Tuesday, April 15, 2008

There Will Be Chords.

The finals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella are this Saturday night at Avery Fisher Hall in Manhattan.

The competitors:

Out of the Blue, Oxford University
All-Night Yahtzee, Florida State University
SoCal VoCals, University of Southern California
N'Harmonics, New York University
Ithacappella, Ithaca College
Purple Haze, Northwestern University

A funny story about Purple Haze—the first group from Northwestern, by the way, to ever make it to the finals of the ICCAs. Freddie Feldman (now co-owner of acaTunes and inventor of the Thumper microphone) was one of the original members of Purple Haze, founded in 1996.

But before that, in 1992, he'd started an a cappella group on campus called Five O'Clock Shadow. He held auditions. He even printed up merchandise with that name. The group kicked around for a few years. Until Feldman got a cease and desist letter delivered to his dorm from a guy named Mike Mendyke, who was then singing with a professional a cappella group also called Five O'Clock Shadow. The letter suggested that listeners everywhere would be confused by two distinct a cappella groups both named Five O'Clock Shadow, and Mendyke even threatened legal action.

A cease and desist letter? Really?

Feldman caved. NU's FOCS folded. And Feldman joined the just-launching Purple Haze.

PS—The story has a happy ending. All these years later, Feldman and Mendyke are not just friends, but business partners in acaTunes. Welcome to the bizarre world of a cappella!

Here's a clip from Purple Haze's 10th anniversary concert in 2006:

Tickets are still available for the ICCA finals. Click here for info.

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