet Adelines who competed last weekend in Las Vegas for the Sweet Adelines International Convention. Way to go gals! If any of you won big at the casinos, I want a cut!

The following is a recap of my weekend in Kalamazoo at the Pioneer District Fall Convention of the Barbershop Harmony Society.


It's Monday – 2 days after the festivities ended – and I'm still hoarse.

Barbershop conventions exemplify the reason most men get into barbershopping for one reason or another.

For those competitively driven, it's a chance to get out there with your chorus or quartet (or simply cheer on your favorite chorus or quartet) in contest.

For those driven to improve as barbershoppers and vocalists, it's a chance to have your performance evaluated and critiqued by top (though some would question that, I'm sure) professionals in their field and genre.

For those in it to simply ring chords and nail some tunes, there are a plethora of opportunities to do so with other barbershoppers from all locations, professions and walks of life.

For those just looking to have a great time with the guys, meet people from all over, drink lots of beer, tell bad jokes, and talk about 'guy' things – there's a ton of that, too.


Getting started to any of these conventions is always the toughest part. There are inevitably a million and one things I have to accomplish before leaving. If it's not work obligation, it's chores at home I promised to complete before leaving or a financial obligation I have to meet first (like coming up with the money to afford the trip in the first place). This convention was no different.

The day started at 7am with having to wake up and get Liam off to school. From there, I had to head to the bank and check my balance to be sure I wouldn't go into the red paying for stuff. Luckily, the lead of my quartet and best friend, Lou, had offered to absorb the cost on my share of the room (which became, thankfully, irrelevant…read on), so I only had to worry about gas and food.

I went to the bank and called a client I have been grooming for a fund-raiser with Morley-Red Apple, who I have just started to work with. We needed to get the contract signed, so after heading home to organize and fill out the necessary paperwork as Sonya and Courtney slept, it was off to Monroe (about a 45 minute drive) to get it signed. After not quite having everything I needed, I left with no contract yet, and headed home to hopefully see a movie with my wife before having to head to a band rehearsal at 3.

Unfortunately, there were no showings of Man of the Year in the timeframe we could fit, so Sonya decided to pay a visit to our good friend, who was recovering from a (thankfully VERY successful) surgery. I hadn't gotten the impression that she was expecting me to come along, and since I had to gather my quartet clothes, tux, black dress shoes, pitch pipe, toiletries, etc., I told her to go ahead and I'd gather while watching Courtney.

At 2:30, I load up my car and drive over to drop Courtney and head to marching band practice. I feel a cold coming on, but stand there in the cold and damp, toughing it out. At 5, I head to work at Blockbuster. I call Sonya just to check in, and apparently she wasn't expecting to just not see me till Sunday, so I agree to stop by after work for a bit before heading to Kalamazoo.

Work was dead, what with the Tigers playing the 'A's. Aside from a smattering of baseball widows, and some kids, there wasn't much point to my presence. I get a call about an hour in from Lou, bragging that due to a mix-up with the reservation, we were bumped up to the 'Concierge Level', and he was enjoying a few free drinks at the lounge. A simple mention of having things to do tonight and I was let go at 8:30. I headed home to talk with Sonya. After sitting for about an hour and a half, I started to get antsy. She picked up on this and slowly, but grudgingly, let me go.

2 ½ hours and seemingly interminable miles of I-94 construction later, I pull into Kalamazoo. I grab my accoutrements and truck through the overpass to the hotel lobby. As soon as I open the door, I hear the faint sounds of ringing chords. "Yup, this must be the place!" I rush down the escalator to the lobby piano surrounded with barbershoppers. Before I even get my tux thrown over the arm of a nearby chair, I'm ringing tags with people from all over Michigan! God, I LOVE conventions!

I check in and give Lou a call, waking him up from his "nap" and head up the room. I plopped my stuff down and practically itching with excitement, TOLD Lou we were heading to the lobby for more tags and songs. We stayed up till about 2, bouncing between a drink at the hotel pub and singing in the lobby. About 2am, we decide to hit the hay, so we can be of some use at the 8am rehearsal.

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