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Straight No Chaser Moves Beyond the Holidays

of the Oakland Press

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After two best-selling Christmas albums, Straight No Chaser has a more secular gift for its fans.

“With a Twist,” the 10-member a cappella group’s third national album, embraces pop favorites such as Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love,” Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend,” Oasis’ “Wonderwall,” the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge” and a fusing of Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” with the Israel Kamakawiwoole’s treatment of the “Wizard of Oz” classic “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” It’s a move Dan Ponce, who founded SNC 14 years ago at Indiana University, has looked forward to since the group’s reunion in 2006.

“This is definitely my favorite collection of songs we’ve recorded so far,” says Ponce, 33, a Chicago native. “It’s not that I don’t love the Christmas music, but it’s nice for a change to do a pop album.

“We had intended to release a pop album last year, but for a bunch of different reasons, (the record company) decided to release another Christmas album. So we sort of consider (‘With a Twist’) the album we would hope to have released last year — better late than never.”

SNC has done pretty well by Christmas, of course. The group’s 2008 debut, “Holiday Spirits,” hit No. 4 on Billboard’s Top Holiday Albums chart, while its version of “The 12 Days of Christmas,” which incorporates Toto’s “Africa,” reached No. 5 on the Hot AC Tracks survey and was Top 10 on the holiday singles chart.

The subsequent “Christmas Cheers” in 2009 was No. 6 Top Holiday Albums and peaked at No. 38 on the Billboard 200, while “The Christmas Can-Can” reached No. 18 on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart.

Now, Ponce says, “I think in many ways after having two Christmas albums and sort of solidifying that fan base, it makes a lot of sense for our third album to be the pop album. This is the type of album Straight No Chaser had done when we were in college, as undergrads. In a way, we felt most comfortable doing this album.”

In addition to the national company of Straight No Chaser — which includes Rochester High School grad Seggie Isho — there’s also a current version of the group that continues to perform in Bloomington, technically known as Indiana University Straight No Chaser.

Straight No Chaser performs Friday, April 9, at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are sold out. Call 248-399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com.

Web Site: www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

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