REVIEW: 58 Greene Presents: Greenie Night Live


While several other a cappella groups performed last weekend, 58 Greene was the only one that mattered.

EnCore performing.

Now I guess I might be a little biased given I know and would die for Teddi Reynolds, one of the members of the group, but by the audience’s hoots and hollers throught the night I think it can be said they were also objectively good. Paired with two fabulous dancing groups (EnCore and FunKtion), the performance was smooth and stylish and properly varied. The song selections were a bit conservative, tending towards the classic, softer side, but that was nice. Flashy, chorerography-heavy performance is clearly not their style. In most of their songs they stand in a group, moving rhythmically, but not dancing. Instead they prefer to let their lyrical power enthrall the crowd. Not exactly reminscent of Pitch Perfect, but that is an unreasonable expectation for groups of all styles.

My only real critique of the performance is the lack of understanding some of the members have about their vocal range. While Scott McMillan’s performance of “Slow Dancing in the Dark” was wonderfully sweet and rich in tone, he had trouble reaching some of the high notes. I would have loved to hear him perform the song with pitch adjustments to better fit his range, or another song entirely. A few others had this problem in some spots, particularly with the higher pitches. While it is great to showcase one’s range, it is more important to focus on emphasizing the tones that come naturally. I could not begin to estimate the number of men I’ve heard singing in a falsetto voice when they definitely should not.

I was supremely impressed with the variety of voices within the group, from Danny Kim’s soft, soft high tones to Sarah Kleppe’s perfect mixing with Desirae Nelson’s voice in their “No Peace” duet. Teddi Reynolds and Rikvah Levine both gave me the shivers with their soulful selections. There were voices deep and high, singing like the soft wind and like the crashing sea. 58 Greene must have an awfully harsh audition process, given how talented their members are. Despite this assumption, for a flash of a second at the end I had a vision of joining the group myself. Then I remembered my non-speaking role in the eighth grade production of Mulan (I was the cricket) and promptly forgot this dream.

If you are more talented than I in the vocal arts, do try your hand at auditioning for the group. They are having winter auditions for Bass and Tenor parts on January 10th, 6-10pm in room 1405 of East Quad. Break a leg!

REVIEW: Dicks and Janes: “A Family Dinner”

Ahoy! This be the logo!

The lights went down and a sharp-looking a cappella group, half boys, half girls, danced onto the stage in a blend of black and teal. They got right to business and sang a beautiful rendition of Bjork’s “Who is it?”

I have to admit that at first I was disappointed by the program because I had been to the fall concert and had heard 7 of the 11 pieces. Couldn’t they learn new songs? Wouldn’t people remember them? Wasn’t the point of performances to enjoy new music?

But I quickly learned that I found a comfort in hearing the pieces again. They are DJ classics for a reason – because they are SO good at singing them! Each time you hear a song, it is indeed a different song. You, the audience member, have changed since last concert and might interpret the message of the song differently. You might pay attention to new aspects of the song. You might follow a certain singer through the piece’s journey or perhaps watch the group’s explosive body language, focusing in on how they move in sync and make the stage undulate with their shimmying shoulders. Plus, the singers changed up who was the soloist in many of the pieces, which shows how one song can differ depending on the style of the soloist. Some voices are soft and jazzy, while others are pitch perfect belts that ring out to the back of the auditorium and pierce our ears with pleasurable tickles.

My Highlights of the Night:

– Helena Ratté’s arrangement of The Beatles’ “Happiness is a Warm Gun” was such a great mix of nostalgic rock and soul. Danny Hensel’s performance was a true showcase of his spectacular range from the depths of baritone caves to sky-high falsetto.

-Kait Mulder’s sultry performance of Etta James’ “At Last.” I felt like I had been transported back to a club in 1960. The romantic calm made me close my eyes and I think we all sort of fell in love with the beauty of that piece.

-Mason Van Gieson was my pick for the star of the night. She had such stage presence and was such a joy to watch. You could tell that she was enjoying every minute up there, which really was communicated through her performance of Mister-Wives’ “Reflections.”

One thing that is really fun about the DJ’s programs is that they provide the OPB (Originally Performed By) information. I personally was not familiar with many of the pieces sung that night, so it was helpful to go on Spotify the next day and listen to the original piece. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I fully preferred the DJ interpretations of every song than the original! What an accomplishment – to improve on successful, published songs!

Oh, and what was that about a family dinner, you ask? Every two or three songs, a few of the singers performed short comedic skits that always centered around awkward family dinner gatherings and ended in horribly, ‘I-can’t-believe-I’m-laughing-this-is-so-bad’ punch lines. Yes, they were probably unnecessary (save for the one where they included a DJ marketing ploy), but the skits added a certain familiarity to the concert. We almost felt more of a connection to the singers – because of the shared awkward experience of a bad punch line or just because it lightened the mood and kept us engaged.

All was a fantastic concert. The Dicks and Janes never fail to get your foot tapping and your mouth curling into a smile. They make you feel like, yes – even you Audience Member, are part of the family.

PREVIEW: Dicks and Janes A Cappella Presents “A Family Dinner”

Image Courtesy Via Facebook

You are cordially

invited to

the Dicks and Janes Coed A Cappella’s

End of the Year

“Family Dinner” Performance

Courses included:

Appetizer: Detroit Voice performance (Gluten Free)

Entree: Covers of all your favorite songs, arranged by yours truly, the Dicks and Janes

BYOD (Bring Your Own Dessert)

Who: Dicks and Janes Coed A Cappella

Where: Modern Language Building, Auditorium 4

When: Friday, April 17 at 7:30 pm

How Much?: Tickets are $8 for students and $10 for adults. ($5 and $8 presale, respectively) and can be purchased at the door or from any DJ!

*Food and drink not included!!!

REVIEW: Help! I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Turn Up!

Image Courtesy of

Last Saturday night in the MLB Auditorium 3, I knew I was in for a treat when I noticed the marathon of “Infomercials” playing on the wall. The Dicks and Janes, one of the 15 renowned U-M A Cappella groups, were promising a night of fun, diverse musical choices, and perhaps just a teensy bit of harmless daytime TV-bashing. While we waited for the singing extravaganza to begin, the audience was subjected to awful real life horrors that I wish did not exist (I urge you to explore these hilarious videos, perhaps in private, so no one can make fun of you over your shoulder):

What a creative way to lift students’ finals week spirits!

But wait, there’s more…

If you come to the Dicks and Janes concert within the next 30 minutes, we’ll throw in two free performances featuring Sha Bop Shoppe A Cappella and Groove.  The Sha Bop Shoppe is an after-school all-girls ensemble at Pioneer High School. They specialize in performing popular songs, such as Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal” which was hauntingly beautiful, as well as “Until the Morning” by Thievery Corporation, which they stopped mid-way through to “speed up a bit” and remix it with their own spunk and soul. If it isn’t impressive enough that they are already dipping their feet in a university venue, add in the fact that they are also sensational choreographers, which means that they create their own choreography movements to flow in sync with their singing. The Sha Bop Shoppe girls definitely will have a powerful vocal presence in a few years in whichever university they choose to attend, so hold on to your boots!

But…the creme de la creme, the reason we were all suffering through the commercials for, was to see…the Dicks and Janes! The minute that they ran on stage and began to sing, the room came alive. Throughout the show, the setlist alternated from hit songs of 2014 (Reflections, Clarity, Say Something, and Latch) to old classics (Happiness is a Warm Gun, Proud Mary, Don’t Mean a Thing). The variety showcased not only the collective group’s range in interest and amazing ability to creatively interpret the pieces (each of the songs are arranged by a Dick or Jane him/herself), but also displayed each individual soloist’s remarkable skills and talents.

I was especially impressed by the energy created in “Clarity.” Originally a high-speed electronic dance song, I was curious how the Dicks and Janes (DJ’s) could recreate that sound. But somehow they did! I’m not a singer myself, so I’m not sure how they accomplished the feat, but they did it stunningly. The crisp “kssss” of every accelerating percussive beat, the siren-like croon of the synthesizer, the pulsing bass…all imitated the feel of “Clarity,” with the voice of DJ member Hannah Sparrow at the center. Perhaps, the DJ’s were a little too good at the house music vibe, for sometimes they turned up the volume a little too much and I could barely hear Hannah. The DJ’s know how to make the MLB Auditorium into a good time, even if they can’t turn up!

Shine the spotlight on Austin Montgomery, another DJ member, and prepare to be amazed. He soloed twice, as he is the token falsetto of the group. He sung his soul out in “Latch,” with perhaps even more energy than Sam Smith himself. And he was able to take Helena Ratte’s playful arrangement of “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” and morph it into a 50’s barber shop sound.

Because I’ve never sung A Cappella, I look on with awe at how the DJ’s start with a silent stage and slowly build on each other with only their voices. They’re like an orchestra, I guess, something I’m more familiar with. But yet, because they are standing and have hands free (no bows or horns to hold), there is a special energy that is present. I literally got shivers when soloist Lyndsey Burke belted out Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” and felt twinges in my heart just from the dramatic facial expressions shown in “Say Something.” I could feel every note, like the DJ’s were handing each one to me. Here you are, have another! their words seemed to say. The DJ’s gave me something that night that is special to a cappella singing. The sound of humanity, streaming through the voice to the ear. No phones, no instruments, no car horns to interrupt the experience; just good ole’ human to human connection. And maybe with a quick infomercial or two.

Call 1-800 999-2288 to get your DJ singer absolutely free! And while you wait, watch this hilarious infomercial video, Save a Suffering Freshman, that the Dicks and Janes made themselves!




REVIEW: The Dicks and Janes- It’s Not Delivery, It’s DJorno and Album Release

The transition from the Polar Vortex couldn’t have been more wonderful. I went from walking from the Bursley-Baits busstop to the MLB, fighting face-biting winds and dangerously slippery sidewalks, to strolling across the diag’s grass in the light of the setting sun. Warmth. But last night, the sun wasn’t the only thing that put a smile on my face. I had the opportunity to attend The Dicks and Janes: It’s not Delivery, It’s DJorno and Album Release performance.

The concert was held in the MLB at 7:30pm on Friday, April 11, 2014. My friends and I walked in, greeted by excited grins and tables of t-shirts and albums. We walked into the auditorium to upbeat music which was quickly interrupted by Justin Wong, who introduced the Maize Mirchi, a South Asian, co-ed a cappella group. A 30 minute set by the Maize Mirchi sang a lively array of music, including both pop and cultural tunes.  Their chemistry was evident, and I found myself smiling throughout the entire performance.

Maize Mirchi
Maize Mirchi

After an amazing opener from the Maize Mirchi, the Dicks and Janes took the stage at 8pm. The a cappella crew, who took 3rd at the ICCA quarter finals this year, came out ready to sing. They began the night with a stunning rendition of Zedd’s Clarity. After their first song, they talked quickly about the concert, the songs, and their album! They moved swiftly through the next few songs, which included Happiness is a Warm Gun by the Beatles, Bottles by V.V. Brown, Delicate/I Won’t Give Up by Damien Rice/Jason Mraz, A cappella by Karmin, and OK, It’s All Right from the Dicks and Janes’ album- Flying Bicycles. I was disappointed to take an intermission after senior Sarah Szollar’s breathtaking solo in OK, It’s All Right.

While looking through the program, I was surprised to find a majority of six freshman! But the young group wasn’t defined by year, only by talent. Kait Mulder and Austin Terris tore up their solos! I was amazed by their range and solo in I Won’t Give Up and Happiness is a Warm Gun.  Throughout the next few songs, I was thrilled by their dancing, stomping, and incredible skrillex-like bass drops.

We learned, through small skits and jokes, that the Dicks and Janes album is compiled of 5 years’ worth of music and groups. We also learned that they went through many album names…from punny to downright hilarious! While names like  Barackapella, Falling From Grace Notes, and my personal favorite- Queen Jane and the Dicktators- were thrown around, they eventually settled on Flying Bicycles.

After a brief intermission, we were continually delighted the Dicks and Janes’ vocal ability. They had great range, great chemistry, and everyone had a good opportunity to showcase their voice.

The show continued with Bizness by Tune- Yards, Here We Go by Mat Kearney, Royals by Lorde, the groups ICCA set, which included Why Oh Why by Little Big Town, The Plains/Bitter Dancer by Fleet Foxes, and It Doesn’t mean a Thing by Club Des Belugas. My two favorite moments of the night were both in the ICCA set; I’m not at all surprised they received such a high ranking. During Bitter Dancer, all the men in the group really stepped forward and sang out. Now, maybe I’m just a sucker for guys who can sing, but that was an amazing musical moment. During the final song of the set, the group seemed to be huddling together, but much to my surprise, they exploded into musical and visual waves. Arms flew around as the Dicks and Janes incorporated a sick bass drop into their a cappella set. I was blown away!

The show ended with a small award presentation to Justin Wong, who has really gone above and beyond to make this group as good as possible, and followed up by a heartwarming sendoff for the three seniors in the group- Elise Coletta, Jeff Ferguson, and Sarah Szollar.

All in all, I would highly recommend listening to the Dicks and Janes if you have the chance! Check out their album- Flying Bicycles- which should be on iTunes shortly! The Dicks and Janes would like to thank the alumni of the group for all of their help on this album!

The Dicks and Janes
The Dicks and Janes

PREVIEW: Best of Michigan A Cappella CharityFest

This Saturday, February 19th, the Michigan A Cappella Council will host its first philanthropic event of the year: Best Of Michigan A Cappella CharityFest. The show will feature 13 University of Michigan A Cappella groups, each of which will perform a single song.  The purpose of the event is to raise awareness about the charity album that MACC produced last year, entitled: Best of Michgian a Cappella. This album will be sold at a special discount price of $5 during the event. All proceeds from the show and album sales will go to the VH1 Save the Music Foundation.

The concert will feature:

58 Greene

Amazin’ Blue

Compulsive Lyres

Dicks and Janes

The Friars


The G-Men

Good News

The Harmonettes

Kol Hakavod


Midnight Blue

The Sopranos

Hope to see you all come out for this amazing event!

When: Saturday, February 19th, 7:00pm

Where: University Club (First floor of the Union)

Price: $3