Old Timers Salute the Poughkeepsie Newyorkers

A couple of quartet photos from way back when. And a few words about the quartets.

I need write-ups for several of these groups. Who can supply them? Also: am I missing any quartets?

(Click on photos for an enlargement)

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Audocrats In the late 60's, Glenn Smith and I were looking to form a quartet. We tried several basses and at least two or three leads, one of whom was Bob Chieffo. Then Don Guthiel moved to the area from New Jersey, and brought the name -- Audocrats -- with him. Thus was born the original version of the quartet in the Kingston SPEBSQSA chapter.

Then Bob was transferred to Poughkeepsie by IBM. There did not seem to any suitable leads available at the time but there was another tenor, Graham Franks. Don and Glenn agreed to let me try lead for a while, and for a year or so we worked on that. Right after the Kingston fall show in 1969, Glenn and Don both decided to transfer to the Poughkeepsie Chapter. Shortly after that they found a pretty good lead by the name of Mike Myers. I went back to tenor, we had one rehearsal, and we knew we had something going at last. They gave me the ultimatum to transfer or they would find another tenor, so after clearing up my responsibilities with the current show activities in Kingston, I found my way to the NewYorkers at the beginning of 1970.

We made some decent progress building a repertoire through the first half of that year, but then, just as we we about to do a gig, Mike was sent away by IBM to some kind of assignment out of town. We recruited Mike Krieger for that gig and since Myers was going to be away for a while, we stuck with Krieger for good. (L to R in the photo below, left, courtesy of Mike Krieger: Bill Mcfadden -- tenor, Mike Krieger -- lead, Don Gutheil -- bass, Glenn Smith -- baritone.)

Audocrats We competed in Lake Placid that fall, having prepared only two songs. But lo and behold, we made the cut. I think we sang last on the Saturday session. We scrambled to put together a couple of polecat numbers, fought thru a sprained ankle I sustained Saturday morning, and I hobbled onto the stage for the competition. At the evaluation session, the first judge asked if we were that same four that sang on Friday. We told him about knowing only two songs and asked him to forget Saturday's performance. In those days the score sheets were not immediately available like they are today, so only found out after talking with the judges that for 24 hours we were in second place! Of course after that I was no longer concerned about that ankle as we floated on cloud nine from room to room. That was the high point of my quartet experience.

Mike was transferred to Boulder a couple or three years later, and Bob Balderson came to us via West Point where he was teaching for three years. (L to R in the photo above, right: Bill Mcfadden, Bob Balderson, Don Gutheil, Glenn Smith.) When he left, we found Ken Gadowsky who was still with us when I was transferred to Raleigh in 1977. To my knowledge, that was the end for the Audocrats. It was a great run.

-- Bill McFadden



Unlikely Hoods The Brotherhood started out as the Unlikely Hoods with (L to R in the 1966 photo at right) George Nagy -- bass, Mike Patti -- bari, Fred Gielow -- lead, and Pete Donatelli -- tenor.

After a while Mike had to retire from the quartet due to work and personal reasons, and Bill James took his place in the foursome.

When Bill moved to Raleigh sometime around 1970, Fred switched to bari, and Mike Myers assumed the lead spot in the group. (Caricature.)

Several years thereafter, the "Music Man" came to town and George, who had sung in an earlier production of the musical, chose not to join the cast for another go round. Anton Grosz, however, expressed interest in doing the show, so he and the other three joined together to be the school board. What an absolute delight to be the quartet in "Music Man!

After the show, the foursome determined the quartet should not come to a close just because the local stage production did, so they took the name "Brotherhood" (at Anton's suggestion) and offered themselves for barbershop shows.

The Brotherhood in monks' robes It was about that time Pete had an inspiration. He thought it would be great for the quartet to appear as monks and have a whole routine to match the outfits. He just happened to know someone at an actual monastery and Pete made a proposal to him. The Hudson Hospital would donate some beds (Pete was hospital administrator -- the beds would have been discarded otherwise), if the monastery would make available to him four genuine monk's outfits. The deal was agreed to. Pictured at left is the quartet in their monks outfits at Philadelphia in 1977.

The Brotherhood sings at the White House The Brotherhood appeared in over a hundred shows around the country, performing as far north as Maine, as far east as Newfoundland, as far south as Florida, and as far west as California. Particularly exciting were several international SPEBSQSA contests, a brief singing appearance on the "Real People" TV show (the residuals from repeat airings of the program were rather nice, too), and a singing performance at the White House (photo at right) during a Reagan Administration Fourth-of-July picnic!

Somewhere around 1980, Anton decided to leave the group, and Fritz Jones joined the Brotherhood to take his place.

Such sweet memories. Such magnificent moments. Such precious barbershop experiences!

Shockingly and unexpectedly, Pete died one morning while he was out jogging with his dog, Max. Shortly thereafter Fred was transferred to North Carolina, so the final Brotherhood song had been sung.

The quartet sang on shows and entertained for close to twenty years. What a thrill-of-a-lifetime to have taken this trip!

In the years that followed, Fred Gielow moved to Florida, Anton Grosz moved to California, Bill James moved to South Carolina, Fritz Jones moved to Texas, Mike Myers moved to North Carolina, and George Nagy moved to Florida, (Mike Patti stayed in New York State). Somewhere around the turn of the century, Bill, Fred, and Fritz got together with barbershopper (and one-time Poughkeepsie Chapter member) Will Easterling to form a quartet. With each of the four guys living in different states (Will's in Tennessee), quartet rehearsals are few and far between -- about twice a year. And performances are even fewer and farther between! But nevertheless, it's great to get together and sing some barbershop chords!

--Fred Gielow



Chord Weavers Chord Weavers The Hudson Valley Chord Weavers, circa early 1980s. The four members are: lead -- Larry Ahlgren, bass -- Paul Collom, bari -- Ian McCallion (who was on IBM loan to the US from England), and tenor -- Bob Quigley. (In the photos we're standing: bari, bass, lead, tenor).

Picture #1 is the quartet with (I believe) a Novice Quartet traveling trophy. Picture #2 is the group performing the old "Temperance Union" song (can't remember the right name). And picture #3 is the four of us singing at a WEOK radio station fund raiser. We gave the final $20 to push them over the first $2000 mark which we thought was a nice gesture, until we realized we had just PAID to sing on the radio -- not really what we originally had in mind!!

Chord Weavers That was a Special Olympics Radiothon Fund Raiser the Newyorkers were performing for.

-- Paul Collom



Dutch Masters Dutchmasters newspaper photo The Dutchmasters (top picture at right): Bill Heydman, Bruce Slack, Bill James, George Nagy.
The Dutchmasters revised (color picture below): Bruce Slack, Dave Mauer, George Nagy, Bill James.
Dutchmasters news photo: Bill Heydman, Bruce Slack, George Nagy, Bill James. Perhaps this was published in the IBM Poughkeepsie newsletter after the quartet won a 3rd-place bronze medal at the 1962 NED Contest. (News photo and article courtesy of George Nagy via Bob Chieffo.)

Dutch Masters

IBM had moved me to Poughkeepsie in June of 1960 and I was just getting acquainted with new people and the new job, when I met Bill James and Bill Heydman. They got me to a meeting that George Nagy attended and the next thing I knew I was in a quartet -- the Dutchmasters.

Early in 1961 the four of us were part of the seven founders who went on to form the Poughkeepsie Chapter.

One time we were on a chapter show in a small town north of Hartford. We were well received and enjoyed the fine reception. The long drive home about 3am is still a rather vivid memory.

Since all four of us were IBMers we got invited to sing at a breakfast meeting of IBM Customer Engineers held in a Manhattan hotel at 8 am. We had little experience singing that early in the day and getting the voices to function took some panic moments of warm up -- in a men's room of course.

Rehearsals were an adventure, especially getting George to arrive on time. Hard work, late hours, and strained family relations did not diminish the thrill of ringing a chord. Friendships developed that exist today.

-- Bruce Slack

Red line


Dutch Masters Dave Maurer asked me to sing with him in a second Dutchmasters quartet, I think it was in 1995. There were two versions with two different tenors of which donít remember their names. Steve Plumb was the bari and he probably remembers their names.

Dutch Masters We competed in at least two division contests, probably 1996 and 1997. It wasnít 1995 because I competed with Flipside in a division contest (not division 2) in the spring of 1995. I also competed in the 1996 division contest with Sentimental Sounds. Mike Meyers was the lead, Art Burns the bari, and Sam Koziol was the tenor. Flipside had Roger Brown as lead and his brother Ted as bari. They had competed with a NED quartet at international and made the first cut. I donít remember the tenorís name, but Bill Lahl knew him and recommended me as bass. The tenor was from Poughkeepsie and sang in a quartet that I think made district champ or came close. Again Steve Plumb would remember his name because he coached us. Steve Plumb and I have video tapes of our two performances.

-- Fritz Jones



[Description coming soon.]


Red line

Footlighters' history



Homesteaders The Homesteaders.



Lavender Hill Mob The Lavender Hill Mob (1973 photo at right): Ray Wixted -- tenor, John Ahearn -- lead, Dick Hess -- baritone, Anton "Tony" Grosz -- bass. Tony was a Newyorker (and 1973 chapter president). The other three gents were members of the Danbury, Connecticut Chapter. (Photo courtesy of Bob Chieffo, who adds: "I got this info from our 1973 Program of our eleventh annual show, "No Business Like Show Business," which I chaired. What a lineup of talent we had: the Newyorkers under the direction of Bob Royce, Poughkeepsie's own Unlikely Hoods, Audocrats, and 25% of the Lavender Hill Mob. The show featured '72 NED Quartet Champ from Poughkeepsie, The Penthouse Four and the 1971 International Gold Medalists, Gentlemen's Agreement. We also featured a rotund Bob Sayegh in tutu, gossimer wings and magic wand as the flighty MC, "The Spirit of Show Business." Our highlighted chorus number featured Georgia Lyons, a beautiful young lady in a stunning red gown, appearing from the chorus and dancing on stage as we sang "Hello Dolly." A truly great show, if I say so myself.") In the photo below (left), Mike Myers has replaced lead John Ahearn.

Lavender Hill MobJohn Ahern, the original lead of the Lavender Hill Mob, had to leave the quartet because of business demands and Mike Myers took his place. This made the quartet half Poughkeepsie members and half Danbury members. The Mob did shows and competed for three years with Mike, coming in second in the district quartet contest in 1974.

Mike and Tony joined Fred Gielow and Pete Donatelli shortly thereafter to become the bickering school board quartet for a local "Music Man" production, and shortly thereafter, the Brotherhood quartet was formed.

-- Mike Myers



Penthouse Four The Penthouse Four (L to R in photo: Donn Grady -- bass, Bob Royce -- bari, Cal Sexton -- lead, Bob Van Wart -- tenor) was the 1972 NED Champion Quartet (following the 1971 NED Champion Quartet, The Boston Common).



Rogues Four The Rogues Four: Aubrey Light -- tenor, Fritz Jones --bass, Art Burns -- baritone, Bill James -- lead.



Sound Edition Sound Edition: Ron Pierson -- tenor, Breck Martyn -- lead, George Nagy -- bass, Jerry Anderson -- bari.

The year was 1980 and we won the Division II Quartet Contest. I also remember we sang a song "Taxes" and the other song may have been "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?"

Don Gutheil was the original bass of Sound Edition, but I'm thinking that George Nagy joined us for the 1980 Division II after Don left the area.

-- Breck Martyn (via Bob Chieffo)


The intro to "Never Go Wrong with a Song" is sung by Will Easterling, Bill James, Fred Gielow, and Fritz Jones.

This webpage has been prepared by Fred Gielow.