2003 JANUARY 4 #004
I became fascinated with School Band Music years ago in the 80's when I picked up a marching band record at a thrift store and heard interpretations of popular songs by kids. Now... there's a lot of crap to sift through when looking for school band records and most LPs will only have one good song (if that). There are exceptions to that rule, like the Lochiel and South Carvolth (Langley Schools Music Project) records that were found in Canada by Brian Linds and released on CD by Irwin Chusid. The two cuts here from the Dondero kids are fun gems and it's the first time I've heard Sweet's 'Fox On The Run' being covered by a School Band. Cream's 'Sunshine' is a bonus I included for your listening pleasure. These songs are made possible by Suzanne Baumann who found this cassette in a thrift store in 2002 and she writes, "Dondero is located in Royal Oak, Michigan. Their mascot, The Oaks. A Capella is the name of their advanced level chorus, and, as far as I can tell, has nothing to do with the style of singing they do!"
- Otis Fodder
TT-6:35 / 6.02MB / 128kbps 44.1khz
from cassette, "Pop Concert 1996"
Rowan Lubke writes (Monday May 12th):
I was watching Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs last Thursday, the Minnesota Wild playing the Vancouver Canucks at GM Place in Vancouver, and the Dondero High School Choir singing 'Fox On The Run' was broadcast over the PA. Surreal. It reminded me of the time I was in a South African supermarket and they played the Flying Pickets' a capella version of 'Only You'. What a great tune though, it damn well should be a hit ('Do It Like A Dog', too). Just thought you guys would appreciate being told about this phenomenon, in case you haven't yet been informed, and thanks for providing us all this amazing music.
Dondero singer Meghan (in
Plymouth, MI) writes:
I graduated from Dondero in 1997 and was a member of the Dondero A Cappella Choir from 1994-1997, so I was actually part of the recording you have. (I seem to recall "Fox on the Run" and "Sunshine of Your Love" being part of Pop Concert '95, not Pop Concert '96, but I could just be getting old and forgetful <g>). My favorite memory with regard to "Fox on the Run" was a lyrical dispute, in which some of the young men in the choir became absolutely convinced that Sweet was singing "They scream and everybody comes... erotic!" instead of "They scream and everybody comes... a-runnin'!". Much to the dismay of our director, Mr. Hartsoe, the choir went along with the boys' interpretation, and if you listen closely you can probably hear several members of the choir belting out "EROTIC!" during the chorus. "Sunshine of Your Love" was also a fun song to perform - I can clearly picture myself singing under the yellow stage lights, grinning over at my best friend in her sunglasses on the other side of the stage. As far as the name of the choir goes, A Cappella Choir does perform some a capella selections at most of their concerts throughout the year - Pop Concert is the notable exception. I was very privileged to work with and learn from Rick Hartsoe as a member of the Dondero A Cappella Choir, and being in Pop Concert was a challenging, exhilarating, and all together incredible experience that I wouldn't trade for anything. Thanks for bringing back some really cool memories!
Dondero high school student! Jess writes:
I graduated from Dondero in Royal Oak. My little brother is a current choir member at Royal Oak... can't make A Capella for his dear life... but even though he wasn't blessed with mad singing skills, he can use his other talents (which happen to be, well, drumming) to help out with the Dondero Pop Concert. Dondero's a relatively small school (usually around 900 students) but the one thing students put on that everyone gets excited about are not the school plays... it's Pop Concert (which usually occurs every year in march... though in recent years it's been switched around because the choir teacher --- who started Pop Concert --- had to have hip replacement surgery). Every year the A Capella kids get all excited to try out for the the few solo spots that are available. It's a mix of the whole choir singing songs... and a few soloists. I'm trying to think hard... because I graduated in 1999... so I was in attendance at Dondero in 1996... Every year, too, Hartsoe (the choir teacher) has someone put together the tape with the performance on it. In recent years, they've gotten more advanced and distribute cds. The cds are pretty much only available to choir kids. I just find it quite funny that Suzanne stumbled across the tape in a Thift Store. It's so ironic to find this MP3 on the Internet... especially since Pop Concert rehearsals start this week...so I won't be seeing my little brother until after march...
current Dondero high school student! Matt writes:
I currently attend Dondero and am in the A Cappella choir (you're half right about the name. We do sing quite a few pieces without music, but not a Pop Concert, since rock music is the whole point). I cannot believe you have an mp3 of my school! Simply amazing how something like that can end up all the way in Seattle. One thing that thought might need some correction is that it is not our Symphony Band playing. At Pop Concert, the choir uses student instrumentalists, but they don't have to be in band, choir, orchestra if they're playing things like guitar, bass, drums, or keyboards. The horns on Sunshine of Your Love are borrowed from the Symphony Band, but the other Instrumentalists are most likely Choir members or other students from Dondero. Anyway, just wanted to clear that up and give you a little bit more background on what we like to do. Another funny thing to mention is that I happen to be pretty good friends with Jess's brother (see Jess' email above), the drummer (he is amazing) and he shows good potential for making it into A Cappella.
Baumann went to see Pop Concert 2003 and she writes:
"Time of the Season" was pretty good, and they sung a mean rendition of the Doobie Brothers' Long Train Runnin', too. And one of the soloists did Elvis Costello's "Pump it Up" while jumping around onstage maniacally. For Aquarius, they turned off all the lights except for one shining on a rotating disco ball hanging over the audience. That's traditionally the way it's performed at Dondero, according to the woman who sat across the aisle from me. Oh, and while the music teacher explicitly discouraged this, audience members intermittently shouted out "POP CONCERT!!!" throughout the show for no apparent reason. Kids just couldn't contain their excitement!
Feral Jane writes:
This was a true gem -- not only is the best cover (by far) that I've heard of this song, but I think it surpasses the original! The unfinished edges, if you will, provide a much more interesting texture, as did their enthusiasm. Wish I'd been in that high school choir! I actually really enjoyed "Sunshine of Your Love," but for a totally different reason. When I was a child, an adolescent male who lived across the street from us had a band, and they rehearsed that song over and over and over for weeks. They performed it at a 4th of July party, and I was surprised to hear it had lyrics, as the singer had always been obliterated by the other musicians... anyway, adolescent covers of that tune always have a soft spot in my heart, reminding me of sweet summer days.
Alex Sirota writes:
Nice site. I was browsing your archives and noticed the Dondero song. That took me back about 20 years back or so. I used to go to high school at Southfield High School and was in the "Bluejay marching Band" and symphony and jazz band. I played trumpet and fondly remember Dondero marching Band when we competed against them. They always seemed like a cool high school, not pretentious, small, hard working. The attached songs prove that, many years later. Thanks for taking me back... I saved it in my iTunes library."
David Duke writes:
I can't stop listening to "Fox on the Run." There are a couple of singers (off to the right) who are just singing their little high-school hearts out. As someone who sang in many glee clubs and school choirs, I can appreciate their enthusiasm. And that's one kick-ass drummer! I am enjoying their cover version better than the original. It's absolutely hysterical and totally charming! I wonder if these kids were "hip" to the metaphors?
The Dondero cover of Fox On The Run was just AWESOME. It must have been a total rush to actually hear that performance live. I'm 45, and it brought back a whole bunch of memories... riding around in my van blasting that track from Sweet. To hear those kool vocal effects brought to life by just voices and NO electronics, as in the case with Sweet, was simply one of the most creative things I've heard in quite a while.