Friday, January 13, 2017

Looking Back on the Jan 10th Chapter Meeting

For historians, there was no chapter meeting on Dec. 27th nor on Jan. 3rd.


However, a number of Harmonizers went to the annual “Blast” party hosted by the Dundalk Chapter in Glen Burnie on Dec. 27th.  Here are some notes from the event from reporter Kellen Hertz (thanks Kellen).

The Harmonizers who were there that I remember: Chuck Hunter, Sam McFarland, Tim Buell, Carl Kaufmann, Tony and Bill Colosimo, Tom Jackson, Christian Hoff, Andrew Havens and me . Sean Devine was there from Parkside and a bunch of other guys from Hershey).   Former district champs quartet ROUTE 1 sang. CAPRI was the judging quartet  and  Rick Taylor was emcee.  As far as the impromptu quartet contest went, second  place was the FREELANCERS 2.0, consisting of Bobby Seay VI (lead), Rob Seay V (tenor), Tyler Horton (bass), and Douglas Beach (bari). They sang a comedy song originally done by the FREELANCERS and 3 of them are descendents from the original members.

The Jan. 10th meeting at Durant was back to normal.  Associate director Tony Colosimo did the warm up session and then turned the chorus over to director Joe Cerutti who is proudly starting his 10th year at the helm. Prior to the 7 pm start, many members and family members helped get risers and chairs up.  In addition, the board was having its regular meeting in an office, a quartet was working in another room, and the music team was meeting on the stage.

Joe was excited to share news about the coming year and reported that he and the team have chosen all the songs that we will be singing in ‘2017.  Those songs will begin to appear on Groupanizer right away.

Since we are meeting on Jan. 17th at First Baptist to do some recording, Joe worked with the chorus to polish up “White Christmas” and “Gloria” which we had sung in our holiday show.

Then Joe spoke some about our efforts in ’17 to work on diversity and to discover the musical roots of our barbershop harmony music – with help from the recent grant of $15,000 the chapter received from the BHS. Related to that, Joe taught us part of a gospel song, “There Must Be a City,” by rote. It will be part of our work and our shows with the Grammy winning gospel quartet FAIRFIELD FOUR this year. We will also co-sponsor the city of Alexandria’s Gospel Fest at Durant.

Joe also clarified that we will be singing some of our former top-hits like “Summertime” and “New York New York” next year – especially for our road trip to the sing for our barbershop friends in the Northeast District in up-state New York.

Executive director Terry Reynolds conducted the chapter meeting.  There was a plea for all guys to turn in Santa hats to Bob Blair.

President Randall Eliason reported the latest updates on Terry and Ginger Jordan.

He also encouraged every member to attend the annual Presidents’ Banquet on Sat. Jan 28th at the Elks Club.  See Art Medici to pay for or at least reserve seats.  Just $25 each.

Secretary Chris Buechler thanked all those members who had paid dues recently.  Chris also reported a little on his health situation and his need for a kidney and thanked all for cards and calls.

Membership director Rich Hewitt introduced four singer guests and welcomed Doug Smith who came by to see old friends.

The break was a busy one and many guys grabbed some goodies and drinks.  Thanks to those who brought in things to share – always welcome.

After break, we were seated for a State of the Chapter session. Terry reviewed our accomplishments for 2016. He thanked men who are leaving the operations team and welcomed some new appointments.   (Readers should watch for the report to be released by Terry soon.) He did stress that this year’s goal is to have the ops team folks actually lead teams and not do all the work themselves.  Every member will be asked to serve on some team.  Family members can serve too. And some Tuesday nites will be used for team meetings!

Then Joe spoke from prepared notes about major efforts this year to improve the singing quality of the performing chorus.  He shared that there will be some changes in the audition processes used for new members including more efforts on the integration of new men into the chorus with emphasis on helping guests not be overwhelmed. There will be one-on-one meetings with every singer to share with them the personal goals the music team sees for that person after reviewing skills and abilities.

The musical leaders will enforce and uphold four standards - every Harmonizer must (1) demonstrate the ability to learn and sing accurately; (2) know individual strengths and weaknesses; (3) be able to convey the message of the songs vocally and visually; and (4) demonstrate the drive to be passionately committed.

Joe thanked the current section leaders: Rich Savage who has been the tenor leader for many years; Josh DesPortes, lead; Reed Livergood, baritone; and Andrew Havens and Tom Jackson, bass.

New section leaders will be Brian Ammerman for tenor; Reed Livergood for lead; Chuck Hunter for baritone; and Andrew and Tom again for bass.

The repertoire is set for 2017. There will be four contest songs released and prepared for the chorus to take to Harmony University this summer in Nashville. There will be a few songs added to the Patriotic package that we do – one neat feature is that these songs will include some standards that alumni members of the chorus can sing at Dog Days and Market Square and Veterans Day.



There will be the gospel songs for the special efforts in ’17; return of some show songs and a few new holiday songs to use on the December show.

A full calendar of dates and shows and events was also projected on the screen and Terry promises it will also be distributed to all members.  Stay tune

In other news, Craig Kujawa, coordinator of our chapter’s SCRIP sales program, reports that we earned $1.824 in 2016 by using the program.  Last year it was only $915.

Some stats: over $39,300 worth of plastic and electronic/mobile gift cards were purchased by program participants; the average rebate earned was 4.64%; 95% of the revenue was earned by just 10 (ten!!) people, whose average for the year was $173.12 each. Here are the Scrip Champions for 2016:

Fifth - Craig Kujawa  Scrip purchases: 38. Rebate Revenue: $161.00. Average Rebate: 6.79%. No ‘big’ purchases here, but he bought everything from Starbucks, Chipotle, Southwest Airlines, Groupon, Home Depot, IHOP, usually all from his phone in the store (ScripNow!).

Fourth - Chuck McKeever  Scrip purchases: 9. Rebate Revenue: $243.00. Average Rebate: 5.22%.  Chuck is a relatively new participant, but is a great example of how easy it is to have a big impact. As one would expect, he’s “all in” and purchased everything from iTunes gift cards, Home Depot for a major home improvement project, and Hilton for use at Midwinter in San Antonio.

Third - Ken Ives Scrip purchases: 20. Rebate Revenue: $256.00. Average Rebate: 4.00%. Ken has one plastic gift card (Safeway). It’s registered to his, and he reloads it (often) from his bank account because he’s signed up for PrestoPay. Result? $250 a year for the chorus. Simple. Boom.

Second - Ken Fess Scrip purchases: 25. Rebate Revenue: $296.80. Average Rebate: 3.04%.Although he didn’t earn the most in rebates, Ken purchased the largest quantity of scrip by face value, and all of it was electronic (no plastic). He could have used it to purchase practically anything because over 98% of it was for

First - TJ Jones (last year’s runner-up) Scrip purchases: 21. Rebate Revenue: $310.15. Average Rebate: 5.55%. TJ bested everyone (and his total last year of $239.65) because he did it all. He has a reloadable plastic Safeway card, like Ken Ives, but also a reloadable Subway, Taco Bell, and even ExxonMobil and Sunoco plastic cards for gas. He made plenty of ScripNow! purchases on his phone like Craig, too, including everything from Potbelly and Panera, to Buffalo Wild Wings and the Container Store.

Here are the rest of the Top 10, who deserve honorable mention: Randal Eliason, Ian Poulin, Carlos Barillo, Christina Ammerman and Ninamarie Maragioglio.

Until next time – editorjack!

(This message is prepared for your review if you were there, for your information if you had to miss, and as a historical record of the great things going on each week during the 68th year of the Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter. —YeEd