April 18, 2011

Of A Cappella and Disturbing Math

As a birthday gift, former A Cappella compatriots Craig, Justin and I set out to Athens, GA to see UGAPALOOZA, the annual spring A Cappella invitational concert put on by the UGA Accidentals (My old college group). I haven't been back to these since 2007 so it's been a while.

Our tickets were incredibly FRONT ROW CENTER. I could not have asked for better, and I happened to bring my new Digital Camcorder for just such a lucky break. I recorded about every-other-song due to conserve battery, but I got a load of good performances:

And to top off the evening, they announced their "traditional closer", a simple little song called "Blessing" written by my old Accidentals Director Paul Tate. (It was originally meant as an on-stage warm-up/sound check, but it works at the end too.) Then they asked any Alumni in the audience to come up and sing it with them. Didn't have to ask me twice. I shot up out of my seat, handing my coat and camera to Justin, who thankfully was able to sort out how to work the thing:

What a rush! Brought back a lot of great memories of singing back at UGA. I shook some hands of the guys and congratulated them on a wonderful show. They were very friendly and one asked me when I was in the group. "From 1992 through '98," I replied.

The guy's eyes went wide for a brief moment, but quickly softened out of politeness, and we kept talking for a few more seconds. But underneath, my mind was thinking "Oh crap. 1992 was 19 years ago now. Most of these guys were BORN about the time I arrived here at UGA." This was followed briefly by "I am older than dirt that was found under the fingernails of dinosaurs."

The Accidentals have come an INCREDIBLY long way since I started back then. My bunch of Accidentals were the first to make a studio album, the first to participate in competitions, I built the group's first web page. Back then, the group was still very much an extension of the Glee Club, which is great in itself, but it didn't have the current music vocal sensibilities that you see today. A medley of "Open Arms" and "Faithfully" by JOURNEY was considered "Progressive" back then, even though the songs were not at all current. We had no microphones back then, so soloists and Vocal Percussionists (yours truly) had to blow out their voices to be heard over the rest of the singers.

It was a pioneering time for us, and it was exciting to be a part of a group that was evolving so quickly. In the years since I've graduated, the Accidentals have continued to grow in skill and popularity. Our counterparts from the Women's Glee Club, "Noteworthy", have come into their own and even were honored by being included on one of the "BOCA - Best of Collegiate A Cappella" CDs. And now there is an independent mixed group in "With Someone Else's Money" that is quite a group themselves.

As we drove home listening to the Accidentals' latest CD (which is incredible), I thought that maybe knowing my age wasn't all bad. It gives me a greater appreciation for what they can do now, given the scope of my knowledge of the group's past.

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