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Acclaimed Male A Cappella Group Straight No Chaser Returns to UB by Popular Demand

By David Wedekindt

Release Date: October 18, 2010

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo Center for the Arts will present Straight No Chaser on Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the Mainstage Theatre in the Center for the Arts, UB North Campus.

If the phrase "male a cappella group" conjures up an image of students in blue blazers, ties and khakis singing traditional college songs on ivied campuses … think again. Straight No Chaser (SNC) is neither straitlaced nor straight-faced, but neither are they vaudeville-style kitsch. As original member Randy Stine comments, "We take the music very seriously; we just don't take ourselves too seriously." In the process, they are reinventing the idea of a cappella on the modern pop landscape.

Originally formed more than a dozen years ago while students together at Indiana University, the group has reassembled and reemerged as a phenomenon -- with a massive fan base, more than 20 million views on YouTube, numerous national TV appearances and proven success with two holiday releases, 2008's Holiday Spirits and 2009's Christmas Cheers. In an era when so much pop music is the product of digital processing and vocal pro-tooling, SNC is the real deal -- the captivating sound of 10 unadulterated human voices coming together to make extraordinary music that is moving people in a fundamental sense…and with a sense of humor.

Founding member Dan Ponce put the group together in the fall of 1996 at IU, basically as "10 guys who happened to be good friends who also liked to sing." Choosing the members carefully for personality as well as vocal talent -- Stine, Charlie Mechling, Jerome Collins, David Roberts and Walter Chase remain from the original lineup -- SNC set itself apart from other a cappella groups with its contemporary repertoire and dynamic approach, quickly headlining concerts both in Bloomington and on road dates.

When the founders began graduating in 1999 and went on to jobs mostly outside of music, they chose replacements and established SNC as an ongoing group on campus with future generations of ambitious IU undergrads. Such was the impact SNC made at IU that the school hosted a 10th anniversary reunion show for the original lineup in 2006, and when Stine posted clips from a 1998 concert on YouTube, SNC's fan base grew exponentially. The group's version of "The 12 Days of Christmas" has been viewed more than 11 million times.

Among those viewers was Atlantic Chairman/CEO Craig Kallman, who found SNC's music "brilliant, fresh and totally compelling." Kallman e-mailed Stine, who initially thought it was a prank but thought otherwise when he and Ponce were whisked to Los Angeles to meet with the label chief. A few days later, the entire group was in New York City to sign its recording deal. "It's definitely not something that was on the radar," Stine says. "I pinch myself all the time and hope it continues and becomes a longstanding career."

Tickets for Straight No Chaser are $41.50, $31.50, $26.50. Tickets are available at the Center for the Arts Box Office from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and all Ticketmaster locations, including ticketmaster.com. To charge tickets, call 1-800-745-3000; in Canada, call 416-870-8000. For group sales, call 716-645-6771. For more information call 716-645-2787.