Singing to Honor Our Veterans

By Beacon Staff

BIGFORK – The quartet was working through one of its three set pieces to prepare for its upcoming concerts when suddenly, Tonja King, distracted by David Vale’s deep voice, started laughing.

That didn’t help anyone else in the group, including Jim Young and Carol DiNolfo, both of who ended up giggling along with her. But, as the consummate performers they are, soon they were back to business, with Vale getting them started on the round tuner.

They go by Too Sharp to Be Flat – which is abbreviated 2#2Bb – and the mixed quartet is one of several barbershop groups that will sing on Veterans Day weekend – Nov. 9 through Nov. 11 – to benefit local veterans.

The Flathead Valleyaires men’s barbershop chorus sings each year for the veterans, Vale said, but this year they have added other acts and multiple concert locations. Also singing over the weekend will be The Men with No Name, an octet selected from the chorus; Too Sharp to Be Flat; Big Sky Classic Touch, the most experienced quartet in the valley; and the Five Valley Sweet Adelines, a popular women’s chorus.

Last week, the members of Too Sharp to Be Flat gathered at King’s house to go over their three selections for the shows. As a mixed quartet, the combination of men’s and women’s voices produces an enjoyable and unique blend, giving the songs a comforting and familiar feel.

Their songs harken back to a simpler time, where sitting under the boardwalk with your sweetheart to get out of the hot sun was the best way to spend an afternoon and blues at the Tin Roof Café kept patrons up dancing until dawn.

And while the quartet has fun rehearsing and working on choreography – “in a performance, a little bit of movement goes a long way,” Vale said – they understand the goal of the concert series.

“We’re trying to make this an annual benefit for the veterans,” Young said. “My heart goes out to those guys – all veterans – but really all those guys who have been over in Iraq.”

The money raised through the concert series will go to the Northwest Montana Veterans Pantry and the Montana Wounded Warriors program. That way, all the money stays local and benefits veterans within the state, Young said.

Vale said audiences could expect many of the performances over the weekend to include patriotic numbers, but there will also be pop music, jazz and blues standards and classic love songs.

Performances will be at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, at Epworth United Methodist Church in Kalispell; 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at Columbia Falls United Methodist Church; and 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, at CrossRoads Christian Fellowship in Bigfork.

Tickets cost $10, and can be purchased at the door or at the Whitefish or Bigfork VFWs, at Norm’s News in Kalispell, Glacier Wallflower Floral Shop in Columbia Falls, or the Pocketstone Café in Bigfork.

By the time Too Sharp to Be Flat began working on their choreography, the break for laughter was smoothed over in successive song iterations and the group got down to fine-tuning its routine.

They wanted to be as good on stage as they could be, and didn’t want to dissolve into the giggles while up there – the cause is too important for that.
“That’s the greatest gift of music: to share it with others,” King said.

For more information on the Flathead Valleyaires, visit www.flatheadvalleyaires.org.

Other Veterans Day Weekend Events

Nov. 8: Veterans Day assembly at Columbia Falls High School, starting at 10:30 a.m. in the CFHS gym.

Nov. 9: Whitefish High School Student Council will be sponsoring the annual Veterans Day observance and celebration in the high school gym. The program will start at 1 p.m. and will last about an hour. The guest speaker will be Sgt. Rod Samdahl. Patriotic selections by the high school band, high school and middle school chorus, orchestra, and drum line will also be featured. Veterans valley-wide are invited to attend in uniform and community members are encouraged to attend and show their thanks and appreciation to those who have served our country.

Lakeside Elementary School will host a Veterans Day remembrance 2:15 p.m. in the Lakeside Gymnasium for all veterans and service people. If veterans would like to wear their uniforms, please do so. For more information, please call Judy at 857-3531 or the school at 844-2208.

Nov. 10-12: Enjoy a fee-free weekend in Glacier National Park in honor of Veterans Day.

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