1986 Participating Groups
In the pantheon of a cappella, The Flips are considered amongst the vanguard of groups that emerged during a cappella’s “new wave” in the mid-1980’s, paving the way for a cappella’s current popularity. Founded by Kevin Carter, Patti Lesser, Kirk Livingston and Shanna Strassberg in 1984, while studying musical theater at San Francisco State University, the group honed their vocal talents singing at keg parties, in stairwells, back alleys… pretty much anywhere anyone would listen. Their unique alchemy of demented humor and gorgeous harmonies quickly turned them into the darlings of the San Francisco/Bay Area and Los Angeles comedy and cabaret scenes.
Billed as “Off-the-Wall A Cappella,” The Flips refused to be categorized. Their theatrical stage shows incorporated skits, monologues, satire and sight gags, sets, props, lighting and sound effects, all woven around their signature four-part harmonies in wide range of musical tastes - from do-wop to new wave, jazz to country, gospel to pop, and even rap.
In 1986, The Flips won the coveted Harmony Sweepstakes and then went on to win back-to-back San Francisco Cabaret Gold Awards for Best Musical Group in 1986 & 1987. Featured on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle's entertainment (Pink) section, and named “Comedy Pick of the Week” by the LA Weekly, the band’s popularity sky-rocketed. As frequent guests on the TV and radio talk show circuits in both Northern and Southern California, some highlights include performing live on NPR’s West Coast Weekend, and as regular guests on Live 105 with Alex Bennett and Lori Thomson..
Although The Flips officially disbanded in 1989, its members continue to sing together in various configurations for special projects… or when begged... or when free cocktails are involved… or, well, pretty much any time they're all together in the same room..
Their album, What's In The Bright Pink Box, was recently reissued and can now be purchased on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and many other online music websites.
Members: Kirk Livingston, Patti Lesser, Shanna Strassberg, Kevin Carter
| A Little Bit of Everything|
A Little Bit of Everything’s talent includes members from the San Francisco, Berkeley, and Marin counties. Specializing in a free-wheeling country style, the group sings and plays for all occasions, even though their focus is on events of a political nature. Transformation Through Musical Regeneration is their motto.
Members: Elllen Stapenhorst, Barbara Saunders, Maria Stark, Sandy Schoenfeld
| Alchemy (86)|
Alchemy’s repertoire reflects their social, political, and spiritual values: their commitment to peace, equality, and the earth as a healing force. Influences as varied as Eastern European fold songs, Renaissance, contemporary classical music, and the works of performers such as Holly near and Sweet Honey in the Rock can be found in the music of Alchemy. In the Summer of 1987, the trio will embark on a peace tour of Eastern Europe and the U.S.S.R. To finance the venture, performances throughout Northern California are being scheduled and the group has released a new cassette tape of their most popular songs.
Members: Sharon Hansen, Cynthia Frank, Jess River
|The Baby Boomers|
Kept together by a common love of Food, Money, and Sex, the Baby Boomers return to the Harmony Sweepstakes. Be sure to see the movie version of their meteoric ries to fame, starring Diane Keaton, at a theatre near you. Prepare to meat your “BOOM-BOOM.”
Members: Catheryn Zaro, Robin Lewis, Laurie Tvedt, Bill Bramblett
| Dotes Sisters|
The delightful “Dotes” feature lots of original, funny tunes as well as some beguiling vocal blends. The Dotes have been seen at Buckley’s Bistro, Big mama’s, The Plush room, Ristorante Vanetsia, and Wolfgang’s. Combining pleasing music and comedic timing, the “dotes” are great entertainers for any occasion!
Members: Annette Altrogge, Stephanie Feyne, Kate O’Neil
| Full Swing|
Full Swing is a vocal jazz quartet comprised of two men and two women performing a variety of jazz-influenced material -- standards, doo wop, contemporary, and Latin music. Original arrangements by Robin Lewis give Full Swing a unique style. Their music is at times humorous, at times sophisticated, and always enjoyable. Backed by guitar, bass, and saxophone, Full Swing presents a sound that is well rounded and appeals to a variety of audiences.
Members: Donna Spitzer, Robin Lewis, Bob La Rosa, Laurie Tvedt
| Girls’ Night Out|
These three sisters-in-song have dazzled audiences for six years. Perennial favorites at such events as the Sausalito Art Festival, they also appear regularly at the Sweetwater in Mill Valley.
Members: Carol Joy Harris, Maggie Catfish, Cici Dawn
| Lip Service|
Lip Service is a semi-professional vocal quartet comprised of two men and two women. Originally formed for the purpose of performing Christmas music for private parties and public holiday events, the group has expanded its musical repertoire to include jazz, swing, pop, contemporary, and classical styles.
Members: Mary Beth Halsing, Grant “Buzz” Halsing, Annette Lindemann, David “Woody” Woodford
| Notes of Interest|
Notes of Interest is a quartet composed of members of the San Francisco Chapter of the Barbershop Society and is proof that this unique American art form is alive and well. They have been together less than a year and are becoming a popular act for private parties, specialty shows, conventions, and tourist attractions, and have competed at various Barbershop competitions.
Members: Rob Gorlin, Alex Aikman, Ron Losk, Tom Shipp
The Teddies got started in February 1985. Since that tie they have been welcomed at The Sweetwater, Uncle Charlie’s, New George’s, The Stone, Last Day Saloon, Beaux Arts Ball at City Hall in San Francisco, the New Varsity Theatre in Palo Alto, and many other Bay Area clubs. Sharing the stage with such greats as Jesse Colin Young, Maria Muldaur, Jerry Garcia, Danny O’Keefe, Donovan, Taj Mahal and the Zasu Pitts Memorial Orchestra, The teddies provide an interesting and delightful performance of unique vocal arrangements, choreography and lighthearted fun.
Members: Ro Rigney, Bonnie Gardner, Susan Snow, Melissa Phillippe
| The Accidentals|
... are no accident this year. We first got together for last year’s Harmony Sweepstakes and had such a good time that we kept at it. We’ve tripled our repertoire and performed fo such Gala events as the Point Reyes Bird observatory’s Oplen House, Bob and Zoe’s weeding, and the annual Bolinas Labor Day Extravaganza. DLave writes our sharp arrangements, Steve’s a natural dentist in lagunitas, and Liz and Susan make tea in no time flat.
Members: Liz Tuomi, Dave Murray, Susan Goldhaber, Steve Boughton
||Julie Nicholas |
Julie Nicholas has been singing, performing and harmonizing since the early 1960s. Starting out in Southern California with a singing foursome she made her way up north to pursue her B.A. at UC Berkeley. Never losing sight of her musical passion, it wasn't long before Julie met Willow Wray and their long history as singing partners began.
After a year of performing together as a duo in coffee houses and local SF Bay Area clubs, Willow and Julie signed on as backup singers with Terry Garthwaite, lead singer for the nationally successful rock band Joy of Cooking. After her tour with the Joy of Cooking in the early 70s, Julie's strong vocal style was noticed by a Jazz/Rock group Small Change and they brought her onboard as a lead vocalist. Small Change featured cutting edge musicians led by guitarist/performance artist Paul Dresher. During this period, in addition to working with Small Change, Julie was a regular vocalist with Dick Oxtot's Golden Age Jazz Band.
It was in the late 70s that Terry Garthwaite introduced Julie and Willow to Sheilah Glover. Their vocal blend and love of harmony was an immediate conduit for a successful partnership. Thus began their 24 year adventure of singing together as Nicholas, Glover & Wray.
In addition to their impeccable vocal blend, Julie's roll in NGW has been invaluable as a major contributor to the harmony arrangements for which NGW has gleaned their reputation. In addition, Julie brings notable talent as a blues stylist. Her gutsy and belting style adds an element of soulfullness to their ensemble work as well as Julie's solo performances.
Julie holds a B.A. Music and M.A. Music from Dominican University of California. She is an Ass't. Professor of voice at Dominican and teaches several classes, of which she designed the curriculum. The courses include: Songs that Built America; Occupational Songs of the Nineteenth Century; Early American Woman through Song (Women and Gender Studies Colloquium), and Bringing Music Into the Classroom (a course for credential candidates). Her most recent course is "Talking Back: The Blues and the Emergence of Black Female Voice."
Gene Puerling is known throughout the world of music for his hghlt distinctive choral arranging. He was the guiding light in two premier jazz vocal groups; The Hi-Lo's and the Singers Unlimited. During his career, he has written arrangements for Linda Ronstadt, Rosemary Clooney, Michael Jackson, Manhatten Transfer, The Ritz, The Vocal Majority and Chanticleer to name a few. Mr. P os also active as a clinician/ejudicator in the educational music field. Many of his arrangements are published by Shawnee Press, Columbia Pictures and Hal Leonard. Among his many commendations are a Grammy Award for his vocal arrangements of "A Nightengale Sang in Berkeley Square" as recorded by the Manhattan Transfer, and 14 Grammy nominations.
||Paul Smith |
Paul Smith received his undergraduate enducation at the Royal College of Musis in London, studied piano with John Lill and Bernard Roberts, and spent an additional year at the Vienna Academy. He graduated with a master's degree from Dominican College, studying piano with Julian White. Paul is the artistic director of Contemporary Opera Marin, which specializes in the production, performance, and commissioning of contemporary operas. He is also the founder and artistic director of the Music From Marin summer festival.
Pamela Polland is an award winning singer/songwriter with 3 albums on Columbia and epic to her credit. Her ever-increasing musical credits reads like a veritable who's who of stars from all points of the music spectrum. Over 25 years in the business, this seasoned industry professional has both performed an recorded with such luminaries as Bonnie Raitt, The Manhattan Transfer, John Denver, Billy Williams, The Vocaholics, Loggins & Messina, Van Morrison, Taj Mahal, Jose Feliciano, Jackson Browne and a host of others. Her songs have been recorded by the likes of Helen Reddy, Linda Ronstat, The Byrds, Wesley Willis, Vicki Carr, Nancy Ames, Bobby Bare and Anita Carter. She has also won numerous songwriting awards including an ASCAP award and a coveted gold record. Since 1980, Pamela has enjoyed success as one of the most sought after vocal and performance coaches in the Bay Area. Her Learn-to-Sing video "VOCALEASE" has been received with overwhelming raves.
Complete list of 1986 participants
Interested in Performing?
We are always seeking groups who would like to participate
in our events.
Groups of any style are welcome, but you must have between
3 and 8 members. We have a rule book which explains many of the
details of the event, which you can see by clicking here. All groups must audition in
order to compete. Generally this is done by sending a current tape
and photo, although live auditions are sometimes arranged. The
purpose of the audition is to make sure the group is appropriate for
the Festival and to help the Director determine the performance
order. If a group has competed previously, the audition process may
How to enter
Please send music and photos to the
regional director :
John Neal (Bay Area)
Beginning as a local event the Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival, under Neal’s guidance, has grown to become the most significant live showcase for a cappella music in the nation and attracts hundreds of groups and thousands of audience members every year. The Harmony Sweepstakes was the original inspiration for the NBC prime time series The Sing-Off and Neal was hired as a consultant to the series. Neal is president of Primarily A Cappella - (www.singers.com) which is the nation’s leading vendor of a cappella music including recordings, arrangements, DVDs, songbooks and instructional material for singers. Neal writes the informative blog at www.acappellanews.com which has a large and loyal readership.
PO Box D, San Anselmo, CA 94979
festival (at) harmony-sweepstakes.com