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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.

1988 Bay Area Champions


Finess'e is a SF based group formed in November of 1985. Since then they've been delighting audiences statewide in such clubs as the Sweetwater, New George's, Offpaza, Waterloo and Rathskellar's in Las Vegas. Their range of music is unlimited (R&B, gospel, jazz and classical) which makes them available for any and all occasions. Special award winners in Harmony Sweeps '87, they have recorded in Las Vegas and worked with Maxine Howard.

1988 Results

1988 Participating Groups

The EDLOS, you might ask? Four guys who sing without instrumental accompaniment... A Cappella. What's with the name? The story they tell is that the name is an acronym for Excessive Decibel Levels from Outer Space and that they're refugees from the planet "A" which circles the star Capella in the constellation Auriga. The story goes on, but let's cut to reality here for a minute. These four classically trained guys; Eric, Larry, Ed, and Craig were destined to take their schooling, talent, and juicy voices into the 21st century, always breaking new ground in their never ending pursuit of A Cappella diversity and originality. Speaking of diversity, the EDLOS have three shows to offer. Their critically acclaimed Popourri Show, which consistently draws standing ovations, is made up of eclectic originals and familiar favorites.

Members: Bill Davis, Larry Venza, Eric Morris, Ed Cohn
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Finess'e is a SF based group formed in November of 1985. Since then they've been delighting audiences statewide in such clubs as the Sweetwater, New George's, Offpaza, Waterloo and Rathskellar's in Las Vegas. Their range of music is unlimited (R&B, gospel, jazz and classical) which makes them available for any and all occasions. Special award winners in Harmony Sweeps '87, they have recorded in Las Vegas and worked with Maxine Howard.

Members: Greg McDowell, Bill Hopkins, Terry Baxter, Don Dorsey, Jimmy "Jam" Smith
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Savvy, is a vocal jazz trio characterized by complex harmonies and tight rhythmic ensembles. After enjoying solo careers in jazz, poop and opera the three singers came together in '85 to rehearse under the direction of pianist/arranger Randal Collen and have been pleasing audiences with original arrangements of Motown, Bebop and get-down rhythm and blues ever since! Savvy is jazzy. Savvy's got…savvy!

Members: Fran Carbonaro, Pablo Rodriguez, Bonnie Brooks
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Attitude is a trio of very fine voices that first got together as the trio in the Novato Community Players highly acclaimed production of "Little Shop of Horrors" in 1988.

Members: Kayla Gold, Julie Johnston, Laurie Jones
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The Baby Boomers
Bound by bouncy bass lines the Baby Boomers invite you to join them in celebrating “Head Over Heals In Love”. Take a walk on the wild side where creatures cry “Boom Boom Boom”.

Members: Billy Bramblett, Carol Joy Harris, Donna Turner, Bonnie Whatley
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The Five Options
The Five Opinions have been together since January '87, and share approximately 30 years of barbershop harmony experience between them. Their peers and audiences alike revere special award winners in the 1986 and 1987 Harmony Sweepstakes competitions, their vocal blend and musical technique.

Members: Al Zemsky, Ron Gorlin, Charles Feltman, Ron Losk
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The Five Spots
Chosen the best amateur group of 1987, the Five Spots spent 1988 entertaining at private parties, weddings, clubs and teamed up with comedian and morning disc jockey Marty Cohen (104.5 KFOG, 6-10 AM).

Members: Bryan Dyer, Paul Mackey, Patrick Walsh, Jeff Phillips, Matt Callahan
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Winners of the 1987 Bay Area Regional Audience Favorite award as well as the runners-up to the champs.

Members: Wayne Dixon, Jacques Pryor, Anne Stone, Malathy Krishnamurthy
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The Accidentals
Special award winners in 1986 and 1987, considered one of the most consistent and respected vocal jazz quartets in Marin County, the Accidentals have achieved a beautiful blend of sophisticated voices and arrangements.

Members: Susan Goldhaber, Dave Mueeay, Liz Tuomi, Steve Boughton
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What Four
"What Four" described themselves as "a frustrated, rag-tag group of misfits that love to yell in each others faces". Phil, Jason and Joe are previous members of the "Phil Mattson and the PM Singers" vocal group. They have all done "jingle after jingle" in the bay area and joined forces to experience some challenging harmony!

Members: Jason Smith, Phil Schroeder, Joe Finetti, Doug Boyd
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1988 Judges

Bill Collins   

Bill Collins has been a successful singer, actor, writer and producer for over 25 years. A regular at the Hungry I and Purple Onion in SF, Mr. Collins studied at the SF Conservatory of Music and has performed and recorded with a number of groups including the Talleymen (Infinity Records), Country Joe (Infinity Records), Walt Brown (Warner Bros.) and Heavy Traffic (Infinity Records). A member of SAG and AFTRA, his many voices can be heard in hundreds of commercials and films including George Lucas's "Willow" and Francis Ford Coppola's "Tucker". An award winning writer and producer of commercials and industrial shows, Mr. Collins also teaches on-camera and voice over classes for World Wide Talent and the Standard School.

Raz Kennedy   

In the realms of vocal performance and singing instruction, Raz Kennedy has created a legacy for over 40 years that rivals the music industry’s finest. Acknowledged as “the premiere vocal coach in the Bay Area” by Narada Michael Walden (multi-platinum Grammy and Emmy winning producer and musician)his eclectic performance credits include serving as a founding member of the internationally acclaimed Bobby McFerrin’s Voicestra and performing as a background vocalist on recordings for many legendary artists, including Whitney Houston and Al Jarreau, as well as on stage for Sting, Rebeca Mauleon, and Mickey Hart.

His depth of knowledge and expertise has positioned Raz to instruct a diverse roster of musical luminaries, from members of Metallica, to Adam Duritz of Counting Crows, Hilary Duff, Davey Havok of AFI, members of Los Tigres Del Norte, Tiffany Austin, the late Clarence Clemons from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, and many more.

In addition to his thriving private practice, Raz is an active faculty member at Blue Bear School of Music in San Francisco, one of the Bay Area’s most prestigious music study institutes. Throughout his career, Raz has served as a guest instructor at SF Jazz Center, Jazz Camp West, Stanford Jazz, GRAMMY in the Schools, The Pacific Voice and Speech Conference, East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, West Coast Songwriters, Ruth Asawa San Francisco School for the Arts (SOTA), California Jazz Conservatory and various music education programs in Latin America and Europe.

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.

Ro Rigney   

Ro Rigney is a past winner of the Harmony Sweepstakes special award for best original arrangement. A versatile musician. Miss Rigney has studied jazz, pop and classical singing and has performed with such artists as saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, Windham Hill recording artist kit walker, and saxophonist jiro inagaki. In addition to performing, Miss Rigney is an accomplished songwriter and vocal arranger. She writes commercially orientated songs and has been awarded as writer and vocal arranger for the Teddies, a highly acclaimed female a cappella quartet who have shared the bill with Maria Muldaur, Jesse Colin Young, Donovan, Jerry Garcia, Danny O'Keefe and Taj Mahal.

Complete list of 1988 participants

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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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