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Barbershop quartet focuses on harmony

To help pay for outfits, sheet music and other expenses, The Shamrocks, a local barbershop quartet, has teamed with Petal Pushers Flowers to offer a romantic Valentines Day gift. From left, Joe Wingard, Joel Johnson, Casey Willis and David Hogue.

To help pay for outfits, sheet music and other expenses, The Shamrocks, a local barbershop quartet, has teamed with Petal Pushers Flowers to offer a romantic Valentines Day gift. From left, Joe Wingard, Joel Johnson, Casey Willis and David Hogue.

ALBANY, Ga. -- Back in the days before TV, cars or movies -- when two bits would buy a shave and a haircut -- guys would sometimes hang around local barbershops to enjoy each other's company. Sometimes they even sang together without the benefit of instruments.

Today, four local men continue a part of that tradition with their barbershop quartet The Shamrocks.

While neither Shamrock expected to win the "American Idol" competition, the four -- USMC Cpl. Casey Willis, who sings bass; retired Marine Col. Joe Wingard, tenor; David Hogue, baritone and Joel Johnson, lead or melody vocals -- have at least come up with some ways to pay for outfits, sheet music and related professional expenses.

February is the month for lovers and the group has partnered with Petal Pushers Flowers at 1008 West Third Ave. to create the perfect old-style romantic singing valentine, said Ron Acton, unofficial spokesman for The Shamrocks and a member of the larger Southwest Georgia Harmonics, a barbershop chorus group. Decked in their finest red cummerbunds and bow ties, the four gentlemen from days gone by unlimber their a cappella harmonies and more.

"We'll deliver to your valentine three roses in a bud vase, a small bag of candy and a barbershop serenade for $55," Acton said.

Performing at the Dougherty County Kiwanis Club Monday, The Shamrocks crooned true golden oldies including "Heart of My Heart," "Little Liza Medley," "Georgia On My Mind" and "Shine On Me."

According to Hogue, The Shamrocks were started four years ago by the late Charles Luttrell at St. Patrick's Episcopal Church in Albany. Until his death, Luttrell directed the group and sang bass vocals.

"He was the choir director, and one day (Luttrell) just got us back in a room and we did some barbershop," Hogue said. "We just sang a piece and that was all it took. That was it. You could hear that blend right there with us four. We did that a few more times and decided to call ourselves The Shamrocks."

Members of the group agree that barbershop is not for everyone or for every location. They try to check out their audience before setting up their shows.

"We sang at a wine-and-cheese event one time," Wingard said, "and lo and behold the wine had been freely distributed and the people were all just really talking. You can't even hear yourself, so it doesn't work that well in that environment.

"We sang at the Moose Lodge, too, and it wasn't really conducive to nice harmony. The first song wasn't so bad, and then they started getting a little louder. You have to almost strain your voice."

For information on The Shamrocks' singing valentine or for upcoming performances, call Acton at (229) 888-8122.

Comments

oldster 1 year, 6 months ago

Once you hear Barbershop harmony and hear those chords ring you will be hooked. I have loved Barbershop harmony since I first heard it way back in 1961, and I thank people like the Shamrocks for presenting and preserving this unique form harmony that was born in America, to us for our enjoyment. The family that sings together lives in harmony.

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