The Green Room: The Choir Boys
The Green Room is a weekly series previewing, reviewing and featuring the bands and artists in Vienna. This weeks, Vienna-based The Choir Boys debut in a Haiti benefit
Forty years after they first met, The Choir Boys are back together and doing exactly what they did as students at James Madison High School: making music.
Members Jon Mervine, Dave Rees and John Stanard were all members of the nationally-acclaimed James Madison High School Choir in the 1960s, touring internationally and performing at the White House.
On Saturday, they'll perform together again for the first time under their new group name in a benefit for Haiti at The Soundry. All proceeds will benefit Mobilize for Haiti, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. Vienna Patch caught up with the group to ask about classical singing, rockin' vocals and what makes the Vienna music scene so special.
Vienna Patch: You've all been part of the Vienna music scene for years, but didn't play together until recently. When and how did you first meet? What were you doing then?
Choir Boys: Jon Mervine and Dave Rees met in the late 1960’s, we even went to the original Woodstock together. John Stanard came along a year or two later having moved to Vienna from San Francisco. We all got together as part of the James Madison High School Choir and Madrigals (Jon and Dave) under the Conductor and Grammy-award-winning Robert Shafer who taught at Madison at that time. We were all doing double duty as Rock musicians and Classical Choir singers.
VP:How'd you finally get together?
CB: Jon Mervine just gave John and Dave a call last September and they were enthusiastic to get a group together. We had all played in various groups but never the three of us in one band.
VP: After being in so many different groups, why do you finally feel like it's "clicking" this time?
CB: We’re friends. We like each other. And, the musical skills fit just right.
VP: Where did the name "Choir Boys" come from?
CB: We wanted to focus on the voices, how they sound together. We first thought of “The Vienna Choir Boys”, but that was taken (!) so we shortened it to The Choir Boys.
VP: You describe your sound as "vocal oriented classic rock," and you all sing. How does that make your sound different from rock groups who may focus on instrumentals? Are you planning to write originals, too?
CB: I think the music is a little lighter than instrumentally based rock. I don’t think one is better than the other – just a different slant. We have several original songs on the list now. One will be premiered at The Soundry on Saturday.
VP: How did the Haiti benefit concert come about?
CB: We asked ourselves what we wanted to do for a first gig. Dave Rees suggested a Benefit for Haiti and we all agreed. We’re going to have a good time for a good cause.
VP: What's next?
CB: We’re available for music oriented clubs, private parties, events, you name it. We’re also looking into representation. I think in the short term, we’ll be working on more original tunes and getting them recorded.
VP: What's your favorite part about the Vienna music community?
CB: I think we all feel lucky to have been part of Vienna's rich musical heritage. We come from a period of time where James Madison’s music program was nationally recognized. Madison’s Choir sang at the White House, The Kennedy Center and toured Europe. We were lucky enough to be part of that. When I look at the guest list for the show this Saturday, I see lots of Vienna people who themselves are great artists and fine individuals. One goal we have to connect up to these people and get them singing again. Even if they just sing along!
VP: If you could go back to your teenage selves at James Madison High School and say anything, what would you tell yourself?
CB: You’re experiencing something special here in Vienna. Don’t lose sight of that.
The Choir Boys will perform from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at The Soundry. Cover is $10, all proceeds will go to ‘Mobilize For Haiti’ Non-Profit Group