Aug. 15--Tin is the traditional gift for a 10th anniversary. However, there is nothing tinny -- not voices nor ears -- to be found anywhere at A Cappellastock.
A Capellastock is the homegrown Ogden festival of voices sans instruments, which celebrates its 10th anniversary at the Ogden Amphitheater on Saturday, Aug. 17.
T Minus 5, the Ogden band that produces A Cappellastock, wanted to do something unique in that genre when members brought the fest to Ogden.
The group, featuring Jared Allen, Jason "Fish" Salmon, Karsten Longhurst, Shawn Satterthwaite and Jeff Petersen, formed 13 years ago while members were college students. They got involved in competitions and workshops, where they found like-minded singers -- "a cappella junkies," as Allen, a self-proclaimed addict himself, calls his kind with affection.
"This is music everyone can enjoy," said Allen. "Ogden is a blue-collar town, a working town. As a result, this is a great place to bring this music to a wider audience, to blue-collar workers and other people who just want to be entertained and hear good music. We knew the a cappella junkes would come, no matter what. The challenge was in drawing the wider audience -- the very ones we wanted to reach."
Another reason they brought the festival to town was purely selfish, Allen admits.
"There were groups we wanted to perform with, and this is our way of performing with them."
Allen said they also try to show the love to the performers.
"It is a small community that we try and treat right -- we want to make the groups feel like the rock stars we know they are," said Allen. "We have a limo that picks them up, wine and dine them, have a goodie bag with wonderful things from Ogden -- the 25th Street merchants have been great over the years about that. We hoped that through word-of-mouth within this small community, folks would start saying, 'A Cappellastock is a perfect place to perform.' "
This year's groups include The Fix, from Provo; Nota, from Puerto Rico; and Cadence, from Canada. Paul Sperrazza, who appeared previously with Toxic Audio, returns to the festival as emcee.
Said Allen: "We are bringing in an international flavor this year, with Nota and Cadence. Nota won the NBC show 'The Sing-Off' in the first year. And Cadence is a big name in a cappella that we've wanted to bring in for a while. Very accessible, and very good." He laughed. "Nota is the sexy pick this year, and Cadence is the mashed-potatoes-and-gravy band."
Allen said his group learns something every year to help improve the show.
The first year, the musicians purposefully kept things local, testing the waters to see if there was an interest before going national. Utah groups Eclipse, Moosebutter, Octapella and Reprise performed alongside T Minus 5.
"We learned right off that five groups is a lot to pack into one night. I don't think we've ever had that many again. But we had a decent enough turnout that we went on."
Two years along, Allen said he thought they hit their stride with a show including The Nylons, a longtime huge name in a cappella, and also with up-and-comers The House Jacks.
"We knew about The House Jacks, a group we always wanted to perform with, but not a lot of people knew them then. Well, they absolutely blew everyone away that year, and have gone on to bigger and better things. They sang the opening for 'Monday Night Football' last year. So we got them on the cusp, and that was very exciting."
Another triumph was getting Barry Carl as emcee in 2007. Carl is the original bass voice for Rockapella, perhaps the best known of modern a cappella groups, with hits like "Zombie Jamboree" and "Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?"
Carl liked the festival so much that the very day he returned home, he called Allen. Saying he hoped he hadn't overstepped his boundaries, Carl had already called and asked a few friends if they would come to A Cappellastock with him the next year.
"I said, 'That sounds great. Who are your friends?' And it was the original Rockapella members! They came in 2008 and did their very first performance here as XRP -- ex-Rockapella. And then they kept at it, and still do two or three shows a month. It felt great to be a part of that, to help inspire a band to perform again, one who really inspired us."
In the end, the excitement for Allen and the band comes from being "just a bunch of good ol' boys that want to hold our own against the big boys. That is the challenge every year. We try to come up with a new moment each year in the repertoire."
This year, Allen promises a surprise during the singing of the A Cappellastock theme song. It's long been sung to the tune of Queen's "Fat-Bottom Girls." Allen was unwilling to reveal anything more.
"You'll just have to come and see what the twist is," he said. "And we'll have a new surprise closing number with all the groups, too.
"Also -- as a teaser -- we are in talks to bring an A Cappellastock Christmas to the stage. So stay tuned for more."
* WHAT: A Cappellastock X, with The Fix, Nota, Cadence and T Minus 5
* WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17
* WHERE: Ogden Amphitheater, 343 Historic 25th St., Ogden
* TICKETS: $15-$33, available from acapellastock.com or 801-452-1481
(c)2013 the Standard-Examiner (Ogden, Utah)
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