HOA 'radio superstars,' Fleet Street, Home play to full house

Type of post: Chorus news item
Sub-type: No sub-type
Posted By: John Braden
Status: Current
Date Posted: Mon, Apr 8 2024
By John Braden
President Mike Schumacher opened the City House doors early to the Heart of America Barbershop Chorus annual show, yielding to the crowd that packed the lobby. The "WHOA All Stars Super Hit Survey" played to a full house at the 400-seat venue April 6, 2024, in Independence.

HOA performed a "live radio" Top 40 hits show featuring locally famous former WHB radio disk jockey "J. Walter Beethoven" -- real life chorus member Wally Thornton, who came out of retirement to bring on the hit songs.

Topping off the show were Sweet Adelines comedy quartet 4's Company; the debut of a brand new quartet of Kansas City past champs, Home, and 2018 Central States District Barbershop quartet champion Fleet Street.

"I am extremely proud of the HOA Chorus as a whole because everyone pushed the bar and made us all better," Schumacher said. "I know the audience really liked the songs the chorus sang for the WHOA Radio show. Special thanks to Ted Simon, Wally Thornton (aka J. Walter Beethoven), John Braden and Carter Combs (Maestro Leonard Beerstein) for a lot of behind-the-scenes work."

"I don't know if this was the best ever but it sure was a lot of fun," Schumacher added. "Also, thanks to our chapter quartets for the extra work learning another song AND a fun commercial. They were all well received by our audience!"

The chorus started with a pre-program diversion to cover the singers' entry on a stage with no curtain. With audience seating under way, 13 "Jolly Jokers" sneaked up to three live mikes, each telling a joke in defiance of WHOA radio "producer" Ted Simon. J. Walter Beethoven delivered the final joke and made way for Simon to warm up the "studio audience" and kick off the "live radio" show.

Then the chorus, directed by Carter Combs, performed hit songs from the 1920s to the 1980s, starting with "I Want to Hold Your Hand," featuring four "mop tops" purporting to be the Beatles.

Other "studio singers" delivering songs and commercial jingles were chapter quartets Homeward Bound, KC Common and Swing Shift, plus Petey and the Squiggles, an Olathe South High School quartet that medaled at HOA's Harmony Explosion! youth Barbershop festival. Another Harmony Explosion! medalist, Three Chips and a Guac from the aptly named Harmony Middle School, led off the second act parade of quartets.

"We had more of our guys helping to create this year's show than I have ever seen before -- generating ideas, contributing jokes, suggesting staging, etc." Combs said. "It was so innovative, energizing and entertaining! I couldn't be more pleased! "

The Heart of America Chorus -- minus drums and guitars -- faced a challenge with Top 40 music, tackling other hits like Buddy Holly's rockabilly "That'll Be the Day," the Rays' doo-wop "Silhouettes," Barry Manilow's "Weekend in New England," Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" and more.