Barbershop singing at Bear River High |

Barbershop singing at Bear River High

Franklin D. Roosevelt began his New Deal program in 1933 and created many new agencies that still exist today. You may be able to identify the acronyms NLRB, FDIC or TVA, but can you identify the SPEBSQSA?

For Verne Bagby of Lake of the Pines, SPEBSQSA has been part of his family history for nearly 80 years. His father, Mayne, first became a member in 1939. The Society for the Preser-vation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America Inc. was formed in 1938. The long name was originally created to lampoon Roosevelt’s “alphabet agencies” of the 1930s. Currently, the name in use for the org-anization is the Barbershop Harmony Society.

Verne grew up in Colorado Springs and cherishes his memories of traveling to barbershop quartet performances with his father. Verne has been singing barbershop since the 1980s, and is now a member of the LOP singing group, the 4T9r4. The 4T9r4s have been together for five years, and you may have seen them performing at LOPs’ 4th of July Celebration.

Verne and the other members of his quartet, Tony Prowense, Steve Mathews, and Lind Bishop, will be performing in the Nevada-Placer Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society’s 25th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, May 31, at 7:30 p.m. at the Bear River High School Auditorium on Magnolia Road.

Also performing at this event is Al Drouin of Grass Valley, a member of the Pacific Standard Time quartet. Al has been a member of the SPEBSQSA for 47 years, and in just three more he will no longer be required to pay dues!

Al told me that the Far Western Division Champ-ions, Vocal Ease, will be the featured quartet at the 25th Anniversary Show, and they are a group not to be missed.

The Magnolia Star-makers, a talented group of about 33 seventh and eighth grade students from Magnolia Intermediate School, will also perform. Costumed in gold and black to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Pleasant Ridge School District, the show choir will perform one song from each of the past five decades.

Tickets for this event can be obtained by calling Al Drouin at 273-4200, or by e-mailing

If you are interested in joining a quartet and would like more information about the Barbershop Harmony Society, a local group that meets Tuesday evenings at the DeWitt Center in Auburn, contact Verne Bagby at 268-3405. He and his barbershop brothers love to welcome new members.

Barbershop is one of the few truly American musical genres, and is closely associated with classic jazz and Dixieland. Not only is it American, but Verne insists that his musical hobby is “good therapy,” and a great way to unwind after a stressful day. Duane Allen, lead singer of the Oak Ridge Boys, is an honorary member of the Barbershop Harmony Society. Allen agrees with Verne and states that “music soothes the soul; singing in harmony soothes several souls at once.”

Laura Lavelle’s column is for Lake of the Pines area residents to share thoughts and information. Contact her at or leave a message at 477-4230.

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