Shana Chavez can’t get enough of The Newfangled Four.
“I heard they were going to perform here today and knew I had to come. They’re wonderful singers who inject comedy into their act,” Chavez said of the internationally ranked barbershop quartet’s performance during the June 1 “A Good Day” music fest at Sunrise Methodist Church.
The Newfangled Four, 2018 International 6th Place Quartet Finalists, performed with the America the Beautiful Chorus during the a cappella variety show.
The chorus is a community of men who focus chiefly on learning, preserving and spreading a cappella harmony style of men’s barbershop. Gospel-flavored, patriotic standards, and great American songbook chestnuts figured in 2-hour concert attended by more than 200.
Boasting comedy and audience interaction, the annual show kicks off the summer season via feel-good hand-clapping, foot-stomping sounds, according to Program Coordinator Larry McCollum.
“Our show contains old standards, gospel, pop and comedy to usher in the summer season,” McCollum said. “This promises to be an emotional and inspirational moment for an audience in Colorado Springs which is home to several military installations.”
Applause filled the air as Show Chair Dennis Doyle thanked guests for their support. Emcee Cindy Aubrey introduced America the Beautiful Chorus Director Jim Clark, who led the group in a flawless performance of barbershop standards, “It’s A Good Day,” “Good Old Summertime” and “Everything Old Is New Again.”
Following the third number, four chorus members —Tim Simmons (baritone), Gary Hickenlooper (bass), Mark Hoffman (tenor) and Lee Jolly (lead) — aka the Velcro Quartet, crooned the 1911 Vaudeville tune, “Red Rose Rag.” The quartet then returned to their mother group for a rendition of Roger Miller’s classic, “King of the Road.”
“No doubt you will be singing that song in the shower later,” Aubrey said, drawing laughter from the audience.
The gospel-flavored, “When I Lift Up My Head” got the crowd moving, and two chorus members shared lead vocal duties for the tune, “Cups,” a version of the popular 1931 Carter Family song, “When I’m Gone.” Senior members of the audience thrilled to the chorus’ version of the title track of the 1952 film, “Wait ‘Til the Sun Shines Nellie,” about an 1980s-1920s Illinois family.
“Because the Rockies are having an unbelievable streak, we figured we would sing the national anthem of the great American pastime,” Clark said as the chorus donned baseball caps and launched into the rollicking, “Take Me Out to the Old Ball Game.”
Botching the song’s conclusion proved to be one of the show’s most memorable moments. After a brief mock consultation, the singers brought the song to its respected conclusion. “Well, that was – silly,” Aubrey said as everyone clapped.
The chorus closed with the John Michael Montgomery smash hit, “Sold,” which tells the story of the narrator, having spotted the woman of his dreams at the Grundy County, Tenn. Auction, courting the woman in auction-chant style.
Clark then introduced the Denver-based quartet, Maelstrom, whose intricate harmonies on “What a Difference a Day Makes,” drew squeals from female fans. Comprised of Kevin Meyer (tenor), Wes Short (baritone), Seth Fetzer (lead) and Tyler Wigginton (bass), the group was voted 2018 International 16th Place Semi-Finalists.
For many, the southern California-based Newfangled Four stole the show with their trademark humor that included comedic acting and playing air trumpet.
Joey Buss (tenor) drew laughter as he introduced the members. “I am the bands’ bad boy. Jackson (Niebrugge, lead) is the cutie and Jake (Tickner, bass) is the rugged, handsome lad. Then there’s (long pause) Ryan (Wisniewski),” Buss said of the group’s baritone, drawing laughter.
“These guys are funny and are wonderful singers,” said Lydia Chavez, 10.
The America the Beautiful Chorus closed the program with an armed forces medley and tribute to the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Veterans were invited to be recognized during a performance of their service branch anthem. All World War II vets in attendance were recognized.
“Audiences are drawn to the barbershop sound not only because of its rich, harmonic blend, but its unique history as one of two forms of music invented in America,” McCollum said.
Margaret McPherson agreed: “We have been coming here for 10 years because we love the harmony of these groups.”
The Chorus is officially the Pikes Peak Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society. The group was chartered in 1946 and operated under different names since that time until 2001 when the America the Beautiful name was adopted.