Straight No Chaser

Last fall, Straight No Chaser released an album called “One Shot,” that commemorated the 10th anniversary of the a cappella group with a selection of cover songs that related to highlights and special memories from across the history of the group.

Although the album is only a year old, Straight No Chaser doesn’t plan to perform songs from “One Shot” during their current tour, which stops at Ocean Casino Resort 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21.

“Looking at the set list here, I think we’ve turned the page from ‘One Shot,’” vocalist Tyler Trepp says.

Omitting the “One Shot” songs seems just as appropriate as it was last fall when those songs were featured in the group’s live shows. In a very real sense, Straight No Chaser has opened a new chapter in its career this year. The group has completed its deal with Atlantic Records and started their own label, SNC Records, which will be affiliated with Warner Music Group’s Arts Music division, which is part of Warner Brothers Records. The label’s focus, Trepp says, will be on holiday projects and singing acts with unique vocals.

And the group has a new stand-alone single out, a version of Lewis Capaldi’s smash hit, “Someone You Loved,” plus a new EP, titled “Open Bar.”

Trepp’s enthusiasm for the next phase of Straight No Chaser’s career is understandable, given what the group has already accomplished and the opportunities that would seem to lie ahead with their SNC Records label and the continued popularity of the group.

Certainly, Straight No Chaser has been one of music’s more unique success stories.

The group’s saga began when it formed as a college a cappella group in 1996 at the University of Indiana in Bloomington. The then-10-man ensemble commonly performed at campus sororities (a great way to meet girls, the guys have noted) and various university events and went on to perform around the country during what was a three-year run with the original members.

Then graduation came for many of the original Straight No Chasers in 1999. Some moved on to regular jobs and others to musical or theatrical pursuits.

But nobody could have predicted what happened when singer Randy Stine reunited Straight No Chaser for a one-off event in 2006.

To generate enthusiasm for the occasion, Stine made DVDs of a 1998 Straight No Chaser concert and posted a performance of the group’s wacky rendition of “The 12 Days of Christmas” to YouTube. It went viral and caught the attention of Craig Kallman, the chairman and CEO of Atlantic Records, who tracked down Stine and eventually signed the group.

Eight of the original members signed on to be part of the reformed Straight No Chaser, and two singers who were part of later editions of Straight No Chaser at Indiana University filled out the lineup. A few singers have left over the years — each replaced by singers from later lineups at Indiana. Today’s lineup has nine members — Stine, Morgan, Trepp, Walter Chase, Dave Roberts, Jerome Collins, Michael Luginbill, Charlie Mechling and Seggie Isho.

Thinking Christmas music was the perfect introduction to the group, Kallman and Atlantic had the group debut with the 2008 Christmas album, “Holiday Spirits.” It was an immediate hit. Since then, the group has released two more holiday albums, four full-length albums and three EPs.

This brings things to the “Open Bar” EP, which started to take shape in the spring when Luginbill presented his idea for the project.

“He (Luginbill) wanted to call it ‘Open Bar’ because his idea was to have songs that everybody would know and everybody could sing along to in a bar-type setting,” Trepp says. “That’s where we got the inspiration for all of the songs that are on there.”

Straight No Chaser’s shows on the fall tour will include most, if not all, of the songs on “Open Bar,” which includes hits like Eddie Money’s “Take Me Home Tonight” and Smash Mouth’s “All Star.” The show at Ocean Casino Resort will also heavily feature holiday songs as part of the show.

“It tends to usually be about half the show, holiday (songs) versus non-holiday,” Trepp says. “That’s kind of where we are right now.”

The thrill of the ‘Chase’

Looking to hang with other Chaser fans before the show? There will be a Table 23 fan meet-up event at Bourre in Atlantic City at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21. The event will celebrate the 23 years Straight No Chaser has been together and will feature specially themed cocktails and appetizers. Bourre is located at 201 S. New York Ave in Atlantic City.

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