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I had been looking forward to this for months, but with our finances as low as they have ever been and the bills piled as high as the
I'll leave out the lengthy explanations for the non-barbershoppers. You'll just have to read my blogs from last October entitled "Pioneer District Barbershop Convention".
This year, with the convention in
We drove up, making a stop in
We pull in about 10pm, gape in awe at the starts for a moment, load ourselves up with all of our stuff, and trudge into the lobby. As always, as the door opens, we're washed with a wave of ringing chords echoing forever throughout the lobby. I'll say it again: GOD, I love conventions!
After a brief argument and resolution with the desk clerk regarding a mix-up with Lou's reservation, we head to our room and unload. I crack open a beer, unpack my computer and set up the wireless connection. I check the ol' e-mail for a minute or two, then grab my ukulele and hit the lobby to ring some tags. I'm called by my friend from the Mountaintown Chorus, Ian, a music student from CMU and fellow uber-geek. We meet in the lobby and hang out for a while as Lou hits the bar for a bowl of soup.
Ian brought his computer as well. I'm feeling real cool, mentioning I have mine – then he shows me his. A top-of-the-line MacBook. Ugh. Here it comes. The old "Mac is SOOOO much better than PC" speech. I'll hear that in one form or another all weekend. I know it's better! When I can afford it, I'll get one! For now, I'm VERY happy with my Compaq, Okay! AARGH!
But I digress….
We meander, sing, and have a beer or 3. Ian introduces me to the Mt. Pleasant Chapter's director, who he's rooming with, and we have a great time talking and hanging out. My ukulele is noticed, appreciated, and borrowed on occasion as we wander. I figured if any group would appreciate it, barbershoppers would. About 2am, we hit the hay in order to be ready for our 9am call to warm-up for tomorrow's competition. We gotta be ready to defend our title!
We wake up the next morning, shower, put on our tuxes and stage makeup, and head to the main floor looking for something to eat that doesn't cost $10 or more. I grab a diet Pepsi and raspberry bar from the deli and register for the convention, then head to the warm-up room. Our warm-up and rehearsal went VERY well! We sounded great and the acoustics of the room were close to what we're used to in the church basement. We're feeling good as we head to get our picture taken.
Lou resting up before warm-up
This guy took FOREVER! 15 minutes of, "You! The bald guy with the glasses!" (which could be any of about half our chorus) "Move 2 inches to the right! More…more….No! Too far!" Ugh. It's like he was shooting the flag raising at Iwo Gima, intent on a Pulitzer prize.
We get to the contest stage ready for action. Our opening number, "On A Wonderful Day Like Today", is usually our strongest one. We hit the first chord and it was a bit sour. The acoustics of the room were not what we were used to – always bad for us. From there, everyone got nervous, the tempo rushed, pitch centers couldn't be agreed upon and consonants didn't line up. Not BAD, per cest, but not up to our usual standards. We regrouped for the balad and it went very well. A few timing glitches and the pitch sagged a bit at times, but good interpretation and feeling. Overall, I was a bit disappointed and nervous about whether we'd perform later that night to accept the trophy and bring our title back home.
Lou and I stayed for
We headed back to our room, got out of the monkey suits, lounged around a bit, then met Ian and some friends in the lobby to hit a local diner for lunch. On the way out, we met our vocal coach, Matt, and he said, "Well, looks like you've got the night off."
We had a great lunch at Mabel's Diner, stopped by Hooter's for a drink, at Lou's welcomed insistence, and waited for the quartet contest to start. We mostly wanted to see Keynotes, a quartet with our friends Andy Wickstrom and Ed Bax. They were fantastic – no 2 ways about it. They came in 5th place with a VERY impressive score of 1674 on 2 ballads.
After that, I headed back to the room to crack a beer, check the e-mail, and wait for the fun to begin – the afterglow…