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Singing sillily along with the boys of barbershop

March 29, 2009
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer

Suddenly, I wish my name were Mary Lou.

Last week I stopped at First Congregational United Church of Christ to take pictures of the Harmony Brigade barbershoppers at practice. As I stepped inside the church, I hear "Hello, Mary Lou, goodbye heart" - and the rest, of course, as if they were singing to me.

I like that.

I like someone singing directly to me and only to me. That's happened twice in my life. The first time my boyfriend sang to me, bless his heart; the second time it was Lowell Samuelson in "Forever Plaid" when the guys performed at the Opera House at the Fort Museum. He sang "Rags to Riches," my new favorite song.

I saw "Forever Plaid" so often - even at Cherokee and Okoboji - the guys made me their groupie. Who'da ever thought - me as a groupie.

The Harmony Brigade wasn't singing to me, though. They were getting ready for their big show on April 4. "Malt Shop Memories."

Oh, this show is going to be good. Every song I heard them sing, I knew the words to, so I sang along. Quietly as possible, but I still sang.

Remember, I sing duets with Tracy Byrd, too, and sound very good as long as he keeps singing. When the CD ends before me, I can't say I'm as good.

Anyway, I sang "Silhouettes" with the Brigade, and it sounded good to me. I'm still not convinced I'm the one who should be blamed for killing our Friday-night singalongs at work.

And I still don't know if I should be pleased I knew all the lyrics to "Silhouettes" or be upset because I knew all the lyrics. My age was showing there.

Considering the fact that if I weren't this old, I'd be dead, makes it a lot easier to go with the idea that knowing all the words merely means I have a great memory. It's been a long time since the late '50s, and a long time can short-circuit a memory.

So, there I am at their practice, grinning sillily - now, isn't that a word for you? I should just have said "with a silly grin on my face," but there I was anyway, grinning so much my cheek muscles hurt, and instead of listening or taking notes or being otherwise businesslike, I was trying to figure out how early I'd have to go to the show to get a good seat.

It's going to be a small-town malt shop with tables, booths and stools at a soda fountain. Clark Root, of Fort Dodge, is going to be the soda jerk announcer. Chuck Nerem, of Thor, wrote the script.

This is going to be a show, folks.

If you don't know much about the Barbershoppers, they're very involved in the city. They've sung for fundraisers at the Vincent House, for the Memorial Day service at North Lawn Cemetery, for the Fort Dodge Relay for Life, in churches and nursing homes in Webster City and Fort Dodge and so much more.

What I'm saying is, these guys are always available to support what's going on in Dodge. It's the least we can do to go to Phillips Middle School at 2 or 7 p.m. on April 4 and support them in their 62nd annual show.

I'd say I'll be there with bells on, but I'm thinking the bells might interfere with the real music.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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