1st Annual

Bay Area Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival, acapella singing competition, san francisco

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The Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival is the premier American showcase for vocal harmony music. The annual national competition draws from hundreds of vocal groups from around the country with regional competitions in eight cities. The winning group from each festival is flown to perform in front of celebrity judges and a sold out house of enthusiastic a cappella fans at the National Finals.

1985 Bay Area Champions

Just Friends

Just Friends- a jazz octet based in San Jose, CA - 1981-1986 - playing jazz and some Motown classics in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Darryl Rowe has been a presence in the San Francisco Bay Area Jazz scene for two decades. In 1992 the "Darryl Rowe Trio" was featured at the Monterrey Jazz Festival. He has appeared at Keystone Korner, The De Anza Hotel, Yoshi's, and the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. He has worked with Woody Herman, Dexter Gordon, Sergio Mendez, Bobby McFerrin, and Patrice Rushen.

1985 Results

Just Friends

1985 Participating Groups

Bobby Banlon and The Four Trels
Jim "Bobby" Oven, a local boy from NYC, has been working as an actor/singer only until he can find full time work at what he really loves: BARTENDING! John "Bobby" Elke, the seventh child of a poor sharecropper family in Detroit, he has moved from town to town until he finally found where he wanted to be: in the 50's and 60's (he has been there ever since). David "Bobby" Musser, born on the steps of the Washington Capital, has been performing since he was knee—high to the reflecting pool. His favorite corner is the Capital Circle. Johnathan "Bobby" Zeichner got his start singing in Chicago where he retired immediately from three to five years. His career has included appearances at Cook County, Folsom, and, during the 60s, a brief stay at Leavenworth. Members: John "Bobby" Elke, David "Bobby" Musser, Jim "Bobby" Owen, Johnathan "Bobby" Ziechner

Conrad’s Group
This quartet of aspiring vocal performers met through the Mayflower Inne and composer/pianist Conrad Williams. Coached and accompanied by Conrad while singing his arrangements as well as other original music, the four are appropriately called "Conrad's Group". The group is focusing on exploring new teaching methods and new approaches to rhythmic concepts tailored for individual voices. Other than a wedding or vac, and individual engagements, this is the group's first public appearance.Members: Pat Burns, Wendy Fontana, Pamela Borne, Donna Rail

Cyderman’s Fancy
Moving with facility from a capella drinking songs to French-Canadian fiddle tunes: Cyderman's Fancy has performed all over California. Jeni Beilharz sings tenor (believe it or not) and plays Celtic harp, fretted dulcimer and percussion; she is the group's chief researcher and writes most of the vocal arrangements. Jon plays fiddle, mandocello, mandolin and Anglo concertina, and has been known to switch from one to another in the middle of a verse. He sings bass, which is physiologically possible only because everyone else in the group is female! Morgan is living proof of the saying "scratch a folkie and you'll find a rock—and—roller". A veteran rock bass player, she also has extensive background in early and English folk dance music. In addition to electric bass, Morgan plays mandolin, Anglo concertina, guitars and woodwinds, and sings soprano.Members: Jeni Beilharz, S.R. lnrgan, Jon Berger

This quartet of classically trained singers sprung from the San Francisco Symphony chorus to perform at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Novato. Between individual engagements with the Marin, San Francisco and other opera companies, Dolce has appeared at the Faire, private parties and weddings since 1983. At Christmas time they compliment their Renaissance repertoire with traditional carols and Dickens costumes and are in great demandl The current four members of the group have been together since March, and keeping their attention on a polished and tight a capella sound, are beginning to expand into Jazz and other styles of music. Members: Debbie Hahn, Ava Cudworth, Jim Taylor, Curt Feichtmeir

Just Friends
Just Friends- a jazz octet based in San Jose, CA - 1981-1986 - playing jazz and some Motown classics in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Darryl Rowe has been a presence in the San Francisco Bay Area Jazz scene for two decades. In 1992 the "Darryl Rowe Trio" was featured at the Monterrey Jazz Festival. He has appeared at Keystone Korner, The De Anza Hotel, Yoshi's, and the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. He has worked with Woody Herman, Dexter Gordon, Sergio Mendez, Bobby McFerrin, and Patrice Rushen.Members: Darryl Rowe, Peggie Calame, Laura Rosvold, Loren Dummett

Lighthouse Octet
The Lighthouse Octet is an off-shoot of the Lighthouse Singers gospel choir. The choir is best known throughout the Bay Area for their spirited presentation of contemporary black gospel music and their community service. This year they were awarded the Best Community Choir as well as Best Performance of the Evening at the Bay Area Gospel Academy Awards. The Lighthouse Singers made an outstanding appearance at last years’ Gospel Music Workshop of America in Atlanta, GA, receiving national acclaim and network news coverage. Members: Carolyn Gauthier, Christina Rosenbaum, Bill Bramblett, Chuck Tuminia, Lynn Ray, Cathy Less, Michael Morf, Jack Reed

Men Of Pause
All of the members of the Men of Pause are also members of the Mayflower Community Chorus which performed its’ annual concert here at Forest Meadows in early July. The Men of Pause, a newly formed group, got together two weeks after this concert. Larry Vargo, founder of the Men Of Pause, explains in his twofold philosophy which inspired the group's curious name, "In music, the pauses are at least as important to the whole product as the notes themselves. And in life, pauses are important too, especially if you get tired a lot." Anyone wishing to hire the Men Of Pause should get in touch with them at least 12 hours before performance time so they can have time to rehearse!Members: Larry Zee, Tom Wagner, Kevin Brooks, Bill Mallouk, Larry Vargo

Pisarzzyk, Grisman and Schweig
This trio has performed together, mainly in the West Marin area, over the past six years. Their repertoire ranges from Mountain Spirituals to 40‘s Swing, and features original songs by Harmony Grisman. Members: Carole Pisarczyk, Harmony Grisma, Tara Schweig

Pointless Sisters
In the beginning, there was the Mayflower Community Chorus. Then, in the seventh year, the Pointless Sisters were born. Sharing a love for singing, these ladies have a repertoire of songs from the 20's to the 80's. The "Sisters" have been together for nine months and have been sighted in Fairfax, Sausalito and most frequently at the Mayflower Inne in San Rafael. Already infamous for their rousing rendition of ‘Chiquita Banana“, the Pointless Sisters are accompanied by Ruth Bunnell — when not singing a capella!Members: Joan Brown, Mary Gwynn, Mary Hughes, Joyce Comach, Ruth Bunnell, Karen Current, Jackie Rivero, Barbara Dudley

Sister Haze
Known as "Sonoma County's Singing Sweethearts", ‘Sister Haze" are best known for their renditions of 40's swing material. More recently they have added modern, dance and original music to their repertoire, all being compiled for their first album. The sisters made their debut on the San Francisco Bay aboard the Royal Prince. Since that time they have performed in clubs, for both public and private functions, as well as making several television appearances. They hope to start performing more in the Marin/San Francisco area, and after their double—ovation performance at the Fairfax Festival last month, will probably get their wish! Members: Heather Hayes, Beth Hayes, Valerie Hayes

The Slips
Donita was born vocalizing, and wishes to be identified as the youngest member of the trio and the only mother. She presently sings with the Mayflower Chorus, and hum while she gardens. Marcia was born harnnnizing and wishes she could make a living at it. Instead, she is a manber of the Marin Chamber Singers, and has her own nutrition consulting business (Apple-A-Day). Catheryn, on the other hand, was born screaming, but quickly settled into youthful musicology. She is a free-lance guitarist and vocalist in the Bay Area, and producer of the 1984-85 Contemporary Music Series at the Marin Community Playhouse.Members: Donita Bishop, Marcia Church, Catheryn Zaro

The Teddies
The Teddies began when four close friends decided to work out a few songs and sing at an open mike for fun, where they were received with great response! Melissa Phillippe, who has been singing for over 15 years as a soloist and in groups, is now performing locally as well as teaching voice and piano. Ro Rigney, born into Gospel music, weaned on Classical and raised on everything else, has been performing around the Bay Area as a soloist and with groups. She is currently working at "On Stage Music" in San Rafael. Susan Snow, a professional singer, dancer and actress for 18 years, is now focusing her talents on teaching, composition and performing with the Teddies. Bonnie Gardner is an accomplished singer and actress with a strong background in musical comedy and is currently singing with various local groups in the Jazz, Pop and R&B genre. Favorite Teddie—type material is Gospel, Motown, Original and Pop.Members: Ro Rigney, Susan Snow, Bonnie Gardner, Melissa Phillippe

1985 Judges

Ernie Mansfield   

Ernie Mansfield studied flute, sax, piano, and music composition at Interlochen Arts Academy, Oberlin Conservatory, University of Illinois, and University of the State of New York. At age 21, he emigrated to France with the progressive folk group “Mormos”, where he wrote a share of the band’s material.

Returning to the Midwest United States, he continued to compose for bands, orchestras, and other ensembles. Eventually, he moved west to settle in the San Francisco area, which is now his home. His credits include albums, soundtracks, children’s music, commercials, music for educational software, orchestral works, and works for dance theatre. He has received grants from Meet the Composer, California Arts Council, and National Endowment for the Arts. Two albums: “Windsailor” and “ColorDrops”—featuring his own tangential jazz group—were released by Catero Records.

Ernie Mansfield is a classically trained musician, with experience in pop, rock, and jazz. He also plays the EWI, an electronic wind synthesizer, as well as woodwinds and keyboard.

He has performed and/or recorded with many artists, including: Dan Fogelberg, François Beranger (France), Joan Bibiloni (Spain), and Glen Cronkhite (ECM, Reunion Blues).

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.

Gene Puerling   

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.

Complete list of 1985 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 12 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 be waived.

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

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