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Limestones set to sing Saturday at BenLee’s

Submitted photo

WORTHINGTON — Sick of shivering and shoveling? Set your sights instead toward being a spectator at a smooth singing event next Saturday.

That’s when the Limestones, a small a cappella men’s ensemble straight from St. Olaf College in Northfield, will perform two shows (2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.) at BenLee’s Café in downtown Worthington.

2011 Worthington High School (WHS) graduate Brandon Berger, a current junior vocal music education major at St. Olaf, is a baritone and vocal percussion member in the Limestones.

“We recorded a CD last year so were pretty busy during the second semester and didn’t have time to travel, but it’s been my goal to bring the Limestones back to Worthington once or twice while I’m still in the group,” shared Berger, the son of Worthington residents Jeff and Janice Berger.

“My older brother Jeremy [a 2004 WHS graduate and a 2008 alum of St. Olaf] was also in the Limestones, and they performed here during his senior year,” Berger added.

With a name that takes its cue from St. Olaf’s signature campus architectural style and building material, the Limestones originated in 1989. Current members, comprised of a mix of sophomores, juniors and seniors, arrange or compose much of their material themselves.

“We do ‘Still the One’ by Orleans, which is fun and upbeat and seems to please a wide variety of audience members, and ‘Dancing in the Moonlight,’ one that’s on our CD, is a big crowd-pleaser that’s really fun to sing,” noted Berger.

Besides entertaining on their home campus and for private functions, the Limestones have appeared on “A Prairie Home Companion,” at the Ordway Theatre and with professional a cappella groups such as Ball in the House, M-Pact, Face and the Rockapella.

Their regular rehearsals last about 90 minutes three times each week during the college’s academic year, and members are selected through an audition process each spring.

“The unique thing about the Limestones is the camaraderie shared with a small group of guys,” Berger said. “You get to know each other better than in a large choir [Berger is also in the roughly 100-voice Chapel Choir at St. Olaf] and we spend a fair amount of time together outside of rehearsals and performances, so that contributes to a positive group dynamic.”

Dave Hartzler of BenLee’s has been regularly playing the Limestones’ CD, “Down to Earth,” as background music at the café in the past week.

“We’re excited to have them here in person —they’re fantastic,” endorsed Hartzler. “Brandon was a former employee of mine, and this should be fun.”

BenLee’s will have refreshments available for purchase during each of the Limestones’ show times.

Berger said that because BenLee’s accommodates fewer people than Memorial Auditorium, they decided to offer two shows, although the program will likely be the same at each performance.

“We wanted to fit in as many people as possible, plus an afternoon matinee might work better for those who don’t want to be out later in the evening,” explained Berger.

“This will give people an opportunity to see a different side of what music can be — VOX at Worthington High School approaches what we do as a group — and this is one example of how music can be a part of people’s lives after high school,” Berger continued.

“A lot of colleges and universities have glee club-type groups or a cappella groups if a student wants to stay involved in music but not necessarily be in a choir,” he added. “Next fall will mark the Limestones’ 25th anniversary, and we’re doing our part to keep the tradition strong.”

Pre-sale tickets for the Limestones’ 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday shows at BenLee’s Café, Worthington, are available at Center Sports and BenLee’s Café. Tickets will also be available at the door prior to each performance, and the Limestones’ CD “Down to Earth” will be available for purchase.