Allstars a cappella comes to Glenwood
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” When he’s in front of an audience, there’s one thing Norm Silver wants above anything else.
“The idea is to have a shared experience,” said founder of the 17th Avenue Allstars. “And I think that’s important in any performance.”
But there’s just something about a cappella that makes that a little easier. Come on, how many people wouldn’t smile at a happy, all-vocal rendition of “Love Shack?”
As Silver has noticed over the last 20 years, not very many.
Since 1989, the his Allstars have found a real niche in the music world. They’ve played everything from night clubs to Broncos’ games, put out CDs and even been flown to California for private parties. Despite their success, though, this group of constantly shifting members (Silver’s the only original one) isn’t aloof or overwhelmingly arty. Instead, they’re just out to give people a good time.
“Primarily, we’re entertainers,” he explained. “That’s what we love to do. If the audience isn’t having fun, we aren’t having fun.”
That’s fairly hard to imagine, however. Just from listening to the band’s musical samples on their website, it’s obvious their songs are all bubbling over with infectious energy. Whether it’s a cover of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” or “You Can Call Me Al,” it sounds overwhelmingly upbeat.
“It’s not the tune,” insisted Silver. “It’s how it’s performed.”
For the Allstars, that means a creamy musical blend based on the “doo-wop” melodies of Silver’s Philadelphia youth. Added to that mix of voices is always one that mimics percussion instruments, as well. What usually blows people’s minds is the work of members Zack Freeman and Richard Steighner. While the rest of the Stars sing in perfect harmonies, Freeman and Steighner can also sing right into a total illusion. They’re practical drum machines, explained Silver, and people love that.
“The level of talent is just phenomenal,” he said.
Hey, even Bill Clinton thinks so.
“Those guys are great,” he once said, after seeing them play a Democratic National Convention gig.
Silver has the picture of the Allstars and the former president to prove it.
Still, for all this adulation, for all this love, the down and dirty reality of an a cappella group can be far less glamorous. At their core, they’re a working act, ready to sing wherever to whoever. Silver laughed a little as he described the “nadir” of his career. While at a corporate party or something, the group performed right in front of a buffet serving cheese to the crowd. They ended up being mobbed by folks ” not because the group was so popular but because people were waiting for a big hunk of cheddar.
“Sometimes we perform for the cheese buffet, and sometimes we perform to people who really appreciate us and appreciate the music,” he joked.
Regardless of the venue, Silver knows his job is the same. He has to give it his all, to stay positive. He’s there, like the rest of the Allstars, to connect with people.
And he does it one classic, beloved song at a time.
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