Aged 10 Years (1994 & 2003)
Thoughts on Aged 10 Years, AKA Live, All-Natural A Cappella
By Rob Stewart ('94-'95)
The Hyannis Sound was brought together and unleashed upon Cape Cod over Memorial Day weekend, 1994. We were mostly strangers to each other. We had no gigs lined up and nothing resembling the weekly concert schedule enjoyed by the current group. Looking back, I'm amazed by the tenacity we exhibited. During June of that year, we would often load up into cars and drive up and down Rt. 28 scoping out restaurants and pleading with them to let us audition. While the rest of us hung out in the parking lot, Sasha and Dave would go in reemerge moments later either shaking their head dejectedly or frantically motioning for us all to come in. We'd awkwardly gather into a corner of the restaurant while a manager eyed us over suspiciously and bust out a few songs. At first, this strategy seemed dubious. Our first payday consisted of Dave handing each of us $6 cash. But over the weeks, things started turning around. By the end of June we had a weekly gig working the multiple dining rooms at Thompson's Clam Bar for $500/night plus tips and plates of chicken fingers which we would ravenously devour at the end of each shift.
We were a band for hire. Parties and functions seemed to be our natural niche. Essentially we were background music and were making just enough money to keep anybody from defecting and moving back home. We also all had day jobs to make ends meet.
But performance was our wheelhouse and most of these gigs didn't really provide for that. One night while walking down Main Street in Hyannis we came upon this art gallery called Richard's. Through a large storefront window we could see an improv comedy troupe on a makeshift stage performing for an audience of maybe 15 or 20 sitting at small tables. Sasha went in and arranged for us to open for them at their next performance. We did and we were a hit! Richard gave us Tuesday nights and we did 2 shows. Our first show had a handful of patrons but by the end of the summer we were packing close to 200 per show.
As I mentioned, we all had day jobs. My day job became being Richard's assistant at the gallery, which consisted mostly of watching the joint while he played hookey. My favorite day was Tuesday because I would spend the whole day setting up the room for our performance. Sometime in late July or August we started thinking we were getting good enough to record the concerts. So, if memory serves, one Tuesday I took the best boombox I could find and set it up at the foot of the stage and hit play/record.
The sound quality was (and continues to be) awful. Originally I think we intended these recordings to just be a personal momento. We didn't know at the time if we would be doing this another summer. But that fall, somebody (not me) took it upon himself to gather the recordings, master them, and produce a hundred cassette tapes. And they didn't come with fancy liner notes. We had to design, typeset, kinko copy and cut out J-cards and hand insert them. This magnum opus was titled Live All-Natural A Cappella.
I was, and continue to be, exceedingly proud of it. 1994 was the summer of OJ and The Lion King and a cappella was innocent. We loved being those guys standing on the corner busting out 4-part harmony. The first time I sang Good Ol' Harmony I thought Wow! what an awesome song! And I had never sung with a more talented and dedicated group of singers. We pushed each other and at the end of the summer really felt like we accomplished something. Those recordings embody that. I listen to them now—and because after each song there's this explosive applause—I remember we were packing the house at the end of August and were so PSYCHED. Tuesday was our one night a week where people were come out to see US. Wednesday it was back to 15 rounds of Happy Birthday at Thompson's.
The next summer, Darren put together fresh album art with closeups of the street signs of our Hyannis address, the corner of Franklin and Franbil, which the album became affectionately known.
In the summer of 2003 we remastered the original recordings and re-released it as a gleaming, silvery, liner-noted compact disc under the title Aged Ten Years for the 10th anniversary.
The summer of 1994 ended and we went back to our lives. But we all definitely wanted to do it again. That spring we defined how HS would open auditions up to other college a cappella groups when any of us decided to move on. We thought how great would it be if this thing kept going every summer? How awesome for this to be your summer job? Living in a house with your nine best friends and making music every day? On Cape Cod? All summer long? In your 20's? Singing beach serenades to whomever you please? Ridiculous. Here it is 16 years later and result surpasses my wildest expectations.