SAN ANGELO, Texas — When someone mentions “barbershop music,” stereotypical red and white striped vests, string bow ties, and straw boater hats can be envisioned, and a “that’s old-fashioned” thought or two may run through your mind. All stereotypes have some basis in reality, and that old-fashioned barbershop quartet “look” has a well-earned reputation.
While there are deep traditions and a rich history to be proud of and honor, the “barbershop” a capella vocal artform has experienced transformations in recent times, earning a respected place in modern-day contemporary singing circles. And the best, award-winning, well-known chorus in West Texas is right here in San Angelo.
This year, Mark Clark, the Musical Director for San Angelo’s Twin Mountain Tonesmen A Capella chorus reaches a significant member milestone. Mark has been a member of the National Barbershop Harmony Society for 50 years.
“I’ve been in two different quartets that sung at the Texas Ranger baseball games and singing in front of 40,000 people is a thrill,” Clark says.
But it isn’t always about the performances and the recognition for Mark and the other barbershop members. They sing for the enjoyment of music and the camaraderie they have with one another.
Clark says “the best thing about it is the people that we sing with, the people that are in the Tonesmen, the friends we make.”
The National Barbershop Harmony Society was formed in 1938 by Owen C. Cash and Rupert I. Hall in Tulsa Oklahoma. The beloved society story of “26 men on a roof” who sang and harmonized to some old songs for several hours that started a movement boasting thousands of members worldwide today is printed and shared in each music chart today.
The Tonesmen invite all male singers to their practices held each Monday at 7:29 p.m. in the Celebration Hall of 1st United Methodist Church, 37 E Beauregard Ave, San Angelo. More information can be found at their website, https://www.tonesmen.org/ or on the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/tonesmen.
The chorus is currently composed of members of all ages, from 11 years old to 80 and beyond, and singers from many backgrounds and professions. All are welcome.
The chorus is planning a guest night, more information will be forthcoming on that event.
The next scheduled concert is at Wall High School on Veterans Day, then the annual Christmas Concert, where new members are encouraged to try the chorus out (no music to memorize, no commitment, just have a great time performing some cherished Christmas songs).