May 4, 2012
By Jill Yanish '13
What do you get when you throw together students with a range of majors from management to chemistry, an array of personalities including shy, funny, sassy and teddy bear-like and a mix of interests from football to music?
Answer: an a capella group called Johnnie Blend.
Ten Johnnies combine their personal diversity to create the unique sound of Johnnie Blend. The group dynamics change each year as students graduate and new members join. Each member brings his different voice to create music that replaces instruments with vocals. Just recently, the group celebrated its 10th anniversary.
Although Johnnie Blend is not officially affiliated with Saint John's and has no formal leadership roles, the group has sustained itself for 10 years. The group relies on its motto to have fun and entertain the audience in order to keep the singing group tradition alive in Collegeville.
"The guys in the group have been really dedicated every year. Johnnie Blend has a great tradition, so when you come into it, you feel like you're part of a bigger deal than just joining an a capella group," junior member Jack Barrett said.
About eight Johnnie Blend alumni came back to their roots to pick up a mic along with the current members for the 10th anniversary concert on April 20. They sang Johnnie Blend's signature song, "Irish Blessing."
The group sings a variety of music, such as songs from Andy Grammer, Journey, Creed, The Real Group, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Music is not the only thing performed at the Johnnie Blend concerts. Audience members also get a comedy show from the singers, which usually consist of jokes made about each other.
"We're very close knit," Barrett says. "We're very comfortable with each other. We rip on each other all the time. We see each other more than we see anyone else."
The closeness of the group is a result of the numerous hours spent practicing during the week. Johnnie Blend members spend one to two hours practicing every evening and of course joking around.
Group bonding extends beyond the practice room and stage. Senior member Jake Ingalls notes how the group never ceases to have fun when they are together. Last year, the group went to Buffalo Wild Wings, where it happened to be a college-aged woman's birthday party. The Johnnie Blend members sang happy birthday and proceeded to sing more songs to her and her friends. Ingalls said that their singing was "very well received by the women" - they even got Facebook friend requests.
In fact, that is one of Ingalls's favorite parts of being in Johnnie Blend. As he prepares to graduate and leave the group, he said he is going to miss the prestigious position of being a Johnnie Blend member.
"I (joined) because girls like it," Ingalls jokes.
Although Ingalls describes Johnnie Blend membership as being prominent, the group's name does not come with much prestige, according to Barrett. One does not have to look further than the coffee pot in Sexton labeled "Johnnie Blend" to find the origin of the group's name.
Ingalls, the self-acclaimed "comic relief" of Johnnie Blend, hopes that the tradition continues. He leaves current and future Johnnie Blend members on a high note.
"I hope Johnnie Blend never becomes too rigid," Ingalls said. "I hope it always remains fun."