SenateAires and Oregon Spirit Together Again

Once again, the men of the SenateAires Chorus have been given the privilege of singing at the Holiday Show for the amazing ladies of the Oregon Spirit Chorus.  The first weekend of December, we will appear on stage with the award-winning women’s chorus to spread some holiday cheer and make some spirits brighter with holiday music raised to the rafters.  With Festive Fun Favorites and Happy Holiday Harmonies, we will join our voices to make merry and sing of good will and great joy.

The fun will take place at the Dayspring Fellowship Center in Keizer on Saturday, December 2, 2023.  You should secure your tickets early to be guaranteed a spot.  Simply click on the announcement image to be taken to the Oregon Spirit website where you can secure yours now!  If you prefer, you can also follow this link to obtain your tickets.

Magical Night for a Harmony Cabaret

SenateAires sing for large crowd at Harmony CabaretOn Saturday, May 20, the SenateAires hosted an evening of harmony and fun to a huge crowd (more than 200 were in attendance) at the Salem Elks Lodge.  The night featured the awesome ladies of the Oregon Spirit Chorus, and quartets from the SenateAires as well as That’s the Spirit quartet from the OSC.  Also in attendance were the awesome One Man Short quartet featuring award-winning voices and over-the-top entertainment. The night also helped benefit the Marion/Polk Food Share as donation barrels were filled with canned goods and stable dry foods to help out our neighbors who often don’t know where the next meal is coming from.  The SenateAires are proud to align with the Food Share to help support their mission.

It had been some time since our last major public performance, but that didn’t stop the crowd from enjoying the evening.  Some said that the audience had almost as much fun as the performers.  A number of new songs as well as a couple of familiar standards brought forth resounding cheers and applause as the Choruses and Quartets entertained with the passion and joy that is Barbershop Harmony.  A special shout out to the staff of the Salem Elks Lodge for helping us make this a magical night, culminating with Barbershoppers from the audience joining the performers to sing “Keep the Whole World Singing,” the anthem of the Society.Barbershoppers in attendance at the Harmony Cabaret join the chorus for Keep the Whole World Singing

Did someone say 90 ???

Our regular rehearsal on March 23 was especially great because we were privileged to spend the evening with one of our own celebrating his 90th trip around the sun. Yes, Hardin King turned 90 this week, and to celebrate the event at rehearsal, he blessed us by bringing three of his daughters to share the evening in song.

Margaret, Helen Liola and KC helped to make the evening complete and allowed us to sing a few songs for them.  They were a tremendous audience and we certainly hope they’ll be back.  Two of the young ladies came from Eastern Oregon, while KC won the award from traveling the furthest – all the way from New Jersey.  It was a tremendous honor to share the evening with them, and we thank them – and Brother Hardin – for being so gracious and loving.  We hope to see them again very soon!

SenateAires Awards Dinner

On Saturday, February 18, the SenateAires Chorus members, their spouses, and invited guests met for dinner to consider the Chapter events of 2022.  Led by Chapter President Bob Cox the group reminisced over the many successes of 2022.  After introductions of the spouses present, Bob went through some of the exciting times we had last year, including the Festival in April, the blockbuster show in June, and all the great times we enjoyed bringing our craft to many of the shut-in seniors in some of the assisted living facilities near us.  Bob took time to recognize the Board Members for their contributions throughout the year, as well as the new and returning chorus members who have recently become active in our chorus.

The “Rookie of the Year” award was presented to David Russell by the chapter president.  Bob commented how David had joined the chorus late last year and had hit the ground running during his first year with the SenateAires, always looking to help wherever he could and making great strides in honing his craft.

Director Will Fox recounted many of the accomplishments we have seen in our musicality and talked about some of the great things still to come throughout the upcoming year.  He thanked the Music Team for their help during 2022, and shared some of the upcoming events the Team is working on.  Will then presented the “Most Improved Singer” award to Mark Puhlman. Since joining the chorus in mid Spring 2022, Mark has worked steadily to become the best singer he can.

Near the end of the evening, the prestigious “BARBERSHOPPER OF THE YEAR” award was handed out by last year’s recipient Don Butler.  Don talked about the award, how it was voted on by the members, and how it was a testament to the dedication of that one individual in every group who always seems to be there when there’s a project, who always drives the group forward, and who is recognized by the group as that one individual who has, above all others, made our group better by their dedication and hard work.  This year’s recipient, by a landslide vote, was Chapter President BOB COX.  Without fail, Bob has made so many things happen during 2022, and the members voted, by landslide, to recognize him for all he has done.  Congratulations Bob – and to all of the SenateAires – for another great year.

Guest Night a Success!

At our first regular rehearsal in January 2023, the SenateAires hosted a Guest Night/Open House at the Salem Family YMCA, inviting all who may be interested to join us for an evening of fellowship, learning, and singing together.  We saw several former members return to the fold as well as a number of new guests.  All present were treated to an hour of learning about our craft, learning a song and a “tag” then having the opportunity to sing it together both as a group and in quartets!  Our director led us in learning a “polecat” section by section, then singing it as a group and in quartets.  Bob Martindale, our resident Tagmaster, taught a new tag to the group, and we were able to sing it as a chorus, and also in quartets.  There were refreshments, both for the body and the soul, as our voices joined together to fill the building with harmony,

Thank You Marquis Tualatin!

Christmas Extended!  The SenateAires were scheduled to sing for the Tualatin Marquis Assisted Living residents the week before Christmas – but Mother Nature had other ideas.  Because of freezing rain, icy roads, and near-blizzard conditions at times, we were forced to postpone our performance.  However, we would not be denied the opportunity to spread some Holiday Cheer.  On January 5, the men from the SenateAires joined forces to extend the Holiday Season a bit and sang for a room full of very grateful residents.  Toe tapping, chair dancing, and all-round mirth were on the menu when the residents – ranging in age from early retirement to several very charming ladies who proudly declared they were 97 and 98 years young.  We can’t thank them enough for letting us come and share our craft.  Not sure who got the greatest amount of joy – the audience who were ear-to-ear smiles, or the singers, who were ear-to-ear smiles!

Senator and SenateAires Together

To say the day was “electric” is selling it short. The SenateAires were asked to sing a few songs for the Honorable Senator Peter Courtney’s retirement party on December 13, 2022. The event was held at the Salem Family YMCA, just steps from the Senate Chambers, and there was a buzz in the air to be sure. Festive decorations adorned the space, including balloons, party tables and, of course, lots of refreshments. The Senator was very gracious and posed for a picture with the group of SenateAires singers present for the afternoon festivities. We certainly wish Senator Courtney the very best in his retirement, and look forward to seeing him in the audience of another SenateAires performance! Thank you, Senator Courtney, for all of your service to Oregon.

A whole new spin on “Playing in the Yard”

Saturday afternoon filled with friends, fun, and lots of FA LA LA. That’s what took place on December 4 in Salem when the Oregon SenateAires Chorus joined forces with the Oregon Spirit Chorus to bring the joy of music to the crowd at The Yard – a Food Park and Event Center in Salem. Locals know The Yard as a wonderful place to relax, tickle your taste buds with lots of different types of fare, and enjoy some entertainment. When Oregon Spirit Chorus, those awesome ladies of Salem’s Sweet Adelines award-winning a cappella singing group, invited us to join them for their Spirit of the Holidays show we didn’t hesitate. We absolutely jumped at the chance to sing for an audience and to spread some harmony and cheer alongside our friends and fellow choristers. In front of a crowd of a hundred and fifty or so, Oregon Spirit enchanted the listeners with their sweet melodies and harmony. After their first set, they sat back and relaxed while the SenateAires took the risers to fill the room with Holiday cheer in song. The crowd was very gracious and many remarked that they were so glad to once again watch a live performance. Fun, food, harmony, and even a little libation were the order of the day. Thank you Oregon Spirit for inviting us to share, and thank you to “The Yard” for allowing us to spread some cheer.

SenateAires do Butteville

Finally – after many months of singing for ourselves (and for ourselves exclusively!) a number of the SenateAires performed live at the Butteville Community Church Holiday Bazaar. On the afternoon of November 20, the group was able to stand in front of an audience and perform our craft. What a heartwarming feeling to finally be able to share our love of a cappella harmony with the adoring crowd. In a mix of secular and Christmas holiday tunes, the chords rang out to so many loving ears. Decked out in holiday sweaters (and a couple of jackets that were even louder than the entire bass section) the group brightened the spirits of all in attendance. We are so grateful for the opportunity to sing for Butteville Community Church’s Holiday Bazaar – and hope to be able to return next year! Now, we’re off to prepare for our next singing event in Newberg on December 2, when we’re set to lift the spirits of the residents at the Marquis Post-Acute Rehab Center. Stay Tuned!

Rehearsing outside at Riverfront Park

Why just rehearse when you can also entertain!

With the weather in the 70’s we decided to hold our regular Thursday night rehearsal in the park.  We decided to take advantage of the beautiful outdoors and avoid having to wear masks inside.  We chose Salem’s Riverfront Park, overlooking the historic Willamette Queen Riverboat.  Of course, we made sure to keep a reasonable social distance from each other.  We wandered to several areas to provide some entertainment for families who were also taking advantage of the scenic setting along the banks of the Willamette River.  Dog walkers, joggers, and even bicyclists stopped to listen to some great old songs, and even a few new ones.  Even though it was technically a rehearsal, we decided to wear our “new” casual performance outfits.  Pretty great, don’t you think?  The crowds sure loved it, with several of them following us around the park as we moved to different locations to sing.  We definitely plan to come back to this great venue in the weeks to come!

Singing at Mt. Angel Towers

Serenading Beverly

The month of August brought a chance to sing for the lovely Beverly along with her friends and fellow residents at the Mt. Angel Towers. Thankfully, the warm weather made it possible to enjoy the outdoor setting. On their beautiful patio, overlooking the manicured lawn, a group of our chapter serenaded Beverly and her friends to celebrate her special day, and then joined her in some lovingly prepared refreshments of fresh fruit, punch and cupcakes. It was truly a special time enjoyed by all.

Early SenateAires - 1956

A Chorus is Born

A friend recently asked me if I had more of the history of the SenateAires as he was writing a paper on vocal music in the Northwest.  We dug around in the archives (Thanks, Hardin!), and found this article written by one of the long-time members of the SenateAires, Andy Staat, in August 1994.  It was entitled “Salem Senate-Aires Beginnings”  I found it a very interesting read, and hope you will enjoy it as well:


Group singing of barbershop songs was first heard in Salem in the long since defunct Isaac Walton Clubhouse which overlooked both Pringle Creek and its Park at 500 South Cottage Street. The building no longer exists, and a low-income high-rise apartment building has taken its place.A couple dozen men, mostly Rotarians, promoted the idea of forming a barbershop chorus chapter in June of 1953. A World War I veteran, Ted Nelson, was their “knowledgeable sparkplug.”

Infrequent sing-along meetings were held by interested parties in this clubhouse the rest of that year and for the first eight months of 1954. A request for chartering an S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A. chapter was answered by the then barbershopper’s International Secretary, Bob Hafer: “Line up at least 25 enthusiastic men who want to go for it!”

This was done, and on November 10th of 1954 the Salem SenateAires sang themselves into being at Morningside School. Through the payment of $5 dues by 28 charter members, Kenosha, Wisconsin officials granted us membership into their unique and illustrious singing society. [In actuality $120 included a $50 charter fee; the $2.50 per member assessment, totaling $70 was to pay for the Harmonizer’s” publication, plus general expenses.]  We were sponsored by the Eugene-Springfield Chapter, whose incomparable and well-liked chorus leader, Bud Leabo, was destined to take us to International Competition in San Antonio, Texas in 1964, and later was to become our twelfth chorus director from 1978 to his untimely death in 1981.

Our first “home” was a room in the old Marion Hotel basement. First officers were Dr. Don Foster (dentist), as President, with Dr. Walter Snyder (school superintendent), as his assistant, Cliff Ingham (realtor) was Secretary-Treasurer, while George Dow (Motor Vehicles Division worker), was librarian.  Maurice Adams (high school music teacher), was Chorus Director. All but Maurice were bass singers. Like tenors now, Maurice was a rarity then – a never heard of picked-on baritone! Our only non-singer (called a “Crow”), was Roger Williams. He owned and managed a local bakery at the corner of Broadway and Market Streets, which has since been turned into an Eagles’ Lodge.

First chorus uniforms consisted of all-black equipment except for white shirts and white waiter’s vests. These had three gold buttons on each side. Incidentally, it wasn’t until the death, by auto accident, of our second Chorus Director, Dick McClintic, that we exchanged these restaurant uniforms for showy watermelon-red coats over white shirts with black bow ties, along with black pants and shoes. Red ruffled shirts were a change-off from whites a little later.

First sing-out was M.C.’d by Dave Hoss, a radio personality and charter member as well. Naturally, the occasion was “Charter Night,” held in Morningside School’s auditorium.

In addition to chorus members by Salem and Eugene-Springfield chapters, Maurice Adams and Mel Bedsaul played clarinet and banjo, respectively. Both men, plus Don Foster and Larry Miller (tenor) sang as A “Chord Cats” quartet and were as enthusiastically applauded as Bud Leabo’s “Scrap Iron Four,” and a Portland chapter’s more experienced and polished foursome.

The “Chord Cats” were the first to organize and sing in public. Other quartets formed soon afterward, yours truly being a lead singer in one known as “The Four Idle Bum Bums.” Our chapter has continued to encourage and spawn quartets for forty years now – many singing with distinction in area, District and International competitions.

From this small, dedicated group of charterers, leadership has never been lacking, and our chapter has had steady growth and much success – a public favorite in its many singing appearances here in Salem and elsewhere.

Come Sing With Us!

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