Pioneer District Header1998 Fall Contest Happenings
as reported by Jim Styer

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The Macomb County chorus will represent Pioneer District at the international convention next summer in Anaheim, Calif.

Jack Slamka, the dad of the Power Play quartet, directed Macomb's Harmony Heritage Chorus with 52 men to a 5-point victory at the district's fall convention in Lansing, Mich.

Macomb scored 912 points with a double panel of judges and led in the music and presentation categories with "Just a Bundle of Old Love Letters" and "Darkness on the Delta."

Compared with all other choruses who already have become Society chorus representatives in their districts or possible "wild card" selections, Macomb ranks 13th. Among all Society choruses which competed at the district level, Macomb's score would put it in 26th place.

Placing second in the Pioneer District this fall was Lansing's Capital City Chordsmen, directed by Jamie Carey of the Firepower quartet. Lansing, with an elaborate set and production of "Mississippi Medley" and "Swanee." outpointed Macomb in the singing category. In the district prelims last fall, Lansing placed second to Grand Rapids by just 4 points.

The Macomb chorus began its renaissance last spring when it won as district champion, garnering first place with 47 men and a 131-point lead over Kalamazoo's Mall City Chorus, the Gratiot County Midstatesmen and Detroit-Oakland's Gentlemen Songsters. Grand Rapids and Lansing did not compete in that contest.

The Macomb chorus last went to international in 1991 in Louisville, then also directed by Slamka.

This fall, Grand Rapids scored 866 to place third among 15 choruses, followed by Traverse City, Detroit-Oakland and Kalamazoo. The Huron Valley Harmonizers, directed in competition for the first time by Sweet Adeline Lynn Peirce, placed 10th with 22 on stage. Peirce succeeds long-time director Jim Stephens.


New district chorus champion, with a 57-point lead at 1,722, is Upstage Sound from the Kalamazoo, and Benton Harbor/St. Joe chapters. Members are tenor Raleigh Bloch of Kalmazoo, district VP of member services; lead Gene Hanover, director of the Kalamazoo chorus; bari Ed Fritzen, director of the Battle Creek chorus and former Kalamazoo director; and bass Kerry Foley.

Upstage Sound previously had performed and competed as Unlawful Assembly, a foursome of convicts doing comedy routines.

The quartet succeeds Detroit Sound Company as district champs. A Detroit Sound Company member, J. Kelley Brummett, competed as tenor this fall in Chordiology from Huron Valley and Frank Thorne, which placed sixth.

Placing second was Resolution from Grosse Pointe, Macomb and Motor City Metro. It was followed closely by Gallery from Lansing and Grand Prix from Battle Creek. Placing fifth among the 16 quartets was Bayshore IV from Traverse City.

With more than a dozen years performing and competing, this was the first time Grand Prix made the cut into the finals. One of the members is bass Don Burill, who sang with district champs Four D Minors in 1974.

All of the top eight quartets this fall finished in the same positions in both the semifinals and the finals.

No quartets which have sung on the international stage competed in this fall's district championship contest.

Interesting names abounded among the competing quartets: Sounds Like Fun (Grand Rapids), One Brick Short (Holland, Kalamazoo and Macomb), Sump-n-dfrnt (Kalamazoo), Acapella Four Piece Band (Traverse City) and Four Man Fishin' Tackle Choir (Petoskey and Traverse City), which was named the novice champion.


Winning the senior quartet contest was Class Reunion from Holland. Members are tenor Al Walters, lead Myke Lucas, bass Del Doctor and bari Bernie Poelman. Walters and Poelman were members of Flipside, Pioneer senior quartet champs last year. Lucas was a member of district champion Chord Counts in 1959. Poleman was a member of district champ the Galaxies of Grand Rapids in 1973. Doctor, in the late 1960s with the Kasual D's, placed second in the district twice and second in international prelims twice. Lucas and Doctor both have directed the Holland chorus.

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