Seth & A Cappella

I like a cappella music. These days my primary fixes come from listening to (and watching) recordings, going to concerts, and helping to run RARB, an organization that publishes reviews of a cappella albums.

I'm not currently singing with a group, but I have sung with three a cappella groups and a few choirs. My first group, The Pimentos, was formed on a whim, with the intent of just doing one open mic night. My brother, a couple friends, and I stood around listening to records (yeah, actual vinyl) and made up some parts. We practiced until we were sore and had lots of fun at our gig. We did go on and perform a couple more times in public, but mostly just jammed at home and at parties where we happened to have enough of us to carry a tune.

Then I went off to college, where my Pimento experience helped me get into The Pikers. With The Pikers, I sang a LOT and also started playing with vocal percussion, which coincidentally started coming into fashion at other schools around that time. I learned a lot about performance and its dynamics, studied zen and the art of vocal production, and recorded two albums. One song from our album On the Rocks appears on BOCA Humor, a collection of funny songs recorded by college a cappella groups.

For one semester in college, Chris Tess and I had an a cappella radio show. For two hours every Friday morning, we blasted our favorite vocal recordings through KWUR's 10W transmitter, reaching people literally miles away, if they happened to be awake and tuned in. The station didn't have much music we could use, so mostly we played our own CDs and tapes and borrowed more from friends. We struggled valiantly not to repeat any songs all semester, nor to play any group twice in one show. With our limited collections, this wasn't easy.

My singing opportunites since college have been sporadic, but the more general things I learned from my singing experiences have been relevant to every aspect of my life since then, and are probably the most valuable things I learned at school.

Since college, I did manage to form an informal group, Net Effect. We met once a week at my house, and never had any intention of performing. In theory, it was a low-stress gathering of interested people who just want to get their a cappella fix for the week. A great theory, but we weren't up to functioning without a director, and I got tired of directing after a while. Attendance was also pretty rough. We had a few dependable regulars, but not enough to carry the group. We disbanded after a few months.

I've also written for The CAN, judged the West Coast Semi-Finals of the ICCA, and judged for CARA nominations.