Friday, June 18, 2010

My Barbershop Boys

I always always kept diaries. Diary after diary filled with anything from watching-paint-dry boredom, to deep and juicy details of my drama-filled days. Problem was I was never able to consistently keep an ongoing diary. I either always felt my musings were useless and dry ("who would want to read this when I'm gone?!") or written at times when there was really too much to say and not enough wrist strength. However, the latter are the times that I know most appreciate looking back at my diaries... so that I can remind myself of the turmoil, and then promise never to get back there.

And so now, I find myself on the border of one of those feelings and something new that has come with blogging. One is akin to that I-mean-really-when-will-this-paint-dry and a new feeling of blogging for craft. And so I will continue on this path typing up blogs somewhere between but hopefully not infringing too strongly on the boarder of that pesky paint.

So I come to today blog, simply titled "My Barbershop Boys", and no... I am not referring to any gentlemen I have come across while getting my hair done. In fact, I am speaking of my fantastic experience documenting the lives, practice and passion of a barbershop quartet. I know what you thinking, "Oh that's that music sung by four old geezer off tune in a bar?" Well, you are only half correct. It is four older (but young at heart) gentlemen, who sometimes sing in bars, but most definitely not off tune. Once, upon hearing that I had chosen barbershop as one of my two documentaries to work on in the States, a woman cringed, "Barbershop quartet music sounds like fingernails down a chalkboard to me!" I consoled her while at the same time explaining that the problem was, she had never heard MY barbershop guys sing (how easily I decided they were "mine"!). But really it is 100% true. They are such a pleasure to listen to, which made the hours of practice I sat in on, and a 4 1/2 hour trip from Portland, ME to Danbury, Connecticut (or "Nowhere, Connecticut" ... sorry Connecticut-ites!) totally hands down worth it. What was even better, was when they came to our gallery opening to view the pictures the wonderful photographer I was working with took, see our multimedia piece and listen to my radio documentary. I was so honoured that they all came. Walt (lead singer) even brought me flowers. It made my months of being a tried and tested barbershop band-aid worth it. They seemed to really love everything about what we did, which gives enormous relief to the moment of panic when they first sit down at a computer and put the headphones on (to listen to a piece you have poured you heart and soul into, which they have also never heard). And get this, they sort of glowed... they smiled and exchanged glances and then gave me great big hugs. I almost cried, really, I mean it sound corny but how emotional for all of us. It made it so I really didn't care if the piece ever played on the radio, or if no one else liked it, because they loved it. And THEN, to top it all off the sweethearts went off and sang for everyone at the gallery opening... singing is something they do any chance they get! But everyone got it, they saw what I see, and they applauded and applauded and I felt so proud of my barbershop boys. They put heart, sweat and tears (literally) into their craft, we can all only hope that we have a craft we all love just as much.

From left to right: Jack (a 74-year-old minx of a man), Jim (the kindest blue eyes you've ever seen), Me, Maura (one of the best photogs I know), Walt (THE gentlemen's gentlemen), and Fred (the "serious" lawyer who can be reduced to tears with a good harmony).
All together they make Port City Sound (+ band-aids).


  1. Avery I am so proud of you!!! And keep musing away online so I can stay involved in your life thoughts and going ons. Love YOUR barbershop boys!! Great work!

  2. Hello Wanda....I know these Gentlemen well, and you summed them up beautifully...what a tribute.
    I hope we get to hear your work. Thanks for your open mind.