l u e g r a s s   S t u d e n t   U n i o n

International Quartet Champions
of the Barbershop Harmony Society

last update: March 2003

As teenagers, Allen, Ken, Dan and Rick began singing together as "The Bluegrass Student Union" quartet in December of 1973, as a result of their participation in the International Champion Chorus, "The Louisville Thoroughbreds".  Their first year together resulted in a first place finish in the fall Cardinal District (Kentucky and Indiana) contest.

During this time, they also built a repertoire of arrangements "borrowed" from famous quartets of the time, such as the "Citations", the "Suntones", the "Club House 4", et al.  Singing with the perennial champion Thoroughbreds provided the fledging quartet plenty of encouragement, as well as opportunities to perform on "the big stage."

In 1975, the "boys" first met their coach coach Don Clause, who recognized what he called "simpatico" within the group.  Don introduced BSU to then unknown arranger Ed Waesche (now International President of the Barbershop Harmony Society), who provided the ensemble's first original arrangements.  BSU also enjoyed the benefit of Don's technical knowledge and fine interpretive skills, which resulted in the quartet's quick rise to the top of International Competition.  The quartet finished fourth in 1976, sixth in 1977, and won it all in 1978 with its four singers ranging in age from 22 to 24.

After winning, the "Bluegrass" searched for a new mission and rediscovered the true joy of entertaining through concerts and recordings.  The quartet subsequently became known as one of a very few champion quartets who did its best work after winning the gold.  They innovated with adaptations of "Swing Era" music to the barbershop style, not only by Ed Waesche, but also by Walter Latzko, who had achieved fame through his arrangements for the famous professional quartets, "The Buffalo Bills" and "The Chordettes."  By focusing on all aspects of their performance, BSU's "show package" became one of the most popular in the Society's history.  Also, with the help of their expert recording engineer, Bobby Ernspiker, BSU simply outperformed everybody else where quartet recordings are concerned.

For twenty years, even while spending so much time in the studio, the quartet continued to travel and perform, covering hundreds of thousands of miles in 46 states and several foreign countries and entertaining millions of quartet fans, including President Reagan at the White House.  In 1992, the group decided to take a sabbatical, to focus on careers and families.  After being contacted by members of the "Harmonet", an internet barbershop harmony discussion group, the quartet was persuaded to re-release its recordings in a complete works 3-CD set, with extensive liner notes. 

As a result, there was a strong resurgence of interest in live performances by the Bluegrass, and so they have been lured back to the boards.   They are still going strong after 25 years worth of "good close harmony" between the same four friends.

Want to know still MORE about 
what makes BSU tick? Read on! 

Click this heart to find out more about
the qualities they held close to their heart
as they developed their unique style.


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