The old-fashioned barbershop may have been replaced by hair boutiques and shaving mugs by disposable razors, but traditional barbershop singing--heavy on the 'hmmmmmms'--is holding its own in Northern Virginia, thanks to a group of amateur musicians called The Fairfax Jubil-Aires.
But don't expect them to be your basic barbershop quartet. That's because there are at least 75 Jubil-Aires, all males ranging in age from 10 to 70. And although their common interest is a love of barbershop harmonies, they are more than simply a singing group: through their concerts, they support local charities and sponsor many social events.
Right now, the Jubil-Aires are busily preparing for their annual concerts on March 18 and 19. Their theme? "An Irishman's Dream." The show will make for lively and enjoyable family entertainment.
In fact, the Jubil-Aires are a chapter of an international society of barbershop groups, known collectively as the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America--or SPEBSQSA.
The Fairfax chapter was founded in 1953, and Les Hesketh is one of the earliest members.
"We have never experienced a lack of interest or enthusiam," Hesketh said during one rehearsal last week. "The group has always been an important part of the members lives. Rehearsals are well attended."
The president of the Jubil-Aires, Jere Richardson, believes that the best thing about barbershop harmony is that "anyone who loves music can join. All it requires is a good ear. If you can read music, great, but it certainly is not required."
"An Irishman's Dream," by The Jubil-Aires. March 18 and 19th at 8 p.m., Fairfax High School, 3500 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax. Tickets are $6 and $4. For more information about the performance, call Tom Tobin at 323-0073.