Monday, December 14, 2009

First Round Results Are In!

The results from the first round have been tabulated. With almost 1700 votes scored we are now down to the final four songs. Those songs are:
Waiting For The Robert E. Lee (Vocal Majority)           237     53%
Love Me And The World Is Mine (Masters of Harmony)     202     46%

Strike Up The Band Medley (Westminster)                   238     58%
Here Comes The Showboat (Masters of Harmony)             168     41%

Brother, Can You Spare A Dime (Toronto Northern Lights)     320     83%
Just A Baby's Prayer At Twilight (The New Tradition)                        63     16%

Seveny-six Trombones (Ambassadors of Harmony)                  395     84%
Song For The Little Guy (Toronto Northern Lights)                           70     15%
You can view the final scores below. The semi-final round has begun and you have until Monday, December 21st to cast your vote.
Please encourage other barbershoppers to vote. The winning chorus and arranger will receive a handsome trophy from YouBarbershop!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Best Chorus Song Ever!

December 1, 2009 -- For the past fifty years, the Barbershop Harmony Society's International chorus competition has displayed countless performances that we would consider monumental in the influence towards the artistic direction of our art form. Some of these songs helped choruses earn the title "International Champion" while others broadened our creativity to help bring more diversity to the contest stage. YouBarbershop has set out to decide which song has had the largest impact on our barbershop culture. There are dozens of performances that could be considered influential in our art form so YouBarbershop has decided to narrow the list of songs to just eight. However, you will have a voice in the final selection!

Here are your eight nominated songs:

Seventy-six Trombones- Ambassadors of Harmony (2009-1st) Taking down the thirty year reigning champion Vocal Majority is no easy task to accomplish. However, the Ambassadors of Harmony armed themselves with a spectacular uptune, showcasing over a hundred musical instruments, tear away uniforms, an International quartet champion cameo (Vocal Spectrum) and some clean singing to boot! Earlier in the day, the Vocal Majority had received the highest score ever given in a barbershop competition.  A few hours later the Ambassadors broke the new record and it took three 100 scores in the Presentation category and another 100 score in Singing to do it!

Strike Up The Band- Westminster (2007-1st) Having come in second place to the Vocal Majority the previous year everyone was expecting something special from the youthful Westminster chorus. The reward to the audience was an energetic performance beginning with the intro when the chorus members formed into a giant "W." However, one of the coolest moments was when the chorus simulated a twenty second drumline stomp using their hands and feet. The audience was enthralled by this unique performance. However, the judges did penalize the rhythmic beat for being too long without singing and almost cost them the contest. Tying for first place with the Ambassadors of Harmony, Westminster edged them out in the Singing category. Their win has aided in the youth movement with more and more chapters forming across our Society.

Song For The Little Guy- Toronto Northern Lights (2003-2nd) Toronto Northern Lights came on the scene back in 2000 as one of the successful small chorus clones to the Louisville Times. With only 46 men on stage, TNL was competing against choruses well over a hundred men and multiple gold medal championships. In Montreal, TNL competed against the Vocal Majority and decided this year to have some fun with the premise that "size doesn't matter." With clever lyrics and a fantastic arrangement by David Wright, TNL entertained the audience with humor and A+ singing. One of the funniest gags was when a twenty foot giant peeks his head over the riser shell and later gets taken down by David with a small pebble. Other "small in size" gags included making fun of Gas House Gang, goldfish starring at Sea World and Canada being "the leader of the free world." TNL proved comedians can make people both laugh and be blown away by quality singing at the same time.

Here Comes The Showboat- Masters of Harmony (2002-1st) Having dealt with three director changes within a six year period, barbershoppers were not sure what to expect from the three time International Champions. What the MOH gave was perhaps one of the most complete performances on a contest stage with their rendition of "Here Comes The Showboat." The song opened with a story about the "vessels of dreams" that brought shows and performers to your town. Once the boat arrives on shore the chorus breaks into the actual show that includes banjo players, jugglers, dancers and hand-bone performers. But the biggest surprise came when a quartet (International champion Nightlife) stepped out front and sang a couple bars without the chorus. This is the first time a quartet has ever competed in a chorus competition! Immediately following the quartet was the chorus singing a loud and impactful "EVERYBODY HARMONIZE!" which just knocked you out of your seat. The tag ended with the chorus mimicking a giant paddlewheel. A complete set from beginning to end, "Showboat" helped to stabilized everyone's opinions that the MOH would continue to bring musical excellence to our contest stages.

Brother, Can You Spare A Dime- Toronto Northern Lights (2001-2nd) In 2001, Toronto Northern Lights took theatrics and character study to a whole new level when they performed "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?" It wasn't just the polished, musical execution that helped them earn their first silver medal, but the emotional impact between audience and performer that raised the bar of musical excellence on the International stage. In order to achieve that emotional believability, the chorus members were asked by its leadership to dress down and go out on the streets of Toronto to beg for money. The rule was they were not allowed to stop begging until someone literally gives them a dime. Many chorus members were surprised how difficult it was to receive just one dime from a stranger. One member in particular decided he would try and beg for enough money to feed his baby. It took him all day to finally raise six dollars so he could buy formula for his child. The members saved their dimes and had them pinned inside their costumes as a reminder of their efforts.

Love Me And The World Is Mine- Masters of Harmony (1996-1st) Coming off two successive wins in 1990 and 1993, the Masters of Harmony still felt they had something to prove within the barbershop world. Their first win in 1990 resulted in a tie with the Louisville Thoroughbreds which was broken in the Sound Category by a mere six points. In 1993, they beat the emotional soldier performance of The New Tradition Chorus by 29 points, however many felt it could have gone either way. Between 1993 and 1996 the MOH worked hard at raising the talent level as well as higher musical expectations from its membership. There was also a lot of talk behind the scenes that this could be Dr. Greg Lyne's last competition as the musical director of the Masters. The song "Love Me And The World Is Mine" was arranged by David Wright and was the epitome of "power ballads." Rallying the troops was not a difficult task and the focus at rehearsals was intense. However the hard work paid off. Earlier in the competition, TNT had an electric performance doing the Toy Soldiers package which many believed would be unbeatable. When the curtained opened and the MOH sang the intro to the ballad, the contest was already over. Members of TNT commented, "When the Masters sang their first line "I wander on as in a dream..." their sound was so full, clean and musical we knew they had won." The ballad became one of the highest scoring songs ever in International competition and solidified a third championship for the Masters of Harmony. A month later Dr. Lyne did indeed step down as director of the chorus.

Just A Baby's Prayer At Twilight- The New Tradition (1993-2nd) Between 1988 and 1992 The New Tradition had been floating anywhere from 3rd to 5th place in the International competitions. While their musical quality was good they had yet to break into the level of "elite chorus." Not until 1993 when they first introduced their Soldier's package in Calgary, Alberta. The first song was a hair-raising arrangement of "There's Something About A Soldier" with waving flags, trumpets and precision stage presence. The biggest surprise came when the front row turned into a drill rifle unit, spinning and tossing their rifles into the air with perfect execution. Having grabbed the audience's attention with this impactful uptune, the chorus suddenly switched gears by introducing a little boy who walked onstage to greet his father. The father takes a moment to speak with his son, gives him a hug then walks offstage, presumably to fight in a war. The son then gets down on his knees and prays as the chorus sings "Just A Baby's Prayer At Twilight." During the song the boy plays soldier and imitates his dad marching and aiming his rifle "longing to be a man." The emotion is raised when a lone soldier comes out to meet the boy. The boy runs to the man thinking it's his father, however is surprised to see that it's a stranger who is holding a folded American flag in his hands. The soldier presents the flag to the boy and salutes him with the most powerful stare I have ever seen. The boy cries for a moment, composes himself and at the end of the song stands tall and slowly raising his hand in a salute to his father. This set was the beginning of many theatrical performances TNT would bring to the contest stage.

Waiting For The Robert E. Lee- The Vocal Majority (1988-1st) Many would consider this song to be the birth of the "power uptune" in barbershop competitions. At the International Convention in San Antonio, TX, the Society was celebrating its 50th Anniversary. It was also finishing out the second year of an experimental exercise in what was called the Super Finals of chorus competition. Attempting to mimic the Sweet Adeline competition format, the Society created a finals round which allowed the top six choruses from the semifinals to compete again on Saturday evening. The year prior, the West Towns Chorus put the new format to the test by winning the International competition but never placing higher than second in both rounds. The Vocal Majority was expected to romp through the competitions, however a stubborn opponent in the Louisville Thoroughbreds thought differently about handing this contest to the VM. After the first round there was only a ten point spread between the two choruses. Disappointed in their performance, rumor has it VM director Jim Clancy called a late night rehearsal which lasted FIVE hours! The work paid off as the Vocal Majority slammed the competition with "Girl of My Dreams" and "Robert E. Lee." The apex of the uptune was when the chorus did a slow motion wave that oozed energy and creativity. With a driving tag, the chorus nailed the coffin door shut and won their fifth International championship. The uptune also paid dividends to its arranger. After this performance, David Wright became a household name in the barbershop world. Over twenty years later Robert E. Lee still holds itself up to current day competitions and the arrangement is virtually never performed by other music groups. Why fool around with perfection?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

YouBarbershop is Officially OPEN!

Hey folks, The 5th Wheel is proud to announce that our mother ship, YouBarbershop has officially opened its doors to the public. We feel a lot like Walt Disney on the first day of Disneyland's grand opening. The cement's still wet, the rides are breaking down and everyone is nervous with anticipation.
We do have lofty goals and expectations of YouBarbershop and it's future. We feel like the parents that Robin Williams once described: "You look at your kids and dream one day they might be standing at the podium, taking the oath as President of the United States. You then have that other vision where your kids are asking a man, 'You want fries with that?"
That's a bit how we feel. We want this baby to work and become something special. Just realize that in the first few weeks we're still walking with assistance. However, we'll be bringing in consistent stories and content throughout the week, so keep the faith and hopefully you can help support our endeavor. This site is for the fan in mind because it's designed by fans. If you have any comments to share, please email us at
In the meantime, go to and check us out!

Monday, February 2, 2009

OC Times in SPIN Magazine

Check out this article from SPIN Magazine on OC Times and their effect on the culture of barbershop quartet singing.

Look Inside >>
February 2009

Saturday, January 31, 2009

YouBarbershop: Welcome Podcast will be launching in just a couple days! We're very excited, working feverishly to get it ready for its grand opening. Yikes! In the meantime, feel free to download the first "official" Podcast from YouBarbershop, or what we like to call -- YouCast.

The first YouCast is a meet and greet describing the features available to you on YouBarbershop.

To download the YouCast, Click here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

YouBarbershop Soon To Launch!

Hey everyone, just a few more days until the launch of YouBarbershop. Just trying to work out the kinks and the little issues before we open it to the public. We've had to make some "special modifications" (Thanks to Han Solo) but it will be up and running real soon.
We hope you enjoy what it has to offer. We ask you give it time to mature and find its personality. Your involvement will be greatly appreciated. The whole point to the site is to have a place where you can get all your barbershop news and information, plus a whole lot more.
Don't worry, The 5th Wheel will be integrated into YouBarbershop. There will be a special page devoted to satirical humor as it relates to barbershop. We owe The 5th Wheel a huge amount of gratitude because without it YouBarbershop would never have come into existence.
In the meantime, if you're at Mid-Winter have a great time and enjoy the show, particularly the Youth Chorus Festival. That should be awesome!
Mike McGee
Founder/Creator/CEO/Bwana- The 5th Wheel and YouBarbershop

Monday, January 26, 2009

Barbershoppers Named As BALCO Clients

The 5th Wheel confirmed a report has been released by the USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) naming members of the Barbershop Harmony Society who have received muscle enhancing drugs from BALCO (Bay Area Lab Co-Operative).

In 2006, the USADA began investigating International gold medalist Tim Waurick after receiving an annonymous phone call from another member of the Society accusing Waurick of using the steroid tetrahydrogestrinone, a.k.a "The Clear", an anabolic steroid that aids in the growth of muscle tissue. The accuser whose identity was not released, however his voice sounds a lot like Sylvester Stallone, protested that in the 2006 International Competition Waurick's use of The Clear gave his quartet Vocal Spectrum an added benefit in beating second place finalist MaxQ. The 5th Wheel contacted Waurick who neither confirmed nor denied the use of The Clear. However, he did point out that he recently posted a note for one minute and five seconds.

Waurick is not the only member of the B.H.S. to be named in the report. Other barbershoppers include Tony DeRosa (Member of Keepsake, Platinum and MaxQ), Joe Hunter (Four Under Par and Reveille) and Todd Kidder (Kidder & Sons Inc, Freestyle and VocalEase). The 5th Wheel has tried to contact the Society Headquarters for an interview, however they haven't returned our phone calls.

The 5th Wheel has noticed over the past decade that more and more quartets find it necessary to post long tags in order to win contests. Whether it's due to drug enhancements or that judges reward quartets for posting long notes remains to be seen.

Other famous atheletes who have been named as clients to BALCO include Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Marion Jones and C.J. Hunter.

Saturday, December 20, 2008 Trailer

Check out the trailer for our new website that launches in January, 2009. The 5th Wheel will officially merge with youBarbershop.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Excuse Our Dust: New Website Coming Soon!

Hi there folks! Just wanted to give you a quick update on The 5th Wheel. As we mentioned previously, The 5th Wheel is expanding into a much larger monster, er... website that will cover so much more barbershop news and media that was previously allowed. We have our sights set on having the doors open by January. We haven't given up on you or decided to take a break. The new website is taking up all our time, that way we can start off with a bang. So, enjoy your holidays, eat lots of chocolate, open presents, sing Christmas carols, and within a few weeks we hope to have something very special for you to visit while you waste time at work.
Merry Christmas!
The 5th Wheel