Dan Monahan, baritone
Vern Abel, bass
Aaron Hardin, lead
Paul Ogle, bass
Bill Dean, tenor
The Rivertown Sound are all active members of the Barbershop Harmony Society (formerly known as SPEBSQSA). We generally sing acapella - without instrumental accompaniment. We take pride in our ability to sing a wide variety of songs. Our scores of tunes range from the turn - of - the - century classics, through the Big Band era, traditional gospel, the "Doo-Wop 1950 's", and then to a touch of the "modern". This variety extends to the places in which we have sung: from small private parties, to large corporation conventions; from annual shows presented by the Barbershop Society, to sharing a stage with the governor of Missouri, to opening for legendary rock and roller, Chuck Berry.
Besides trying to make each song sound as precise as possible, we believe that an audience enjoys the laughs and surprises of a carefully worked out act - just as quartets did during the Vaudeville Era (1890 - 1925). So, we have special performance "packages" for Christmas, Fourth of July, traditional "Meet Me In St. Louis" events, reunions of World War II veterans, "Doo Wop" themed parties and other special occasions. Yet on the other hand, some of our most memorable moments have simply been strolling through a crowd, singing to -- and often with -- the folks sitting around the tables. We have found that people like to talk about the music and the "good old days" in this type of setting.
Creating new arrangements for the harmony is always the biggest problem with the 1950 's songs. It's easy to create of list of 30 songs from the 50 's, but the Barbershop Society has very few arrangements from after 1940, so we have to create them. One of us will master the melody first, and then Paul will put a bass rhythm to it. The other two voices work out the remaining harmony. Usually it is easier to completely write out the notation first, and then make adjustments. The only song we have created without notating at all was "16 Tons". A single song will take 6 weeks to create and learn well enough to sing in public.
So, no matter how we set the stage, The Rivertown Sound tries to present a blend of quartet songs and light hearted comedy which seems to make everyone smile. As we march through the twenty-first century, we feel privileged to help keep this wonderful nineteenth and twentieth century style of performing alive and well!