The audience trickled in to the hustle and bustle of the dynamite combo warming up for the Monterey Peninsula Voices program on Sunday, May 12, at the Santa Catalina High School auditorium. Under the direction of Dr. Sean Boulware, just the warm up was an exciting predictor of what was to come. These 100+ voices in their terrific themed tee shirts showed unflagging enthusiasm and delight to be part of this group. As a Road Trip theme might be imagined, Boulware has chosen a wealth of location songs stretching from I Left My Heart in San Franciscoto Boy From New York City with stops in between along Route 66. John Lett and Robin Jepsen soloed more than ably in Tuxedo Junction. As with many of these familiar songs the recording artist who made it famous is often more remembered than the actual composer. Erskine Hawkins wrote this piece made popular by numerous big bands as well as soloists. Hard to imagine Lynard Skynard being responsible for Sweet Home Alabama, but with the killer guitar work of Noah Reeves, the singers brought it home. Another popular song, Georgia On My Mind, is mostly remembered for the Ray Charles version. Phil Price not only soloed, but also provided his own guitar accompaniment. Next up, the tenors and basses gave a hearty treatment of Westward Ho! from the 1935 film of the same name. Actually moving eastward, Diane Ehlers gave Glen Campbell a run for his money with her version of By The Time I Get To Phoenix supported with a prerecorded backup.
The aforementioned Route 66 had the requisite walking bass line confidently executed by Jason Stout. This Bobby Troup tune featured not only soloists Rachel DeMaster and Andy Johnson, but guest conductor Larry Sill. Sill continued showing his considerable directing chops with California Dreamin’ by John and Michelle Phillips of Mamas and Papas fame. Michelle Galindo didn’t miss a lick in the cool accompaniment. A mellow version of Shenandoah followed setting the stage for a rousing Oklahoma! to end the first half. This Rodgers and Hammerstein favorite musical has been performed countless times from Broadway to community to high school productions. The small ensemble along with these singers could easily slip into this production no matter where.
Starting off the second half, Rebecca Stone added her considerable fiddling expertise to Appalachian Fiddler. As arranged by John Purifoy, three familiar folk tunes, Cotton Eyed Joe, Cumberland Gap, and Goin’ Across the Mountain are included. Again much joyful energy was exhibited not only by Stone, but the chorus as well. Next stop is jumping on the Midnight Train to Georgia with DeMaster vocally conducting that train so famously recorded by Gladys Knight and the Pips. DeMaster continued the solo duties on a knock out Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans? Price and his guitar accompanied Marisa McGuire’s wow version of St. Louis Blues. As mentioned, Boy From New York City made its appearance with Sill directing, Miriam Little as terrific soloist with Denise LaFave, Marissa McGuire and Amanda Ziobro as the doo-wop backup.
The signature Tony Bennett I Left My Heart in San Francisco was presented with John Paff and Melissa Pickford handling solos to great effect. Local composer Mark Travaille and his Mark-ets presented his humorous Foggy in PG. This almost lament described the perfect weather in Hawaii and coming home to the PG June gloom. The Broadway musical, Chicago, has many memorable melodies while And All That Jazz, is one of the most performed. Finishing off this program of travel delights were two patriotic themed selections. Lee Greenwood’s God Bless The USA’ featured Travaille as the confident soloist with the recorded background. American pride could certainly be felt vocally in Katherine Lee Bates America The Beautiful, again with a recorded background, featuring Andrew Johnson as soloist.
The rest of that “dynamite” combo featured throughout the evening included local usual “suspects” Brian Stock on trumpet, Brian Moore on trombone, Ben Herod on sax/clarinet, Craig Collord on banjo, Darrin Jay Thomas on drums in addition to Stout on bass, and Reeves on guitar.
The encore piece was From Now On as featured in the current film The Greatest Showman. Boulware continues to encourage and support all singers who have an interest in being part of a dynamic group. The audience cannot help but feel the energy from these singers and their obvious enthusiasm in being part of this community group.