Barbershop harmonies aren't what they used to be, says bass singer Mark Larsen of Grants Pass. "We're not your father's barbershop group," he says. "I'm not sure we can claim to be part of the hip generation, but we appreciate such upbeat, a cappella groups as Straight No Chaser, On the Rocks from the University of Oregon and Seattle's Baudboys."
Barbershop harmonies aren't what they used to be, says bass singer Mark Larsen of Grants Pass.
"We're not your father's barbershop group," he says. "I'm not sure we can claim to be part of the hip generation, but we appreciate such upbeat, a cappella groups as Straight No Chaser, On the Rocks from the University of Oregon and Seattle's Baudboys."
Larsen and lead singer Allen Crocker, baritone Bob Meisner and tenor Gene Coggins make up a cappella quartet Lytning. Lytning is registered with the national Barbershop Harmony Society as a senior quartet. To qualify, the group's members must have a cumulative age of 240 years, Larsen says.
"We qualify easily," Larsen says. "Not one of us is under 65."
Lytning, along with two other Rogue Valley quartets, Tone Deaf and The Gentlemen Songsters, and quartets and choruses from Portland, Bend, Tualatin and Coos Bay, will face off this weekend at the Barbershop Society's annual Division IV competition at Central Medford High School, 815 S. Oakdale Ave.
"We'll be competing for the international competition to be held in July in Portland," Larsen says. The July competition will feature groups from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska and two Canadian provinces.
The quartet competition will be at 7 p.m. Friday, April 13, and the chorus competition will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 14. Tickets to the singing contests cost $10 and are available at www.rvharmonizers.org, by calling 541-450-9352 or at the door.
"We'll sing two songs," Larsen says. "One is a love song from 'The Music Man,' 'Till There Was You,' and 'Everything Old is New Again' from 'All That Jazz.' 'Everything' is not a traditional barbershop song. It rocks. The four of us are singing different parts at different times. There's a lot of timing and rhythm."
In 2010, Lytning won the senior division of the Division IV competition, making the group the best senior quartet in Oregon that year. The quartet is part of the Rogue Valley Harmonizers, a singing organization that meets at 7 p.m. Thursdays at the First Presbyterian Church of Medford, 85 S. Holly St.
"We'd love to have more members," Larsen says. "We offer vocal training and provide costumes, and we drink beer and sing tags. We have a good time together."
There are a number of opportunities for singers in the Rogue Valley. There are the Rogue Valley Chorale, Southern Oregon Repertory Singers, Siskiyou Singers, choirs at Southern Oregon University, Rogue Valley Peace Choir and Southern Oregon Sound.
"Ours is a different kind of show," Larsen says. "Our shows have themes, and we wear costumes. We run around the stage, do funny things and sing well, too."
The District IV competition will culminate with its Show of Champions at 7 p.m. Saturday, showcasing finalists of the quartet and chorus competitions, along with 12-time district chorus champion Senate Aires of Salem and Pacific Northwest quartet Via Voice. The show will culminate with a performance by the Baudboys.
"They're a cappella pop," Larsen says. "They call themselves the 'undisputed kings of geek a cappella,' and they're all engineers at Microsoft."
Tickets to the Show of Champions cost $15 and are available online at www.rvharmonizers.org, by calling 541-450-9352 or at the door.