Amanda Aldag: Festivals on the Brain

So I just returned to the US from my first international a cappella experience, performing with Euphonism at the London A Cappella Festival. It was amazing. I’m not sure when the high will end, but I can only hope that it doesn’t. The only thing that keeps me from falling back into my day job doldrums is that I’m turning around and going to LA-AF next week. In the slightly lengthy stretch between LA-AF and BOSS I’ll keep myself busy with an album release, several big live appearances, arranging, coaching and studio work.

To those outside the community, it very much appears that I have an obsession with a cappella. To certain extent, that is true. But when I attend an amazingly organized and executed a cappella festival, I find myself surrounded with other likeminded people who remind me why it is so easy to fill up my time with this “hobby”. I am allowed to spend 2-3 days completely overindulging in this thing that I am so passionate about. I get to learn from the best. I get to be inspired by the creative performances. I get to unabashedly talk shop. I get to live completely inside the bubble of happiness that a cappella creates for me.

As if a cappella couldn’t get any better, now we’ll be celebrating it in one of my favorite cities in America, Boston. The city is home to one of the most active hubs of the art form in the world and the production team has really pulled together what should be a flat out killer of a weekend. Kicking things off with red carpet CARAs will finally give our awards well-deserved glamour. Watching the powerhouse college groups of the Northeast go head to head live should be a scholastic show to rival all other competitions. And oh, the professional showcase.

Guys. These are life changing. Last week in the span of 48 hours I got to watch The Boxettes, Cadence, Fork and The Swingle Singers. Every night my group walked away inspired and slightly intimidated by the idea of sharing a stage with any of them. Instead of letting our nerves get the best of us, we took what we liked best from all of the performances and applied it to our own. YOU CAN DO THIS TOO.

Also, as a slight spoiler, I’ve been following Cadence for years and their performance last week in London was the best I’ve ever seen them. They are truly on top of their game. Missing their show is missing 1000 lessons crammed into the span of one evening. Wear clothes that you can move in, because I expect that you’ll be up and down out of your seat for numerous standing ovations.  True to form, CASA will also be introducing a new-to-me act, Traces. I’ve heard amazing things about this fierce group of ladies and I look forward to sitting in the audience with you as they tear up the stage. And finally, nearest and dearest to my heart, Boston’s only CAL group, Redline, will be taking the stage right along with the headliners. Fun, witty and supremely talented, Redline embodies the spirit of the League with their high-level of performance ability in spite of those things they call “day jobs”. My advice would be to watch, marvel and then talk to me about the wonders of CAL and how you can be a part of it.


Producer Blog #2: Alex Green

I’m not gonna lie to you, BOSS is basically being run out of my house. Our EP Meg Alexander is here for more of her time away from work than she spends at home some weeks, our other two producers Lo Barreiro and Alexander Koutzoukis live with me and across the hall, respectively, and our Local Sponsorship coordinator Angela Ugolini lives downstairs. At any given hour for the last few months, someone has either been sending a BOSS email, talking to sponsors, designing the website, writing copy, talking to one or all of our awesome headliners, or coming up with something else to do that no one had thought of yet.

You’d be amazed at the flurry of information that flies around the house, between our various email accounts (we have about 15 between the four of us that live here, and that number jumps to 18 when Meg drops by), and during our weekly conference calls. Having so many people who wanted to help get BOSS off the ground from the get-go made planning this festival, while not easy, certainly less painful than it could have been. I’ve found myself wanting information multiple times, only to have it appear before me on one of the various Google Docs the production team uses to keep track of all of our various tasks and contacts in the Boston area.

Speaking of local contacts, I’m excited to announce that we have at least one food sponsor completely confirmed, and two more in the works. Sure, it helps that we live down the street from one of them (locals, I expect you to figure this one out) and around the corner from another, but it’s also great that so many local businesses up here are so open to the idea of helping out other upstarts like ourselves. Expect more news on this front soon on our local info page, which will be updated as soon as we have more places ready to feed your hungry mouths.

Also local are our hosts for this year, the MIT Logarhythms. They have been busting their butts all over MIT’s campus promoting BOSS, and are sending out updates on our and their progress on their Twitter and Facebook. They are a nice bunch of dudes, and they’ve been nothing but helpful. Buy an album (or five) of theirs to say thanks. Tell them Tony Danza sent you.

You have no idea how excited I am to finally see a big festival like BOSS come back to Boston. Watch this space for more information, and see you all in April!

Dave Sperandio: How BOSS Came To Be

The year was 2000. Or 2001. I can’t remember exactly. What I can remember is that I was with my (vocal) band, and we had traveled from Atlanta to attend the East Coast A Cappella Summit, in Boston. I’d performed at  Harmony Sweeps, had judged ICCA shows, and had seen a few professional a cappella shows, but this was the first time I’d been to an event like this.

I remember a great concert.  I remember sitting in on classes led by people I’d read about online. I remember a group rocking out on the lunch stage—they were called “Duwende”, I think. I remember an “afterglow”, with as much singing as there was drinking. And I remember thinking how vibrant the contemporary vocal music scene seemed in Boston, in contrast to the Southeast, where I was still cutting my aca-teeth.

I thought about this last part a lot over the next couple of years. ECS had certainly sparked something in me, and I wanted to somehow replicate the environment I had found in Boston back in my region. But when I had gotten home, I’d found precious little tinder. And being honest, I was a little upset about that.

In time I moved back to NC and created SoJam. After that, the Southeast experienced a massive burst of growth in a cappella … err …  everything, and Boston’s scene had seemed to ebb almost in concert with our growth. But I’d always wanted to return to the city that “started it all” for me and relive the experience of that first ECS.

When I joined CASA in 2009 and brought SoJam over to their stable, I also took over management of ECS. At that time I decided to table the event – the timing didn’t feel right. But I hoped to one day revive the event when it made sense to do so.

Enter Meg Alexander, Dave Longo, Keith Tripler, Nicole Milano, and SMACC. CASA partnered with the event in its inaugural year, and following the event’s successful debut and Meg’s relocation to Beantown, the opportunity finally presented itself to reincarnate the venerable ECS in its natural location: Boston.

After a decade, we’ve come full circle: SMACC and ECS are now BOSS. With recent appearances on BOCA, Sing, and Voices Only, multiple CARA nods, ICCA and SoJam wins galore, and even some TV time, Boston is clearly experiencing a renaissance in its vocal music scene. You might even call it a revolution. Above all, one thing is clear: Boston sings. I hope you’ll join us at this historic event, and that you’ll lend your voice to the revolution.

Producer Blog #1: Meg Alexander

Welcome to the BOSton Sings (BOSS) Blog! This is the first of many weekly posts giving you all the information you could ever want to know about BOSS. Once a month a member of our production team will give you the inside scoop on the festival planning to create the newest, BOSSest experience just for you. “But what about all those weeks in between that I just can’t live without something new?!” you ask. Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered, and with none other than the biggest celebrities in a cappella, to boot.

Based on the success of the East Coast A Cappella Summit of yore as well as SMACC and presented by CASA, BOSS is the newest 3-day a cappella festival to hit the scene. And we’re no traditional festival; BOSS is recording-centric. You won’t miss out on the classic conference fare, but the experience has been tailored to show you some of the newest tricks and best practices in a cappella recording, as well as how live performance can improve your group’s recording and in turn how recording can improve your live performance.

You’ll also notice that our competition isn’t your run-of-the-mill a cappella showdown! On Friday night, the selected college groups will be challenged to lay it all out on the stage in an innovative, keeps-you-guessing three round elimination format, judged by some of the biggest names in the field.

Our enthralling professional performers are sure to show you a side of a cappella that you’ve never imagined before. Let them inspire you on the big stage, and let them teach you their secrets at their workshops on Saturday and Sunday.

Did I mention our incredible production team of power players from all over the country? They’re all hard at work getting ready to blow your mind. And we’re offering a multitude of ways for you to get involved: from competing to volunteering, performing on Saturday to attending classes, BOSS will be a revolutionary weekend. Take a minute to peruse our site in-depth and see what I mean. Tickets are limited so get them fast; this is one weekend you won’t want to miss out on.