Pioneer District Header1999 Spring Contest Happenings
as reported by Jim Styer

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Setting the scene, the quartet musically paints a picture of a father singing to a slumbering baby, introducing its version of "Rock-A-Bye-Baby."

It's vintage Power Play.

Then the foursome tells of "Little Lady Make-Believe," a small girl in dress-up clothes. "You could never love the doll you hold as much as I love you," the quartet sings. "Dream your little dreams and may they come true." These and many of the quartet's other numbers, including three of the four that were sung in spring competition, are provided by Society arranger Tom Gentry.

With themes of family and love, Power Play continues to improve, if district scores are an indication.

In international pre-lims, the Slamka family quartet scored 1904 two years ago, 1983 last year and 2016 this spring. This will be the third consecutive year that Power Play represents Pioneer District in international competition, this time in Anheim, Calif. The quartet placed 11th last year at international and 10th in 1997.

This spring, Power Play ranks 6th in district scores among quartets that have qualified for international from 15 of our 16 districts. (Sunshine District competition is next weekend.)

The Slamka foursome from the Macomb and Hillsdale chapters is comprised of tenor Don, lead Michael, baritone Mark and bass (daddy) Jack. They were 1989 district champs and also previously competed internationally in 1990-94.

In this spring's contest, Power Play was consistent, scoring 1008 in the semi-finals and 1008 in the finals. Scores were very close in all of the three judging categories (music, presentation and singing) and category scores varied by only nine points (163 to 172) among all four songs in the two competition rounds.

Joining Power Play as Pioneer representative at the international convention in July will be Macomb's Harmony Heritage Chorus, directed by Jack Slamka.

Placing second through fifth in the spring quartet competition were Upstage Sound, 1998 district champion; The Detroit Sound Company, 1997 district champ; Gallery of Lansing; and Mach 1 of Battle Creek, a reincarnation of the Four-D Minors, the district champ in 1972. The spread in scores among these four was just 53 points.

The most colorful quartetter on stage was J. Kelly Brummett of The Detroit Sound Company, resplendent in blue slacks, gold cummerbund and a shiny, multicolored silk shirt. The other quartet members wore similar colors, but muted. Brummett said he couldn't resist the shirt when he saw it on deep discount, but it still cost too much to buy four of them.

The only college quartet entrant was Privately Funded from Hillsdale College. The foursome placed second in the district college contest last spring.

Introducing the quartet finals, emcee Doran McTaggart of Windsor was joined for the Canadian national anthem by the Windsor and Sault Ste. Marie choruses. "We have the entire Pioneer contingent from Canada here," McTaggart said. He challenged the U.S. barbershoppers in Pioneer to do the same for their anthem.


The new district chorus champion, succeeding Macomb's Harmony Heritage Chorus, is Lansing's Capitol City Chorus. Lansing won with a reprise of the lively riverboat package that gave it a strong second place last fall in the chorus pre-lims. Lansing, performing for the final time under director Jamie Carey, was the largest competition chorus on stage, with 59 men.

That still was well below the approximately 80 men, including many from Macomb, who sang in the Joe Barbershopper Chorus under Macomb director Jack Slamka.

Following Lansing among the top five were Kalamazoo's Mall City Chorus, Holland's Windmill Chorus, Traverse City's Cherry Capitol Chorus and Detroit-Oakland's Gentlemen Songsters.


Battle Creek, which invited dual memberships in an attempt to give barbershoppers a chance to compete in a "huge" chorus, placed 48 men on stage and placed sixth. Last fall, the Cereal City Chorus with 14 men placed 15th and last.

While not reaching its goal, Battle Creek did give several singers, such as Hillsdale Chapter members, the opportunity to complete in a larger chorus than they had before.

In what may be a first in the Society, one barbershopper sang in four choruses during the convention. David Jones, a dual member of Muskegon and Holland, sang with those choruses, with the Cereal City Chorus and the Joe Barbershopper Chorus. He has been a Society member for about five years, said Mike O'Donnell, Muskegon director.

Also among those participating were members of Chicago News, 1981 international champs, who performed in several other venues during the weekend convention. Leading the Polecat songs "Nellie" and "Sweet and Lovely" were Ed Fritzen, Cereal City Chorus director, and Darryl Flinn, Society executive director.

Chorus plateau winners were Battle Creek, Huron Valley, Holland, Kalamazoo and Lansing. Plateaus are based on membership at the end of last year. (No other chapter was in Battle Creek's plateau.)

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