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bullet Classic Urban Harmony Celebrates Vocal Harmony & the Masqueraders 50th Anniversary
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bulletStormin Norman Seldin & Return of Ray & Darchaes in Monmouth Beach NJ
 
bullet2012 Portsmouth VA Gospel Concert
 
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2008 Classic Urban Harmony European Road Trip

by Pamela Horner

 

 

 

First Stop - The Netherlands

In October, 2008, Charlie and I decided to spend our third anniversary visiting some of our music friends in Europe.  Leaving out of Newark, NJ, seven-and-a-half hours later, our plane touched down in Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport.  We were met there by, our friends, Sybrandus and Roelie Finck.  Sy and Roelie manage the Deep River Quartet, for which Sy sings bass.  The Deep River Quartet is one of Europe’s premier vocal harmony quartets.  The Dutch vocal group has been singing since 1971 and does a mix of African-American Spirituals, Jazz, R&B and Soul.  [We’ll be posting an profile on the Deep River Quartet's history soon.  In the meantime, to visit the Deeps’ website, see our Links page.]

 

Deep River Quartet's "For the Good Times Tour" Poster

 

We enjoyed Roelie and Sy’s hospitality and traveled with them to the Dutch city of Purmerend, where the “Deeps” were scheduled to sing.  We first visited the Theater De Purmaryn where we met up with the rest of the group in time to watch their sound-check.  The members of the Deep River Quartet are the same personnel who came to sing at our wedding: Sybrandus Finck (bass singer & leader); Ace Vincent (tenor); Brian Sporkslede (tenor); and Dick Rietveld (baritone).  Their band members for this performance were Joop Van Deuren (piano and keyboards), Joep Lumeij (guitar), Erik Robaard (upright bass & electric bass) and Inigo Grimbergen (drums and percussion).  The theater which was built in 1990 is very modern with 550 red velvet seats and a very stylish backstage area with a waiting area complete with flat screen TV and microwave.  This contrasted the old town outside, that we had time to enjoy a walk around.

 

 

Sybrandus Finck, deep in thought, outside the Theater De Purmaryn

 

The Deep River Quartet during sound check: (l to r): Sy, Brian, Ace, Dick

 

Some more photos from the Deeps' sound check.  Click on the photo to enlarge.
Then use the back button to return to this page.

 

Purmerend was established in the 15th century and thrives now with a population of 78,000.  A pedestrian mall is full of shops and cafes.  By the time we returned for the performance, the theater was filled with an almost sold out crowd.  The Deep River Quartet was in the middle of their “For The Good Times” tour, a program that consisted of “old skool” rhythm‘n’blues, gospel, jazz & soul.  After the band warmed the audience with a short number, the Deep River Quartet entered the stage wearing brown suits with white shirts and began their set singing “When the Saints Go Marching In”.  Other songs followed in quick order, including “Rock My Soul,” “I Cover The Waterfront” (lead by Dick Rietveld), “Peace in the Valley” (lead by Brian Sporkslede) and “Sixty Minute Man” (lead by Sy Finck).  Next Ace and Dick sang a duet on “Bring It On Home to Me.”  The first act ended with “Swing Down Chariot.”  The Deeps wowed everyone with their first act.

 

The Deep River Quartet in Purmerend

 

After a short intermission, the second act opened with the band playing “Lady Be Good.”  The Deep River Quartet entered. again looking very stylish wearing white suits with black shirts singing the Ink Spots’ “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall” with Sy doing the talking base and Dick the lead.  Other tunes sung were “Blueberry Hill”, “Whiter Shade of Pale” and “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie.”  They then sang a melody made famous by the late Dutch singer/songwriter Robert Long.  Performed in Dutch, the song was called “de Lont” (“The Wick”).  I’ve always enjoyed the quick, humorous version of “Rigoletto” that the Deeps vocalize.  In the middle of the second act, Dick Rietveld made some comments in Dutch that we didn’t understand and said “Charlie and Pam Horner.”   We both stood up and then everyone cheered.  We’re not sure what Dick said, but from the way people were applauding us, we suspect he told the crowd we’d come from America to solve the current economic crisis.  The group then closed their second act with my all time favorite, “Go Like Elijah” which is now viewable on YouTube.  What an extraordinary group this is!  They received an eight minute standing ovation.  Returned for an encore, the Deep River Quartet closed with “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”  Just a fantastic memorable night of music for fans of the Deep River Quartet who were celebration twenty-five years of performing in the theatres of The Netherlands.  

 

The Deep River Quartet and Their Band

 

After their performance the Deeps came out to the lobby to pose for photos and autograph copies of their CD’s for the fans.  People were drinking wine and having a good time talking to the group members.  One Dutch gentleman bragged to us that he’d seen the group sing six times!  The Deeps stayed there until they’d greeted all their fans.

 

 

The Deep River Quartet signing autographs

 

Ace, Brian, Dick, Pam, Charlie and Sy

 

Posing for photos

 

More backstage photos with the Deeps.  Click on the photo to enlarge.
Then use the back button to return to this page.

Pam & Dick

Charlie & Dick

Pam & Sy

Pam & Roelie

 

Don't forget to visit the Deep River Quartet's website through our Links page.  It contains lots of great photos, their show schedule and tells how to purchase their CD's and DVD's.  When you're done, hit the Back button to return to us.

 

 The Deep River Quartet's latest CD

 

 

On to France

After saying goodbye to the Deep River Quartet, we caught a quick flight to Toulouse, France to see the amazing Golden Gate Quartet.  Possibly one of the greatest vocal quartets of all time, the “Gates” have been officially performing for 74 years, with some evidence the group started even before that.  The group began in Norfolk, VA, in the 1930’s and relocated to Paris in the mid-1950’s.  They are known worldwide.

 

 

Toulouse, France

 

Checking into our hotel, we received a message that the Golden Gate Quartet would be performing live on French TV that evening.  The event, a telethon in tribute to Paris star Edith Piaf, was being telecast live from a small theatre on Paris’ Avenue des Champs- Élysées From our hotel room, we sat through two hours of a benefit, broadcast in French, which neither of us comprehended.  Finally we were rewarded with the Gates singing “La Vie En Rose.”  Coming at the end of the broadcast, the images of the Gates were squeezed to one side of the screen while the ending credits scrolled, but they still sounded terrific!  The next day we strolled the “old city” part of Toulouse and sipped wine in an outdoor cafe.  Later that afternoon, we entered our hotel to find Paul Brembly, the Gates’ long-time baritone sitting in the lobby.  Paul had been visiting with guitar legend Mickey “Guitar” Baker, who now lives in Toulouse and was turning 83 the next day.  Paul informed us that we would all leave by taxi for a sound check at the Casino of Toulouse.

 

The Casino Théâtre Barrière de Toulouse is only a year old and this was the Gates’ first appearance there.  This magnificently modern theater seats 1200 people.  The Golden Gate Quartet consists of Clyde Wright (lead tenor), Paul Brembly (baritone & guitar), Frank Davis (first tenor) and Terry Francoise (bass).  We were happy to see the Gates, having not seen them since we traveled to Spain with them in 2004.  The group’s musicians are Joel Rocher (bass), Daniel Pines (piano), and Pascal Riou (drums).  Paul directed the sound check, testing and retesting each microphone as we sat in the first row of the then empty theater.  Soon Paul was joined on stage with the rest of the Golden gate quartet.   The group ran through a few songs.  When they finished, we greeted them on stage and then prepared for dinner.  The Casino provided a long table and complimentary dinner for the group, musicians, promoters, Charlie and me.  Over dinner, Clyde reminisced about old times and Paul revealed that the Gates were going into the studio the next week to work on their next CD.  We also learned that the Gates had recently taped a couple of Christmas songs for a TV show in Geneva that would air in December.

 

The Golden Gate Quartet during sound check

 

Some more photos from the Gates' sound check.  Click on the photo to enlarge.
Then use the back button to return to this page.

Paul Brembly

Clyde Wright

Paul Brembly

The Golden Gate Quartet during sound check

 

After dinner, we excitedly took our seats in the now packed concert hall.  The Golden Gate Quartet entered the stage without the band, looking handsome in black tuxes.  They were alternately bathed with blue and red spot lights.  They opened up with and acappella versions of “The Troubles of This World” and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot.”  Clyde lead the second number with Terry doing a talking bass part.  On the next song “God Almighty’s Gonna Cut You Down,” Clyde played guitar and Paul did the narration.  The Gates sang just about all of their songs in English.  Paul spoke to the crowd in English but Clyde sometimes spoke in French.  Though Clyde did many of the leads, each member of the Gates got a chance to lead on some songs.  Clyde led with his own composition, “Child Of God.”  Frank Davis, a former nine-year member of the Soul Stirrers, usually led on the straight Gospel numbers like “Only Believe” and “Sit Down Servant.”  Paul did the narration leads on many of the Spirituals.  Terry did the bass leads on songs like “Cheer the Weary Traveler.”  The Gates sang many songs and I can’t mention them all but some favorites were “Down By The Riverside (Study War No More),” “Gospel Train” where Frank did a vocal imitation of a horn and a very powerful song led by Clyde called “The Waterside.”  Paul also demonstrated some great footwork during the group’s version of “Noah.”  Another powerfully emotional song written and led by Clyde Wright.  The song was "My Pay," and its lyrics were a prayer for the victims worldwide of AIDS and drug addiction.  The Gates did two sets, each lasting for over an hour.  The group ended the second set with “Oh Happy Day” and left the stage.  The audience was on it’s feet stamping and clapping for what seemed like five minutes.  Finally, the Gates returned to sing “The Banana Boat Song (Day-O).”  They left the stage again and more rhythm clapping and foot stomping occurred until the group again returned to do a second encore of “Amen.”  Clyde snapped his fingers and the audience joined with him.  What a remarkable concert this was!

 

The Golden Gate Quartet: (l to r): Terry, Paul, Clyde & Frank

 

Some more photos from the Golden Gate Quartet performance in Toulouse.
Click on the photo to enlarge.
Then use the back button to return to this page.

 

After the show, the casino had a champagne reception for the Gates, the band, and a few guests.  We all celebrated a job well done.

 

 

Paul, Frank Terry & Charlie

 

Gislaine, Clyde & Charlie

 

Pam & Paul

 

More backstage photos of the Golden Gate Quartet in Toulouse.
Click on the photo to enlarge.
Then use the back button to return to this page.

Terry & Frank

Charlie & Pam (Photo by Paul Brembly)

Charlie, Pam & Joel

 

On to Paris

 

The next day Charlie and I flew to Paris for some sightseeing.  The following evening, we were pleased to get an invitation to visit the home of Clyde Wright.  The always charming Clyde entertained us with stories of growing up in Charlotte and singing with quartets like the Southern Brothers, the Golden Bell Quintet, the Selah Jubilee Singers and the Sultans, all before joining the Golden Gate Quartet in 1954.  He talked to us about returning to the States recently to attend the funeral of his cousin Nappy Brown (Clyde wrote “Don’t Be Angry”).  Charlie has known Clyde for more than fifteen years and thought he knew a lot about Clyde’s career but was amazed by what Clyde told him.  As Clyde related information to us about his early years as a performer, Charlie feverishly scribbled notes.  We’ll post a nice feature about Clyde Wright on this website in the near future.  In the meantime, if you read French, Clyde’s biography is still available.  We're considering learning French, just to read this great book!  The Gates also have a great new CD ("Live &0 Years Around the World") and DVD ""The Golden gate Quartet: Live du jazz a Vienne") out.  The CD is available through Amazon.com as an mp3 download only, though we obtained a hard copy of the CD in France.  The DVD and biography are available through Amazon.fr or through Clyde's website, which can be reached through out Links page.  We also went out to dinner with Clyde and Gislaine in a wonderful French Bistro and thank all of the Gates for their kind hospitality.

 

Pam, Clyde, Gislaine and Charlie in Paris

 

Clyde Wright's biography

 

The Golden Gate Quartet's new DVD

 

The Golden Gate Quartet's new CD

 

 

On to Spain

Madrid's Plaza de la Cibeles, where Spanish acappella groups sometimes
gather near the fountain for a "battle of the groups"

 

From Paris we flew to Barcelona and then Madrid, hoping to catch some Spanish acappella groups.  Unfortunately, we missed seeing some of the Barcelona groups and by the time we got to Madrid, the weather was rainy, preventing acappella groups from competing around the fountain at the Plaza de la Cibeles.  Oh well, there’s always next year.

We did run across a great rock & roll street band on Calle Preciados in Madrid.  These guys were great.  Sort of a cross between Jimmy Preston’s Prestonaires and Joe Houston’s band.  And they did sing on a couple numbers.  If anyone can identify them from these photos, please let us know. 

Madrid's mystery street band... Who are they?

 

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