Quartet to help ring in holidays in Aspinwall

The Sweatermen will perform in Aspinwall this weekend.
The Sweatermen will perform in Aspinwall this weekend.
Tawnya Panizzi
| Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A quartet of local men will stroll the streets of Aspinwall Saturday, Nov. 16, singing tunes to boost spirits and broadcast their craft.

“People enjoy barbershop harmony but they're surprised that it's still popular,” said Buzz Miller, an Oakmont resident and member of The Sweatermen a cappella group.

“The older people are aware of it, the younger ones are surprised. They think we're a bunch of old fogies but they're pleasantly surprised when they hear it.”

The Sweatermen entertain as part of a larger, regional group called the Steel City Harmonizers, a chorus which earned the Plateua AA Championship under the national umbrella of the Barbershop Harmony Society.

The foursome will sing holiday tunes during the Holiday Celebrations in Aspinwall from 2 to 6 p.m.

The borough's Chamber of Commerce is hosting the festivities that include cookies, crafts and photos with Santa.

Miller, 71, started singing only about a dozen years ago despite having been familiar with barbershop harmony as a child “back when ‘The Music Man' became popular.”

“I always liked it but I wasn't aware there was any place you could do it,” he said.

Miller got involved with a church choir and was then invited by a friend to check out the Steel City Harmonizers.

“I was hooked right away,” Miller said.

The Barbershop Harmony Society dates back to 1938 when it was founded by Owen Cash in Tulsa, Okla. It has grown to include 25,000 members.

Roger McQuaid, born and raised in Aspinwall, serves as The Sweatermen's tenor. Singing since the 1970s, his passion was stoked after his wife joined a similar women's group, The Sweet Adelines.

“One of the things that I've been so pleased with as I get older is that I can keep singing,” McQuaid said, adding that he has performed with people of all ages. “I sang with a guy in Baltimore who was 95.”

He looks forward to the wandering show in Aspinwall as a way to educate the crowd about barbershop four-part harmony. Song selections range from 1940s hits to The Beatles to today's favorites. He said that typically, people will stop in their tracks to listen.

“The main thing people know about barbershop is that it's a quartet,” McQuaid said. “It's magnificent when you can hear the chords creating overtones and undertones.

“It's something nice about knowing you're giving away something that's making people happy.”

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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