When most people hear the word barbershop, they might think of a red- and blue-striped barber’s pole, a swiveling leather chair or a man with shiny silver scissors in his hands.
When Dan Pierce hears the word “barbershop,” it means it is time to sing.
“It’s a unique blending of notes,” Pierce said.
Pierce is the secretary and a singer in the Palouse Harmony Chorus, an a cappella singing group that is one of the 800 North American chapters of the Barbershop Harmony Society — the world’s largest all-male singing society.
Pierce is one of the original members of the group, which will perform its fifth annual spring concert, “One More Song: An Evening of Barbershop Harmony,” this weekend at Living Faith Fellowship in Pullman.
The show will feature headlining Western Washington barbershop quartet “Cheers!” and five other chorus and quartet groups from across the region. Past shows have seen audiences of between 450 and 600 people, Pierce said.
The barbershop singing style is different from other choir forms, with three vocal parts revolving around a lead melody voice, Pierce said.
Another singer, the tenor, then harmonizes above the lead. A baritone singer fills in note gaps and the bass singer carries the lowest harmonizing notes. Each of the singers can have the melody in a song, but it is commonly the second voice in the quartet, Pierce said.
Ross Bricklemyer, director of PHC and a doctoral soil science student at WSU, said he loves when a barbershop chord creates a “lock and ring,” an unsung fifth tone created when a quartet is harmonizing just right.
“You just don’t hear those harmonies in today’s music anymore,” he said.
Bricklemyer said barbershop takes its name from the early part of the 20th Century, when barbershops were common places for men to socialize while waiting for hair cuts. The men would often sing together.
Barbershop also has roots in African-American and gospel singing styles from the late 1800s, Pierce said.
The songs performed are generally traditional songs from the 1930s, 1940s and earlier, Pierce said.
Bricklemyer said PHC tries to include a mix of comedic songs, ballads and more.
Songs PHC will perform on Saturday include the depression-era “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” and the World War I-era “So Long, Mother,” Pierce said.
The PHC was founded in spring 2007 and was officially named a chapter of the BHS in 2008. A non-profit organization, PHC performs at many local functions, including banquets, luncheons, meetings, holiday events, as well as at high schools and universities, Pierce said.
The chorus has 18 members ranging in age from 20 to 70, and holds public rehearsals from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. every Monday at the First United Methodist Church in Moscow, Idaho. Pierce said they would love to have more members.
“We’re always in recruiting mode,” he said.
The concert will take place at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Living Faith Fellowship, located at 1035 S. Grand Ave. in Pullman. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (70 and older), $5 for students with I.D. and free for children 6 and younger.
Tickets can be purchased at the door or at several local retail outlets in the Moscow-Pullman area.
For more information visit www.palouseharmonychorus.com or call (208) 301-0608.