That old barbershop style

 SUN FILE PHOTO    Baritone Al Stocker, lead Don Shipp, bass John Watson, and tenor Ed Messner are members of the Englewood chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society.

Baritone Al Stocker, lead Don Shipp, bass John Watson, and tenor Ed Messner are members of the Englewood chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society.

Prior to joining the Englewood chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society in 2001, Dick Court didn’t know anything about barbershop quartets outside of Disney World and the musical “The Music Man.”

“I sang in youth choir at church and a lot of our members come from a similar background in music, either singing or playing a musical instrument,” said Court, chapter president. The Englewood chapter is also known as the Lemon Bay Barbershop Chorus.

Court sings baritone for the group and served a previous term as president from 2005-2006. He’s also a member of the Sound Waves Barbershop Quartet also in Englewood.

Participation varies depending on the season. Court attributes the group’s 20-year longevity to seasonal residents.

“We have snowbirds from up north who are members and participate to our group,” Court said. “We get around 20-23 during the summer. It inflates up to 58 during the winter. We have two active quartets within the chapter at the moment.”

The quartet focuses on three major performances throughout the year in addition to smaller venues in front of area groups like Veterans of Foreign Wars, nursing homes, hospices, Elks and Sunrise Rotary.

“We have the Christmas show in early December,” Court said. “We have four to five singing Valentine’s quartets. We have a spring show generally in early March.”

The group performs in Englewood, North Port and Venice.

The quartet features four parts — lead, tenor, baritone and bass.

“We do older and newer stuff in a cappella,” said Art Ruth, public relations and marketing vice president of the Englewood chapter. “We sing a lot of barbershop songs. Ricky Nelson’s ‘Hello Mary Lou’ is one of the most popular.”

Proceeds from the group’s performances go to benefit scholarships for music education from high school seniors to music performance majors. The chapter’s raised over $60,000, according to Court.

The group currently rehearses at 6:30 p.m. Mondays at Christ Lutheran Church, 701 N. Indiana Ave. The rehearsals will be moved July 11 to 6:30 p.m. Thursdays at the same location. Rehearsals are open to the public.

“We want to keep the whole world singing,” Court said. Barbershop quartets are not exclusive to men. “The Sweet Adelines International are the female equivalent to the Barbershop Harmony Society,” Court said.

For more information, go to   or call 941-480-9694.


About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News,, and Tampa Tribune.
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