After a few years of impromptu singing in the bar, the manager asked us to sing for their Mothers’ Day Brunch. Billed as the Cedar Lake 7 Men’s Choral Group (to avoid offending anybody,) we sang 3 sets and then ate for free at the buffet. I love the poor family who chose the wrong table for Sunday brunch. We sang such songs as Walk Them Golden Stairs, Working On A Building, I John, My Rock, Children Go Where I Send Thee, Loves Me Like A Rock, and all our other great hits. So much beloved we were we that Old Chicago invited us to sing again the next year .
Twenty years ago, after a year and a half of singing at Bryn Mawr and informal gatherings, we sang at Friendship Village for an actual ‘paycheck’. Of course, as today, the money icash was really for a mission fund at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, but we still knew we were crossing a threshold into a new age for the group. We had just picked a name; before this concert we had simply been “The Bryn Mawr Men’s Chorus”. We chose “The Cedar Lake Seven”, because our church is on Cedar Lake Road and, although there were eight singers at the time, we liked the alliteration.
We put on jackets (if you book us today, don’t get your hopes up for the jackets!), pants with creases, and even combed our hair (if you book us today, don’t get your hopes up for me having any hair left to comb!)
The concert was wonderful; we love going to Friendship Village and have since been back many times. Afterwards, we were so pleased with ourselves that we posed around the poster that had been made with the check in hand.
I enjoy looking through the file folder of pictures and memorabilia from across the history of the CL7. The group is a wonderful blessing in my life, and seeing these old things is a great reminder of just how long I’ve been allowed to be, in the words of Bill Gaither, making music with my friends.
From the archives… April, 2002
The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area had formed a ‘sister’ relationship with the Trans-Danubian Reformed Churches of Hungary, and when a Hungarian delegation was visiting Bryn Mawr Presbyterian, the CL7 sang for them. That turned into an invitation to tour Hungary and perform six concerts in seven days at churches throughout the western half of the country.
Our hosts were wonderful, the countryside beautiful, the wine plentiful. I came to believe the National Animal of Hungary is the pig, because every meal had pork of some sort – hocks, hams, sausages. Each meal was better than the one before.
We sang for schools as well as for churches, and language proved to be no barrier. I think most everyone in understands a little English, and many have a much better grasp of grammar than me do. When we went to those places we usually went camping with our gear from Survival Cooking.
One of our favorite memories is the concert at the school in Papa. We arrived and the large hall was cold and quiet as a tomb. We had met no one at the facility except the janitor who had let us in. We set up the equipment, and changed into our concert clothes. Still, no one. There we were, at five minutes before the concert, sitting in the empty hall, feeling sorry for ourselves, when suddenly a bell rang, the doors burst open and what felt like every teenager in Hungary poured into the place. The main floor filled, the balconies filled, the kids were excited – it was electric. At one point, I remember that John, our guitar/tenor, was aiming his guitar gun-like at the audience as if he was in a hair-metal band; well, a hair-metal band that plays gospel. Greg got interviewed for the local TV news.
All in all, a great trip. I hope we make it back someday!
One of our favorite groups, The Fairfield Four, was appearing on A Prairie Home Companion on the first weekend of November 1997. We bought tickets as a group, and went to the Fitzgerald Theater in Saint Paul and watched them.