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Harmony hoedown takes its cue from ‘Hee Haw’

Revisit “Kornfield Kounty” when Rogue Valley Harmonizers presents “Hee Haw and Harmonies,” a salute to the long-running CBS country and western-themed variety show.

With a flair for cornball comedy, the Harmonizers will include “Where, Oh Where, Are You Tonight?” — made popular by “Hee Haw’s” Gordie Tapp and Archie Campbell as “Pfft, You Were Gone.”

“It was a gag song,” says Harmonizers’ chairman Michael Biggs. “The TV show would have different guest stars sing it, including Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn and other country singers from the day. It was always done deadpan, and the ‘pfft’ was sometimes done in each other’s faces. It was cornball, but guys like me who are drawn to four-part harmonies like cornball.”

Each year, the Harmonizers choose different themes for its annual shows. The choir includes 30 active members ranging in age from teens to people in their 90s, Biggs says.

“Last year we did a Broadway-themed show, the year before was a ‘50s doo-wop theme,” Biggs says. “They’re loosely scripted.”

Just as “Hee Haw” featured Don Harron as radio announcer Charlie Farquharson of KORN, who would spoof delivery of local news, the Harmonizers’ show will be led by emcee Rick LaRosa, the gold-medal-winning lead of comedy quartet Fred.

“He’ll open the show,” Biggs says. “The curtain will open with the Harmonizers choir singing ‘Hee, Hee, Hee, Haw, Haw.’ It’s not really a song. It’s the opening music from ‘Hee Haw,’ written by Roy Clark, one of the show’s hosts.”

What follows the intro is a country music variety show replete with corny jokes, downhome-style costumes and family-friendly entertainment.

Performances are set for 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Craterian Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford. Tickets are $20 or $25, $10 for students, and can be purchased at craterian.org, at the box office, 16 S. Bartlett St., or by calling 541-779-3000.

Look for a cappella arrangements of Hank Williams Sr.’s “Hey, Good Lookin,’” “Rocky Top,” first recorded by the Osborne Brothers, and Randy Travis’ “Forever and Ever, Amen,” along with songs by Patsy Cline and Garth Brooks.

The show’s biggest draw, according to Biggs, will be a cappella quartet Main Street, from Orlando, Florida. Tenor Mike McGee, baritone Myron Whittlesey, lead Tony DeRosa and bass Roger Ross will take the stage to perform four-part harmonies, some soft-shoe dance, tap, slapstick routines and nostalgic songs.

“What sets Main Street apart is the quartet really tips its hat to turn-of-the-century showmen,” Biggs says. “They do really bad, silly jokes, and they’re amazing performers. Their pop-song medley, ‘Good Old Days/New Songs,’ has about three and a half million views on YouTube.

“This hilarious video is what happens when a quartet commits itself to the good old days and realizes, one day, the pop songs of today will be considered ‘good old songs.’

“Whether it’s a waltz clog, a silly one-liner or a tender, romantic ballad, Main Street pays tribute to the creative singers, dancers and humorists who blazed a trail entertaining audiences around the world. In 2017, Main Street won the International Gold Medal as the world’s Best Quartet.”

A Salem quartet, Local Boyz, will open the second set, followed by tenor Biggs and his quartet Tone Deaf — bass Doug Borngasser, baritone Bill Borah and lead Tom Walker.

“What we do is silliness,” Biggs says about Tone Deaf. “We’re going to present our “chicken set,” which includes some parodies of well-known songs, “The Chicken Sings Tonight” and “Don’t Fry With Me,” along with “I’m a Man of Constant Sorrow” from “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

Tone Deaf will be costumed in long hillbilly beards for “Constant Sorrow,” just as the Soggy Bottom Boys in the Coen brothers’ film.

“It will be silly,” Biggs says.

Also look for women’s quartet Passin’ Notes before Main Street returns to the stage to conclude the show.

Doug Borngasser, left, Bill Borah, left front, Michael Biggs and Tom Walker are a cappella quartet Tone Deaf.Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch