Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Convention Recap, Part 2: "Damn, damn DAMN!!!""

That title is a bit deceiving. Nothing bad really happened, but...let me explain...

The morning went as hoped. I got up, got prepped, and got Courtney moving just fine. We got to Aunt Val's about 7:45am, and was greeted at the door by my sleepy-eyed sister. She popped on the TV miniseries of Alice in Wonderland and my sister and daughter plopped on the couch for the next few hours. meanwhile I hit I-94 to head to Battle Creek.

Usually a 2-hour drive, I had heard that construction had completely screwed up the route (Hooray for MDOT, yet again). Thankfully, being early Saturday morning, traffic volumes were light, and I didn't have to hit the brakes very often. I made it to McCamly Plaza Hotel to meet up with my chorus in plenty of time. I run into the building straight to registration, then hit the bathroom and put on my stage make-up. As I head to our initial warm-up room, I'm greeted to a flood of my fellow VERY greateful Gentlemen Songsters exiting to walk to the contest site, 2 blocks away. I meet up with myquartetemates, Lou and Dave, and we walk to Kellogg Auditorium.

As we walk, I'm regaled with tales of the previous night's quartet prelims. Apparently, a less than stellar assortment. Last year when we competed, the field was chock-full of top-notch quartets, some of who soundly whipped our collective butt. This year, the bar was much lower. I would find out later how much so.

We arrive at the warm-up room at the auditorium and I'm greeted to a greatly relieved director. He relayed that one of our miniscule gaggle of tenors called out sick. We were down to 3 tenors in a chorus of about 40. Being in the front row and having a greater lung capacity than most of the septagenarians in the chorus, I add more than my fair share of sound to the section and was direly needed. It's nice to feel apreciated!

We went out and did a very good rendition of our contest set ("Who's Sorry Now" and "Sing Me That Song Again"). Not our best, but far from our worst. We rehearse in a church basement with a concrete ceilings. It's a lot easier to ring and balance there when you can hear everything mushed together. From there, Lou and I headed back to the hotel to change into our "civies" and grab some lunch at the local pub - one of the few establishments open in Battle Creek on a Saturday (I swear I could see tumbleweeds rolling down the street).

Much of the afternoon was spent playing on my computer in the lobby of the hotel, as I hadn't connected with my roommates for the evening yet (Paul & Rob from Chodiology). I grabbed new copies of the Polecat and Yuletide Favorites songbooks at the Barbershop Shop, as mine seem to have disappeared over the years. I managed to resisting the temptations of coffee mugs, CDs, and a variety of other musical kitsch. I was able to fit in a few tags with some other loiterers in the lobby. The favorite of the day seemed to be "The Shadow Of Your Smile, which I had recently recorded for my quartet clients in Nevada. Here's a not-so-shining example:

Then it was time to watch the quartet finals. I met up with a kid from the Grand Rapids Chapter, Pat, and we head up, talking geek stuff. For once, I actually arrived in time for the entire finals show. Last year, my quartet, Coda Honor, barely missed making mic testers for the finals show. A disappointment, but not a bad showing for our first contest, scoring just shy of a 60. This year, we decided not to compete, as our bass was in Galveston for a month helping with disaster relief and we didn't have time to prep our contest set. However, as I watched quartet after quartet strut their stuff for the appreciative audience this year, a single though kept occurring to me: "We're better than that".

Now, don't get me wrong. Every quartet up there deserved to be there and were quite good, but with all of the progress Coda Honor has made over the past year, we could have easily made 4th.
Well, maybe not easily. Having the last month to practice would have helped. Nevertheless, it was frustrating to watch these quartets up there and not be waiting in the wings to do our set. Hence the title of the blog.

I was supposed to meet with the chair of the Lansing Chapter's search committee to discuss the open position of director there. I didn't hold a lot of hope for getting the position, but figured I had enough qualifications to justify applying. I sent him a text and voicemail, letting him know where I'd be, and spent much of the first hour after the show in the lobby, hoping he'd spot me (I told him to look out for my shoes - they're kinda hard to miss). After an hour or so of playing on my laptop and chatting with friends, I made the rounds of the hospitality rooms and tagging in the hallways and lobby. Apparently, I also spent the evening narrowly missing aforementioned committee chair. Once again, damnd, damn, damn!

When things began to wind down, I met up with my roommates and headed to the room. I open the door and find the district's resident Doo-Wop quartet, Full Throttle, in the room chatting and drinking heavily. We all spent the next hour or so in the room munching on junk food, drinking, and spitballing riffs that Paul came up with. One groove was particularly catchy, and Paul had Barry (the exhuberant and 'fluffy' lead from Full Throttle) riff some melodies. He started filling in whatever songs would fit, then began singing the text of the hotel welcome card. It was a blast.

Oh, MEGAkudos, Barry, in the impending baby Barry on the way (hence his celebratory mood)!

Once the rest of his quartet practically carried a VERY innebriated Barry back to his room (no easy task, even for 3 guys), Rob Paul & I hit the hay as conversation about life and family trailed off to snores.

Oh, the chorus made 3rd. Not to shabby!

An awesome, if slighly frustrating weekend.

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