Theworld has “The Brady Bunch” to thank for the existence of Ball in the House.
The Boston-based a cappella group, which will be performing at 8:15 p.m. Moday, June 24 in the Amphitheater, and at 5 and 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 25 in Smith Wilkes Hall, received some unconventional assistance when coming up with the group’s name.
“Years ago, during our first show, we realized we didn’t have a name for the group,” said Dave Guisti, one of the group’s founding members. “We took a break to try to come up with a name, and everyone just hated each other’s ideas.”
Guisti said that during the volatile brainstorming process, “Brady Bunch” reruns flashed from a muted TV in the background, and when they unmuted it, they heard the character Peter Brady arguing with his mom about being able to play ball in the house. Over and over again the phrase came up, and it stuck in the heads of the group members.
Ever since that day, Ball in the House has stuck with its moniker, taking the act across the United States and delighting audiences with tightly-woven harmonies and upbeat energy. Over the years, they have opened for acts like The Beach Boys, Lionel Richie, The Jonas Brothers and Blondie.
Now the group is bringing its percussive performance to Chautauqua Institution, performing both as part of the Popular Entertainment Series and Family Entertainment Series.
Over the course of these back-to-back shows, Ball in the House will be playing for two very different audiences during the group’s Chautauqua visit. But group member Wallace Thomas said he’s confident the group can entertain young and old alike by adjusting their performance style.
“With kids, we get to be a little bit sillier, to move around and be really energetic,” he said. “And with adults, we try to be smoother, more refined, you know? But we’ll give everyone a chance to come in, put aside whatever they’ve been dealing with and just have a good time.”
Ball in the House specializes in rhythm and blues, soul and pop music, layering multi-part harmonies over rhythmic beatboxing to mimic the dynamic nature of a full band. They cover well-known songs like “Happy” by Pharrell Williams and “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson, but also write their own songs, and have produced five albums as a group.
Jon Ryan, another of the group’s founding members, said the nature of a cappella means that everyone, not only those who enjoy R&B or pop music, can find something to enjoy in the group’s performance.
“Above all, the show is fun,” Ryan said. “Even if people don’t think they like a cappella or our music, there’s an attractiveness to the harmonic nature of (the performance) that tempers nearly any song into something that older people can enjoy just as much as younger people.”
Ball in the House comes at each show with the goal to deliver a satisfying and exciting performance. Each show is a new chance to engage and connect with audiences, and Thomas said he applies this mentality to his daily life as well.
“I say a prayer every day, and it’s that this is a day I’ve never seen before and that I will never see again, and that’s exciting,” Thomas said. “Even though it’s the unknown, it’s exciting — not scary — because I can make the best of it.”
So although the members of Ball in the House took their name from a sitcom from the 1970s, their eyes are fixed firmly ahead; on the next show, the next audience and the next experience.
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