THE BARBERSHOP PIONEERS
The Barbershop Pioneers Concept came together in 1982. Tom Neal an enthusiastic quartetter, wrote to many very active Barbershop Singers: "What we need is a good old fashioned convention like we had in the glorious past replete with little or no organization, no choruses, around the clock woodshedding, (no) political types to irritate us, funny people and plenty of ice cold beer" (Tom remains extremely active to this day).
THE FIRST NATIONAL CONVENTION
Thursday, September 9, 1982, at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee was just that! Over 100 "Old Pros" got together for what proved to be “the greatest barbershop event in a quarter of a century". From the Convention Recap we see that Huck Sinclair, Roy Frisby, (Elastic Four) and Hal Bauer (Clef Dwellers) joined with such notables as Butch Hummel (Doctors of Harmony), Dave LaBonte (Confederates), Pete Tyree (Orphans), Squeak Tilton (Four Tissimos), Bob and Buzz Haeger (Renegades. Four Tissimos, Barber-O Four), Tom O’Malley (Four Maldehydes & Pittsburgers), the 1949 Champions (Mid States Four), The Four Ragtimers, and the Village Idiots. Woodshedders like Joe Shekleton, Austin Combs, Jim Hickel, and Lefty Parasson were much in evidence. Founder Tom Neal began to need help to carry on this undertaking.
Of the over 100 who attended, all had so much fun, that THE BARBERSHOP PIONEERS were formally organized under the Presidency of Joe Shekleton, with the purpose of meeting once a year, the week after Labor Day. Joe carried on until I992, when he retired from the management (still very active) and was replaced by Bill Gallagher.
The next year (1983) THE PIONEERS had an even more resounding convention at the Muehlbach Hotel in Kansas City, which seemed appropriate because of the earlier meetings (1938) organized by O. C. Cash and Rupert Hall. This location seemed most appropriate for several years. Unfortunately, the venerable old Muehlbach had begun to deteriorate (it actually caught fire one night during our convention), so it was decided to move the convention to an easily accessible "hub of barbershop", Chicago, beginning in 1986. Conventions are now held at the Midway Hotel, Elk Grove Village, IL (Near 0’Hare Airport). A great facility, very reasonable rates, & warm
WHO SHOULD ATTEND
The "Good Times" continue to roll, though we have lost such "legends" as Tom O’Malley, Bob Mack, Bob Haeger, Bill Otto, Bill Conway and Bob Keener; other notables have arrived on the scene such as Ginney Janis (Chordettes), Alan Gross, Dave Mittlstadt (Playtonics), and Rex Reeve (Four Teens), to name a few. Also in attendance over the years have been: Don LaMont (The Four Teens), Joe Ripp (The Cardinals), Carl Wright (The Lads of Enchantment), Hershel Smith (Buffalo Bills), Bob Lindlay (Vikings) and Walter Latzko.
ATTENDANCE KEEPS INCREASING!
IN 1993 ALONE, IT INCREASED OVER 30% (all fun singers). Any enthusiastic Barbershop Style Singer is welcome to attend and will find it a richly rewarding experience if they enjoy informal singing (Woodshedding) with others who enjoy RINGING SOME GOOD CHORDS. Ladies are welcome.
WHAT HAPPENS AT A PIONEERS CONVENTION?
The Thursday Night after Labor Day, every year, we gather and informally sing in the PIONEERS HOSPITALITY SUITE. Conviviality is high, the cost of beer low. Golf at cost, everything else free. Friday, there is a golf outing for those that can play without interfering with their singing enjoyment. Then an informal contest (pick—up quartets that are un~rehearsed) where everyone has a chance to join the only competition of the meeting. Saturday, an informal business meeting in the morning and a Formal show in the evening always featuring outstanding quartets (1993 featured: Rockies Four, Chordiac Arrest, The New and Improved lndustrial Strength Minichorus [Haeger, Henders, Foley, Squires], First Class [Harmony Inc. International Champions], Chicago_Natural Gas, Lake Shore Harmony Four, and Cartuns), MC - Ray Henders).
During the entire long weekend, the PIONEERS HOSPITALITY SUITE is open (except during the Shows) and the whole hotel is available for woodsheddinq.