Sierra Mountainaires Barbershop Chorus prepares for Sept. 19-20 shows
Old jingles advertising everything from Brill hair cream-“A little dab will do ya”-to Pepsodent toothpaste echoed down the halls of Truckee High School this week. The group responsible for the 1930s-live-radio-show atmosphere was the Sierra Mountainaires Barbershop Chorus, which was rehearsing for its upcoming shows on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 19 and 20.
The Mountainaires have been performing together for close to eight years, and this will be their seventh annual show at the high school. The group has grown over the years from the seven original members to a group of 28 who will perform in the upcoming show.
This year’s concert will have an old-time jazzy feel to it with a blend of four-part a cappella harmony with swing and ragtime music from the live radio era. Joining the Mountainaires this year will be a troupe of swing dancers from the InnerRhythms Dance Studio in Truckee and the Reno barbershop quartet “Q” which has recently returned from an international competition in Montreal. Also on the bill are the Carson City men’s quartet Quicksilver and the Truckee women’s barbershop chorus The Mountain Belles.
“It’s really exciting. This may be the first time a women’s barbershop quartet has sung in Truckee,” said Mountain Belles director Brandy Gerbi. While the women’s chorus features the same four singing parts as the men-bass, baritone, lead and tenor-they often sing a broader range of musical styles than the men.
During this year’s show the 13 members of the Mountain Belles plan to perform four numbers from the World War II era including “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” “Mr. Sandman,” “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby,” and “Side by Side.”
Also on the bill this year are a group of five Truckee High students who Larry Colborn, the president of the Sierra Mountainaires, credits for attracting a number of younger viewers to the show. Owen Smith, Chris Sundeen, John Waters, Sean Powers and Alex Dita will all sing with the chorus as well as performing a couple of songs as a quartet.
Smith is the leader and soloist of the group. He came to the Mountainaires by way of the Truckee Community Chorus, and has been singing barbershop music for two years now. Chris Sundeen also got his start in the Community Chorus, which shares director Chris Nelson with the Mountainaires.
John Waters claims to have followed Chris Sundeen to practice one day and gotten hooked on the music, while Sean Powers got into singing barbershop after his experience in Truckee High’s presentation of “Crazy For You.” Powers’ singing prompted the play’s director to encourage him to give the Mountainaires a try.
While these young men lack the experience of some of the older members of the Mountainaires, they bring an enthusiasm and playfulness to their music that should make them popular.
Although they are all busy with other extracurricular activities such as football and band practice, they plan to rehearse as much as possible in the weeks leading up to the performance, even if it means singing in the cab of a pickup truck.
The importance placed on having a good time while performing pervades the entire group. According to Colborn, “What really attracts most of the people to this group is that we have fun all the time.”
That sentiment seems to hold true for the audience members as well since the Sierra Mountainaires’ show sells out every year.
Tickets to this year’s show are available at the Bank of America branch at highway 89 and Donner Pass Road, Eagle Mortgage in the DMV plaza, at the Truckee Chamber of Commerce office, from any member of the Sierra Mountainaires or by calling (530) 582-1743. Tickets cost $12 and are expected to sell out quickly.
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