Happy Barbershop Music Appreciation Day!

That instantly recognizable close harmony, those dulcet ringing chords – barbershop quartet music is a centerpiece of American Music, and today we honor this genre with Barbershop Music Appreciation Day. Despite the popularity of barbershop quartet music, its origins are still unclear, though one strong opinion is that the style originated in its namesake – barbershops.

Barbershop music has appeared on shows like The Simpsons (remember the Be Sharps?), Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and Family Guy, as well as adopted by musical acts like The Beatles and The Beach Boys. Even Disneyland has its own famous barbershop quartet, called the Dapper Dans.

To celebrate this distinctive American music genre, we’ll be taking a look at its history and sharing some of our favorite barbershop tracks with you.

Will you be celebrating this holiday?

Timeline

Origins – Late 19th Century

Theory 1

In the later half of the 19th century, U.S. barbershops served as community gathering centers where African American men would socialize. While waiting their turn, they would harmonize, vocalizing folk songs, spirituals, and popular songs. From these impromptu gatherings sprung a new style that consisted of unaccompanied, four-part, close-harmony singing.

White minstrel singers later adopted this style, and in the early days of the recording industry their performances were recorded and sold. Songs like “Hello, Ma Baby” and “Sweet Adeline” were very popular between 1900 and 1919 but eventually faded into obscurity in the 1920s. (Wikipedia)

Theory 2

Some researchers argue that barbershop quartet music is a tradition invented in the 1940s by the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet singing in America, (SPEBSQSA) while determining the rules for singing contests. The group related barbershop music to several musical features popular around 1900, including quartet singing and the barbershop chord. (Wikipedia)

Revival – 1938

Tax lawyer Owen C. Cash wanted to save the barbershop style from the threat of radio, so he founded the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA). The lengthy name was designed to poke fun at the multi-initial names of Roosevelt’s many New Deal agencies. They later renamed themselves the much more palatable Barbershop Harmony Society.

Today thousands of quartets and choruses are registered with the society.

Female barbershop music exists too – on July 13, 1945, Edna Mae Anderson of Tulsa, Oklahoma invited her friends to her home to sing. Their husbands were members of the Barbershop Harmony Society. On that evening, they formed the Sweet Adelines, which is now an international organization for female singers.

Discography

A few videos featuring some excellent Barbershop music. If you’ve got more tunes  you’d like to add to the list, leave a comment below or give us a shout out on Facebook.

Storm Front – Lida Rose

The Music Man – Barbershop Quartet

Old School – Little Town in the Old Country Down / I Want a Girl

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The Gentleman’s Summer Travel Packing List

Europe beckons. But first, you must pack.

For many of us who are currently seeing more rain than sun, summer vacation is like a lofty dream. While you probably can’t hop a flight out of town fast enough, you need to deal with the logistics of packing the luggage. It’s not exactly a part of traveling anyone looks forward to, but we’re here to make things easier.

Read on for a streamlined packing list that emphasizes multifunctional pieces so you can spend less time packing and more time actually enjoying the vacation. Because a big part of traveling in style is getting from point A to point B succinctly.

Happy Travels!

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1. A sturdy dopp bag filled with the essentials for good grooming

Pack pint-sized versions of everything you usually use at home. In addition to obvious essentials like toothpaste, a toothbrush, mouthwash, and a comb, don’t forget the gentleman’s essentials – a razor, brush, and shaving cream. We like Baxter of California Travel Kit with Dopp Bag because it packs everything we need into TSA-friendly containers, from face wash to shaving cream and after shave balm. We recommend a travel razor like the Merkur 45 Bakelite Safety Razor, and a boar bristle brush made specifically to fit neatly into your luggage, like Kent BK4 Traditional Small Silvertip Brush.

Nike Free

2. Comfortable shoes and running shoes

Traveling is hard on your body. Even if you’re used to eating well and working out, chances are during a trip you’ll change your diet and exercise regimen (i.e. there will be none). Carve out just half an hour every day to take a morning jog around the city in these Nike Free 4.0 Flyknits, developed with Stanford athletes for fast, easy movement. In gray and black, they’re pretty slick, too.

For the rest of the time, stay stylish yet comfortable in some low-profile chukkas. Wear these during your flight to pack one less thing in your luggage (or to make room for your running shoes).

Club Monaco T-Shirt

3. A basic T-shirt

Summer vacation packing necessitates considering the weather. Less is more if it’s warm where you’re going, and when it’s 89 degrees and humid, nothing beats a T-shirt. This gray Club Monaco Cotton-Blend Melange T-Shirt literally goes with everything, and can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.

Sunspel Bengal Stripe Boxers

4. Underwear and extra socks

While we’re advocates of packing light (and thus minimizing frustration), you should always have a few extra pairs of socks and underwear. If you’re bringing dress shoes, consider Mr. Gray Loafer Socks in Charcoal, which keep feet dry and go invisible under loafers.

For underwear, stick to breathable fabrics like cotton, silk, and linen. We’re fans of Sunspel’s superbly fitted boxers in Begal Stripe.

Fun Fact: Sunspel has been making underwear since 1860 and crafted Daniel Craig’s t-shirts for the James Bond movies.

J. Crew Ludlow Shirt

5. A neutral dress shirt

For those fancy nights out your significant other is surely to schedule, J. Crew’s Ludlow Shirt in Japanese Chambray can do no wrong. Made from Japanese cotton denim, this shirt is tailored enough for a Michelin Star restaurant but casual enough for grabbing lunch at the deli the next day. The stiff spread collar and sleek Ludlow silhouette keep you looking classy even in the most unfavorable conditions.

GAP Slim Fit Jeans

6. Jeans and khakis 

You really only need two pants – dark-wash denim jeans, and khakis for special occasions. Gap makes a nice pair of straight fit dark wash jeans. These cotton jeans are sharp and comfortable for large bouts of walking.

For khakis, we like Banana Republic’s Modern Slim Non-Iron Cotton Pant, with non-iron technology that keeps them wrinkle-free and worry-free.

J. Crew Barbour Ashby Jacket

7. A multipurpose lightweight jacket

If you’re visiting an area with unpredictable weather (here’s looking at you, Birmingham, UK), dress light but prepare for the worst. J. Crew’s Barbour Sylkoil Ashby Jacket keeps you dry without adding too much insulation or bulk. That means you can throw it on in the morning and not have to worry about shivering come nightfall.

Filson Small Duffle Bag

8. A high-quality weekender

Traveling light means packing smarter. Invest in a solid weekender bag to avoid throwing in extra baggage. Keep it classy by not going for rolling luggage.

This green Filson Small Duffle Bag is made of cotton canvas with 100% bridle leather straps for durability.

Faribault Wool Blanket

9. A warm blanket

Never settle for those paper-thin airplane blankets again. Integrate some of the comforts of home with a warm blanket like the Faribault Mill Military Navy Gray Wool Blanket, which has been made to the same specifications as the original in 1917. This blanket accommodates a wide range of temperatures, and double cloth construction keeps it light yet breathable. It’s also easy to spot clean in case you spill some in-flight tipple.

Timex Watch

10. A world time watch

A watch is always a good call. But if you’re travelling, it becomes an essential. Going to a different time zone can be disorienting, so a watch with multiple time zones can help you keep track of time where you’re vacationing and at home. The Timex Intelligent Quartz World Time Watch can display the time at up to 24 major cities, which is enough for even the frequent traveler.

 

 

7 Organic and Eco-Friendly Products You Need for Earth Day

Earth Day reminds us to do something we should really be doing throughout the year – living sustainably and consciously. While there’s much good in planting a tree or attending an Earth Day event, there are also ways to incorporate eco-friendliness into your lifestyle.

We’ve scoured the interwebs to bring you the best in natural men’s goods. These pieces are simply sophisticated and designed to last you a very long time.

Read on for 7 ways to celebrate Earth Day in style.

Sprout watch

 

Sprout Light Grey Corn Resin Strap Multifunction Dial Watch

We can’t resist a good watch, and it just so happens that Sprout’s sleek grey timepiece is made entirely out of sustainable natural resources. A corn resin case houses a mineral crystal cover with bamboo dial, and the watch is water-resistant up to 165 ft.

Keen Slip Ons

Keen Timmons Slip-Ons

A pair of comfortable slip-ons in durable leather is an essential whether you’re at the office or on holiday. These Keen Timmons Slip-Ons are finished in velvety Nubuck leather that’s resistant to wear. But the footbed is where this shoe really excels – layers of recycled polyurethane, cork, and memory foam cushion the foot.

Some Keen wearers have said their shoes last for years with minimal wear and tear.

Patagonia Organic Cotton Shirt

Patagonia Men’s Long-Sleeved A/C Steersman Shirt in Glass Blue

The Patagonia Men’s Long-Sleeved A/C Steersman Shirt was manufactured to keep you looking dashing in even the harshest conditions. 100% organic, fair trade cotton wicks moisture away from your skin and is ultra light. This shirt can be packed snuggly into luggage without wrinkling, so it’s a favorite of travelers and outdoorsmen.

Tequila shot glasses

 

Himalayan Salt Tequila Glasses – Set of 4

There are beautiful shot glasses, and then there are beautiful shot glasses that douse your liquor with extra flavor and nuance. Brett Cramer’s Himalayan Salt Tequila Glasses add just a touch of salt to your tequila.

Salt is naturally anti-bacterial, so these shot glasses require minimal maintenance.You’ll have one gorgeous tequila presentation with these uniquely grained glasses, which are also 100% organic.

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Edwin Jagger Premium Shaving Cream, Limes & Pomegranate

We are always looking for ways to achieve a smooth shave without harsh chemicals. That’s why we’re thankful for the existence of Edwin Jagger Premium Shaving Cream, which is all natural and paraben free. This rich cream lifts whiskers for a clean shave, and leaves you smelling amazingly fresh.

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Le Kraft Refillable Cognac Leather Notebook, Small with White Paper

Never underestimate the power of the written word – especially your own. Of course, most of us are writing all the time on our computers, phones, and tablets. But there’s something to be said about the age-old art of writing in a notebook.

The folks at La Compagnie du Kraft have crafted an exquisite notebook carefully sourced from the company’s native France. The paper is made exclusively from waste pieces from saw mills, branches, and trimmings in the maritime pinelands of Gascogne. None of the paper is dyed, both to preserve the paper’s rich brown color and to prevent the release of CO2 (which occurs in the process of dying paper white).

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