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Sea Chanters serenade local crowd

August 20, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN - The threat of rain Sunday afternoon prompted the U.S. Navy Sea Chanters to weigh anchor and navigate their audience into the Kepler Theater rather than risk storm clouds at the Hagerstown Community College amphitheater.

Not that the Navy isn't used to a little water after all, said Wayne Taylor, who organizes the Red, White and Blue military concert series at HCC.

More than 300 people poured into the auditorium as the group of young singers and musicians presented a program including Glenn Miller tunes, patriotic favorites, a Frankie Valli medley and the haunting Navy hymn.

"I try to come to all of these programs," said Bobby Fouche, who came in early to make sure he got a good seat.

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While Fouche did express his special liking for Marine Corps musical groups, he said he wants to patronize all the branches of the military when they perform.

Audience participation was enthusiastic at the concert opening, when the national anthem was sung as the AMVETS Post 10 color guard marched in with the U.S. and Maryland flags.

The official chorus of the Navy, the Sea Chanters formed in 1956 as an all-male group devoted to preserving the tradition of sea chanteys, old and new.

Glenn Miller favorites such as "In The Mood" were followed by "Hard-Hearted Hannah" with lots of staging and theatrics.

Medleys of USO songs blended with "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and more popular seafaring tunes such as Crosby, Stills and Nash's "Southern Cross" and "Brandy" by Looking Glass.

The highlight of the afternoon concert was a tribute to the songs of Valli and the Four Seasons.

For "Rag Doll," one of the Sea Chanters ventured into the audience and sang directly to a young woman, much to the delight of those around her.

Then after lengthy applause, the group again changed tempo for a performance of the Navy hymn and other patriotic mainstays.

Kate and Bob Smith live on Jefferson Boulevard in Hagerstown, so they don't have far to travel for the concerts.

"We haven't missed any this year," Kate Smith said.

The Smiths agreed the benefits are many - the concerts are free, the atmosphere is pleasant and the parking is easy, plus the music is enjoyable.

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