Fairfield 'Acafellas' start to rock local music scene
Updated 12:19 pm, Thursday, February 24, 2011
Soothing sounds are not often associated with the Fairfield Railroad Station, second busiest stop on Metro-North's New Haven Line. Trains screeching to a stop or tooting their whistles; honking car horns and slamming doors in traffic that tangles in the parking lot -- these are the common noises at the downtown depot.
But the sounds emanating from the train platform Monday afternoon were music to the ears of passersby. Literally.
Four teens, known as the FWHS Acafellas, an a cappella group made up of Fairfield Warde High School male students, were shooting another video that will be edited by filmmaker Sophie Warnick and posted on YouTube as well as the group's Facebook page. The group wanted to record a performance in a winter setting -- and Mother Nature obliged with a fresh coat of snow Monday.
At one point, the group was harmonizing on Cee-Lo Green's "Forget You," a song that was a favorite of the contestants on "American Idol" last week during the Hollywood auditions. Before the singers left the train station platform, they also sang Come Go With Me" by the Del-Vikings, a popular doo-wop group from the 1950s; Ben E. King's "Stand By Me," and "Silhouettes," made famous by the Rays in 1957.
The Acafellas have been around for just over a year. Initially, they were four young men getting to know one another vocally, but now they've morphed into seasoned performers. Gigs are becoming more frequent. They started by singing at birthday parties for friends and family, but now they're moving on up and have been hired for several paid performances. Audiences seem to like what they're hearing. The group was so well-received the first time they performed at the Dressing Room, a Westport restaurant co-founded by screen legend Paul Newman, they were invited back for second gig earlier this month.
While many teens aspire to be rock idols, the Acafellas want to be doo-wop/vocal standouts. They plan to audition for Simon Cowell's new television show, "X-Factor," later this year.
Seventeen-year-old Zach Parfitt said his voice is better suited to a cappella than fronting a rock band, adding, "I think the challenge of a cappella is more rewarding because you have to create all the sounds and music with just your voices."
Sam Warnick, 16, said the Acafella singers are performing more harmonies in their routines, taking more risks, than they did when the group was formed. From the songs of the early doo-wop groups to the latest pop stars, the Acafellas put their own spin on everything. Recent pop hits they've re-worked include Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance," Bruno Mars' "Grenade," which was also a popular Hollywood audition choice on "American Idol" last week, and Mars' "Just the Way You Are," a favorite among Acafellas' fans.
The group, according to member Tim Veitt, also accepts song requests on its Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/FWHS-Acafellas/343003296518?ref=ts
Johnny Shea, considered the "personality" of the group, said Veitt's beatboxing ability is the ingredient that sets the Acafellas apart from other doo-wop/vocal groups.
"We got that idea from `The Sing-Off,' " he said, referring to a show on NBC-TV in December 2009.
Influenced by one TV show, about to audition for another, the FWHS Acafellas are definitely on the rise. And they are attracting attention.
"The girls do love us," said Warnick. The singing "has definitely helped us in the lady category."