|1999 Fall Contest Happenings|
as reported by Jim Styer and others from the Pionet Listserv
Return to Pioneer District Contest Summaries Page
---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Sat, 16 Oct 1999 18:57:47 -0400 From: "Jim Styer, Battle Creek MI, PIO"Return to Pioneer District Contest Summaries Page
Subject: Conv: Grand Rapids wins, etc. The Great Lakes Chorus from Grand Rapids will represent the Pioneer District at the international convention next summer. Grand Rapids scored 869 points with a double pannel of judges, followed by Macomb County with 844 and Kalamazoo with 837. A complete scoring summary and a report on the contest session by intrepid reporters Bic Finept. and Parker Inkwell will follow as soon as time permits them to compile their notes and stop arguing over which chorus had the best-looking director. The seniors' contest had two winners: Silver Domes from Grosse Pointe will represent the district at mid-winter and Shades of Gray from Grand Rapids is new district champion. Details will follow after the judges figure out why the Show Package Format wasn't used. Bic Finept. also will prepare an inimitable report on tonight's district quartet champion finals, the one with the Show Package Format. That will take 14 minutes to write and at least 14 hours to edit, followed by an audience survey to determine appropriateness. --jim styer, convention PR-- firstname.lastname@example.org ------------------------------ Date: Sun, 17 Oct 1999 17:34:43 -0400 From: "Jim Styer, Battle Creek MI, PIO" Subject: Conv: Chorus contest report PIONEER DISTRICT CHORUS CONTEST, FALL 1999 This report is prepared by two reporters, Bic Finept. and Parker Inkwell, due the obvious problem of trying to sing and write at the same time. Again, don't read these with the intent of gaining some gem of wisdom or coaching. These are strictly personal observations, much of it written during or immediately after each performance. We are not judges, coaches or experts, just observers in the audience. It was reported later that 440 men were on stage during the convention. Mike-testers, Joe Barbershop Chorus -- Power Play tenor Don Slamka ablely directed about 40 men from various hapters after only an hour of rehearsal, leading off with "Sweet and Lovely." While there were no programmed stage-presence moves, there were many smiles and animated faces. Sound dynamics were good and tags were strong. "Irish Blessing" was appropriately quiet and evocative. The choristers followed Don well, especially toning down what could have been a big sound from the large lead section, thus providing a good balance with the other parts. Grosse Pointe, Lakeshore Chorus -- "Little Girl" was handled softly. A short bass phrase was mellow and pleasing. Between songs, the pitch was blown very unobtrusively and was nearly covered by the applause. In "I'm Telling the Birds," the phrase "shadows that fall" slid down the scale to musically portray the words. The song was more upbeat than the first, but not sung loudly. The only strong volume was on the tag, which was much more effective when contrasted with the lower volume of the rest of the number. Battle Creek, Cereal City Chorus -- Of the 19 men, about six were new to the chorus in the past year, including three who are dual members from Hillsdale (which didn't compete). "Let the Rest of the World Go By" included an interesting arrangement of two bell chords in the tag. The chorus concentrated on its singing without trying to add any choreography. In the upbeat "If I Could Write a Song," one very expressive lead in the front row found it hard not to move his hands and tap his feet a bit. This, by the way, was the only chorus wearing informal chorus-logo shirts; the other was Muskegon, which sang last as the host chapter. Lansing, Capitol City Chordsmen -- Even with the loss of Jamie Carey as director, the numbers in the chorus remained at a very respectable 42. Larry Parker was very animated as director, moreso than I ever remember seeing; his presence on stage rivaled that of Grosse Pointe's legendary Russ Seely. Larry was having fun and, during "Mississippi Mud," the front row moved forward, crowding him into cowering humorously. In the "Arms of Love" ballad, the chorus pushed the sound forward with energy. Dynamics were good, well-controlled. Kalamazoo, Mall City Chorus -- "All Dressed up with a Broken Heart" used very little stage-presence moves and was all sold with appropriate emotions, with nice, soft solos. The number concluded with a very dramatic pause and a quiet "... and I'm still in love with you." The chorus very quickly moved into its next number, "I Want to Be Around to Pick Up the Pieces." The presentation changed, with hand movements and the first couple of rows attacking the front of the stage. The audience was very appreciative; they knew they had heard and seen a strong performance here. Windsor, Sun Parlour Chorus -- The reports we've been getting about the number of new members recently in Windsor forgot to mention that they are all good singers. I was told later that, of the 37 on stage, about 10 were new to competition. When placed alongside the long-time Windsor members, these guys might prove to be much more than the fun-loving, hard-working hosts of the chapter's spring send-off show. "I'm Left On the Corner Alone" and "Sam, the Old Accordion Man" was a nice package. This chorus appears to have the potential of being a good contender in the district. Gratiot County, Midstatesmen Chorus -- The chorus used very little SP with "Orange-Colored Sky", but when it was needed to assist the mood of the ballad "Ol' St. Louie," they used some subtle moves. Those of you who journeyed to Alma for the chapter show a week earlier recalled the setting of these two songs, taken from their successful show package, "Dorf Does Barbershop." While very informal for that show, now they were striking in white coats over black banded-collar shirts with sparkly neck-button covers. Grand Rapids, Great Lakes Chorus -- The cheering section with pompons and flashlights intoned: "Great Lakes! Great Lakes!" The opener, "May I Never Love Again," displayed good sound and subdued movement. With the typical Great Lakes marching front row, "I Used to Love You/Who's Sorry Now" showed much more action, and added to the otherwise excellent singing. It's flashy, yet this chorus sings well enough to be able to stand still and outscore most others in Pioneer. ... I feel that I would be remiss in my duties as a reporter at a huge event like this if I didn't at least comment on the beautiful coordination of Ann Jarchow's black evening gown that perfectly matched the black and silver accessories of the chorus members' ensam. OK, so maybe I won't get the job as fashion editor after all. Huron Valley Harmonizers -- "My Buddy" and "Sweet Georgia Brown" were well-done by a small chorus with 23 on stage. The strong point of this chorus is the way it follows the director. Lynne Peirce uses a minimum of direction; she gives them the pickups or sets the tempo and expects them to do the rest. Detroit-Oakland, Gentlemen Songsters -- "If I Never Love Again" and "Kiss Me One More Time" offered an impressive sound, larger than the 37 on the risers. Good use of each section for unit sound. Nothing wild, nothing striking; just basic, good solid barbershop. ... The tux accessories were an interesting violet, or purple, or "burple" as one member later said. He said his child called it "grapel" Wayne, Renaissance Chorus -- In "A Ring to the Name of Rosie," the highlight had to be the "ring around the rosie" move by two of the front-row guys. All the times I've seen and performed this song, I had never seen that used. CLEVER. "Story of the Rose" seemed to be a new arrangement, at least to me, and made an old chestnut sound new and very enjoyable. Macomb, Harmony Heritage Chorus -- "Bundle of Old Love Letters" displayed a beautiful, blended sound, clearly showing that this chorus intended to remain the one to beat. "Darkness on the Delta" put the front row, the director and the remaining four rows through their paces in a nice, in-sync SP packages. The fellows did a body wave while singing "rivers flow." A dip in volume near the end emphasized a solid, but fortunately not screaming, tag. The chorus was hit recently with the loss of Power Play dad Jack Slamka as director. But former Rochester director Al Fisk stepped in with verve. Like a Svengali, he drew the chorus on stage along with him very effectively. Offstage, chapter members wore "AL" tags on their shirts, showing their commitment and camaraderie with their new director. Traverse City, Cherry Capitol Chorus -- It was "A Wonderful Day Like Today." Marty Chergwin always has this chorus singing well and today was no exception. "Danny Boy" was excellently performed; the chorus showed it can sing low-volume passages effectively, and has a solid bass section. Never did they press the volume level, as many choruses do on this number. Quietly telling the story is much more effective. There was an audible exhalation of breath from the hushed audience after the last chord. The biggest surprise to me was that the "Cherry Guys" had doffed their familiar red ties and accessories. The new look featured a gold sash with the colorful chorus logo under white dinner jackets, with black ties and pants. (There I go with the fashion comments again) Muskegon, Shoreline Chorus -- These guys, beginning with "Ro, Ro, Rollin' Along," obviously were there to have fun singing, providing good entertainment and good hospitality as the convention host chapter. "Let the Rest of the World Go By" featured a nice use of bell chords. ------------------------------ Date: Sun, 17 Oct 1999 19:23:49 -0400 From: "Jim Styer, Battle Creek MI, PIO" Subject: Conv: Quartet finals report PIONEER DISTRICT QUARTET FINALS, FALL 1999 By Bic Finept. and Parker Inkwell Presenting for the first time in the Pioneer District the experimental Show Package Format presentation for the quartet finals. The quartets could fill up to 14 minutes, but they designated two songs in advance as their contest numbers. There has been enough explanation and discussion of this format, so we'll just comment on the highlights as we see 'em, and allow better minds than ours to argue or defend the format. This was planned to be a report by just one reporter, but both were having so much fun that they decided to combine their notes into a single blockbuster. Mic Tester, Four-Part Digital Surround Sound, Kalamazoo -- Under the new guidelines, the quartet sings two "contest" numbers and doesn't do an entire package as the others have the option of doing. Even with that restriction, the quartet proved very entertaining, with a short introduction of the quartet by the bari, fit into the first number, "There's No Business Like Show Business." They showed confidence and a command of the stage. The rendition of "Shanandoah," with a fine lead solo, left the audience holding its collective breath. It's hard to believe these guys have been singing together for only two months. WJBC, Macomb and Frank Thorne -- Using a setting of a radio studio, with a "WJBC Radio" banner flown down from above, the guys played the part of studio musicians, singing requests from listeners and special numbers, including contest numbers "Peg 'o My Heart" and "Don't Waste Your Tears Over Me," along with "Come Rain or Come Shine" and "I'm Sorry." Commercial jingles included the Oscar Meyer song and one for Kowalski Meats that featured a real gut-buster tag. They closed their skit, and the day's broadcasting, with a voice-over and tag to the National Anthem. As they would with a real studio audience, they used an "applause" sign every so often. The segues between numbers were extremely well-written and performed. But they tarried relatively little on the spoken word and squeezed a large amount of music into the 14-minute segment. All four quartetters are members of previous district championship quartets, ranging from 1979 to 1996. So, they are experienced performers, and the high audience expectations were met. If this is an example of what to expect the rest of the evening, it is going to be a great Show, not a contest. ... After it was all over, this incredibly well-written and well-executed set, an excellent addition to any chapter show, brought WJBC the district championship. Harmony Transfer, Muskegon -- The quartet members slowly walked on stage even before they were announced and stood before the mikes very depressed. After a time of dealing with their sour mood, they finally intoned "I'm so tired of this routine" and decided to "Let's Get Away From It All" (contest number). From their depressed beginning they moved to a lively ending complete with catchy SP. "One of Those Songs" used every possible corny one-liner that could be fit into one song. ("...milk bath." "Pasteurized?" "No, just up to my chin!") Thoroughly entertaining, and very enjoyable for the audience. They did their version of an "oh yeah" song with a rendition of "It Had To Be You" (contest number). Switching back to an up-tempo mode, they closed with "Hello MaryLou." Fool's Gold, Grand Rapids -- Throughout the weekend, quartet members wore "Fool's Gold" medals hung around their necks on blue ribbons. ... As tenor Joel Mills entered the stage with the quartet, he flipped out a handful of confetti (a la "Pookie dust" from new international champs FRED). The quartet started its set with a continuation of its extended "And the Band Played On" tag from the Friday semi-finals. We were reminded of lead Dan Casamatta's dropped pants Friday. Dan and the quartet this time were wearing red suspenders as they sang "and his pants stayed on." They referred to the new format, welcomed back the timers, and said they'd like to offer "maybe for the last time, a dramatic, from-the-heart, barbershop contest ballad. The (contest) song, "A Typical New Hampshire Town" featured first one and then another with great chords and solo parts, but totally nonsensical lyrics. The town was "nondescript" ... "undistinguished" ... "useless" ... "who cares??!!" Then they went "live from the WJBC Studio," much in the manner of FRED incorporating current contest material into their act. Donning dark glasses, they did a hilarious '50s do-wop styling of "Li'l Darlin'" in their best Sha-Na-Na style. A deep bass voice-over even had gals in the audience screaming. Then, naming quartets in the competition, they said they wanted to take us on a Harmony Transfer and give us a musical Grand Prix in 4-Part Digital Surround Sound. They concluded with a "Six Feet Underground" contest parody. One of them died, lying flat on his back on stage, arms raised high, as FRED's Jared "Pookie" Carlson had once done. The other three dropped too, all singing their last notes from the floor. No, it definitely wasn't all pure-bred barbershop, but it was very entertaining. And the crowd roared. ... Oh, yeah, note that tenor Joel Mills is the district's VP for Contest and Judging. Prizm, Grand Rapids -- "The Moment I Saw Your Eyes" showed the nice blend, straight-up pure barbershop sound that this quartet does so well. "Sing Me that Song Again" was their other contest number. Cute, typical quartet interaction, an overwrought bass and trouble finding the key spaced the songs, and they used the extra time allowed to set up their final song, "Last Goodbye," completing their all-barbershop set with enthusiasm. Four-Man Fishin' Tackle Choir, Petosky and Traverse City -- They introduced themselves with a parody of "MacNamara's Band." Their contest numbers were a parody of "Shine On Harvest Moon" about deer hunting, venison and poaching, and "To a Swimmin' Hole with a Fishin' Pole." Pure barbershop lovers were rewarded with "Barefoot Days;" it was still in the quartet's image of being outdoorsmen, but was done in contest quality and style. Another original fishin' song to the tune of "Java Jive" was funny, entertaining because of the tune's familiarity, and sung with good quality. After each number, they took the standard break to the front of the stage to accept audience applause. The entire set was done without any need for talk, jokes or other distractions. They just flat-out SANG. RESOLUTION, Grosse Pointe, Macomb, and Motor City Metro -- With a straight-up entrance, they began their set in a traditional manner, doing "I Tried to Forget You in Vain" with as good a quality and sound as any we heard this weekend. After a silly pantomime, one said, "Finally, we get to talk to you on stage." (Pause) "You guys got anything to say?" (Pause) They immediately launched into "I Double Dare You," continuing to show that sometimes just plain ol' good singing is entertainment enough. Two contest songs; a brief poke at the new format; that was it! Short set! ... Oh, yeah; looking later at the score sheets: With their pure barbershop set, and virtually nothing else, they placed third. Philatoga Township, Hillsdale, Kalamazoo and Frank Thorne -- The set opened with two well-done contest numbers, "The Railroad Rag" and "If You Had All the World and Its Gold." They used the time between songs to set up the next song and to relate one to the next. In going to their final number, they said that the judges can't be bought, but they can be sold. And they then ripped into a tour-de-force version of "The Auctioneer," done at an increasingly faster pace, with bass Phil Haines doing the auctioneer's patter -- and the quartet keeping up with him! This was so well done that it was interrupted by applause. And the house literally exploded with cheers and applause at the end. Haines, by the way, is an auctioneer in real life! What does it take to score well under the Show Package Format? Well, this quartet placed second! Grand Prix, Battle Creek -- A contest "Hello My Baby" showcased Mark Spear's strong, clear lead voice, with a big finish. The guys used their comedic talents to offer the ever-popular "Side by Side" parody. After a couple of baritone jokes and Polish jokes by the Polish baritone (really!), they did a rousing version of "Goodbye MaryLou" with a gut-buster tag and a very pleasant contest rendition of "I Found My Sweetheart Sally". An extended story joke by the Polish bari was followed by a soft and pleasing "Goodbye." ----------- In the spirit of the Show Package evening, venerable emcee Doran McTaggart's introduction of Society representative Bill Cody (Alexandria VA) was far from straight and had the audience -- and Bill -- in stitches. And the winning international chorus representative, the Great Lakes Chorus of Grand Rapids, appeared on stage for two numbers in very loud shirts, doing two numbers that we might daresay are "not ready for prime-time" barbershop competition -- the Banana Boat song and a Beach Boys medley. ----- ------------------------------ Date: Sat, 16 Oct 1999 03:00:31 -0400 From: "Jim Styer, Battle Creek MI, PIO" Subject: Conv: Quart semi-finals report Live (nearly) from McCamly Plaza Hotel in beautiful downtown Battle Creek, this is your Pionet reporter, Bic Finept. This is a first-time effort of reporting live from the convention facility. It is also the first-time effort of this reporter to write any kind of article by way of observation, for publication or otherwise. So, consider yourselves all part of some great new experiment. If it bombs, and is absolutely worthless, know that it was Jim Styer's idea. If, on the other hand, it is enjoyable, and adds to your involvement in our great hobby, if it brings the flavor of the contest/convention to you, then it is most likely due to my efforts, and Jim's idea had nothing to do with it. When Jim put out the invitation for a convention reporter, I responded with a wise-acre remark, and Jim accepted ANY response as a positive one, and I was "recruited" He told me the first thing I needed was a pen name, so, calling on the only pen either of us had, I decided to use the name. . . . . Bic Finept. Hopefully, we'll be able to make this a regular feature, and with timely, from the convention updates, I'll be asked to contribute from future conventions as well. Please let Jim, and other PioNetters how this service appeals to you. So, for our initial effort, I'll provide you with some personal observations, and some highlights of the contest, I won't try to second-guess the judges or critique the performances, just tell you what I saw. --------------------- Friday Night (10/15/99) Quartet Semi-Finals After a brief welcome from Mike O'Donnell, Muskegon host-chapter chairman, Muskegon Chapter president John Tyler from the balcony played a haunting bagpipe tribute to Bill Wickstrom and the other eight members of Pioneer who have departed for the Great Chorus in the sky since our last convention. Bill Aiken, the evening's MC, started the night's activity by introducing the Mic testers, the 1998 Pioneer champs, Unstage Sound. They did "Ten Feet Off the Ground," conferred with the contest administrator, and then did a beautiful rendition of "Let the Rest of the World Go By." My feeling is that this quartet is singing better than ever. The year of entertaining as district champs has certainly helped their sound. The first several quartets all seemed to suffer from the same case of stagefright. I've heard all of them before, and all of them have had better performances than the one this time. Perhaps they were looking forward with too much apprehension to the new Show Package that will be required on Saturday. Let's hope the Spartans don't have a similar letdown, now that they've won the big one. Things started to thaw out a little by the time Border Crossing, from Macomb and Windsor, took the stage. These guys showed excitement, even on taking the pitch for second song. Four-Part Digital Surround Sound, Kalamazoo -- NICE Cheering section. Younger guys. "Zippidee Do Dah" got laughs from the audience with the animated stage presence. "All That I Ask Is Love" was a pretty ballad, with reserved, but appropriate movement; and they were TOGETHER. WJBC, Macomb and Frank Thorne -- Entered from center stage wearing caps and gowns. No pitch was blown. Some comedy schtick and yet fine chords throughout. I was impressed with Wayne Kinde's bass and enjoyed hearing Jason Oyler's tenor again. Philatoga Township, Hillsdale, Kalamazoo and Frank Thorne -- Kalamazoo is a hotbed with this quartet following on the heels of Four-Part Digital and last year's champs Upstage Sound. Four Man Fishin' Tackle Choir, Petosky and Traverse City -- If that's what Bush League does for you, every quartet should attend. This year's Bush League champs showed a nice relaxed stage presence, with a sound almost as big as their lead. Their whole attitude seemed to say that they were really enjoying singing for you. Second number was "Dream a little Dream of Me;" great tenor hang on the tag. Fool's Gold, Grand Rapids -- "I'm Alone Because I Love You": Clever old-time schtick using straw hats, finished with a tenor flourish. Highlight of "The Band Played On" for some people, was the lead losing his pants during one of the more-strenuous stage moves. With multiple featured parts in a variety of tags, far and away the biggest crowd-pleasers, despite show by the lead. RESOLUTION, Grosse Pointe, Macomb, and Motor City Metro -- "Back in Those Wonderful Days" showed their usual, fine error-free performance. "Ragtime in America" had polished moves, a lead that leads without covering anybody up and nice tenor hang. Grand Prix, Battle Creek -- Jim Styer said I had to like these guys, cuz they're from his chapter. It would be hard not to like them. They entertain with funny stage presence, sing catchy songs, AND sing them well. Second Song "If You Were The Only Girl In the World" was a nice change of pace and was presented very believably. A good job, from a good quartet. Harmony Transfer, Grand Rapids and Muskegon -- "St. Louie Woman" had a nice tenor tag. Then "Jazz Came Up the River." I wonder how long Mike and Dave have been singing those two songs. Seems like we did them when I sang with those guys in the Grand Rapids Chorus a hundred or so years ago. Prizm, Grand Rapids -- "Forgive Me": Nice start with lead-bari duet. Four, strong, individual voices and a pretty, clear lead by Curt Struyk. Uptune showed versatility with a "Margie, Nora, Rosie" medley. Well, I told you it was going to be a sharing of personal observations, and thoughts, not necessarily a critique. Our erstwhile president did offer one (useable) quote on the way out of the auditorium, Prez Dave said, "Shoot, the caliber of singing has certainly improved; all of them did a fine job." or words to that effect. Comments overheard were all very favorable, with everyone looking forward to Saturday night's Show Package experiment. We'll work out something on the coverage of tomorrow's performances, and post it as quickly as we can. Until then, this is Bic Finept. logging off. ------------------------------ Date: Sat, 16 Oct 1999 09:34:53 -0400 From: "Jim Styer, Battle Creek MI, PIO" Subject: Power Play: 10 years as champs Power Play, Pioneer District's favorite family quartet, presented a moving and memorable walk down memory lane Friday night at the Quartet Champions Association show. Opening the show in a packed hotel meeting room was Upstage Sound from Kalamazoo and South Bend, concluding a year as district quartet champs. They included three members of an earlier foursome that were known for their gangster and criminal numbers. Now, they had matured, and presented a sampling of their balanced and wide-ranging comedic and serious repertoire. Then the Slamka family quartet musically reviewed the 10 years since they had become district champions 10 years ago this weekend. Slides throughout the 45-minute tour de force recalled the many Slamka scenes throughout the Pioneer District and around the country, and included several Slamka family photos. Photos also depicted an earlier quartet, Family Forum, with brothers Jack and Mike Slamka and their sons, Mike and Don. That made a foursome of dads, sons, brothers, uncles, cousins and nephews. Kenosha staffer Ev Nau was in the audience, as he has been many times since he became a coach for Power Play in 1992. As the quartet entered the room, lead Mike Slamka pointed to the younger Mike an early-days slide on the large screen behind the stage, noting that he once had hair and was thinner. In the first few numbers of the night, Jason Oyler reprised his role as Power Play tenor. Ken Slamka came in to sub on bass for his brother, Jack Slamka, the dad of the quartet, as he had done in the past. Then, with Don in as tenor, Power Play repeated the set it had done in international competition for the first time in 1992 in New Orleans -- "My Dear Old Dad" and "The Boy I Used to Be." The quartet sang "Rock-a-bye Baby" as photos of Mike's, Don's and baritone Mark's children were shown on the screen. For one number, Uncle Mike stepped in to replace Mark, as he had a month ago for a show in Muskegon when Mark became the father of a boy. With all the talk about the new generation of Slamkas, red-headed Kitty Slamka called from the audience to her husband, "Wait, Jack, there's something I gotta tell you. ..." No, dad Jack isn't ready for any more kids! Power Play reprised "Get Me to the Church on Time," which it did in competition last summer in Anaheim. That set gave the quartet a fourth-place position for the finals round as it scored an over-all seventh in international competition. And, again, during that song, they raised imaginary glasses in a toast to Papa John, the matriarch of the family who passed away on May 28 at age 79. Grandpa and grandma, who had died two years earlier, were there again -- on the screen in a series of memorable photos. Power Play was joined by Jason Oyler and Uncles Mike and Ken as the septet sang a tribute to grandpa and grandma, "Through the Years ... we learned what love's about." No encore was requested. None was needed. ---------------------------- Date: Sun, 17 Oct 1999 23:21:08 -0400 From: "Jim Styer, Battle Creek MI, PIO" Subject: Conv: Senior Quartet Contest Two winners were named at the Pioneer District Senior Quartet contest. With solid sound, good dynamics and gold accessories, the Silver Domes placed first and will represent the Pioneer District at the international competition at the mid-winter convention in Tucson, Ariz. Placing second was Shades of Gray from Grand Rapids. They are the new district senior quartet champion. They have been singing together only since August. Their combined age is 268. Bari Jack Sidor also is in Crosstown Connection, which competed in the regular quartet competition. Also in the regular competition was another senior competitor, Third Coast from Traverse City. Silver Domes was ineligible to be senior champion, having won the title in 1997. Their combined age is 274. Two of the Domes, Russ Seely and John Wearing, were members of the 4-Fits, the 1965 district champion. All singers have to be at least 55 and the total age of the quartet must be at least 240. Average age of the 24 singers in this contest was 68, and nine were over 70; they ranged in age from Al Bonney in Third Coast at 55 to Chris Davis in The Jackson County Four at 77. That quartet also was the oldest, totaling 289 years, an average of 72 1/4 years each.