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Concert, silent auction to benefit Fallcreek Quartet’s trip to international barbershop competition

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Fallcreek Quartet members (from left) Rich Derrick, Kevin Dean, Mark Diers and Mark McLaurin perform for seniors during a Christmas dinner at Valley Square 4000 recently in Grand Forks. (Photo by Joshua Komer / Grand Forks Herald)2 / 3
Fallcreek Quartet members (from left) Rich Derrick, Kevin Dean, Mark Diers and Mark McLaurin serenade seniors and their guests during a Christmas dinner at Valley Square 4000 recently in Grand Forks. (Photo by Joshua Komer / Grand Forks Herald)3 / 3

The Fallcreek Quartet, a local a cappella group, has earned a spot in the International Barbershop Senior Quartet Competition next month in San Antonio.

To raise money for the trip, the quartet, along with other regional a cappella groups, will present a benefit concert, coupled with a silent auction Jan. 6 in Wesley United Methodist Church in Grand Forks.

"We'll be one of 25 quartets competing in San Antonio," Kevin Dean said. Other members are Mark Diers, Mark McLaurin and Rich Derrick.

They know of no other quartets from this region that qualified for the Jan. 21 event, except for the closest one in La Crosse, Wis.

They are excited to go and a "little surprised" they won a spot in the competition, Dean said.

"We are under no delusions about the quality of the groups that will be there. We know there are really talented quartets we're competing against."

Fallcreek qualified to compete at the international barbershop competition at a division contest in May in Rochester, Minn., and at a district competition in Appleton, Wis., where they placed seventh among 21 competing groups, Dean said.

In Appleton, Fallcreek was named the 2016 Land O'Lakes District Senior Champion Quartet. The district includes North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Manitoba and part of Saskatchewan.

At the benefit concert next Friday, doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the silent auction. The concert, beginning at 7:30 p.m., features Fallcreek, 'N Style, Good Fourtune, Punchline, Fourte' and the Twin Forks Chorus.

Up for auction

Among more than 100 silent auction items will be a UND hockey jersey signed by members of the 2016-17 team, a 3-wood golf club from The Golf Center, a Casio keyboard from Kenny's Music, jewelry from River City Jewelers, a custom-designed gift from Badman Designs, Widman's candy and gift cards and baskets from area restaurants and movie theaters.

It's been 20 years since Fallcreek first performed for a live audience at a New Year's Eve 1996 event, called First Night, in Grand Forks.

"We did two songs," said Dean, the group's only original member. "You wouldn't believe how nervous I was."

Since then, the quartet has traveled widely to perform in nursing homes, churches, schools and other venues across Minnesota, the Dakotas and Iowa, as well as Wisconsin and Canada.

Its members have changed over the years, but most have been long-term. Diers, the lead singer, has been a member for 18 years, and Derrick, baritone, has been with Fallcreek about 14 years.

The newest member, Mark McLaurin, a tenor and retired music teacher, recently replaced Mark Magnus who moved out of state.

It's unusual for a barbershop quartet to stay together for two decades, Dean said. "We're a transient society."

The only other local group to enjoy more longevity—27 years—was the Happy Norsemen, who dressed in Viking horned helmets and amused audiences with Norwegian-brogue banter such as "so, how many are in your quartet den?"

Performances by Fallcreek, with a repertoire of 35 songs from the '50s and '60s as well as some barbershop and gospel music, also are laced with generous doses of humor and on-stage antics.

"We like to engage our audiences," Dean said.

They also want to encourage interest in quartet music.

"We like to educate people and promote our craft," he said. "A lot of times, people get out of high school or college, and they don't see a way to keep singing, except in a church choir, for example. We want to show people that there are other opportunities to sing."

If you go

• What: Fallcreek Benefit Concert and Silent Auction; entertainment by the Fallcreek Quartet and other regional a cappella singing groups.

• When: Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 6 for silent auction; concert at 7:30 p.m.

• Where: Wesley United Methodist Church, 1600 Fourth Ave. N., Grand Forks.

• Cost: Freewill offering.