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By Jenny Carrington, Festival Intern, Gettysburg College Class of 2012

“They’re a phenomenon… with a massive fan base, more than 20 million views on YouTube, numerous national TV appearances, their third album… Straight No Chaser!” your friend exclaims. “They’re coming here! Come to their concert with me!”

“Okay! But, what does the group sound like?” you ask. The friend describes the band as a young group of men with killer bassists and a percussion section that always keeps a strong, steady beat, with incredible lead vocals coupled with intricate and tight harmonies, and with amazing energy on the stage. “Great!” you say, enthusiastic about a band that should prove to put on a very entertaining concert.

You arrive at the venue and upon taking your seats, you’re surprised by what aren’t on the stage: instruments. Instead, you find ten microphones in a semi-arch on the stage surrounded by absolutely nothing else. “But where are the guitars, the basses, the drum kits, the amps?” you ask your friend. “Where are the instruments?” The lights dim, the stage lights blast on, and out walk ten smartly dressed, smiling men. Each member stands in front of a microphone, one announces that they’re, “Straight No Chaser,” and you realize that these musicians have no need for drum kits or guitars: these musicians are the instruments. Upon hearing a softly-played tone, they open their mouths and sing their first opening chords and you swear someone is hiding back stage with a top hat or the technicians are playing pre-recorded voices that have been autotuned to the point of robotic perfection; no, what you’re hearing is organic and in real-time, is something fantastic and enthralling; what you’re hearing is a cappella.

Festival Main Stage at Gettysburg College

Straight No Chaser, a group made up of Indiana University graduates, will be coming to Gettysburg, PA on Friday, June 10th to woo us with their sweet-sounding music as a part of the Gettysburg Festival.  Tickets are available beginning February 21st through the Festival’s ticketing agent, Event Brite.

These singers are already world-famous, as one can see on their website.  They’ll be singing in the UK in May and then will be heading on back to the states for their Gettysburg Festival performance! We are definitely in for a musical treat.

But, what if you’ve never heard Straight No Chaser? What do they actually sound like? As an introduction to their outstanding, stylized music, here is a clip of them singing the 1960s classic “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”  In this video, you can see that Straight No Chaser has mastered a winning performance method: audiences can appreciate their musicality, while still being entertained by their wonderful goofiness and charm.

As your local Gettysburg Festival music critic, I will be posting more blog entries about Straight No Chaser throughout the next couple months. I’m very excited for their upcoming Gettysburg Festival performance! If you would like to know about other great events that the Festival has planned for all of you in June, visit the Festival website, http://www.gettysburgfestival.org/.

 By Beverly Grazulewicz, Festival Sweet Tooth (and Office Manager)

For the past twenty years I have driven past this hidden treasure in the woods, thinking, “Someday we should stop there and see what that place is all about.”  I am embarrassed to say that I never made that stop.  So in July, when the tragic news of a fire that destroyed this landmark hit the news, I was mad at myself for never pulling into the parking lot.  The “treasure” I am referring to is Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium.  Well, now I can say, “I’ve been there” and the one word I can use to describe the experience is “Wow.”  It is a pleasure getting to know this generous, community-minded man—the newest Gettysburg Festival Trustee to join our board.

Pulling into the icy parking lot the other night for Mr. Ed’s Sneak Peek was exciting for me, but I was also glad to have a youngster along, as co-worker Karen’s son Kyle had joined us for the evening.  You could sense his excitement too as I pointed out Mr. Ed’s historic truck that has now become part of the building.  A newly painted mural on the truck makes it appear as though it is pulling out of the building.  I could only imagine what was in the truck. 

Entering the building we were greeted by Mr. Ed himself, and he was beaming with pride.  Just six months earlier this kind man was shocked by the devastation of a lifelong business, but lucky for all of us, he brushed the ash from his clothing and said he would rebuild.  Talking with him about this period in his life is still painful, but when he starts to talk about the support he received from the community, the township and his customers, his face relights and you can the pride return.  (It was at this low period, that this generous man reached out to us to donate candy and sponsor underprivileged children at our Gingerbread House Celebration, December 2010.)

The mural made of broken elephants, surrounded beneath by mounds of classic candy

There was so much to take in on that first visit I don’t know where to start.  A massive elephant stands in the center of the room but Mr. Ed’s pride and joy is obviously the large ceramic mural near the ceiling.  At first it’s hard to identify the material, but little glimpses of broken elephants become apparent soon.  The mural was actually created from thousands of pieces of elephants almost destroyed in the fire. 

The room is filled to capacity with candy, and Kyle took it all in.  I think we read each candy wrapper in the place.  Some of the candy will bring back memories, others will make you laugh.  Bring your sweet tooth, there’s something here for everyone (and the homemade fudge is delicious). 

 So now, where are those elephants?  Take a stroll down a short hallway to a room filled (and I do say FILLED) with elephants.  Mr. Ed says he has 9,000 of them – just shy of the 10,000 he had prior to the fire (there’s about 1,000 of them in the mural).  And the elephants keep arriving – days after the fire, packages began to arrive from all over the country. 

The elephant museum!

People wanting to bring his collection backto life.  Admission to the museum is free, but donations are accepted to support local organizations like the SPCA and other non profits.  You could spend hours in this room and not see them all.   I can’t imagine there’s an elephant out there that Mr. Ed doesn’t have in his museum, but you could prove me wrong. 

So now when I am traveling to Chambersburg or points west of Gettysburg I can say, “I’ve been to Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum and its amazing”.  Make a trip there soon, you won’t be disappointed.  (And by the way, my mother has a collection of giraffes in her home, probably just 100 of them, but if anyone wants to open a museum, let me know). 

Mr. Ed's very first elephant