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Undertones Warm-Up For Christmas Tour With Friday Concert

Observer Scene | Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On Friday, take a break from “studying” (or whatever happens on study days) to check out the winter concert of the Undertones, Notre Dame’s men’s a cappella group. Scene talked to sophomore Griffin Dassatti about this weekend’s concert and other upcoming events for the Undertones.

Scene: What is the Undertones’ winter concert like?

Dassatti: The winter concert is one of our favorite events of the year, and we’ve been preparing for it basically since our last concert in late December. We’ll be doing a lot of our traditional stuff, along with a few new numbers and, of course, some Christmas music just in time for the season. So far the response has been pretty good; I guess a lot of people like the idea of taking a break from studying Friday night.

Scene: What is the process like for arranging a cappella performances?

Dassatti: We arrange all of our own music, and some of the stuff we’ll sing on Friday was done by guys currently in the group, while other songs are taken from years past. As for how we arrange, I’d say there are two basic methods we tend to follow. Sometimes we’ll get a copy of the sheet music and directly transpose the notes the instruments are playing, meaning we’re literally doing the song a cappella. With other songs though, we might use that method as a basis and then add our own flare to it. 

Scene: Who else is in the Undertones?

Dassatti: There are 12 of us in the group, 11 currently here. We have two sophomores (myself and Kyle Neiman), five juniors (Dominic Go, Mike Flattery, Tom Ronan, Mike Mahoney, and Chris Meister) and four seniors (Brian Green, Tim Cummings, Ben Willis, and Robert Curry). One other junior, Scott Robinson, is in London this semester but he’ll switch places with Meister, who leaves in the spring for Cairo. 

As for leadership, it kind of depends on what you’re looking for. Brian is our musical director, I’m the business manager – I’m in charge of organizing concerts/events/etc. – and Robert is our tour manager. 

Scene: What kind of practice or meeting schedule do you have leading up to a concert?

Dassatti: Our practice schedule is usually Monday and Wednesday nights for an hour and a half or so, and we tend to do more practice before a concert, but because Glee Club has been so busy these last few weeks with Christmas obligations it’s been interesting trying to get everything together in time. Still, I think we’ll be OK.

Scene: What other concerts do you put on during the school year?

Dassatti: Aside from a lot of small University events, we have four major concerts planned for this year. The first one was back in September, when we released our latest album, “Stranded.” We’ll have our traditional semester concerts – this Friday’s and one in the spring – and we’ve also planned an Undertones Reunion concert for Feb. 28. There will be a lot of ‘Tones alums coming back to sing for that one, and it’ll be a really great time.

Scene: What is the Undertones winter tour going to be like?

Dassatti: We’ll be touring for the second half of Christmas Break. We’ll start in Indianapolis and then spend a little over a week down south with stops in Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and Louisiana. Tours in general are a great time because you get to go around the country, meeting a lot of really cool alums and just singing for people, which we love.

Contact Jordan Gamble at jgamble@nd.edu.