Friend de Coup dinner theater 2014

Boy, there are some talented kids in Mitchell.

Last week’s 2014 Mitchell High School show choir dinner theater, at the Corn Palace, was the final chance to see Friend de Coup in action — and to support the group, since ticket sales were a fundraiser. It was also the celebration of the 30th anniversary of show choir in Mitchell, which meant students performed this year’s competition set, as well as competition sets from years past. (It obviously wouldn’t be a show choir night without at least one “Grease” song.)

Master of ceremonies Mel Olson sprinkled in humor, heart and a healthy dose of history — fitting, since he is a history teacher — noting that back when show choir started, it pre-dated many other Mitchell fine arts establishments, including the Area Community Theatre.

I went on Saturday, the final night of the performance, and was blown away. It was fun to watch. My personal favorite was the impressive cover of “Free Bird,” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. MHS’ show choir is more than just flashy costumes and spot-on vocals: there are some kids who could, and should, easily pursue careers in instrumental music.

My second favorite moment was the end, after all the seniors were recognized and it seemed like it was really starting to hit the kids that this was their last performance of the year — the last performance of ever, for some. After the performance, all the kids stood in a circle, arms around each other, and sang “Friends,” a 1987 Michael W. Smith song extolling the virtues of true friendship. You could hear the sniffles, whimpers and full-blown sobs from across the Corn Palace floor as they sang the song, which brought up a fair amount of nostalgia for me, too. It was a touching scene. And, it’s no wonder they’re so good by the time they’re seniors — they’re already great as Middle School students, as evidenced by Maximum Velocity’s performance on Saturday night.

Kudos to all the students involved, and to the parents, staff and school faculty who made it possible.

Dean Uher, father of sophomore alto Melanie Uher, hands dinner plates to junior alto Jaycie Foster to serve to the audience during the Friend de Coup dinner theater at the Corn Palace Friday night. (Sean Ryan/Republic)


Parmalee at the Palace

One of country music’s hottest new bands, Parmalee, played at the Corn Palace on Sunday, and it was more than worth the $20.

I don’t often get to go to concerts just to go, so that in and of itself was a good time. But this group is good — really good. There’s a reason they had a single reach No. 1 on the country charts and were a semi-finalists for an Academy of Country Music Award for New Artist of the Year. They sound great, they’re energetic and fun on stage, and they mixed in a few well-known covers for people to sing along with — Hank Jr.’s “Family Tradition” proved popular — on top of their smash country single, “Carolina.” My personal favorite was a parody of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball,” which I’m going to title “Firebombs.” I’ll post a video if I can. It was a little sad how small of a turnout this good of a band got (only 557 people showed up, according to Corn Palace peeps).

The opener, Clare Dunn, was impressive, too. I didn’t love her cover of Leona Lewis’ pop favorite “Bleeding Love,” but that’s really more because of the song. Girl can sing, and does more than just strum along on her guitar. I spent most of the night watching the guitar playing. I’ve recently taken up guitar, so I’ve developed a new appreciation for instrumentation in general, and these boys know their way around a guitar. Granted, I’m hardly Jimi Hendrix as a judge, but I noticed and was impressed (and a bit jealous).

Basically, the band was good and I’m glad I went. Even got my picture taken with them. If you want to read more about them, check out their website or the article I wrote to preview their trip to Mitchell.

DWU men’s basketball

State AA High School Volleyball

Sons of the Pioneers

Sons of the Pioneers, the self-proclaimed longest-running singing act in popular music history, came to town on Thursday. Mom and Dad were big fans, so I grew up listening to “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” — the song and the album — on eight-track, then record, then cassette tape, until the song finally graduated to CDs about a year ago. Matter of fact, I liked this show just on principle, because Mom and Dad actually went. Because I couldn’t stay the entire time, I didn’t get to hear “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” or “Cool Water,” their two most iconic songs, in person. But, I did get to hear some old favorites, and, got to see the Sons in action.

Even though the group’s target demographic is slightly older than I am, I liked what I saw. The guys clearly enjoy what they do, and mixed a healthy dose of humor into the show. They talked about the group’s history, too, and spent time lauding each members’ accomplishments. In fact, that’s part of why I didn’t get to hear as many songs as I’d hoped — spend a few minutes talking in between each song, and that eats up a chunk of time. I enjoyed the humor, though, and my Mom was tapping her toes and singing along with every song.

Clearly, they’re talented. That’s why the group has amassed an impressive number of awards and distinctions over the years. (For a more in-depth look at the group’s background, check out my preview article.) Instrumentally and vocally, the Sons of the Pioneers are not just a cutesy little act. They’re good. Even the humor portions, at least some of which I’m guessing are scripted, come across in a natural and entertaining way. It’s not forced, it’s not cheesy — it’s just good, ole’-fashioned western music and humor. My personal favorite was when Mark Abbott lobbied for a chance to sing a solo, and showed off his sweet dance moves.