DoubleShot brings its happy harmonies to Freeport
It never gets old, suggests Steve Donnelly.
The Crafton resident, the music technology specialist and one-man orchestra for DoubleShot, is talking about the surprised looks on audiences' faces when they realize the complex sounds are coming only from the singers' voices.
"There are looks of surprise, excitement and plain confusion," says Donnelly, who teaches music in the Quaker Valley School District.
It is understandable, perhaps, because the award-winning DoubleShot, which refers to itself as Pittsburgh's all-vocal band, seems to be expanding an appreciation of what can be considered a cappella music.
They combine traditional and contemporary a cappella to create every sound in their show with only voices. The sextet are winners of nine awards in America's Harmony Sweepstakes, the national festival for all-vocal music, and the basis for the NBC reality series, "The Sing Off."
Brought to you free
Alle-Kiski Valley audiences will have at least two free opportunities in July to experience DoubleShot.
The group headlines a 7 p.m. performance July 8 at Riverside Drive Park, Freeport, in the Freeport Renaissance Association's summer gazebo concert series. And it was selected as opening act for the Arts on the Allegheny concert bill in Kittanning at 7 p.m. July 29, featuring Kenny Vance and the Planotones, the acclaimed national oldies vocal group.
Most people don't even know that contemporary a cappella exists, says Mike Yanchak of the North Side. He's a founder and the "vocal drummer" in DoubleShot. "I think a lot of unknowing audience members expect to see a barbershop group or a doo-wop group before seeing our show.
"During our show, you can hear sounds like drums, brass, electric guitar, bass, harmonica and even some DJ-style turntable scratching."
Mary Bowlin of the Freeport Renaissance Association praises DoubleShot as "a very unique and talented" group. "We have not had this type of performance in Freeport, so we were thrilled to be able to bring something new to our series."
Wide appeal factor
Because the group draws material from six decades and the most popular genres, Bowlin says there will be something to please all tastes in this family friendly presentation. "It will be a real musical treat, whether you are watching it from land or from a boat in the Allegheny," she says.
Pop and rock makes up the bulk of the repertoire, which can range from Metallica's interpretation of Bob Seger's "Turn the Page" to Jason Mraz's pop hit, "I'm Yours."
Yanchak suggests the act's energetic approach to performance might separate it from other a cappella groups. "When you bring passion to your performance, it's infectious," he says.
DoubleShot includes Luke Clavey and Nate Wildfire of Highland Park, Dre Johnson of the North Side, and Chris Rue of Swissvale.
When he started the group, Yanchak wanted to create a high-impact contemporary music act that just happened to not have instruments.
"We do this by creating arrangements that mimic the sound and feel of an ensemble with actual instruments," he says. "We have been told from our audience that they sometimes just flat-out forget there aren't any instruments."
"The voice is the most natural instrument," Donnelly says.Additional Information:
What: Gazebo concert series
When: 7 p.m. July 8
Where: Riverside Drive Park, Fifth Street at Riverside Drive, Freeport, near senior high rise