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

Just recently, I was able to get my hands on Straight No Chaser’s 2010 album release, “With A Twist.” Having a better understanding of Straight No Chaser’s musical style and typical song selection, I began listening to the album with a certain sound in mind, and expected to hear their musicality and comedic selves come through the music; I was absolutely thrilled by what I heard. While the sound is distinctly Straight No Chaser, certain songs on the album show off the strong musical creativity this group possesses, and the uncanny ability they have to imitate the quality and style of popular songs by world-famous bands—but without any instruments other than their voices.

The first song that jumped out at me was “You & Me & The Bottle Makes Three/Single Ladies.” Being a huge Beyonce fan, I smiled trying to imagine a group of men sing her hit single, “Single Ladies.” I youtubed “You & Me & The Bottle Makes Three,” and discovered that it’s a lively swing dance number originally by the band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. I could easily envision a big band playing for a crowded dance floor with couples wildly dancing. This swing-dancing image is definitely translated in Straight No Chaser’s arrangement of the song:

 

The accompanying voices and constant “finger-snapping” create a strong “big-band feel,” and push the song along at a very fast pace. About two-thirds of the way through the song, the lead vocals cut out, and you can hear what sounds like a crowded room full of people, loudly chatting as the background vocals continue. As the lead vocals layer back on, you expect the swing number to pick back up when suddenly, you hear, “All the single ladies, all the single ladies!” Even though Beyonce’s song is in the title, hearing them singing those words is completely unexpected, but definitely a very nice surprise. All in all, this song is a great representation of their ability to embrace very specific genres of music while adding their own “twist.”

The next song that caught my ear was “Under the Bridge,” a famous Red Hot Chili Peppers hit from 2006. What’s great about Straight No Chaser’s arrangement of the song is that they incorporate bell tones into the first twenty seconds. If you’ve ever watched NBC’s “The Sing Off,” you’ll know that one of the judges constantly praises groups for their use of bell tones, or sequential notes that sound like ringing bells. Straight No Chaser’s bell tones wonderfully emulate the opening guitar sequence in the original Chili Peppers song. The bell tones stop, and the soloist sings the first two lines of the song without accompaniment. As voices begin joining him, I quickly notice that while they’re remaining true to the classic, they’re putting their own “twist” on the song, showing the mark of an innovative, talented a cappella group.

I could easily write paragraph after paragraph praising all the songs on this great album; they’re all so good! Other familiar song titles that you might be interested in are, “You’re My Best Friend,” “Joy To The World” and “One Voice” (clip below), featuring the voice of the man himself, Barry Manilow. I think “With A Twist” was the perfect title for this album: each song remains faithful to its original counterpart, but is “twisted” in such a way that the song becomes uniquely Straight No Chaser.

Listening to the album only makes me more anxious for their June 10 Gettysburg Festival concert  (click here for details).  Tickets are selling quickly!  I cannot wait to hear their signature songs at the beautiful outdoor Festival Main Stage—and they wouldn’t be complete, without plenty of twists.              

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By Alice Estrada, Festival Executive Director

Nothing better to get you in the summertime spirit than sipping margaritas and listening to some awesome reggae as you relax beside the tropical pool of the most beautiful estate in Central PA.  And you can do just that on May 21st at the Festival’s Key West Style Cookout, an amazing culinary/fundraiser event. Jane and Mike Rice are among the most gracious hosts you will ever meet. In spite of the grand surroundings one can’t help but feel relaxed and welcomed. Maybe it’s Jane’s hugs or Mike’s easy conversation (and of course a couple of margaritas don’t hurt), but you are guaranteed a chillaxing time.

And the best part of this party is that it is all for a good cause. This event raises significant funds for the Gettysburg Festival which in turn affords the Festival the opportunity to present many concerts and exhibits at a moderate cost or even for free. Not only are the arts good for the spirit, they are good for the economy too.

Scott & Barbara Hartman with White House Chef Walter Scheib

PA Iron Chef Mark Pawlowski

We are proud of the fact that the Gettysburg Festival displays Gettysburg’s appeal to a national audience, showcasing the great arts and culture that we have to offer.  Join us for a truly memorable event, support a great cause, and ohI almost forgot to mention─former White House Chef, Walter Scheib is back again and partnering with those handsome PA Iron Chefs to present the most exquisite Key West cuisine you will have anywhere . . . even in Key West!

 

 

 

 

PA Iron Chef David Stoltzfus