It's your everyday music success story. Post clips of a performance your disbanded group did eight years earlier on YouTube, have a CEO of a major record label watch it, and offer you a recording contract. It's completely practical and probable, right? OK all facetiousness aside, that is in fact what happened with Straight No Chaser, the a cappella band that originated at Indiana University, who will be performing in The Showroom at Horseshoe Casino this Friday October 1 at 7:30.
Co-founder Randy Stine posted those clips with no intent that it would result in stardom. Yet in 2007 alone, the group's version of The 12 Days of Christmas was viewed more than seven million times. (It now has over 11 million views.) After seeing the video, Atlantic Chairman and CEO Craig Kallman, e-mailed Stine, so Stine and fellow founder Dan Ponce were flown to Los Angeles to meet with him. A few days later, they shared the news with the rest of the band. And that quickly, all ten members were in New York City signing a recording deal. It's the stuff of Disney movies minus any saccharine kids or hint of paternal absence.
If a male a cappella group seems like a stuffy proposition more akin to straight-laced quartets in stiff blazers harmonizing in a 1940s movie, Straight No Chaser quickly dispels that notion. You have to have a good sense of humor to perform a medley of TV songs. Never have the themes to Growing Pains and Perfect Strangers sounded so good.
This Friday's show will pull heavily from their current and first non-Christmas release, With a Twist, which marked their highest debut on the Billboard 200, at #29. The album also debuted at #6 on the Internet Albums chart, and at #15 on the Digital Albums chart. With a Twist also had the 5th largest pre-order in Atlantic's history. So, all of this points to the fact that the band is not just a Christmas band. The new album features well known songs like The Red Hot Chili Peppers' Under The Bridge, Coldplay's Fix You, Crowded House's classic Don't Dream It's Over, and Oasis' Wonderwall. A swinging version of Tainted Love and an inspired take on Queen's You're My Best Friend are also highlights.
This fall's tour takes on an unexpected - no pun intended - twist after co-founder Dan Ponce, who organized SNC during the fall of 1996, recently left the band to pursue television at WGN in his hometown of Chicago. He was a reporter at WLS when the call came from Atlantic Records. Like the rest of the band, he dropped his job at the time to pursue the unexpected dream. However, much like the Straight No Chaser version that currently takes up residence at IU as an ongoing group featuring talented campus undergrads (more than 50 members have passed through the group's ranks so far), the nationally know "graduate" version of Straight No Chaser is poised to move on even in light of Ponce's absence. Other original members remain from the ‘90s incarnation including Stine, Charlie Mechling, Jerome Collins, David Roberts, and Walter Chase.
No doubt the newer members have been incorporated into the fold carefully and are there because they deserve to be, possess both vocal and musical talents, and have a good sense of humor. It's hard not to have a sense of humor when you are performing intricately woven harmonies on the theme to a sit com centered around a shepherder from a fictional island showing up on at his uptight American cousin's doorstep with the goal of becoming a U.S. citizen.
Oh, and with Christmas less than three months away, maybe they'll even sing The 12 Days of Christmas.
You can purchase tickets by visiting the Horseshoe website. Despite the fact that this is family-friemndly entertainment, you must be at least 21 to attend concerts at Horseshoe.