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Barbershop quartets fill Forest Grove High auditorium with song

FOREST GROVE NEWS-TIMES - Barbershop quartets from across the Pacific Northwest will be competing in Forest Grove this Friday and Saturday.This is the 69th year for Balladtown USA, the All-Northwest Barbershop Quartet Contest, but for many, it’s a year of firsts.

For Will Fox, it’ll be his first time performing at the contest in 30 years. This time, he’ll have three of his music students from Tigard’s Westside Christian High School in tow. Together, they’re the Old Dog and the New Tricks.

Fox is the lead, Jonathan Wee takes on the baritone role, Marcus Raz will perform as tenor, and Caden Reed is the bass.

Fox is also the assistant director of the Salem Senate-Aires, which will give a special performance. Also performing is the comedic quartet Snafu, named after a Gallic word that means four lads in need of a clue.

This will also be the first year the competition will welcome mixed quartets, in which men and women perform together in the same group.

The performance draws audience members of all ages — and performers run the spectrum, too.

Fox and his crew of teenage boys are lowering the average performer age. It’s their first adventure singing barbershop, but they’ve been practicing intensely for the last month. While they’re used to singing together and in groups — Westside Christian has won the state 3A high school choir championships for the last several years — they’ve never performed as a barbershop quartet. COURTESY PHOTO - Will Fox and three high school students make up Old Dog and the New Tricks, wholl be performing at Balladtown USA this weekend.

“When you sing it well and those four voices are locked in, there’s a lot of musical satisfaction in that,” Fox said. “You can really see those boys’ faces light up when they know they’ve done something right.”

Each quartet brings its own style, personality, sense of humor and theme to the stage, making no two acts the same.

“It’s for the experience and the opportunity to perform,” Fox said. “It’s such a fun, popular show.”

Look for Fox and the other competitors this weekend at the All-Northwest Barbershop Quartet Contest, held at Forest Grove High School, 1401 Nichols Lane. There will be a 7 p.m. show Friday, March 20, a Saturday, March 21 matinee at 2 and a Saturday night show at 7. The Saturday shows feature the final eight quartets, which will be competing for the trophy and cash prizes.

Go to or call 503-357-4407 for tickets. Tickets are $20 to $22. Groups of 10 or more receive a 10 percent discount.

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