Straight No Chaser Brings a Little Holiday Spirit to the McCallum Theatre, 12/4
The internationally acclaimed singing group Straight No Chaser will bring their signature vocal stylings and a little bit of the holiday spirit to The McCallum Theatre on December 4 at 8:00 pm as part of Fitz's Jazz Café Series. If the phrase "male a cappella group" conjures up an image of students in blue blazers, ties, and khakis singing traditional college songs, think again. Straight No Chaser (SNC) are neither strait-laced nor straight-faced, but neither are they vaudeville-style kitsch. As original member Randy Stine comments, "We take the music very seriously; we just don't take ourselves too seriously."
Originally formed over a dozen years ago while students at Indiana University, the group has reassembled and reemerged as a phenomenon – with a massive fan base, more than 20 million views on YouTube, numerous national TV appearances, and proven success with two holiday releases, 2008's Holiday Spirits and 2009's Christmas Cheers as well as their most recentWith a Twist. In an era when so much pop music is the product of digital processing and vocal pro-tooling, Straight No Chaser is the real deal – the captivating sound of ten unadulterated human voices coming together to make extraordinary music that is moving people in a fundamental sense…and with a sense of humor.
With a Twist marked Straight No Chaser's first full-length departure from holiday music, and the group's highest debut on the Billboard 200 at #29. Christmas, however, has been good for SNC. The group's 2008 debut, Holiday Spirits, hit #4 on Billboard's Top Holiday Albums chart and spent two weeks in the #1 slot on Amazon and five days atop the iTunes sales chart. Its version of "The 12 Days of Christmas," which incorporates Toto's "Africa," went Top 5 on the Adult Contemporary chart and was Top 10 on the Christmas radio chart. The subsequent Christmas Cheers in 2009 was #6 Top Holiday Albums and rolled into the Billboard 200 at #38. SNC bundled the albums Holiday Spirits and Christmas Cheers with a never-before-commercially released DVD, Live In New York: Holiday Edition, to create All I Want For Christmas, a 2-CD and DVD box set.
On the road, Straight No Chaser has built a reputation as an unforgettable live act. The group held a hugely successful residency at Harrah's Resort Atlantic City, where they performed 40 shows in 8 weeks. Although constant traveling takes its toll, the direct connection with their fans reinvigorates them. Says group member Ryan Ahlwardt, "Here we are, touring nearly 160 days a year, singing for thousands of people. To see the joy on the faces in the audience when we are onstage reminds us why we're doing what we're doing."
The group originally came together in the fall of 1996 at Indiana University, as "10 guys who happened to be good friends who also liked to sing." Choosing the members carefully for personality as well as vocal talent -- Stine, Mechling, Jerome Collins, David Roberts and Walter Chase remain from the original lineup -- SNC set itself apart from other a cappella groups with its contemporary repertoire and dynamic approach, quickly headlining concerts both in Bloomington and on road dates and John Mellencamp even invited the group to his home for a private performance.