SOA Bids A Hui Hou to the Incomparable Ralph Brandt

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The Sounds of Aloha Chorus ended its weekly rehearsal a little early on February 16, 2017, so we could have a special send-off for a member who has left his mark on barbershop, nationally and locally. Ralph Brandt and his wife Robbie are off to San Antonio this month, and we wish them all the best.

Ralph sang bass in one of the foremost powerhouse quartets of the 1950s, the Play-Tonics, from Teaneck, New Jersey. You can read all about the Play-Tonics, who were the 1956 International Silver Medallists, here.

But it was one of Ralph’s later quartets, the Racquet Squad, that made a big splash here in Hawaii. Ralph told us how that quartet formed: he didn’t realize when three guys casually invited him to round out a foursome for doubles tennis that they happened to sing the other three voice parts! When the Racquet Squad came to Hawaii to perform in the Sounds of Aloha Chorus annual show, Ralph concocted his hilarious “Tour of the Islands Medley” about tourist adventures on some of our islands. Several local quartets have made the number their own over the years, but the Racquet Squad’s original performance of it on KSSK’s Perry and Price Show and our show brought both houses down, and it aired occasionally on the radio for many years. Who can forget lyrics like (to the tune of “Carolina in the Morning”):

On to Kaanapali
Where the wives can dilly-dally at the Hyatt
Sushi bar for dinner
Squid and raw fish make you thinner
Can’t they fry it?

Then we’ll go up to Haleakala to see what’s on top
But coming down the car wouldn’t stop
We spent the night in jail in Maui
We were charged with being… haole
In the morning

Ralph told the chorus that after he retired from his job as vice principal of Bergenfield High School (when, incidentally, Bob Guadio of the Four Seasons and Jersey Boys fame was a student there), he resolved to live in five different places over the next five years. Unfortunately for that plan, the first stop was Hawaii. That did it. Too bad for the other four places, but lucky for us. Ralph sang with a few local quartets including the Tiki Tones and Praise the Sound, but he especially made his mark as the gifted script-writer of many a Sounds of Aloha comedy over the years. He also coached a successful high school quartet, Da Isle Tones, which you can read about here.

Ralph’s humor and zest for life come through wonderfully in this account of his romantic side by Robbie, which was published in the Honolulu Advertiser.

So get ready, San Antonio! There's about to be a pretty amazing "new" barbershopper in the neighborhood! Aloha, Ralph and Robbie!