BY CYMBRE FOSTER Special to the Record-Eagle
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Jeff Belanger never dreamed he would leave as the latest member of the Cherry Capital Men’s Chorus when he went to pick up his teenage son from choir practice.
“I was picking up my son and he asked me to come in and listen to them practice,” recalled Belanger, of that night nearly a decade ago. “Someone tapped me on the shoulder, handed me a song book and I was completely hooked.”
Now the Traverse City resident, who had never sung a note before in his life, sets his watch by the choir’s Tuesday night practices.
Belanger and the rest of the barbershoppers will perform their 47th annual June concert on Saturday and Sunday, June 8 and 9, in Lars Hockstad Auditorium at Central Grade School. This year’s show, The Tunes of Our Times, will feature tuneful melodies and tight harmonies celebrating barbershop singing in America and the 75th birthday of the Barbershop Harmony Society.
“It’s never what people expect,” said Belanger. “It’s an evening of great entertainment.”
Several small ensembles will perform alongside the larger chorus, including the quartets Quad Pro Quo, Fourtitude and the Shoreliners. The chorus also will welcome guest quartet Ebb N’ Flow, an energetic quartet of four college friends brought together by a mutual love of a capella harmonies.
Belanger said that if you think the Cherry Capital Men’s Chorus is just a group of retirees, think again. He’s one of more than 50 members of the group, which includes a wide range of men from new dads to granddads.
“If you close your eyes when you’re listening to the music you would have no idea how old anyone is,” he said.
Belanger said he sings with the chorus not only for the camaraderie but for relaxation in an atmosphere where everyone is an equal.
“I have an absolute ball,” he said. “It’s time away from the rigors of life. For those two or three hours there’s nothing else in the world. No one cares who you are, what you do for a living. It’s just all about the music.”
Belanger’s son, Cam, has since moved on from the choir. But Belanger said he isn’t going anywhere.
“It’s good, good fun and there’s much laughter. You don’t get in the way of my Tuesday nights,” he joked.
The Cherry Capital Men’s Chorus gives back to the community throughout the year by donating some $7,000 from concerts and CD sales to hearing- and speech-related charities in the community and to support youth singing in local area schools. The chorus is a member of the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation.
Tickets for the group’s performances at 7:30 p.m. June 8 and 3 p.m. June 9 are $16 or $14 per person for groups of 10 or more. Tickets are available through chorus members, at The Captain’s Quarters in downtown Traverse City, online at mynorthtickets.com and by phone at (800) 836-0717.