Donna Lenz Wright/The Week
(Published Jan. 26, 2007, 9:38 a.m.
Music is the universal language. Happily, we can hear nearly any kind we want with just the flick of a switch.
Musicians like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera may be Grammy award winners and nominees, but would we still want to hear them without their instrumental accompaniments, amplifiers and voice re-mixers?
That’s what makes music makers like the Country Gentlemen such extraordinary entertainers. With only their four voices in perfect harmony, they create music that is so unique that it’s its own genre in itself.
“It’s a uniquely American phenomenon,” said Ray Lucivansky, chapter vice president of marketing and public relations and Country Gentlemen member for 10 years. “There’s no other place in the world that sings this kind of music.”
Sure, their music may be quaint and old. And sure, the visual of four handlebar-mustached men in straw hats and striped vests comes to mind at the mention of a barbershop quartet.
But what may seem square to some initially quickly becomes part of the charm as these impeccably talented singers do their thing.
This Saturday, Oct. 20, the Country Gentlemen will do just that for their biggest show of the year, the Country Gentlemen’s Annual Benefit Show, “I Love A Parade,” beginning at 2 p.m. at Elkhorn Area High School, benefitting the Walworth County Adult Special Olympics Program.
Following the show the gang will head to the Moose Creek Bar & Grill, N4403 County Road H, Elkhorn, for an informal gathering of more singing, dancing and fun beginning at 5 p.m.
In a barbershop quartet, one man sings melody, another harmonizes above the melody, another harmonizes below the harmony and the fourth is the other harmony—sometimes above and sometimes below the melody.
Together it’s an amazing combination that stops listeners’ brains from thinking about anything except what they’re hearing.
The music-filled afternoon will feature six different quartets from the Lake Geneva Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society along with the whole chorus of over 50 members, featured dancers plus several special guests.
“We’ll also have a special appearance by district finalists Geneva and a feature quartet from the society, Hot Air Buffoons from Ohio, a hilarious group that performs internationally,” Lucivansky said.
Country Gentlemen Barbershoppers
The Country Gentlemen Barbershoppers, Lake Geneva Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, has been in Walworth County since 1976 spreading their cheer through four main goals: singing, service, fellowship and fun.
The 50 members who make up this chapter form six different quartets—Achordable, Borderline, Geneva, Harmony Rascals, Four Score and Classic Gas—and join over 30,000 others in the society worldwide.
“We’re ordinary men from many different backgrounds trying to preserve this art form,” Lucivansky says.
And their doors are always open to any man who might like to come to a rehearsal and watch, or even give it a try themselves every Monday, 7-9 p.m. at Horticulture Hall, 330 Broad St., Lake Geneva.
“Anyone who enjoys singing is invited to join,” he said. “You don’t need to know how to read music. We have practice tapes and we will teach anyone who’s interested.
“For me it’s a great hobby, plus there’s a whole social side to this.”
A few years back the Chicago Tribune referred to barbershopping as ‘gentle male bonding.’
“There’s some truth in that,” Lucivansky said.
While this is their biggest show of the year, the Country Gentlemen stay busy all year making people a little happier with their talent.
“In the summertime we sing in six area churches when their choirs are on hiatus,” said Lucivansky. “We always get such a warm reception from them—and everywhere we go.”
They perform regularly for social and civic groups all year long, but February brings Valentine’s Day, one of their favorite singing events of the year.
Each year they serenade the Valentine of your choice where they are, which is usually at work, with a love song, flower, card and photograph of the occasion.
“We have a great time, especially when the guys get all red in the face,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun and everybody gets a big kick out of it.”
The group also performs around the Midwest and supports students interested in singing careers through Youth in Harmony.
Tickets for the Country Gentlemen’s “I Love A Parade” Benefit Show are $15-$19 and will be available at the door, if the show isn’t sold out. Gareth Cole, director, Carol D’Ambrose, assistant director, and co-chairs Earl Carlson and Paul Zavada have organized a great show with Steve Hay as emcee.
For tickets or more information about the show, call 743-2141. For more information about the Country Gentlemen, visit www.countrygentlemen.info.
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