Mood-changing music on Circuit Avenue, Oak Bluffs
Photo by Jack Shea
Circuit Avenue was having a grumpy day last Saturday.
By mid-afternoon, glowering skies were spitting occasional rain drops on the Oak Bluffs thoroughfare as a thin crowd of visitors strolled desultorily.
That mood changed in a heartbeat as up-tempo harmonic singing exploded from the deck in front of Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium. A crowd of several dozen, smiling and swaying, gathered on the street and sidewalk. Four young men were belting out barbershop quartet classics.
No straw boaters or red and white barber pole shirts and garters, just four 20-somethings in 20-something tees and jeans singing a capella to beat the band, so to speak.
Turns out the men are members of the Downtown Crossing Quartet (DTX), a Boston-based barbershop group down for the weekend. The quartet was staying on East Chop, courtesy of Jenny and Mark Friedman, aunt and uncle of Seth and Ben Orenstein, two members of DTX, as the group is known. Joey Constantine (melody) and Dan Costello (baritone) complete the group. Seth Orenstein handles the high notes and Ben keeps pitch for the group.
The lads, who have real jobs in the Boston area, showed up for a weekend practice session a few weeks before the big competition, the Northeastern District competition sponsored by the worldwide Barber Shop Harmony Society on October 21-22 in Springfield.
"Actually, we just came downtown for an ice cream and decided to sing," Ben Orenstein said. The spontaneous event did not include the requisite contribution bowl, a staple for street performers everywhere.
"Didn't think of it, we're new at busking," Mr. Costello said and grinned. Busking is the street performer term for playing for passerby contributions. Not that the group doesn't welcome paying groups. They can be reached at downtowncrossingquartet.com.
As they moved off, the thought occurred that these guys are good and you'd need to go to Manhattan or Downtown Crossing in Boston for this serendipitous moment.
Ya gotta love this Island.