The History Of The Austin Chapter

The Austin Chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA) was charted in October of 1961 with 26 members. Presently there are two original members still around (that we know of), Chuck Sampler and Marlin Griffith. Known from the beginning as the Austin Chord Rangers, the chorus won the Southwest District Championship in 1967 under the direction of Mike McCord. They represented the district in Cincinnati in 1968. They have been Division II, Class AA champions and Southwest District AA runner-up.

The Austin Chapter has spawned many Quartets including:

Austin Chapter Quartets
Diatonics Firehouse Four River City Four Four for Texas
Waterloo Connection Sound Choice Quasars Texans
River City Current Ham & Cheese Sandwiches Establishment Smilin’ Irish
Fourmaldehydes Asbury 4 Capitones Noontime Four
Odd Man Out Windjammers Humdingers Talk of the Town

The Quasars, and the Texans were Southwest District Champions and placed very high in International competition in their respective years. River City Current was the Southwest District Comedy Quartet Champions in its time.

The Chapter has also spawned other chapters as well as many community-based programs in its now nearly 50-year history. You will find members of the Austin Chapter as founders and members of other chapters around the Central Texas region and around the country. Our special programs include Boy’s Night Out/Girl’s Night Out, which the chapter has held successfully every couple of years in the local school districts in conjunction with each school districts’ music teaching staff. Each student is encouraged to spend a Saturday learning about singing and four-part harmony from our barbershop instructors. Then they participate in a show with their fellow students and the men’s chorus. Positive male role models showing young men how much fun singing can be has had some wonderful effects on the participating school’s music programs. In recent years, the Chorus sponsored some 30 high school teenagers and a few pre-teenagers, along with their instructors in attending Harmony Explosion in Denton, Texas. Our former director, Dr. Bill Adams was one of the instructors for this explosion of youthful singers. All in attendance reported having the time of their lives.

The first president of the chapter was Jack Dingman and the first director was Jim Collier. Other directors include Bill Adams, Perry Baker, Joe Brothers, Dale Carlton, Robert Compton, John Harlan, Steve Keiss, Mike McCord, John McFarlane, Mo Rector, Bill Riehl, Ned Snead, Franklin Spears, Casy Stanislaw, John Winkler, Jerry Sedatole, Dwayne Cooper, Russ Adkisson, Jimmy Kritikos, Steve Young, and Eddie Martinez. Currently, our chorus is under the direction of Brent Hairston.

Notable VIP’s who have graced our chapter’s doorstep include Mo Rector, Franklin Spears and Mike McCord, all of who have been elected to Southwestern District’s Hall Of Fame: Bruce Conover was the lead of the 1953 International Champion Quartet Vikings. Mo Rector and Franklin Spears were in the 1969 International champion Quartet Mark IV, making Mo the first Society member to win a second championship. His first coming in 1958 with the Gaynotes. Sam Tweedy won International Bulletin Editor in 1970 and 1972 and was Southwestern District Roundup Editor in 1973-74. Greg Olds was Roundup Editor 1987-89. Perry Baker was Southwest District President in 1991 and Joe McCain was 1996 District President. Justice Franklin Spearswas also a member of the Supreme Court of Texas while a member and director of the Chorus. Alvin DeVane, one of our past chapter presidents, has a City of Austin street named for him.

A notable show, was The Music Box at the LBJ Auditorium and featured the River City Current, Waterloo Connection, Senior Statesmen, Mixed Company and the OK Four comedy quartet that “had the audience rolling in the isles!” That performance saw 59 members of the Chord Rangers on stage which is undoubtedly the largest number of members on stage for our chorus that anyone can remember. A memorable performance was the Waco performance when the chorus sang and choreographed the song Wait Til You Get ’em Up in the Air, Boys under the direction of Franklin Spears. In 2001, several special shows and events were held to honor the 40th Anniversary of the chapter. One of these more recent shows had former Texas Attorney General, Waggoner Carr, as emcee. Mr. Carr was presented a picture of himself which ran in our 1963 show program. This picture was part of his candidacy ad for Attorney General that appeared in our first annual Chord Ranger’s Show program.

Yes, it has been a memorable 45+ years, and the Chapter is still going strong. We’re in the process of building A Cappella Texas, our new premier performance chorus. We welcome your participation in making the next 40 years of this historic chapter truly memorable. Come join us in singing or volunteering.

If you have any additional pictures or information regarding the Austin Chapter or the Chord Rangers, please send it along to webmaster@acappellatexas.org. We would love to hear from our alumni and friends and will do our best to get some of the more interesting information posted. Even better, don’t be a stranger! Come by one of our practices or events, and be sure to identify yourself to us. We are always getting inquiries about what ever happened to this person or that person. The best we could imagine would be to have you come back out and sing with us. You have a musical family, so come on by and see us.