'Nard Boiled

The Office’s Andy Bernard handicaps this Saturday’s hotly contested Superbowl of Acappella.

By Brian McManus
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 5 | Posted Mar. 9, 2010

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Photo by Hawk Krall

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

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1. Accapellajohn said... on Mar 10, 2010 at 10:21AM

“Hey Nard dog,
Did you notice a guy Andy Petruzelli in the "Norristones" ? How can you rave about the bass Mark Pastor who in my opion is the weakest link in that group. (nothing personal Mark) . Than you compare the Lead tenor of SCF to a bass (Mark) . Oranges and apples , their is no comparison. I think you are holding Mark's jock strap in secret.
Accapellajohn”

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2. Mark Pastor - NorrisTones Bass Man said... on Mar 10, 2010 at 04:28PM

“Thanks so much Andy for those kind words. I wonder if you have heard our first cd entitled 'Legacy'. We're looking forward to this Saturday. The four talented groups appearing promise to make this year's show one of the best yet.

Mark Pastor - The NorrisTones Bass Man”

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3. Carl Tancredi, record collector said... on Mar 16, 2010 at 11:22PM

“Yo “Nard Dog” are you Mark Pastor's father, publicist or shill? Pastor's bass singing is something only a mother could love, assuming she's deaf.

What is the role of a bass singer? He sings in the background providing the group's foundation or “bottom.” It's almost laughable listening to The NorrisTones lead singer, almost being drowned out by Pastor's awful sounding bass. Gentle listener, this results in the lead and bass sounding like a duet. That is not good.

“Accappellajohn” was being too, too kind. We need a national contest. Who is the worst a cappella bass singer in the land. Yo “Nard Dog” Mark Pastor would be my odds on favorite.”

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4. blues traveller said... on Mar 17, 2010 at 01:40PM

“I have heard all the groups at social events. They all have something to offer to the audience.
Quite honestly...I am disappointed at your rave of the NorrisTones...who are very pleasant to listen to..but I have found Quiet Storm....The Street Corner Five..and the Sheps...bringing something to the table for those who follow these concerts.

They all keep the music alive..have delightful interaction with the audience and ALL are very professional in their demeanor.

You do an injustice by featuring and favoring one group.....and I take offense at the comments you leveled at Street Corner Five...they did not deserve that....they are great guys. I have heard them perform in Norristown with the NorrisTones...in Philadelphia at several restaurants...and at a Premier opening...and they are a very flexible group.

The Norristones..which I also enjoy...lack that flexibility...but they are equally professional...each group has their own flavor to offer to the music pool!!!

Keep it fair”

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5. Dennis said... on Mar 23, 2010 at 09:10AM

“The person who wrote this must be totally tone deaf to say what he did about Street Corner 5 and I'd love to hear him get up on stage and show his meddle. I've heard of people who just cannot hear music the way "normal" people do but when I read this review I was awestruck to see that someone could be both tone deaf and stupid. That's the only explanation I can give for someone who has the audacity to criticize a group before the performance. I know it's "thinly" disguised as a "prediction" but keep your predictions for something you know about like maybe a nose picking contest. Those of us who have heard all 4 groups and have enjoyed them all have no time for your irrational rantings about something you "obviously" know nothing about.....oh and forget about whether your like a particular bass singer or not, how can you compare a bass singer with a lead singer. Grow up and grow a pair (ears maybe?)”

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