Get ready, USA: The Real Group is coming!
by Florian Städtler, Vocal Blog founder and Real Booking Agent
Can there “the best” group in one genre? Hard to tell. Tastes differ and what is “good” in music anyway? We in a cappella have this strange longing for perfection, for absolute harmony and all too often we sit in concerts, nit-picking and analyzing if this or that could have been sung in a different, maybe “better” way. Everytime I find myself diving into a cappella nerdiness I try to remind myself of how this works in “regular” popular music: Did anybody care about the “beauty” of Mick Jagger’s voice? Was Lou Reed actually singing? And what about Billie Holiday, Chet Baker, Thom Yorke, David Bowie or Björk? Nobody really wants them to be “perfect” in that unified way. They are loved because they are authentic, they are different and because they are real.
Talking of real. When I first met Matthias Becker, German jazz vocal guru, he mentioned The Real Group to me and answered the “Who’s best?” question very clearly. “The Real Group are the best.” That was about 15 years ago and today, after having worked with the group for more than four years, I must say, Matthias was certainly not wrong awarding The Real Group the status among the champions of the art form of contemporary vocal music.
However, shows of The Real Group, their modesty and their obvious enthusiasm for what they do (after almost 30 years with only two line-up changes), virtually make you forget about competition, “best of”-discussions and analyzing of chord progressions. Emma Nilsdotter, Katarina Henryson, Anders Edenroth, Morten Vinther and Anders Jalkeus (not to forget sound wizard Jan Apelholm) have created something better than a market leader or a no. 1. They have developed and keep on developing a work of vocal music art that is unique, one of its kind. And thus any comparison is unnecessary. Just enjoy the most amazing cover versions from Michael Jackson to Count Basie, from Swedish traditionals to a medley of US chart breakers that have been written and produced by Swedish producers. And then listen to originals of an incredible depth and intelligence. OK, there’s maybe one thing that The Real Group is really best at: Combining a fantastic level of a cappella singing AND being incredibly funny when singing and talking about the psyche of the typical choir tenor singer (“Our Tenor”/”Unser Tenor“), Emma’s experience with cinnamon buns from Texas (“A Minute on your Lips”) and their hoppla-ing version of “Gangnam Style”: “Stockholm Style”.
The Real Group has been all over the world and some American friends have complained that they feel a bit neglected. They miss all I described above and they are right: With a growing number of concerts in Europe and Asia, US shows have become quite rare. However, the time of waiting is over, at least for some states in the US, as the group is preparing for a 8-days US tour. Here’s a little greeting to their fans from yesterday’s concert in Lörrach, Germany, where over 600 enthusiastic old and new fans went wild after two sets of Real Magic.
And for all of you, who don’t really know the group, here’s a series of videos, the group recorded in Stockholm’s hippest quarter, Södermalm. These videos need no explanation. Just watch. And buy tickets for the US tour, here’s towns and dates. (Ticket links at www.therealgroup.se)
- Friday, Feb 7th, Flagstaff, Arizona
- Sunday, Feb 9th, Sedona, Arizona
- Monday, Feb 10th, Tempe, Arizona
- Tuesday, Feb 11th, Claremont, California
- Wednesday, Feb 12th, Oceanside, California
- Friday, Feb 14th, Jenison, Michigan
- Saturday, Feb 15th, Highland Heights, Kentucky
- Sunday, Feb 16th, Fort Worth, Texas
I’m Florian Städtler and I listen to all kinds of music: Miles, Metheny, Metallica, Mozart are in my collection. And when I want to feel that very special vibe that a great musical community evokes, I dive into a cappella. Some say I’m a star, which of course….is true: A superstar in a super-niche. But what a lovely one. The niche, I mean. I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to both have won real friends on my travels to festivals and can be a proud little booking agent for some of the best…no, the most unique groups on planet a cappella. If you want to join me, follow me on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube – and let me know about your a cappella adventures!