Recap of the BQPA/Pioneers
Quartet Festival in Chicago 9/7-10/2011
Thanks to Gerry Carroll, Festival Chairman and his staff, The
Barbershop Quartet Preservation Association (BQPA/Pioneers) chalked up another large
success with their Chicago Area Fall Quartet Festival. Attendance was down a bit
attributed to the current economy, however just under 100 singers enjoyed the
festivities held on September 7-10, 2011.
The extended weekend begin on Wednesday, September 7th with about a
dozen singers checking into the beautiful Best Western Conference & Convention
Center, in Hillside IL, a suburb of Chicago near the O?Hare airport. This was the first time
to hold our Quartet Festival at this facility and it certainly was a good decision to do
so. The hotel was large and well equipped to handle our group. Our activities were essentially
held in a banquet room more than adequate for our singing activities, including the
Friday night pick up quartet contest and our parade of quartets show on Saturday night.
Since this was our first time there, the hotel graciously provided everything we needed to assure us a good barbershop experience.
Bright and early on Thursday morning several guys were seen loading
their golf clubs intheir cars to head on over to a nearby golf course. This is a regular
outing that is held at each one of our Quartet Festivals. Singing on every tee seemed more
important when you made a par or a birdie. This same activity occurred on Friday morning
By Thursday evening the attendance had swelled to around 30. Our
banquet room was populated sufficiently to have 4-5 quartets singing most all of the
evening. There was also a lot of fellowship being enjoyed. Shifting of singers within the
quartets happened quite regularly. We had a few Sweet Adeline (SAI) gals as well as Harmony
Incorporated (HI) there, also blending their voices with the guys. Many of our wives are
singers and enjoy singing with the lower voices of the men. The hotel donated a keg of
beer and soda for our evening?s enjoyment. In fact the hotel provided beer and soda for
the entire festival. Now that is real hospitality!
By early afternoon on Friday, many more singers had arrived. With the
return of our golfers around noon, we probably had 45 singers, growing to about 60
registered members by early evening. I believe we also signed up 11 new members,
bringing our total increase in membership for the 2011 year to 42. We are
approaching the 300 member mark now. If memory serves me, there were also 11 quartets in the pick
up quartet contest.
Tom Neal, our founder served as the MC for the contest and did a very
The winning quartet comprised of Jerry Steffen," first time” lead
singer, Richard Vormellker, Rex Touslee and Bill Myers. They called them selves the
“Inoculators” and did a pretty respectable job of singing. As it has often been said, we
manage to produce some pretty good sounds!
Saturday morning brought us to the General Membership meeting. Emmett
Bossing led the attendees in the singing of the Old Songs and a couple Barberpole
Cats. It was pleasing to know that many of our members attended this meeting. There
were several bits of discussion about our new and future festival venues. We had
discussion on ways to increase our attendance and what we could do to
encourage guys to join.
Rex Touslee reported the plans for the Spring Festival in Tempe.
Things are falling into place for a great time. Please visit www.bqpa.com for detailed
By Saturday afternoon we were at full strength for the weekend, just
short of 100 singers.
There were several there for attending the special memorial
celebration of our good friend and fellow singer, “Lynn Hauldren” who passed away at the age of 89
few weeks ago. Lynn was active right up to the wire! Joyce Markle, Lynn's lady friend
memorial. There were free beverages and finger food. There were
several guys attending who had a close relationship with Lynn over the years. Many of
the grass roots barbershoppers knew Lynn as the bari of the Chordiac Arrest, also singing
with the Chicago
Natural Gas Quartet and several other notable quartets. Many thousands
of folks knew Lynn as the “Empire Carpet Man.” Lynn had taken on the moniker of the
“Elder Bari” for his harmonet correspondence.
A 25 minute DVD was shown at the Memorial featuring the Chicago Natural Gas Quartet. (CNG) It was quite
entertaining. Ray Henders, tenor of the quartet made the comment that CNG had produced two CD?s. The first
was, “Chicago Natural Gas Cut One” and the second was named, “A whiff of the
Chicago Natural Gas.” These guys would do most anything for a laugh, and they also sang
The Saturday night parade of Quartets (show) came off very nicely,
thanks to our show chairman, Raymond Schwarzkopf. “Random Sample” hailing from the Twin
Cities area started the show, doing a nice job of entertaining. This quartet
was part of the 14 members that attended from the Twin Cities area. Second was a quartet
from the Chicago area, “Mid Town Sound” who was quite entertaining. They had been
together only a short while but certainly knew what barbershop quartet singing was all
about. Third in the line up was a SA quartet called. “Impact,” Region 3, Silver medalist.
They were on their way to competing in the Sweet Adeline International contest in Houston in
a few weeks. They were quite good, with a lot of sparkle in their performance. Last but
not least was the perennial group, “Gadzooks” who have performed for the BQPA/Pioneers
shows for eleven years in a row. They have recently acquired a seasoned bass
singer, Doug Smith who has raised their level of performance quite significantly.
Doug serves as a coach as well as a singer. The show was over early leaving plenty of time for
fellowship and more quartet singing.
Within 5 minutes of the show ending several pick-up quartets had began to sing. It's what we do! ;-) There were several who attended for the first time. Jim Foy, bass of
the “Happiness Emporium”, and currently singing with the Good News Quartet?. Mike
Testa, dedicated quartet man, from the Atlanta area, and Dick Fass, baritone of the
quartet named “Syncopates” who had placed 3rd in the 1953 SPEBSQSA International
contest. Dick was active in the Pioneers back in the 80?s so he rejoined under the
current criteria. In total we had 11 new members join our organization. Sorry, don?t
remember all the names. The singing was still going strong when I gave up around midnight.
Planning is already underway for our 2012 Chicago Quartet Festival,
pay close attention to the BQPA website (www.bqpa.com) for updates. Also plan to attend our
western Quartet Festival in Tempe, AZ in the spring of 2012. Updated information is already on the events
page of the BQPA/Pioneers web site. Visit www.bqpa.com You will be glad you
I want to thank our BQPA staff of officers (the unsung heroes)
for doing such a fine job in hosting another successful activity. You are the best!
Jack Martin, President