'To Russia With Love'

Delusions of Grandeur, the Rogue Valley a capella quartet have been invited to perform their zany comedic harmonies in Russia. The group will travel to St. Petersburg, Russia, to represent the United States at a Russian-American Barbershop Festival this August. To raise money for the trip, the quartet will be present a concert "To Russia With Love," at 7 p.m., Saturday, May 12, at the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Center, 87 Fourth St., Ashland.

The Delusions of Grandeur were among a very few to be selected for the festival and are the first comedy quartet to be invited.

The quartet has been bringing the joy of music and laughter to Rogue Valley audiences for 14 years. Al Robins, one of the founding members of the Delusions of Grandeur recalls, "I was in a quartet with Aaron (Logsdon). We were in the Rogue Valley Harmonizers. I was looking for a baritone and found Tom (Walker) and Dave (Deller)." That was in 1993. Back then &

and occasionally now &

the group sang straight barbershop harmonies.

A one-time stage blunder was so well received that the group began incorporating humor into the act. The way the story goes, the quartet was to appear on a show and sing the up-tempo version of "Blue Moon." As the bass voice in the group, Deller was supposed to start the song with the with the "Bomb- bah-bah- bomb, ding-a- dong-ding" opening phrase. Instead, and quite unintentionally, he started singing the beginning to the Beach Boy's version of "Barbara Ann" which goes "Bah- bah-bah, bah- bah-bra- ann."

The group stopped, the audience laughed a little and the singers started again. But Deller started "Barbara Ann" again. By the third time, he did it correctly. By then Tom was laughing so hard he knocked the mic over. "The audience loved it and gave us a standing ovation," Robins recalled. They had, quite by accident, found their niche.

The group began branching out to other a capella music. Robins started writing music parodies. The other members of the group have gotten used to the zaniness audiences expect from them and enjoy being funny and making people laugh. "It's gotten really fun," Robins said.

Fourteen years later, the Delusions of Grandeur is still made up of the original four singers. Over the years the group has started some traditions. "We've been singing for all the kids in the Ashland schools for 11 years at Valentine's Day," Robins said. "The kids expect it and it's a big, fun, exciting thing." Eventually the quartet started singing for hospice which they now do every year. As word has spread, they have been invited to New Zealand, Germany, Holland and Hawaii.

"That's how we got to do this Russian thing," Robins explained. "We read in a magazine that they have this annual concert of US and Russian barbershop singing. Director Greg Line takes groups from the US to perform. We sent in an audition tape. "They saw our audition tape and loved it."

Apparently only two or three quartets from the United States and a chorus were invited &

but no groups singing comedy. For the Delusions, the invitation to perform in Russia was more than a pleasant surprise, it was a big honor. They will be the first comedy group to participate in the international event. To overcome the language barrier, the Delusions will try to make their performance as visual as possible. "Comedy and music cut across cultures, gender, age," Robins said. And they're going to try a couple of songs in Russian.

Robins does the musical arrangements. The group has about 80 songs in its repertoire and not all of them are comedy. "People keep asking for comedy," Robins said. "I think the world needs a lot of laughter." —

Tickets are $10 at the door.

See /delusionsofgrandeur.

Share This Story