TORRINGTON – For more than 40 years, the Sugar Valley Singers have brought harmony to the WyoBraska region.
Dan Clark of Scottsbluff, Neb., has acted as director of the Singers for the last 30 years. He joined the group in 1976 – one year after it began.
“I always loved music – I was a music minor back in my college days,” Clark said. I love harmony, and I love to sing.
“Back in 1975, three or four men in Scottsbluff knew about the barbershop organization, got their heads together and put the information out into the media (that they were looking for singers),” he said. “I was busy at the time with my medical practice and relatively new to the area, so I didn’t join right away.”
As many as 75 men gathered and began singing every week. Those initial numbers declined slightly over time, Clark said. However, when the group was officially charted in 1975, their roster included 60 voices who continued singing for several years.
The Singers number approximately 18 now.
“(Participation) has been a problem throughout the barbershop world,” Clark said. “As our guys aged out and passed away, numbers dwindled. We’re working hard to attract more. Most of us joined back in the ‘70s, singing songs we knew all our lives … these days, there are not as many singable songs on the radio.”
The group consists of men singing four parts: bass, baritone, lead (melody) and tenor and a song list ranging from classics and patriotic to Christian and Christmas. Clark sings tenor.
“Trying to describe exactly what people get out of singing is hard to do – it’s like trying to describe why it’s fun to fish to someone who hasn’t fished … they wouldn’t understand,” he said. “People who (sing) with a group of people who love music, with all the parts … we really get a kick out of it.”
Clark’s favorite memories of being a Sugar Valley Singer include his beginnings, as well as his son’s success in the barbershop chorus world.
“Nearly 40 years ago, four of us got together (a man who worked at the radio, a school teacher, a farmer and Clark) and formed a quartet,” he said. “We began to do quartet music and worked comedy into our routine. We sang everywhere from Minneapolis (Minn.) to Salt Lake City … (and beyond). Tied to that, three of us in that quartet, three of our sons got together and formed a quartet in Denver (Colo.). They won the international gold medal for the best barbershop quartet.”
After more than 40 years in the chorus, Clark said, aside from a love for music, friendship keeps him involved.
“The fellowship of the guys – we have a really nice bunch of men … we’ve always had one man from Torrington – we have four or five now,” he said.
And the group loves to delight crowds and bring its signature harmony wherever
“That’s what we want – to entertain people at our shows,” Clark said.
Sunday’s performances are at 216 East 19th Ave. and feature guest group Jazz 6 to 8. The events cost $10 for adults, $7 for children ages 6 to 12, and free for kids under 6 years old. Tickets are available at the door.
For more information, or to join to the group, call Clark at (308) 641-2121.