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Playing Around

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The America the Beautiful Barbershop Chorus with Storm Front Barbershop Quartet
Benet Hill Center, 2577 N. Chelton Road
Saturday, May 15 at 2:30 and 7 p.m.
$12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, 272-4390
All ages

Like so many other musical traditions native to American soil -- jazz, blues -- barbershop is a style of singing that was likely invented by African-Americans between the mid-19th and early 20th centuries and is now almost exclusively practiced by mature people of pale skin tone. No problem. Though it wasn't necessarily performed in barbershops, barbershop singing was something of a low-rent parlor game meant to fill the dead air in the pre-radio haunts of working-class America. Minstrel shows and vaudeville stages popularized the form that was traditionally intended to be sung in quartets with tenor, lead, baritone and bass parts respectively.

Nowadays, barbershop is an oddly fanatical subculture dedicated to preserving the musical art form with its own competitions, historians, chat rooms and what have you. It is also frequently performed by choruses that divide their members into groups that perform the four traditional parts.

The America the Beautiful Barbershop Chorus is just such a group. Composed entirely of men who wear snazzy white pants and patriotic shirts, TABBC will perform their annual "Grandpa Pete's Attic" show for the whole family on Saturday at the Benet Hill Center. They will be joined by the award-winning, Denver-based barbershop quartet Storm Front.

-- Noel Black

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