Over the past three years the women of Three Miles Lost have continued to reinvent themselves, exploring new music styles, arrangements and sounds. The group’s dedication and hard work paid off when they earned a spot in the Eighth Annual Collegiate a Cappella Concert in Brattleboro, Vt. The benefit concert, which takes place at the Latchis Theater in downtown Brattleboro, is one that is perennially sold out. A prestigious honor to perform at the concert, Three Miles Lost was in the company of the award-winning Tufts Beelzebubs (who recently earned second place on NBC’s “The Sing Off,”) and the Wesleyan Spirits.
Three Miles Lost members who performed in Brattleboro were: Kelly Biggs ’11, Lauren Carlson ’11, Keira Carmichael ’13, Eleanor Crossan ’13, Annie Downey ’14, Courtney Good ’12, Katie Gordon ’14, Julia Hoyle ’11, Emily Jarecki ’12, Maeve Keeton ’12, Becky Perkins ’11 and Samantha Tripoli ’11. Singers Grace Hunt ’12 and Caroline Spruill ’12 were unable to participate as they were abroad in Rome and London, respectively.
An article prior to the concert in the Reformer noted local man Penn Rosen, a member of the Tufts Beelzebubs, was a voice student of Carmichael’s mother.
Carmichael is also featured in the article as a local resident returning to perform: “A sophomore studying to be a teacher, Carmichael never attended the college show when she attended BUHS – ‘It was always sold out,’ she said. ‘I am very excited. I don’t even know what to say.”
In speaking of Three Miles Lost, the article quotes Carmichael, “I’m looking forward to being part of that experience to perform with people of that high-caliber. It’s a great feeling to know that music is appreciated.”
3 Miles Lost is a student club that formed in spring 2002 and had its first concert in fall 2002.
The full article about the concert follows.
Just slightly ahead of our time Eight years after it caught fire in Brattleboro, a cappella rides a pop culture wave
Jon Potter • Reformer Staff • February 3, 2011
BRATTLEBORO — Does it surprise anyone here that the rest of the nation has finally figured out what we knew a long time ago — a cappella is way cool?
While TV viewers have tuned in by the millions to NBC’s a cappella competition show “The Sing-Off” and to Fox’s hit series “Glee,” folks in Brattleboro have quietly, contentedly and even smugly, been able to say to themselves “We told you so!”
For eight years now, the one thing you could count on as sure as death and taxes is that Brattleboro’s Collegiate A Cappella Concert will sell out the Latchis Theatre. It has become Brattleboro’s Oscar Night, a glittering, happy, high-energy jolt out of our winter blues, and it has grown into a weekend-long festival with the popular high school a cappella show on Friday night at 8 p.m., at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center and a special Sunday performance by the Tufts Beelzebubs at the museum at 11:30 a.m.
While the rest of the country is catching the a cappella wave and reaching for the remote, Brattleboro views the whole thing with a been-there, done-that, can’t-wait-to-do-it-again awarness.
No wonder Brattleboro Union High School senior Clark Glennon, an a cappella singer himself, astutely observed last year, “In terms of a cappella as a modern phenomenon, the Brattleboro community was fairly ahead of the national consciousness.”
Last year, all 750-plus seats sold out six weeks in advance, a rare feat on the local arts scene. This year, tickets were gone nearly a month in advance, although Producer Dede Cummings said some people are always lucky enough to get tickets to Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. show that night if people don’t claim them.
Yes, the nation seems to have caught on to a cappella — and you know what, a young man from Brattleboro has been at the heart of it.
Penn Rosen, 2007 Brattleboro Union High School grad enrolled in Tufts University, joined the Tufts Beelzebubs and has been, it seems, on a trajectory toward stardom ever since. In December 2009, the ‘Bubs, as they are called, appeared on NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” wowed the judges, with Penn’s solo of “Sweet Caroline” a particular highlight, and ended up finishing second, but first in our hearts.
What would they do as an encore? With Penn leading them as music director, the ‘Bubs this year have supplied backup music for the fictional Dalton Academy Warblers on the Fox show “Glee” (more on that later) and got to sing at the White House for Barack and Michelle Obama.
“What has become really apparent to me is that they have really made the most of their time with ‘The Sing-Off’ and now with ‘Glee.’ They have really taken to heart that these represent incredible opportunities. That has really been impressive,” said Danny Lichtenfeld, a Beelzebub in his college days and now director of the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, the beneficiary of Saturday’s fundraising concert.
What’s unique and wonderful about the Brattleboro show is its personal touch. Year after year, the groups who come have some local connection, most have a graduate of local high schools in their ranks, and the community takes these singers warmly into its embrace, feeding them lasagna, housing them and sharing “I remember you when …” memories. It’s like “The Sing-Off” meets Homecoming or “Glee” meets Thanksgiving.
And all the groups are stars who shine equally in the a cappella firmament to us. You don’t have to be on national TV to matter to us. You already matter to us, and we’re just glad to hear you sing, because we’ve seen you grow up, we coached you, rooted for you, wiped your runny noses, saw you in the middle school play, in Madrigals, in the school musical. … We saw you blossom, go off to college, and now you’re back. We’re your aunts, uncles, parents and siblings and friends. We know you like few people do, and we’re so proud of you.
So, yes, we’re excited that the Tufts Beelzebubs and six other groups are performing, but only we can say things like this:
“I’ve known Penn since he was 2, and I was 3. It’s incredible for me to be able to see him on TV and say ‘I know him,'” said Rebecca Greene-Cramer, a senior at Western Connecticut State University, who is bringing her group, Play it By Ear, to Brattleboro for the first time this year.
Another first-timer is Keira Carmichael, who is coming with her women’s group 3 Miles Lost from Hobart and William Smith in Geneva, N.Y. “Penn was my mom’s voice student,” said Carmichael.
A sophomore studying to be a teacher, Carmichael never attended the college show when she attended BUHS — “It was always sold out,” she said. “I am very excited. I don’t even know what to say.
Carmichael did attend and sing at the high school show. She founded the student group Spiralia wile at BUHS and sang in Madrigals and chorus. She’s equally excited to show off her group to her hometown and show off Brattleboro to her groupmates, whom she calls “a nice little sister-family.”
“A lot of them haven’t been to Vermont, and I think they expect a really hippie culture. I think they’re going to be surprised.” Carmichael said. “I’m looking forward to being part of that experience to perform with people of that high-caliber. It’s a great feeling to know that music is appreciated.”
And she’s helping her groupmates come prepared for Brattleboro. “I tell them, ‘If you’re going to Gallery Walk, you’ve got to bring sensible shoes.'”
Greene-Cramer came late to college a cappella. A senior, she’s in her first year with Play it By Ear, a co-ed group of 16. As a bio-chemistry major with aspirations to get a master’s in public health and attend medical school, studies came first for her, but she decided to give it a try this year. She is pleased to be bringing her group. “I’ve got butterflies already,” said Greene-Cramer, noting that her group has never sung before an audience so large, although they have done some uplifting shows at a Breast Cancer Walk and Pancreatic Cancer Walk and sang the National Anthem at a Danbury Whalers minor league hockey game. “I was always excited to see how Brattleboro came to life to support a cappella.
Greene-Cramer performed on the Latchis stage with the BUHS Madrigals in one of the first a cappella shows. Now she’s back. “It’s just great music. To be a part of it again is exciting.”
Another new group this year is Hartwick’s Not So Sharp. A co-ed ensemble founded in 2004, Not So Sharp is Hartwick’s only a cappella group. Nicole Daniels, a 2009 BUHS grad, was invited to bring the group last year, but too many of its members were doing special projects during Hartwick’s January Term, so they had to decline.
“It killed me not to be able to go,” said Daniels, who was an original member of Spiralia and was in Madrigals, band and chorus at BUHS. “I loved it all.”
“I’m so excited,” she said. “It really is such an amazing event. The audience is always so warm and so inviting. I’m excited to show the other members of the group Brattleboro. I think we do have a lot going on. I think they’ll be really impressed.”
The final of the four new groups this year doesn’t have a hometown singer, but its music director has a hometown connection and they do represent the home state.
Coming down from Burlington are the Top Cats, an all-male ensemble from the University of Vermont, founded in 1981.
Music Director Devon Barley, a sophomore, is a family friend of a cappella Producer Dede Cummings, and that earned the Top Cats an invitation.
“As soon as I heard about it, it seemed like something we had to do,” said Barley, who grew up in Massachusetts, majors in pre-med and Spanish and sings second tenor. “I was surprised that Brattleboro had such a notorious event, and we definitely had to do it.”
The Top Cats have a bit of notoriety themselves. Recently, they opened for a cappella legends Rockapella in Montpelier, an opportunity that “humbling but very rewarding,” Barley said. Their Homecoming show typically draws 1,000 people, so they can handle the Latchis crowd. They also auditioned for “The Sing-Off!” in 2009, the same year as The ‘Bubs, and made it through the first round of cuts.
Putting jealousy aside, the Top Cats enjoyed watching The Bubs do so well, appreciating the fact that a rising tide lifts all a cappella boats.
“We all think it’s a great show to have because a cappella has been so under wraps and so collegiate,” Barley said.
Armed with its most recent CD, “Lacking Supervision,” the Top Cats will be on a mission in Brattleboro.
“We’re going to go and show off how fun a cappella is,” said Barley, who values his time with Top Cats above anything else. “It’s one thing to sing with great singers. It’s another to sing with a great group of friends. It’s an irreplaceable experience.”
There are three returning groups this year, all of whom should be eagerly anticipated by a cappella cogniscenti.
First up, are the Darmouth Aires, who burst onto the Brattleboro show with colorful outfits and equally colorful personalities, like a bag of musical Skittles spilled onto the Latchis stage. Their musical chops were equally impressive.
Even though they don’t have a local singer, they have the shortest drive, and they’re coming back. You have been warned.
“It’s so wonderful to be invited back to Brattleboro! One of our favorite shows from last year! We can tell there’s a special feeling in this community that makes us feel really welcome,” wrote Aires Business Manager Fernando Rodriguez-Villa in an e-mail.
Coming back for the final time is Marissa Smith, a senior with the Notables from the University of New Hampshire.
Featuring 12 women, the Notables are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year — a big celebration is planned in April. But the Brattleboro show is high on their list of highlights, too.
“I always tell the new girls we get every year about it. I tell them it’s such a fun show,” said Smith, who plans to get her master’s in education after this year. “I just feel so happy to bring something that’s part of my experience home to Brattleboro.”
Still, the fact that this is her final Latchis show conjures mixed feelings for Smith.
“It’s bittersweet. We all have to grow up. It’s going to be kind of bittersweet. … I had my four years, and it’s been a perfect four years,” she said. “I thank Brattleboro for establishing my passion for music. I feel really blessed that I can come back. It’s a really special experience.”
There is, indeed, plenty to look forward to. “I know a lot of the girls are super-excited to meet The ‘Bubs,” she said.
Which bring us to The Bubs. Their appearance on “The Sing-Off!” vaulted them to a whole new level of recognition. This year, they’ve been able to sustain it.
With the help of former Bub and acknowledged go-to a cappella recording engineer Ed Boyer, this year’s Beelzebubs have continued to make waves not just on college campuses but in pop culture, supplying the backup vocals and arrangements for the fictional Dalton Academy Warblers on “Glee.”
Their backup vocals, behind soloist Darren Criss, for “Teenage Dream” not only made for great TV, it made a splash in wider circles. Within a day of its debut on “Glee,” the recording went to No. 1 on iTunes and hit No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“It took on a life of its own,” said Lichtenfeld.
The ‘Bubs are benefitting from the exposure and from the royalties, which will help fund future recording projects and tours.
Their newest song for “Glee” will be unveiled this Sunday, after the Super Bowl (you may have heard of it), just hours after they leave Brattleboro.
In addition, The ‘Bubs also released a two-song “single” on iTunes of two songs from their time on “The Sing-Off!” — “Sweet Caroline” and “Right Round” — with proceeds going to the Bubs Foundation, a charitable arm of the Bubs alumni organization that funds music programs in Boston area public schools and helps those schools start a cappella programs.
All that, plus a trip to the White House to sing at a holiday party with President Obama in attendance.
This year, as a senior music major, Penn Rosen has led the group as music director — a position with legendary overtones like playing center field for the Yankees of quarterback for Notre Dame.
Lichtenfeld himself was music director the Bubs in his time and shared some perspective on what that honorable position is like.
“First of all, it’s a big, significant job on top of being a college student. As with most aspects of the Bubs, you feel the weight of all the people who had the job before you,” said Lichtenfeld. “The nuts and bolts of being music director are you’re playing a key role in selecting what songs the group is going to be doing that year.”
Choosing songs from the Bubs’ catalog of some 700 arrangements, or arranging songs yourself, or selecting arrangements from other group members, Rosen has shaped the Bubs’ repertoire for the year. In addition he has selected soloists, led rehearsals and generally managed a group of talented guys who must be a bit of handful at times.
Lichtenfeld said he’s talked to Rosen a few times and seen the group this year a couple of times.
“From what I can tell, Penn is doing a really good job,” he said.
Lichtenfeld has enjoyed seeing The Bubs succeed.
“You want that group that you’re associated with to be succeed, because there’s kind of a reflected glory,” he said. “What the current Bubs have been able to accomplish has been a tremendous source of pride.”
So, too, is Saturday’s a cappella concert, which benefits the Brattleboro Museum.
“The fact that we take this for granted that we’re going to sell 750 seats here … I think it’s incredible,” said Lichtenfeld. “Dede has built something here. I’m impressed and grateful to her.”
So, you didn’t get tickets to Saturday’s college show, but you can still get in on the game.
On Friday at 8 p.m., the High School A Cappella Warm Up Concert takes place at the Brattleboro Museum. See singers from the BUHS Madrigals and student-run a cappella groups Shoulder Narrows, Spiralia and Renegade, plus Leland & Gray students and others. Tickets are $10, $5 for students and benefit the In-Sight Photography Project. Call 802-251-9960. Patrons are also asked to bring a canned good or cash. for the Drop-In Center.
On Sunday, the Tufts Beelzebubs will perform at the Brattleboro Museum at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $20 and are available by calling 802-257-0124, ext. 101.