With several years separating its last local performance, the barbershop performance group Cascade Chorus is returning to Cottage Grove on Sunday, May 19, to perform at the Calvary Chapel as part of a fundraising effort for the Cottage Grove Carousel project.
“Barbershop harmony is very unique,” said Bob Martindale, lead section leader of the chorus. “There are things required in arranging to make it ‘barbershop harmony.’”
The group performs regularly in Eugene and other Oregon cities, seeking to preserve the musical institutions of a cappella and four-part harmonies while delivering entertainment and charitable services to communities.
It was through the Cottage Theatre that Martindale joined the barbershop chorus in 2000. As a stand-in for barbershop singers in the production of “The Music Man,” Martindale caught the attention of the Cascade Chorus.
“One of the guys came to me and said, ‘Do you sing with anybody?’” Martindale recalled. “I said, ‘not really.’ He said, ‘You do now. You’re coming with us.’”
Cascade Chorus represents a division of the larger Barbershop Harmony Society which covers swathes of the United States and Canada. Oregon’s local division was established in 1946 and has seen past membership at times number more than 100 singers. In its heyday, the division had even taken second place at the society’s international competition.
Today, the group has a little more than 30 active members who will take the stage next month in Cottage Grove in a set of performances which will include quartets Social Insecurity and Four C Sons made up mostly of Cascade Chorus members who have refined their own acts.
“The object of barbershop is to do what they call ‘ring chords,’” Martindale explained, “which when you hit the chords exactly right to create an overtone, which is the desired effect.”
Martindale’s quartet, Social Insecurity, blends the barbershop sound with comedic performances and has achieved its own notoriety by routinely placing in the top 10 of regional barbershop competitions.
The setlist for the May 19 show will include classics, showtunes and popular numbers the crowd will recognize.
“We’re doing our best to keep the ticket prices low so families can enjoy it,” said Friends of the Cottage Grove Carousel President Don Williams.
Tickets for the event will be $5. Following the musical performances, an optional all-you-can-eat waffle dinner with four choices of fruit toppings and gluten-free options will be provided for an additional $8.
Proceeds from the event will go toward the Cottage Grove Carousel, a reconstruction project which is inching toward completion.
“We’re moving the focus from construction to fundraising,” Williams said of the carousel project.
With about $90,000 remaining to be raised before the carousel can plant itself in a temporary plot that will make it accessible to the public, Friends of the Cottage Grove Carousel are hopeful fundraising events like this will help them meet their goals.
“We’re 100 percent volunteer,” said Williams. “We need to raise $1.3 million to find a permanent home for a restored carousel.”
The carousel’s lighting, computer system, and tent cover are among the last items on the construction list, but the project will only be entering another phase with its own slew of challenges once those are completed.
As a leasing agreement moves forward with Brad’s Cottage Grove Chevrolet to allow the carousel temporary space on its lot, the attraction must now look for a revenue stream.
“When we erect it onto Brad’s lot, then we will have vendors that will come in and another generating opportunity for finances,” said Friends of the Cottage Grove Carousel Vice President Alice Nowicki, “but there are still all those unknowns.”
Other potential costs such as staffing and security systems have yet to be explored and will likely continue the need for fundraising and donations of skilled labor.
“We desperately need volunteers,” said carousel board member Linda Sexton.
As well as accepting volunteers, the group is encouraging locals to sponsor items such as the horses and chariots on the carousel. Over the next several months, a number of fundraising events are also scheduled to take place.
“We want to have it operating by summer if at all possible,” Williams said.
Tickets to the Cascade Chorus performance can be found at the Cottage Grove Sentinel, Book Mine, Cascade Home Center, Chamber of Commerce in CG and Chamber of Commerce and The Creswell Chronicle and Cascade Home Center in Creswell.