School house rock: CCHS Choirs bring back the 1970’s and 80’s at Pops Concert


In the 80s, “groovy” was uncool. “Righteous” music was “rad,” and feathered hair parted in the middle was the style, along with those “decent” white leather Nike sneakers.

Oh yeah, Monday night was a major flashback for some of us in the audience in North Grand Auditorium. And when emcees Ryan Wolfe and Joe Iseneker tried out some 80’s slang, it was hard to not burst out with my own. I was in junior high in the 80’s. And, yes, it was a “choice” time, as the dynamic duo put it.

The Charles City High School Pops Concert, which was new and nostalgic at the same time, came on the heels of a whirlwind weekend in which many of the performers were readjusting to Central Time. Over spring break CCHS music students travelled to New York City. This concert was originally scheduled in February, but snow forced its postponement.

The concert was built on 1970s and 80s hits from the likes of Queen, TOTO and Cyndy Lauper. A wrinkle to the lineup was improv performances by Comet speech team members who went to state this year.

This was the CCHS Vocal Department‘s first pops concert under the  direction of Derek Sturtevant. It began with emcees Ruby Peterson and the gregarious, huge wig-wearing Tyreque Baker. He and his 70s disco attire bounced like his poofy locks throughout the night.

The pair peppered the audience with jokes only a father could love — they were groaners. A Baker gem went like this:

TB: “Knock, Knock.”

RP: “Whose there?”

TB: “Me!”

RP: “Me, who?”

TB: “… me …”

“Music of the 70’s and 80s” then opened with the combined choirs performing the Queen classic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which also featured Gavin Connell on electric guitar, Jesse Fries on electric bass and Nicole Loftus on drums, as well as the CCHS String Ensemble.

John Perez, Chris Campbell  and Connell, one of two CCHS speech team improv groups that went to the state festival this year, performed while the next choir set up behind the curtain. They drew out of a hat the situation of a date at a baseball game and made up the skit on the fly. The dating couple was offput by a peanut salesman who tried to pass off his product as a hot dog.

FIELD BROTHERSThe Comet Chorus with McKenna Oleson as soloist then performed John Lennon’s “Imagine” and TOTO’s “Africa” with Loftus on percussion.

The jazz choir 2 Jazzed Up followed with “Seven Bridges Road” by the Eagles. 

Iseneker sang an interpretation of the Police’s hit “Every Step You Take,” with Connell accompanying on guitar.

Student rock band Beautiful Chaos — featuring Emily Woodard on lead vocal and guitar and Lily Woodard on backup vocals and drums — belted out “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” which was made famous by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.

Things took a step back to the 1880s with the CCHS Barbershop harmonizing “Hello My Baby” and “Dear Old Girl.”

The Concert Choir performed the Earth, Wind and Fire standard “September” with Loftus on drums and Isaak Jensen on guitar. The choir followed that up with “True Colors” — which took Cyndy Lauper to the top of the charts in the 1980s — and featured multiple solos from Olivia Wolfe, Cinnamon Evans, Maci Milks, John Perez, Iseneker and Jadyn Hegtvedt.

The Woodard sisters returned to the stage as the other state festival improv group, drawing trick-or-treating as their situation. They tapped the tension of Halloween and the long-standing adult advice to never take candy from strangers.

The jazz choir Rhymes with Orange performed  “Mr Hooper’s Find it in a Minute Book,” and then CCHS vice principal Larry Wolfe and elementary teacher Jeremy Wilson were invited to the stage to play “$10,000 Pyramid.”

The Combined Men’s Choir performed Kansas’s “Carry On My Wayward Son,” accompanied by Jensen on guitar and Loftus on percussion.

The Combined Choirs topped off the night with Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” Dylan Parsons added a solo and Jensen and Loftus again accompanied the choir.

As is tradition. the night ended with all choir members being joined on stage by alumni to sing the CCHS Alma Mater.

More chances to listen

  • PERFORMANCES AHEAD: Coming up next for choir members on March 24 is the solo and ensemble festival at Hampton-Dumont High School, and then Jivin’ with Jazz at  the Floyd County Fairgrounds on March 27.
  • WATCH THE CONCERT ONLINE: A video playback of the concert will be available on the Charles City Public Access Network website. Some recently posted concerts are the Feb. 12 All City Orchestra Concert and the Feb. 13 6-12 Band Concert.