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Feven Getachew
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Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm
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Six Appeal’s voices rock Herrick Chappel

Six Appeal – Jun Taek Lee

Peter Sills

This week, an out-of-town visitor in the form of Minneapolis’ Six Appeal Vocal Band graced the Grinnell College community. Comprised of Andrew Berkowitz, Michael Brookens, Nathan Hickey, Reuben Hushagen, Trey Jones and Jordan Roll, Six Appeal is a professional six-part a cappella group that has toured the United States nationally. The group is renowned for its ability to create a full instrumental rock sound using only their voices.

As soon as the group entered onto the red carpet of Herrick that evening, they were greeted by the booming applause of a packed house. Brookens and Berkowitz loosened up the crowd with a comedic bit that which intersected Brookens’ instinct for comedic timing with Berkowitz’s vast variety of sound effects. Although the performers appeared relaxed and nonchalant on the surface, it soon became clear their show was anything but cursory.

“Our show used to be we’d say stuff whenever,” Berkowitz said in interview after the show. “Now we figure out who’s going to say what when. It’s like a loose script.”

Six Appeal - Jun Taek Lee
Six Appeal’s exciting and hilarious performance brought a new energy to Herrick Chapel. Photo by Jun Taek Lee.

Although Six Appeal does not play instruments, the band is beyond just an a cappella group. The songs combined a dance routine, hair-raising harmonies, vocal percussion and realistic evocations of guitar, trumpet and horn riffs.

“[Through] trial and error, we’ve figured out what wild movements we can put into the song. We want to insert interesting, entertaining moments,” Berkowitz said.

Berkowitz was not always into a cappella and did not start singing until his freshman year of college. As effortless as his dancing seems, Berkowitz attests that it does not always come easily to him and that it still requires a lot of practice.

“We started with a step touch and grew into more complicated formations and now we have choreographed songs,” Berkowitz said. “[The creative process] usually starts with somebody messing around with rhythm and then we follow.”

Performances of “Happy” by Pharrell and “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor moved the audience to sing and clap along. They also invited a student to join them on stage for their rendition of “Everything” by Michael Bublé. Between songs, Brookens joked with the audience and promoted Six Appeal’s albums, “Plan A” and “Ugly Sweater Party.”

“Plan A came around because we did this full time for a few years and we realized that there was no plan B,” Berkowitz said of the album title, referencing how he dropped out of college to pursue music. “[Performing] was the plan A so we wanted to show our dedication to it with the album.”

The tremendous size of the group’s musical repertoire and their constant performing reflects this dedication.

“Our total repertoire is 60 or 70 songs. We want to drastically increase that by next year, learn new music faster,” Berkowitz said. “We’ve been doing [gigs] for five years. Last year was our best. We did 200 shows. Last year we got through our 48th state. It is really interesting to see the variety of towns, peoples and accents. Our favorite thing to do is figure out the local delicacy. Our agency told us they were surprised we made it this far.”

Audience members were astonished by the band’s talent and polish.

“They’re so well-practiced. Great shoes, too, like a Barbershop quartet,” said Jenny Dong ’16.

—Editor’s Note: Jenny Dong is the Business Manager for the S&B.

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