The Office’s Andy Bernard handicaps this Saturday’s hotly contested Superbowl of Acappella.
Back in the halcyon days of the ’90s, a young Andy Bernard “sang his way” through Cornell University in the a cappella group Here Comes Treble. Now he’s booked a one-way ticket to nowhere as a salesman at Scranton, Pa.’s Dunder Mifflin paper company (recently purchased by Sabre Corp.), but is too enamored of his own pedigree to ever realize or admit it. We asked Bernard (aka “The ’Nard Dog”) to handicap the Superbowl of Acappella going down at the Theatre of the Living Arts this Saturday. He happily obliged.
The NorrisTones: “People are unaware how cutthroat the world of a cappella can be. I’ve seen some gruesome things. Once saw a second tenor slice an alto’s Achilles’ tendon for singing off key in a finals competition. We don’t often praise one another, so you’ll know what I say here about Norristown’s the NorrisTones (oh, I just got it!) is the truth: These men (and a lady) are gods. Mark Pastor, John Jones, Ron Selix, Andy Petruzelli, Cheryl Petruzelli are the Michael Jordans of unaccompanied singing. Pastor is the man in charge, and he came up with the name. There’s perhaps no one cooler on the planet. A graduate of Temple (psssht, it’s no Cornell, but it’ll do) he’s now a computer-systems analyst for the Vanguard Group and a member of that company’s ‘Crewtones’ choir, which has performed at the Kimmel Center. I wonder if his co-workers even know there’s a living legend among their ranks. Odds on favorites.”
Quiet Storm: “Quiet Storm specializes in classic and contemporary R&B and soul. Read that sentence again. Classic and contemporary. That’s no easy feat! They formed in the spring of ’07 in Philadelphia and Kamau ‘Smitty’ Akiba, the group’s leader, is smooth as silk. He’s assembled quite a team. Their mission, per singers.com: ‘Sing messages of love that speak of loving a woman as a whole person instead of a collection of body parts.’ Take a listen to the bass lead on ‘Sixty Minute Man’ off their debut Silhouettes, and file it as Exhibit A in your trial of the People versus Mission Accomplished! This is your dark horse right here.”
Street Corner Five: “These jokers bill themselves as ‘The Philadelphia area’s finest in doowop and acappella’ on their website. As if. I’ve got news for you, Street Corner Five: your lead tenor Rich Giresi isn’t fit to hold Mark Pastor’s NorrisTone jockstrap! The SCF have been around since ’83, and I’ll give them the ’Nard Dog Nod for longevity, but they have no chance. And, no, I’m not still bitter about the upset at the Conneticut Crooners years ago. I’ve moved on. So should you. No Chance Five is more like it.”
The Sheps: “The year is 1993 and, believe it or not, old ’Nard Dog is wondering what he’s going to do with his future. I am aimless. A drifter. One night, after asking a few too many friends to ‘beer me,’ I stumbled into the streets and was almost hit by a car. The man behind the wheel was kind. He offered to take me home, put me in the backseat. I’ll never forget the sweet sounds coming out of his speakers. ‘What is this?’ I asked. It was the Sheps’ Me, My Tears and a Jukebox, the record that saved my life. I’ve never been the same. Here’s to you, Tommie Shider, Richie Camacho, Charles Coleman and Johnnie Barlow. May your days be filled with the same joy your records bring to others. And sorry about your inevitable slaughter at the hands of the NorrisTones.”
Harvey Holiday’s Superbowl of Acappella. Sat., March 13, 8pm. $25. Theatre of the Living Arts, 334 South St. 215.922.1011. livenation.com
PW's Music Issue 2014