They're back! (Mostly.) One of the best-loved, funniest quartets in barbershop history, will perform again this weekend in Forest Grove, Oregon.
We talked with Chuck Olson, a 79-year-old Forest Grove resident and the baritone for The Aliens Tradition. His barbershop quartet group is performing again after about 10 years, when the original group The Aliens disbanded after the lead singer moved away and soon died of cancer. Olson is quite the barbershop quartet buff on his own: he has competed 31 times in the ballad town contest with The Aliens and 12 times without The Aliens. Q: Tell us a little about The Aliens Tradition! A: We sort of wanted to light that old fire again. The three of us [who are left] invited our friend from McMinnville to be part of it. It’s a slightly different sound but pretty much the same performance. Q: What’s your favorite part of the competition? A: It started with some of the quartets that used to compete. I was friends with some of them, like the Ford-O-Matics of Seattle. I idolized them. The whole tradition is my favorite. There is nothing like the contest out here. Q: Is there anything you’re especially excited to perform? A: This song that has been one the audience favorites -- we call it our hairpiece song -- “I’m Alone Because I Love You.” I “accidentally” pull off a quartet member’s hairpiece without the man knowing, and the whole time this love ballad is going on he has no hair. Q: So you like to bring a little comedy into it? A: That’s been our forte. We sing songs, regular barbershop songs, but then something goes haywire.