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Communique: Cape Fear Chordsmen Deliver Singing Valentines

"Duffy's Tavern" Quartet from the Cape Fear Chordsmen

You can send a text, an email, a card or some flowers--but Cape Fear Chordsmen offers something a little different for Cupid's holiday: A Singing Valentine. Up to 5 quartets from the group will be in and around New Hanover County on February 14th delivering harmonies to lucky loved ones.

The best way to order your singing Valentine is to call the group directly at 910-541-1256. The quartets will perform 2 songs and bring a card and a red rose to  your intended (which can be a spouse, friend, parent, child--whoever you want). While the quartets are out delivering, they'll also stop by nursing homes and hospitals to bring some love to people shut in. Deliveries begin at 8:00 am and end at 8:00 pm, and the gentlemen say it's a good idea to schedule early to get your preferred time. 

The group who visited us at WHQR was Duffy's Tavern Quartet, featuring Baritone Doug Wick, Bass Courtney Talbot, Lead Jim Boyd, and Tenor Rich Millard. Listen above and read below. 

Rich Millard:     Every year on the 14th of February-- or around, being if it's on a Saturday or Sunday, sometimes we'll do it more than one or two days-we have a fee of 50 dollars and we go out and we sing for whomever you buy the Valentine for. They get a card, a rose, and two songs.

 If it's for a man a lot of times that gets adjusted because men don't really like men sing to each other, but in some occasions they do. They really enjoy it. And we have a special song with special words that we use for the men so it doesn't sound like we're saying I love you . We do this every year and we sometimes do a performance... for instance there's an apartment complex that has all their seniors come together for lunch and we go sing there for 20 minutes. A lot of times we'll have Valentine request come in from men or women overseas and they will buy a Valentine-actually they end up not having to buy the Valentine, they get it for free, we do those for free. We will go sing to their spouse or their significant other. And it's a special thing there. It's like they're here, but they're not here.

Jim Boyd:        It is a national program so we're part of the Wilmington chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society. And there are chapters all over the country that do similar things with the singing Valentine, so if you have someone on the West Coast you'd like to deliver a singing Valentine to, you can go to the barbership.org website for Singing Valentines and find a local chapter that could take your order and deliver a singing Valentine pretty much anywhere. We do it in the primarily in the New Hanover County area.

Gina:               And how many men versus women ask for these?

Courtney Talbot:      Probably at least ten to one I would say, in all the years I've been doing it. I think I only remember like maybe three men and all the rest were women type thing but it's still a lot of fun. And the various reactions you get… I can remember one was a young woman with young children home her husband had come home early and he was taping it on his cell phone and the tears were pouring down her face and she had just moved . It moves us of course, we really enjoy it.

Jim Boyd:        We sang to a young man a couple of years ago in a factory setting. And he-- the whole time looked like he was trying to find a small hole to crawl into. He was so embarrassed. But the whole office staff gathered around him and enjoyed his embarrassment. A lot of fun .

Rich Millard:     Another part of our "ministry" if you want to call it that is that we will go in between our appointments, we'll go to like a hospital and just walk around and see the nurses and they'll say you know good seeing to this person or sing to that person.

Speaker 6:      We do a lot of assisted living Sing Outs, which is something aside from Valentines, but we'll go to an assisted living and they'll get a group of people together that can motivate up to a room and then we'll sing for 15 or 20 minutes to them . And then there's you know anybody that's got a shut-in that would like somebody to sing to them, we try to accommodate that. So that's that's the biggest fun that I can think of is going to sing at assisted living.

Gina:               You are not the only Quartet from the from the Cape Fear Chordsmen who are going out.

Doug Wick:      No, actually, this year we'll have five quartets canvassing the New Hanover County area- depending on the number of singing Valentines are actually ordered. It's a unique gift that keeps on giving year after year is the way we state it, and many people have our recordings I'm sure for all the years that I've been doing it .

Gina:               And you all look sharp in your red shirts and your black pants right now, your Cape Fear corpsmen shirts . But you actually wear some sparkly stuff when you go out for these .

Rich Millard:     Yes, we have a formal outfit that we've been wearing for years and years and it's basically a red lame vest and armbands and we usually wear a white shirt and black pants and sometimes we also have a cream colored formal jacket that we wear when we go to do Valentines. Otherwise we use that for Christmas . And then the rest of the time we have different colored vests and things different outfits for all of our performances.

Gina:               Do you do this for same sex couples?

Rich Millard:     I don't think it matters. If they buy a valentine and they want us to go sing, we go sing!

Courtney Talbot:      We sing for everybody.

Gina:               And this is a fundraiser...

Rich Millard:     We raise funds for Valentine's and from our annual show to support the work. I mean we have to have money to do the things that we buy, the outfits that we have and then the taxes, the music, the tracks to learn from. We also have our altruistic purpose, Alzheimer of North Carolina. So we give 10 percent of all the money we make to Alzheimer's of North Carolina. And there've been other 501 c 3s or charities in the past. This is the one we have right now, we will probably stick with them until the middle of the year at least, we may change who knows, but we'd like to give back what we can.

And we also like to go and sing for children, because you know, what's more fun than singing for a bunch of kids and getting them excited about singing old McDonald had a farm or something like that. We've done that in the past and we'll be doing that again. So that's that's basically what we do we sing for the fun of it and for the enjoyment of our audiences .

Gina:               So what do I do if I want to buy a Singing Valentine?

Rich Millard:     You can call 910-541-1256. That's what we call our hotline. You can get in touch with up to four different guys that are in the chorus to get an order in for whatever it is you need done. We also have a website: Cape Fear Chordsmen. And on that Web site we have links to Valentine' and ticket sales for our shows and so forth. And you can buy them online through PayPal, or with a credit card. We're trying to be, you know, 21st century. We have a Facebook page…we're on Twitter but I don't think I have that going 100 percent yet. So we have different ways to get up with us. But that that phone number I gave you is where we get most of our information about Valentine's and other gigs.