The Huron Valley Harmonizers
Emcee Art Holst, a former football referee, opened up with a series of one-liners that came straight from Johnny Carson's playbook. The Huron Valley Harmonizers, an all-male choir with a female director, Lynne Peirce, sang some numbers, including a love song pantomimed by a pair of ballroom dancers. Then individual quartets and other smaller ensembles took the stage one by one, their three-song sets punctuated by more humor from Holst and by a series of recurring skits performed on minisets at either side of the stage slapstick routines about a practical-joker clown, and reenacted episodes of The Bickersons. One of these smaller ensembles was a guest group from the northern Lower Peninsula, the Four Man Fishin' Tackle Choir, who offered a variety of familiar tunes retexted to refer to the joys of fishing in Michigan and rendered with a sheer vocal artistry hard to find in small-town Michigan in any other tradition. Another group was a gospel octet from suburban Detroit called Seek to Be. Gospel and barbershop have influenced each other mightily along the way. Each of the seven or eight small groups that performed had its own style and look. The choir came back at the end, humming as Holst intoned, "Every year, more and more, our annual show becomes a reunion of families and a celebration of friendship."