In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
For over a quarter v=century the nation's top vocal groups have been competing in the National Finals. Here are recordings of many of thes National Finals
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Review: This 25th Anniversary collection is 2 discs of prize-winning tunes and Big Fun from the first 25 years of the best a cappella show on the planet, The Harmony Sweepstakes National Finals! The first disc has 23 of our favorites from these shows, and it was, you might imagine, very hard to pick from:- let's see-8 Regional Winners per show times 25 equals 200 great groups, times 3 or 4 songs per group, well, you get the picture. How can we forget The Idea of North's "Mas Que Nada," Naturally Seven's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," Chapter 6's marvelous "Wizard of Oz Medley" or Moosebutter's hilarious "Star Wars?" Now we, and you, don't have to! Just to give you a taste of all the goodies on Disc 1, we present a list of the groups that are included: 17th Avenue All Stars, The Idea of North, +4db, Hi-Fidelity, Naturally Seven, Moira Smiley & Voco, Chapter 6, Clockwork, Traces, Harmonytrix, Acapelicans, Moodswing, The Coats, The New Originals, Pickups, Chicago Voice Exchange, Metropolis, Moosebutter, Face, Citylights and SoVoSo. The second disc has 18 songs from the amazing 25th Anniversary Finals, featuring "Book of Love," "Cat is High" and "Ghost Train" from 3rd Place winner Rezonate, "Bye Bye Norman" and "Bill Bailey Medley" from 2nd Place winner and Audience Favorite, the Bay Area's own The Love Notes, and "Brand New Day" and "Don't Break The Heart" by National Champs Maxx Factor. Also included are "When the Lilacs Bloom" and "Nothing At All" from 2008 Champs Vocaldente, plus tunes from Road Show, Mouth Beats, 3 Men and a Melody, Cartoon Johnny and Evolution. It always seems to us that every Harmony Sweeps National Finals is even better than the last, but there's really no comparison, because they all are wonderfully unique. So, for a very reasonable price, treat yourself to this Sweeps banquet, and, as we have, settle back and savor each of the a cappella goodies within!
Songlist: Sly and the Family Stone Medley, Mas Que Nada, In a Mellow Tone, Blackbird, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Bring Me Little Water, Sylvie, Wizard of Oz Medley, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Mary Don't You Weep, O Sinfuni Mungu, Get Down Tonight, The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face, Paper Moon, Stray Cat Strut, Plastic Jesus, Route 66, Spiderman, Sweet Georgia Brown, Change in My Life, Star Wars, O Fortuna, That's How You Jazz, Say, 16 Tons, Tron, Bye Bye Norman, When the White Lilacs Bloom, Brand New Day, Book of Love, The Future Pt. 2, Don't Break the Heart, Nothing at All, Bill Bailey Medley, Angel, Cat is High, Ghost Train, What I Like, Bless the Broken Road
Review: On a perfect May Saturday night in San Rafael, CA, the sold-out audience witnessed another unbelievable evening of unaccompanied vocal harmony singing. Eight Regional winners were up on stage, singing their hearts out for the fans and the judges, with the National Championship on the line. The best 18 songs of the night, including from local favorites the folk/world female ensemble Solstice with "Wade in the Water" and the dynamic "Kappee." A pair of songs from Audience Favorites Denver's "Face," includes the gritty, powerful rocker "Home," that won them 2nd Place. Three tracks from the evening's winners National Champs from Los Angeles, Moira Smiley & VOCO with the folk tune "Bring Me Little Water, Silvie," "Szerelem" and the lovely, moving "Stand in that River." Other favorites are New York's The Fault Line's "Some Kind of Wonderful;" the Pacific NW's V-Chords' "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing", Boston's Men in Black's "Run Around" and Chicago's Nightwatch's very funny "Defying Gravity." And let us not forget host group 2006 Champions Hi-Fidelity (hey, that's 2 in a row for L.A.!), whose "Enterprise/Sulu Medley" reminds us how brilliant and funny they can be.
Songlist: O Fortuna, Bring Me Little Water, Silvie, Steal My Kisses, Rock Around The Clock, Sugarcane Jubilee, Don't Worry 'Bout A Thing, Wade in the Water, Szerelem, Home, Some Kind of Wonderful, Run Around, Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident), Defying Gravity, Stand in that River, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Enterprise / Sulu Medley, Kappee, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
Review: It's the first weekend in May, and the sold-out audience at Marin Veterans Auditorium in San Rafael, CA is buzzing with anticipation of seeing the Harmony Sweepstakes Finals, possibly the best live show in a cappella! 8 Regional-winning groups are backstage, having beat out as many as 8 other groups for the privilege of singing their hearts out for the National Championship. "Finals" has 16 of the best tunes from that memorable night, including Bay Area winner Clockwork's jazzy "My Baby Just Cares For Me," and wonderful cover of Radiohead's "Creep," part of an excellent set that won them 3rd place, and the award for "Best Original Arrangement." We hear Mid-Atlantic-winning Regency's "Only You" and high-energy "Jump, Jive and Wail," part of a great set that won them 2nd place. LA barbershop quartet Hi Fidelity, in "Addams Family" costume, bring us the "Addams Family" theme and a key-bending, hilarious "Blackbird," they won both Audience Favorite and the National Championship. New York Quartet 'Round Midnight's "Take the A-Train" and "Tin Roof Blues," Chicago's Elmo Thumm's "Last Train to Clarksville" and "Shooting Star," Denver's Curious Gage's "Long Train Runnin'" and "Windmills" show us how good Hi-Fidelity had to be to win. Boston's Traces sing "As" and "Wonderful World," which won Best Original Song," and the Pacific NW's Tongue Tied A Cappella give us a dynamic cover of the Starship's "We Built This City." Exciting cuts from a magic May evening in San Rafael!
Songlist: Addams Family , My Baby Just Cares For Me , Only You , Take the 'A' Train, Last Train to Clarksville, Blackbird, Jump, Jive & Wail, As , Creep, Tin Roof Blues, Shooting Star, We Built This City, Long Train Runnin', Sunglasses, Windmills, Wonderful World II
Isn't She Lovely
Review: It always seems to us as the Harmony Sweeps celebrates another year of its existence (its 21st, in this case), that "last year's Finals were so sublime, how could this year's possibly etc., etc." - but then we're in the sold-out, excited audience for this year's, and the first group is about to come on... what we're trying to say is somehow each Sweeps Final is better than the last. And what we love about the CDs is that they're live, 9 of the best a cappella groups in the world on one stage, singing their hearts out for 13 short minutes, for the National Championship. Last May, Mid-Atlantic's Cartoon Johnny, Boston's Firedrill, Chicago's Fiveplay, NYC's Traces, Denver's Face, Pacific NW's Groove for Thought, LA's Undivided and SF's own Moodswing were those groups. 19 songs, including "Joy to the World" and Best Original Song, "Walk the Straighter Road" by Kevin Kunz of National Champions Groove For Thought, David Lichtman Best Original Arrangement winner "Paper Moon" by Greg Murai of Moodswing, ("Moanin'" by Moodswing is also happily included), 3rd Place finishers Fiveplay sing Stevie Wonder's "Superstitious/IWish" and "I Never Knew," and runner-up and Audience Favorite Face have 3 winners, "Pink Panther Theme," "Harder To Breathe" and "Safety Dance." But let us not forget hosts Chapter 6, whose "Ode to Krispy Kreme" and "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing" drew standing O's, Firedrill's Motown classic "Chain of Fools," Traces' "Mary Don't You Weep," Undivided's "What's Goin' On" and Cartoon Johnny's "Crazy Love." A savory sampler from a magic night in May in San Rafael, CA!
Songlist: Ode To Krispy Kreme, Don't Worry 'Bout A Thing , Paper Moon, Mary Don't You Weep , Joy To The World , Superstitious/I Wish , Can't Stop Thinking About You, Crazy Love, What's Goin' On?, I Never Knew, Englishman In New York, Chain Of Fools , Pink Panther Theme , Moanin' , Walk The Straighter Road, Rock Your Body , Amazing Grace, Harder To Breathe , Safety Dance
Walk The Straighter Road
Review: This year's Harmony Sweepstakes reminded all who participated, how magical making music can be. Now, we all can share that magic by listening to this excellent live recording. With 20 years gone by, this national competition is still going strong and bringing out the very best in a cappella singing. This year's show had an excellent assortment of various styles, including jazz, pop, contemporary, Latin and much more. There were lots of humorous moments, including the national champions, Chapter Six's original song, 7th Wheel, as well as somber/uplifting moments including the beautiful performance of Kiss From A Rose by Impulse. Of course no one could forget Clockwork's performance of Inna-Godda-Da-Vida or Vox Bop's Commercial medley. With continuous stellar performances from all eight groups, this 19 track CD is sure to keep you entertained.
Songlist: Happy Birthday, It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing), Blue Bayou, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Salsa Te Triago Yo, 7th Wheel , Charlie on the M.T.A, Take 5 , St. Louis Blues, I've Got Rhythm/Fascinatin' Rhythm , God Bless This Child, Obsession , Cree (Believe), Isn't She Lovely, Use the Force, The Commercial Medley, Bye Bye Blues, Shining Star, Kiss From A Rose
Review: We're of the almost certainly biased opinion that the Harmony Sweeps Finals are the best a cappella shows in the world. Imagine 8 groups, who have come in first in Regional competition with 10 other groups in places like New York, Boston, the Bay Area, Chicago and LA, performing before a packed auditorium in San Rafael, CA for 12 minutes each, for the coveted National Championship. Each year outdoes the last, and "electric" doesn't do justice to the 2003 Finals. There are 18 songs on the CD, two from each group and two from '02 Champs, and very funny hosts, LA's Perfect Gentlemen, "Gimme Some Skin" and the guitar accompanied (!) "Meanest Thing You Ever Did Was Kiss Me." The Bay Area's hilarious Moosebutter brings us "Psycho, The Musical," winner of "Best Original Song" (lyrics), and their trademark parody, "Star Wars," part of a set that won them 2nd place honors. The Pacific NW's Second Chance contribute a funky "Go Tell It On The Mountain" and the very funny beach song parody "Sand Down My Pants." LA's Undivided Musical Group sing "Amarte Mas" and nail Ward Swingle's arrangement of "Mission Impossible Theme." Boston's All About Buford do wonderful covers of the Gershwins' "Summertime" and Rodgers & Hart's "My Funny Valentine." Chicago's Nightwatch sing two songs from their infamous "Diner Set" (complete with ballistic donut), "Truck Drivin' Man" and "Yes Sir, That's My Baby," and New York's very smooth Cadence covers "Straighten Up and Fly Right" and "Tempted' beautifully. Denver's Groove Society gets the crowd up and rocking with "You're No Good" and the classic "Listen to the Music." Unbelievably, as good as all these groups were, the best was saved for last, Mid-Atlantic winner Idea of North from Australia, who shine on "Mas Que Nada" (which won the David Lichtman Award for Best Arrangement) and Randy Newman's heart-tugging "When She Loved Me." Idea of North got the nod from the judges, and won Audience Favorite, while Moosebutter and Cadence placed 2nd and 3rd. A chorus of "Goodnight Sweetheart" later we were all walking out of beautiful Marin Veterans Auditorium, not believing how good a show we had just seen and heard!
Songlist: Mas Que Nada , Amarte Mas, Psycho: The Musical, Go tell It On the Mountain, My Funny Valentine , Truck Drivin' Man , Gimme Some Skin , Straighten Up and Fly Right, You're Not So Good, Tempted , When She Loved Me, Sand Down My Pants, Star Wars, Meanest Thing You Ever Did Was Kiss Me, Yes Sir, That's My Baby, Mission Impossible Theme, Summertime, Listen to the Music
Review: The professionalism of the competing groups becomes more impressive with each passing year! Each and every ensemble that graces the stage with their talent has something special, and each group is distinct in its own way. Of course the contemporary and jazz groups are always popular - and in fact, Toxic Audio, the contemporary/jazz quintet from Florida, took first place, and another mixed jazz quintet, Bay Area favorites +4 db, were third - but, in addition, we feature the Perfect Gentlemen, a barbershop group from Los Angeles (2nd place), and the Total Experience Gospel Choir. Of course, 1999 champs, and your hosts, the contemporary Christian septet, Seven, perform two songs, and their virtuosity is undeniable. Audience favorites the Exboyfriends (who have won this category in previous New York regionals, flexing their performance muscles), swagger with Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On," while the reconstituted All Star Vocal Band (formerly the 17th Ave. All Stars) cover Journey and Stevie Wonder. Live Wire and Chapter Six represent the hot retro swing craze. It's a panoply of sound!
Songlist: Route 66, Away, Train, Style, Don't Stop Believin', Istanbul, Ramble On, Zoot Suit Riot, Have I Ever Told You, The Lord's Prayer, I Could Write A Book, I Wish, The Water Is Wide, Jump, Jive And Wail, A Salute to 20th Century Music, Pass Me Not, A Philoyles Thing
Review: We are fortunate indeed to have assembled such a truly talented group of finalists for the 1998 Harmony Sweeps. Winners Metropolis, the barbershop quartet from Southern California, sing "Some Lucky Day" and the entertaining "Yakko's World." Audience favorite (and second-place finishers) +4dB begin the festivities with "In A Mellow Tone" and also perform the Real Group's "Chile Con Carne." Other groups include Canadians the Heebee-jeebees, catalog favorites Blind Man's Bluff, Ball in the House and Acapelicans (from Australia), Cool Shooz and the third place winners, the Sweet Adelines' quartet City Lights. Bonus performance: An improvised jam by our evening's hosts, SoVoSo.
Songlist: In a Mellow Tone, Some Lucky Day, Good Lovin', The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face, This Island Earth, That's How You Jazz (medley), Wake Up Call, Get It On, Virtual Insanity, Happy World, Maritime Folk Song, Chili Con Carne, Coronet Man, Yakko's World, Crawlin', Sign Your Name Across My Heart, Improvised Jam
Review: The earliest recording of a Harmony Sweeps National Finals that is still available. It was a classic year!
Songlist: Say, Say A Prayer, Stray Cat Strut, Nuclear Power, Change The World, Nothing Is Written, Hush, Higher And Higher, Spiderman, Get Down Tonight, All I Want, Some Kind Of Wonderful, Thinkin' About You, Human Nature: Seven Seconds, Celebration , If I Lost You