From The Vault:

Volume 3 Number 2 – Spring 2023

A NOTE FROM YOUR DISTRICT HISTORIAN

Greetings friends of the Illinois District! I hope you are enjoying some spring weather and getting outdoors again. For those of you who attended Harmony College Midwest in February, it was an awesome event and reminded us why this hobby is so important to us – it’s the singing and camaraderie associated with barbershop!

In this issue, we look back to a trend-setting chorus director, a popular district champion quartet from the 1990s, and honor two international champs – one celebrating their 70th anniversary, and one who gained fame by making a cameo appearance in a Hollywood film! We also remember a special group of siblings who grew up singing barbershop together in the 1950s.

I would like to thank the members of my historical committee, Jim Stahly and Bob Squires, for their contributions to this issue. I would also like to thank Joe Sullivan for his incomparable knowledge of district history to help “fill in the gaps” in my stories. Thanks also goes to Joe Krones, Doug Brooks, Tim McShane, and Dick Kingdon for sharing their memories with me as I compiled information for this issue.

I hope you have a wonderful spring and I look forward to seeing you soon!

Rich Hansen
Illinois District Historian

Jim Moses, Director

Barbershop Icon

Headshot of Jim Moses

(adapted from a archival biography by Jim Stahly)

Jim Moses was born Aug. 4, 1927, at Poplar Bluffs, Mo., the son of Claude and Audrey Moses. Singing was part of Jim’s early life. His parents sang duets in church, and his father sang tenor in an Illinois River riverboat quartet. They had moved to Pekin, Illinois in search of work during the Great Depression. Jim was educated in Pekin Schools, including Washington Junior High and Pekin High School.

Thanks to several teachers who recognized his talent, Jim became involved in music at an early age, both singing and playing the sousaphone. In high school, Jim played his horn in the marching band, led by Drum Major Jim Richards, a retired Society judge and long-time barbershopper. Moses played his sousaphone in Pekin’s Municipal Band and also sang in the high school glee club.

An avid tennis player, Jim and partner Wilson Besant won the Illinois state doubles title in 1945. It was the school’s first state sports title in history. The two enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserves together after graduation that same year. Jim sang in the Blue Jacket Choir (heard on WGN Radio on Sundays) at Glenview Naval Air Station during that 11 months of service.

Jim then enrolled at the University of Illinois in 1946, studying business and music. While there, he took on his first a cappella group when he became director of his Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity chorus. It performed in fraternity competitions and serenaded sororities on campus. Voice teacher Bruce Foote expanded Jim’s ear training, vocal training, and theory. Jim earned his business and music degrees in 1951 and, after receiving a draft notice because of the Korean Conflict, he opted for another 11-month stint in the Navy Reserves.

Jim returned to Pekin in 1952. He was a soloist in the Ed Miller Band, a Pekin dance band and sang in the Pekin Methodist Church choir. Because the choir director was also the organist, Jim offered to lead the choir. He was welcomed, which resulted in a Pekin barbershopper witnessing his ability and informing the Pekin Chorus.

Pekin’s barbershop chapter had formed May 29, 1950, with Harry Langley as director. In 1951, H. Smith Applegate of Peoria became director, and Jim succeeded him in 1955. Jim Moses directed the Pekin Chorus for 20 years, leading them to three gold medals in international chorus competition. The group of about 40 men won in 1959 (Chicago), 1963 (Toronto), and 1968 (Cincinnati), giving Jim the distinction of being the first director in the Society ever to win three gold medals. Jim retired from directing in 1974.

Besides being a chorus director, Jim was also active in quartets. Having joined the Society in 1952, it wasn’t long before Jim replaced the lead of the Kord Kutters quartet. They became the Illinois District Champions in 1953 and placed as high as 10th in International at the 1956 competition in Minneapolis. That was the first of three versions of the Kord Kutters. All three included Jim on lead and Tom Powell on tenor. Stan Sharpe was the first baritone, and Bob Lindley (baritone of The Vikings, ‘53 international champs) sang in two. There were three basses: Paul Sudberry, Stan Sharpe and Bruce Smith.

Jim began working at Caterpillar’s East Peoria plant in methods & procedures, retiring in 1986. Jim met his wife Dorothy at a quartet rehearsal at Tom Powell’s home. Tom’s wife was good friends with Dorothy and invited her to a rehearsal, unbeknownst to Jim. “That was the luckiest day of my life,” says Moses. “Our eyes met, and that was it!” They married on June 10, 1953, and spent their honeymoon at the Society’s Detroit convention! Dorothy had a daughter, Bonnie, whom Jim adopted. They had two sons, Jim and John. Dorothy passed away in 2015.

While not an active barbershopper anymore, Jim was honored by the QCA as their 2016 Music Man recipient. His legacy upon the District and Society is wide reaching, indeed.

Jim’s simple approach to his life and music can be summed up by a lesson he learned from his high school tennis coach – (1) always have a strategy, (2) never cheat, and (3) don’t give up when you get behind, because life and tennis always have their ups and downs.

Well said, Jim.

QCA Spotlight

RENAISSANCE

For this issue, we celebrate our 1995 Illinois District Champions, Renaissance, representing the Springfield, Peoria, and Rock Island Chapters.  The origin of this quartet actually began back in the early 1990s with a chance meeting of four individuals, three of whom just happened to be visiting the Bloomington Sound of Illinois chapter.

One of the visitors at that chapter meeting was Andy Sauder, a barbershopper from the Rock Island Chapter and a member of a recently disbanded quartet called Four in the Morning.  Also visiting that evening were Peoria Chapter members Dennis Reed and Joe Krones, who had sung together in a longtime chapter quartet called Backstage Applause.

During the evening, the three guests found Pat Burghgrave, a member of Bloomington who found himself without a quartet after his foursome, AChordin’ To You, had also recently disbanded.  The guys started singing some tags and immediately recognized the potential for a great new quartet.  They formed Renaissance with Pat on tenor, Dennis on lead, Andy on baritone, and Joe on bass.  They entered the spring contest in 1992, earning a 6th place finish in their first attempt.

Enlisting the aid of veteran barbershopper Joe Sullivan (former lead of The Four Renegades), to be their coach, the group began working harder, and jumped three spots to 3rd place in both the Fall 1992 and Spring 1993 contests.  The group qualified as an alternate and competed at the International convention held in Calgary in 1993.  The quartet achieved a 2nd place finish in the fall of 1994, but shortly afterwards found themselves in need of a new tenor.

Doug Brooks, a past district champ with Four Star Revue (see FTV – Fall 2021 Issue) and director of the Springfield Chapter, was known to the other guys and his Central States District quartet Four From Home (with brother Dave) had recently disbanded.  Doug received a call from Joe asking if he would be interested in singing tenor with Andy, Dennis, and him.  Doug accepted and was a perfect fit for the group.  Having qualified in the Spring 1995 contest, the quartet competed in Miami at the International convention and cracked the top 20, earning 18th place – their highest placement at an International contest.  At the Fall 1995 District convention, the quartet finally took top honors.

Even though the quartet qualified to go to International again in 1996 at Salt Lake City, the group didn’t perform as well.  By this time, job commitments had gotten in the way, and it was decided to call it quits across the quartet.  Their swan set at the Fall 1996 district convention was the last appearance of Renaissance.

Bass Joe Krones fondly remembers this group as a “family-centered” quartet and always appreciated the hospitality shown to the group by Andy and his wife at their home, where the group regularly rehearsed.  He also remembers the fantastic coaching the group received from Joe Sullivan and others, such as George Gipp, in contributing to the success of the quartet. He credits his experiences in Renaissance as an important step in his barbershop journey, which ultimately led him to a gold medal with Old School in 2011.

Although not active with barbershop singing anymore, Andy lives in Morton today and Dennis still calls Peoria home.  However, Doug is active as the current director of the Belleville Chapter while Joe lives in Oklahoma and sings with the Vocal Majority Chorus in Dallas, TX.

Though only together for a few years, this foursome set a high standard for district quartets and we honor our 1995 (once and always) Illinois District Quartet Champions – Renaissance!

“When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along” (1995 International Convention in Miami)

PLAY BALL!

Most Illinois district barbershoppers will remember the 1988 International Champs The Chiefs of Staff, but did you know that this district quartet made a cameo in a Hollywood movie?

In 1991, a Chicago-based independent production company was searching for a barbershop quartet to feature in their upcoming movie about legendary baseball great Babe Ruth entitled, “The Babe.” They reached out to the Chicagoland Association of Barbershop Chapters (CABC) and asked for any recommendations. Recent International champs The Chiefs of Staff were suggested and the casting director was impressed with their audition. The members of the quartet included Tim McShane (tenor), Chuck Sisson (lead), Dick Kingdon (baritone) and Don Bagley (bass).

The quartet was cast as a foursome of Boston businessmen named “The Royal Rooters”, who were a part of a cheering section for the Boston Bean Eaters, a 1914 team of which Babe Ruth was a part. Whenever the Babe hit a home run and ran the bases, the quartet was required to jump up and, using megaphones, sing a song in the stands. Research could not find the original song that was actually sung when the Babe hit a homer, so the group enlisted the help of famed Society arranger Joe Liles. Liles wrote the song, “Here Come The Bostons” that The Chiefs sang in the film. The song was actually recorded in April of ’91 in a Chicago studio. After recording eight different variations of the chart, the director chose the version he wanted to use for the film, and the quartet ended up lip-syncing when filming the actual scene to ensure everything timed out correctly.

Filming for the baseball scenes involving the quartet occurred during the first week of July in 1991 in Danville, IL. A minor league stadium there was repainted and outfitted to resemble Boston’s Fenway Park in the 1910s era.

Surviving quartet members Kingdon and McShane recall what it was like to film that scene. “It was extremely hot,” Kingdon remembers. “We had to wait until late in the day to film our part. We did multiple takes with momentary breaks in between to do make-up touch ups, to ensure there was an acceptable sequence captured for the film. We were on the set every morning around 6:00 a.m. First in the make up room, then on the set, in this case a wooden seat in a baseball stadium. We sat in the stands and watched how the gaffers and crews filmed various baseball game scenes. It was fun to see how things went. They treated us wonderfully.”

McShane recounts that a highlight was meeting the different actors and actresses in the film. The quartet even got a picture with John Goodman, who portrayed Ruth in the film. During one day’s lunch, the quartet also got to visit with actor Bruce Boxleitner and learned that he grew up in Elgin, Illinois and had some shared memories with the guys. The quartet met a few of the others at a cast party in Chicago after filming wrapped up.

The Chiefs received a contracted amount for their part, but were told they would not receive royalties. They did, however, along with Joe Liles, have acting and music credits listed at the conclusion of the film for their contributions. The quartet was also featured on the front cover of the The Harmonizer shortly after the film’s release in 1992.

In 1953, the Illinois District once again boasted of celebrating the International Champs from within its ranks. This time, it was The Vikings, the 1950 district champs from Rock Island who three years later went on to take top barbershop honors.

Our featured artifact this time is one of the actual trophies awarded to the group back in 1953 after performing a set that included the song, “When the Morning Glories Wake Up in the Morning.”

This 70 year-old artifact is in safe keeping in our archives and is a reminder of a time when Illinois was at the top of the pack in terms of barbershop excellence. We salute The Vikings – Bob Maurus (tenor), Bruce Conover (lead), Bob Lindley (baritone) and Bob Livesay (bass) on the 70th anniversary of their International victory.

THE SINGING BROCKS

Barbershoppers far and wide have been impressed to see performances by a family of young folks – Vintage Mix from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Indeed, the fact that the group is made up of quadruplets is even more impressive. However, Illinois can lay claim to a family of young barbershop singers half a century before Vintage Mix was even born – The Singing Brocks.

The Singing Brocks consisted of four siblings from the Chicagoland area. Bob (age 15) sang bass, with Betty (age 14) on tenor, Ruth (age 12) on baritone and Mary (age 7) on lead.

During the 1950s, the group traveled extensively, having performed coast to coast, including Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. The group even sang in Radio City, New York and performed on many California chapter shows in the 1950s. On their way out to California, the quartet recorded a TV show on KSL TV in Salt Lake City, Utah, and even recorded a program in Cedar City. While in California, a representative from CBS Hollywood heard the group and tapped them to do a radio show that also featured Will Rogers, Jr. In 1954, the quartet was asked to sing not only for the International convention held in Washington D.C., but also for a special command performance requested by then President Dwight D. Eisenhower while they were in the capital city.

The Brocks began singing at a young age. Mary, the lead, had been performing on TV and radio shows as young as 3½. The kids were taught and trained by their parents. Their hopes included having another sibling, Susan, taking over for Bob so he could perform with a male quartet and hopefully someday win a championship. The family’s goal was not too far out of reach – for indeed Bob went on to sing with The Impostors and won the 1962 district championship and medaled in International competition in the mid-1960s (See FTV – Spring 2022 Issue).

Next Issue: Coming Summer 2023

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