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Harmony Sweepstakes
Topic Started: Mar 4 2007, 12:21 PM (2,352 Views)
mort bakaprevski
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Balcony Gang, Foist Class
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Let me preface this by saying that I don’t get a dime out of any of the following.

If you’re interested in vocal music at all, and live in the following areas: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Olympia WA, New York, Boston, Chicago, Alexandria VA or Denver, let me recommend Harmony Sweepstakes. This is an annual competition which has been going on for almost a quarter of a century now. It’s a-cappella & the rules are very simple:
1) Groups must be from 3 to 8 in size
2) No musical instruments may be used in the performance
3) The performance may not exceed 10 minutes
Winners of the above regional contests go on to compete in a national contest in San Rafael, CA.

Contests tend to be quite varied in content with groups encompassing jazz, pop, doo-wop, barbershop, folk & almost anything else you can think of. If you don’t like the group you’re currently listening to, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll like the next one.

March is (primarily) the month for the regional competitions. I happen to be responsible for the Los Angeles competition & we’ve go a great lineup including the returning champs from last year Hi-Fidelity (who went on to win the national competition). The judges for the evening will be a fantastic sextet named m-pact, who will also perform. For complete information on all of the contests & how to get tickets, got to http://www.harmony-sweepstakes.com/

"Nov Shmoz Ka Pop."
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mort bakaprevski
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Well, the contest was last night & it was (if I say so myself) quite successful. m-pact, who would be judges for the contest, opened the show & set the bar indredibly high for the acts that followed.

To cut through all of superflous verbiage, here are the winners:

1) Moira Smiley & VOCO - a folk based female quartet with excellent musicianship.

2) Down 4 the Count - a jazz based quintet utilizing all original arrangements

3) Renaissance - a doo-wop group that looked like it had some members who really had started singing on the corner back in the 50's.

Best Original Arrangement - was by Colleen Keene of Down 4 the Count

After the program, everyone (except me. I had to clean the chewing gum off of the seats) went to the after show party where singing & imbibing continued until the wee hours!!!
"Nov Shmoz Ka Pop."
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mort bakaprevski
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If you'd like a sample of the group that won, go to myspace.com/vocoinfo (I'd recommend "Stand in that River"). Chillingly beautiful!!!
"Nov Shmoz Ka Pop."
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mort bakaprevski
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The prelims are over and here are the groups that will be competing in San Rafael at Marin Veteran’s auditorium on May 5th:

Boston -- Men In Black - college barbershop quartet
Chicago -- Nightwatch - male comedy quartet
Los Angeles -- Moira Smiley & VOCO - folk-based female quartet
Mid-Atlantic -- DoubleShot - male sextet; contemporary a cappella
New York -- The Fault Line - male quintet, mainstream rock
Pacific Northwest -- V-Chords* - male sextet; pop/rock, jazz, country, funk & doo-wop
Rocky Mountain -- Face - male septet; rock, pop, funk and upbeat jazz
San Francisco -- Solstice - female sextet, classical, world & folk music

* the winning group in the Pacific Northwest, Realtime, has a performance conflict with the finals & will not be competing.
"Nov Shmoz Ka Pop."
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mort bakaprevski
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Ahhhh, the National Finals of Harmony Sweepstakes were held in San Rafael last nite. Pardon me if I gloat a bit, BUT Moira Smiley & VOCO (the group that won the L.A. Regional contest of Harmony Sweepstakes), went on to win the national championship. VOCO is a great folk-based quartet that can perform a cappella and can also accompany themselves on a variety of instruments. If they ever perform in your neighborhood, I HIGHLY recommend them. Very entertaining with an excellent level of musicianship.

Second place was Face, a seven piece, male, rock group from Denver & third place was Solstice, a seven-piece, female, eclectic musical group from San Francisco.

"Nov Shmoz Ka Pop."
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mort bakaprevski
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If you live in or around Boston, Alexandria, VA or Los Angeles, try attending their local Harmony Sweepstakes contest. Unfortunately, I didn't post this early enough to let people in New York, Chicago, Denver, etc. know in advance (mea culpa) about their contests.

I'm in charge of talent coordination at the L.A. regional competition & we have a great lineup that includes, jazz, folk, barbershop, doo-wop & college groups. The L.A. regional winner has gone on to win the national competition for the last two years & we believe we have an excellent chance this year as well.

The event will be held on April 20th (a Sunday) at the Hermosa Beach Playhouse. For further info, go to:

http://www.harmony-sweepstakes.com/losangeles.html

"Nov Shmoz Ka Pop."
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mort bakaprevski
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Some of you guys MUST live in the environs of Los Angeles. If so, call the following number (310) 325 -7151 and tell 'em you're a friend of Mort's & you'll get a special deal on tickets for our upcoming (this Sunday - 4/20) a cappella show. I'll buy you a drink at the afterglow as well.
"Nov Shmoz Ka Pop."
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mort bakaprevski
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I know I say this every year, but this was the best Sweeps we’ve ever staged. What an incredible array of talent. Things got off to a strong start with our judges, Hi-Fidelity, performing a few songs. They were somewhat hampered in that they had a substitute bass. But, Jim Campbell sounded great & the crowd loved them (so did I)!!

It was great hearing the fabulous improvement in some of the returning groups. Down 4 the Count, Renaissance & Swing Shift turned in terrific performances. I also enjoyed last minute replacement, Expedia, featuring my old friend Ken Potter doing an a cappella version of the rock classic, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Other newcomers, Collectively Kenny & Vocal Magic also acquitted themselves very well.

SoundStage, in their first outing, blew everyone away with their tight performance & fantastic energy. They will certainly represent L.A. well in the Finals (May 3rd) & I think they have an excellent chance to come out on top once the dust has cleared.

Our beautiful & talented host group, Moira Smiley & VOCO, closed the show with one of their fabulous performances. Since they weren’t competing, they included a song which featured one of their members on cello. As usual, this group is tops in musicianship & entertainment.

If you live in NoCal, check out the action May 3rd at the Marin Veteran's Auditorium in San Rafael!! I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Here's more info:

http://www.harmony-sweepstakes.com/


"Nov Shmoz Ka Pop."
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mort bakaprevski
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Good grief, I’ve been failing as a promoter of my own show (or at least a portion of it): Harmony Sweepstakes. An annual a cappella contest conducted at eight sites across the country. Rules are simple: three to eight singers & no musical instruments. Any style (& boy, do we get some wild ones on occasion). If you like vocal music, give one of these a try:

Boston – March 21
Chicago – March 21
Denver – March 21
Los Angeles – April 4
New York – already over (oooops)
Olympia, WA – already over (double oooops)
San Francisco – March 14
Alexandria, VA – April 4

Finals in San Rafael – May 16

Here’s the web site: http://www.harmony-sweepstakes.com/

"Nov Shmoz Ka Pop."
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mort bakaprevski
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Well, the big night is this coming Saturday (wurra, wurra, wurra).

If you live anywhere in the SoCal area & don't attend, I'll find out & punish you severely!!

You've been warned!!!
"Nov Shmoz Ka Pop."
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mort bakaprevski
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Tomorrow night is THE night!

Be there... or beware (we know who you are)!!

"Nov Shmoz Ka Pop."
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mort bakaprevski
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TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT!!!
"Nov Shmoz Ka Pop."
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Stony Brooke da Mesquiteer
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Well, how'd it go, or are you still reeling?
It's like Rodney King used to say, "Can't we all get a bong."
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mort bakaprevski
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I'm still trying to relax... & it ain't easy.

The group that won was a doo-wop group called Evolution. They also won the Audience Favorite Award. They did an hysterical version of "The Book of Love" which had quite a few more chapters than the original did.

Technically, the show reflected some of my worst nightmares... with one of the channels for the cordless mics acting up & delaying the mic testing for the groups for over 1/2 an hour.

However, midst schturm undt drang, we muddled on & (I think) produced a quality, entertaining show. The afterglow at The Eagles Hall was even better... with pizza & wine. (specially better for me!)

Thanks for asking, Stony!!!
"Nov Shmoz Ka Pop."
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mort bakaprevski
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I flew up to San Rafael for the Harmony Sweeps Finals this weekend… & wanted to share the experience with you.

The venue was very nice & the crowd was impressive (I would estimate the audience was over 1,000). Ironically, the Afterglow, although well attended, had a smaller turnout than ours (Los Angeles) did.

Hokay, so let’s cover the participants:

MaXX Factor – a Sweet Adeline quartet took top honors. Their verbal portion was pure Iowa cornpone, but with their fabulously in-tune & perfectly balanced chords, they could have made jokes about cow-pies in July & it wouldn't have mattered.

LoveNotes – another Sweet Adeline group came in second. They obviously had some intonation problems & their tenor seemed to be experiencing voical difficulties. I think their "cute" factor (all were in their late teens or early twenties) contributed heavily to their 2nd place selection.

Rezonoate – an R&B group from the Pacific Northwest. They were good... but it would have been a tough call for me to choose between them & Cartoon Johny (another R&B based combination).

Mouth Beats – a group best described in their own words: “no words, just rhythms, sound effects, and vocal percussion.” I honestly believed they shoulda ended up in the Top Three. A fascinating experiment well executed.

Evolution – Our boys (won the L.A. Regional). Unfortunately, they couldn't re-capture the spark that won our contest for them. Talked to their bass after the show & he admitted that they just didn't seem to have it together last night.

Cartoon Johny – R&B/Soul, etc. Good group… but all of ‘em were.

Three Men & a Melody – A barbershop quartet… that I don’t think sang one barbershop number.

Road Show – same as Three Men & a Melody.

Vocaldente – hosts for the evening (last year’s winners). Excellent!! They’re from Germany & had actually put together an act for their introductions. Said act consisted of “teaching” the audience how to speak German. Funny & ingratiating.

Final thoughts on the contest? If you want to win, have a schtick (LoveNotes & Rezonate both had good acts) or sing flawlessly (MaXX Factor).
"Nov Shmoz Ka Pop."
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