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Spend some time with the Spartones

Artist Profile

Published: Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Updated: Monday, January 18, 2010 09:01

In a bustling Tate Street coffee house, Spartones President Gordon Sutker beams, “Before I auditioned, I hated a cappella. I had it associated in my mind with really annoying people who just jump around and sing. Then I auditioned, and the atmosphere and being part of it, it’s a lot of fun and really exciting.”

The Spartones are celebrating their twelfth year as the only “tight knit, all-male a cappella group from UNCG.” Fresh home from their recent show with Ben Folds in Asheville, and gearing up for their next spring concert, these guys are winning competitions, participating in festivals, and picking up steam. All 17 members come together to rock-out with intense vocal range. Covers vary from Incubus to Queen, Rise Against, Coldplay, and even TV themes. According to Sutker, “right now we’re working on a boy band medley.”

Originally an offshoot of the men’s glee club, the Spartones are a completely self-run organization, like a ship where everyone pitches in with a job to do. Like its captain, Sutker uses his presidency to steer the business end of the group, “I have to stay on my toes, work behind the scenes, do a job people don’t really know I’m doing,” he says of his responsibilities with a smile, “it’s really opened a lot of doors for me after I graduate.”

Like an a cappella Menudo, the line-up often changes. Auditions are held at the beginning of every semester, bringing new ‘tones from various backgrounds. “We bond more like a fraternity; a lot of my best friends are in the group,” Sutker says of the revolving roster. “It brings a lot of fresh faces, throughout time some of your good friends graduate, but then you get more good ones that come into the group, so you always have these really good experiences together.”

Those experiences carry on outside of campus, as the Spartones are a group on the move. “Half of the shows this year have been outside of Greensboro, and we’ve done about 30. So, about once every other week we’re out of town,” Sutker says of touring. They’ve competed and perform at various festivals including Accapollooza, Jam for Hope, and Rockin The Forest.

Sutker speaks proudly of the Spartones accomplishments. Their recent quarterfinal win at International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) at Elon University was “very exciting.” Back at home, the Spartones played host for the first time for the ICCA semifinals on March 14 at Aycock Auditorium. Sutker says of the experience, “overall the show ran really smooth.”

Their last at home concert, Sparwars, was a sold-out ripping success. “We had to turn people away from the door,” Sutker says with a smile. Excitement is mounting for their next show on April 21. Sutker says, “we’re going for more of a festival feel with a lot of guest groups.” They’re shooting to have around eight groups singing short sets. By showcasing a lot of groups, Sutker says, “we’re trying to create a very positive atmosphere for a cappella in Greensboro.”

Outside of performances, the Spartones are already hard at work on their fifth album. Recording for the newest album began last fall but the boys will be heading back into the studio in the next few weeks. Sutker says, “We should have the whole thing bundled up and ready for a winter release concert.” Their latest release “Not the Same” dropped in May 2008, and sold-out of first pressings.

That’s not the only upcoming Spartone release, as they’ll be featured along other a cappella groups across the country in a compilation of Ben Folds songs. Recorded by Folds himself, “Ben Folds Presents University A Cappella,” comes out on April 7 with proceeds going to the Save the Music foundation.

Interested in joining? Be on the lookout for audition posters at the beginning of each semester, or sign into Facebook and become the Spartones next friend. Sutker urges, “Anyone who’s curious should just check it out with an open mind, I’m really glad I joined. It’s been an incredible experience throughout all of college. I think we bring a lot of positive energy wherever we go.”

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