WATSONTOWN — The makeup of the local quartet Achording to Dad is as unique and special as the barbershop sound they have shared with their audiences for more than two decades. Led by dad Ken Paulhamus, the group also consists of his sons, brothers Brian, Jeff and Adam Paulhamus, as well as his nephew, Eric Lockcuff.
The family began singing together 23 years ago, when the sons were 10, 8, and 7, respectively. They registered as a barbershop quartet in Barbershop Harmony Society two years later. Their first public performance was at the Dewart Blueberry Festival. Later, they performed for River Festival in Sunbury. Over the years, in addition to their annual performances together at various community and church events, they treasure highlights such as performing the National Anthem for a Philadelphia Phillies game, and twice for Little League World Series games — including one in August 2016 that was broadcast on ESPN.
For the last four years, Lockcuff filled in when Adam moved out of the area. Adam will join the quartet again for a couple of upcoming gigs, filling in for Lockcuff.
The group qualified for the Barbershop Harmony Society’s Mid-Atlantic District competition for three consecutive years and placed in the top 10 in the 2016 District contest.
While they put in the hard work necessary to sing the complex harmonies of the challenging a capella barbershop quartet style, especially as the boys adapted to their changing voices as they grew, they have experienced an immeasurable sense of joy in being able to sing together as a family.
“I’ve always had a love for singing, and the four-part men’s harmony,” Jeff said. “It’s something that’s been really enjoyable for me personally. Singing with my family just makes it that much better.”
“It’s such a unique thing to have a family that sings together,” added Adam. “It’s just a great time.”
As the proud dad, Ken said “It’s a thrill of a lifetime” and “living the dream” to be able to perform alongside his sons. “We have a great relationship,” he said, “and I think part of that is this extra connection that we feel through singing together.”
Over the years, Ken has loved watching his children gain a strong, positive foundation in music, and life in general, by the encouragement they received from audiences, as well as watching the smiling faces of the crowd, knowing they were bringing them joy.
Music was a big part of Ken’s and his wife’s lives as they were growing up. He remembers how his family would often sing together, often in church — where he learned to sing harmony. He naturally shared that experience and passion with his own kids.
“Mom and Dad would sing on either side of us in church,” Adam remembers, and added jokingly, “I think our family has the best rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ you’ve ever heard.”
As small children, they would watch Ken — who sang with New Vintage for 16 years and with the West Branch Chorus since 1987 — go off regularly to chorus rehearsals, and they were excited when they were old enough to be able to participate in the rehearsals as well. Eventually, their natural gifting and hard work led to them forming their own family quartet together.
Now, they can be heard at events, presenting the unique barbershop sound in a variety of musical genres. Ken said in a performance, they will sing a combination of show tunes, doo-wop, gospel, country and traditional barbershop selections.
Who covers which of the four-part harmonies also changes from time to time, particularly for Jeff and Brian. Adam said their ranges “are out of this world,” allowing them to sing bass, tenor, and everything in between. Over the years, as their voices changed, so did the parts.
“We still kind of argue over who's singing what part,” Adam said, adding with a laugh, “We’re brothers, we do that.”
Even so, he hopes that the audiences will not only enjoy the music but also see the positive message they are sending simply by enjoying being together as a family.
“Hopefully we can spread that joy, and help other families be a little closer,” he said.
The quartet had six gigs lined up before the COVID-19 crisis struck. Though most of those were subsequently canceled, they are looking forward to a performance at the Selinsgrove Music in the Park event on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Commons, 2 N. Market St.
They also pre-recorded their singing of the National Anthem, which will be played for a private staff event on Tuesday at the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit.
Jeff said in past years, they typically average 6 to 10 performances annually, as well as one or two shows as a guest quartet for a barbershop chorus.
Achording to Dad produced a CD in 2014, which is available for purchase at each of their performances. More information on the quartet is available at the Achording to Dad Facebook page.