For obvious reasons, it's impossible to "root, root, root for the home team" at an All-Star game.
But during the coming festivities in Baltimore, we can root for the Annapolis Vocal Corps, a local septet that will be performing throughout Charm City's celebration of baseball's midsummer classic.
The ensemble, known in our area for its enthusiastic performances of hit songs from the 1940s to the 1980s, ushered in All-Star week yesterday evening by singing the national anthem at FanFest, baseball's star-studded traveling exhibition designed to pique interest in the national pastime.
The Vocal Corps will be appearing today, Sunday and Tuesday at Festival Hall, as well as at StreetFest, the bash Baltimore is throwing to complement baseball's road show.
The Annapolis Vocal Corps is anything but a typical singing ensemble. Its seven members do not make their livings as musicians. Paul Michael Nathan, the group's principal arranger, runs a security systems company in Beltsville, Susan Marble is a Glen Burnie attorney, "Pip" Pippig is a popular local bartender, and Rick Pleva is a technical writer who works from his home in Cape St. Claire.
Rounding out the roster are Stan Fletcher, who owns a club in Rehoboth Beach, Del., Ed Keuthe, a former teacher turned bank employee, and Lynne Mealey, a sign company executive.
The seven have joined to create a distinctive, joyous sound.
From "Tuxedo Junction" to "Dream A Little Dream" to the Lennon-McCartney standard "In My Life," Mr. Nathan demonstrates a remarkable flair for arranging. His harmonies are unfailingly inventive, bracing and fiendishly difficult to sing.
"I have a multitrack recorder," Mr. Nathan says, "and I make tapes for each member on which their part is predominant."
This comes in particularly handy for baritone Stan Fletcher, who learns most new music on his car stereo while commuting to Rehoboth Beach, where he owns Fletcher's, a popular night spot. "We usually rehearse two hours a week," he says, laughing, "not counting the driving time."
Those who have not heard the Vocal Corps at Armadillo's or the Middleton Tavern in downtown Annapolis will be able to catch the group at Dick Gessner's Broadway Corner on the night of July 20.
Perhaps the most striking thing to listen for is the cohesion of the group's phrasing and the dynamic balance, accomplishments made all the more remarkable by the absence of any printed sheet music most of the time.
"We've been singing together for so long that a lot of it just happens by feel," Ms. Marble says. "I mean, some of us have been together for 10 years. A flick of the wrist and we're off."
Sometimes they even speak as one. "Were you given tickets to the All-Star game?" they were asked.
"I wish," they responded. In chorus, naturally.