../1198/space%20holder

../1198/space%20holder
Next profile | Previous profile | November/December Contents | Gazette home


CLASS OF ’94 & ’96

A Mouthful of Music

"Six guys. Six mouths. That’s it." You might just have to see 617 to believe what you hear. This a cappella group spits out a blend of doo-wop, urban and pop music—literally. Scott Harris C’96 and Jason Downie W’94 are two members of this Boston-based mouth band who spent their college days harmonizing together in the Penn Six-5000. After graduation, Harris and Downie found their musical niche to be a bit different than the everyday a cappella pitch when they joined the band 617, formerly Ball in the House. "We’re showing people a different way to make music," Harris says of their unique sound. "And we’ve been working really hard to get this medium of music to the mainstream." He is the "vocal guitar" specialist in the group.
Illustration by Rich Lillash   
So, how do they master the sound of each instrument without even picking one up? Arrangement seems to be the key. While one of them belts out the lyrics, the others each take on a vocal instrument. Jon Ryan, who is the vocal percussionist, "just looks like he’s pushing air out of his lips," Harris explains. The throaty drum beats are barely visible to audience members caught up in the sound. "People who come to see us look around because they think we’re singing to a drumming machine, but they won’t find one."
   
Other members of the band provide the vocal trumpet, harmonica and bass guitar. A cappella may form the basis for their music, but they mix it up with some ’70s funk, ’80s hip-hop, a little ’90s pop and rhythm & blues for an ear-tricking original sound. In April, after releasing their second CD, entitled Ball in the House, Harris and Downie brought the band to Penn’s Zellerbach Theater for a reunion concert with Penn Six-5000. "Getting to play on that stage," Downie says, "I got to reminiscing. It shows you where you can go from college. We have done everything to get to this point for ourselves." Among 175 shows last year, 617 opened for Hootie & the Blowfish, the Goo Goo Dolls and Hall & Oates. This year they opened for pop groups B*Witched and ’N Sync. They sang before the Bay State Games at the Fleet Center in Boston as well as at the 1999 Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Fenway Park. For more information on the band, check out www.617music.com.
   
—Sophie Krouse


   
Next profile | Previous profile | November/December Contents | Gazette home


Copyright 1999 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 10/28/99