When I was touring with Brian Wilson, I learned a lot about harmony. Watching him tell eight singers how to sing one of his songs was a fascinating process. They would sing a verse. He would stop them and start pointing to people and saying stuff like “ Go up a half octave and sing a little louder.” I didn’t really know what he was talking about, but the result was amazing. One night, while sitting backstage with him watching a World Series game, I asked him where he learned all of that stuff, and he told me about the Four Freshmen, a fifties vocal group that he idolized. As a kid, he bought all of their records and studied their arrangements. Later that year, one of the surviving members of the Four Freshmen showed up at a show we did in Las Vegas, and I was able to make an introduction!
This brings me to last night, when I rounded the corner to park at the Riviera Theater and saw a line around the block waiting to get in to see a band I had not heard of till I heard them do 2 songs at a trade show in California in January. They are the winners of season 3 of NBC’s The Sing-Off, and are forging a successful career out of that. I met them at the theater in the afternoon and did a ½ hour photo shoot, and came back for the show that night.
An empty stage, except for some platforms and steps. Five people playing for 90 minutes with no instruments- just 5 microphones and five voices (except for 10 minutes in the middle of the show where Kevin, the beat- box guy in the band picked up a cello and harmonized between cello and beat-box vocals! Their loyal audience screamed the whole show and a good time was had by all.
Speaking of videos, people are always sending me links to crazy shit on the web. Here are two that are so weird and disturbing that I have to pass them along!