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Lunch Break Quartet Retiring From Competition

From Facebook:



Seven years.
Five members.
Six appearances at International.
28 states.
Six countries.
Over a hundred shows.
Four kids. (Plus four more.)
~26 Farm Animals, give or take.
487 gallons of ranch dip.

Lunch Break Quartet

While numbers can help paint a broad picture of the lifespan of a quartet, they do relatively little to tell the full story. But maybe it’s a loose combination of many small stories that help put it all into perspective.

There was the guy who bought a box of Lucky Charms and brought it to a Dixie District convention for us to autograph. There was the friend who bought a stuffed squirrel attached to a piece of tree bark and mailed it to us as a gift. There was the time we rode bicycles through the New Zealand countryside. And ate fish n’ chip next to the seashore in England. Did a narcoleptic pig pratfall at Carnegie Hall. Met Vince Gill backstage at the Ryman. Lit the downtown Nashville Christmas Tree with the mayor. Sang the national anthem for an NBA and a few NHL games. Visited a sauna in Finland. Saw the Opera House in Sydney.

And then there are humbling moments like when we were approached by a woman after a show who had lost her husband to cancer a year earlier. She told us that since his passing she hadn’t laughed until that evening and wanted to thank us for finally allowing her to laugh again. There was the enthusiastic teenager who rushed up to us after a contest and said he got into Barbershop because of one of our videos on YouTube a few years earlier (along with some other quartets’ videos) and had finally found a “hobby” where he felt accepted and encouraged to express himself, and wanted to thank us for being an inspiration. There was the private performance for our dear friend Jimmy Hickman and his family in the spring of 2011 in his living room. (Jimmy’s two-year old grandson began crying after we yelled “Squirrel”.) Jimmy was one of our biggest supporters and passed away that summer from terminal lung cancer and we were honored to sing I’ll Fly Away at his funeral.

Many of you know the journey we took together through the joyous births of Mason, Kelsey, Olivia, and Owen. Lunch Break was there through each of them. You may recall KJ and his brother Bryan losing their father last year after succumbing to long-term ailments. Lunch Break was with them through that. You may have known about the life-threatening illness Shane’s wife Kristi had endured and through the grace of God has lived through and continued the fight, with Lunch Break lifting her up along the way. And there have been countless other heartaches and joys we have shared and lived through together, far too numerous to count but nonetheless have left an indelible mark on our lives and only served to bring us closer together as brothers. Those of you who sing in quartets, you get it: your quartet is truly a family.

The late great Barbershopper Roger Payne once said, “Every quartet is temporary…” and those words really struck a proverbial chord. Not because of the finality of it, but because of the perspective it offers in terms of not worrying about what the future holds for a quartet, but enjoying each and every opportunity to perform as a gift. And looking back, Lunch Break can say with confidence that we have approached each opportunity to perform like a kid ripping open a present on Christmas morning. Sometimes the proverbial present was “the amazing action hero toy with kung-fu grip” (thanks audiences!), and sometimes the present was “socks” (thanks Judges). But hey, sometimes you need socks.

All this to say what may be obvious by now: Lunch Break will be retiring from contest and will be enjoying our final convention as an official competing quartet together in Las Vegas this summer, and we would love for each of you to share this moment with us. As we each individually look ahead, the timing just feels right: Mike and Jenny’s three daughters are growing fast and more involved with activities of their own, and Mike is starting a new chapter in his professional life having just begun a new and very promising music-teaching career with a prestigious high school in his area. Shane and Kristi have recently moved from Nashville to Tampa to begin a new chapter in their lives, serving and ministering to a church body there. Eddie and Laura’s nearly-three-year old twins are rapidly approaching the age of beginning to embark in extracurricular activities of their own, necessitating more and more of their time. And KJ’s responsibilities with the Harmony Foundation are ever-growing as he continues working tirelessly helping ensure that the future of the Society is secure, while Emily’s world-class barbershop hip-hop parody writing (look it up) schedule has been hampered by her growing business ventures in culinary catering and baking excellence.

All these factors have made it incredibly difficult to prepare for the Barbershop Contest Cycle which we love so dearly, but simply cannot carve out the required time like we know it deserves. But this is certain: Being a part of these International Contests over the years has given us the opportunity to meet literally thousands of you, make countless new friends, be invited on many fantastic chapter shows, and feel your overwhelming encouragement and support through all the many ups and downs we’ve had over the years. For this, we cannot thank you enough.

At the heart of this quartet over the past seven years are the wives who have given their constant and undying support for this insane quartet’s busy schedule and contest preparations. Kristi, Laura, Elizabeth, Emily, and Jenny, we love you more than you know. And of course we thank the coaches who have worked with us tirelessly over the years. (You did your best, guys, no one faults you for trying.  These folks have helped guide us and inspire us along this journey, and we count them among our closest friends. And of course we owe a huge debt of gratitude to our chapter buddies in the Music City Chorus for their years of hoots, hollers, backslaps, and cheers of huzzah throughout each and every district and International convention. You guys are simply the best.

But lastly, we want to say that while we’re retiring from contest, we are NOT retiring altogether. We’re doing shows well into 2015, we’ve got a cruise in November with FRED and Storm Front, and we’ll be giving ourselves as much time as we can to keep performing and enjoying being idiots as much as possible and as much as you’ll let us and invite us to do so. It’s too fun to stop.

We will see you in Vegas and we can’t wait to show you what’s next.

LOL (lot of love),
Shane, Eddie, KJ, and Mike.

One comment

  1. I have been to at least six bbshop conventions and Lunch Break is one of the quartets I love to watch, recognise off stage and look forward to them on stage. I was so happy when you made the top 10 in Las Vegas 2014. You have in my estimation been in the top 10 long before you got there. Thank you for making me laugh and for making bbshop singing fun and entertaining. I wish you all the very best in your retirement from competition and thanks again for making my experience at bbshop conventions fun and memorable. I hope you get to travel to New Zealand again because I missed your visit here last time. With love and respect I wish you all well, great wealth and happiness. from Ane Hunkin, mum of William and Jeff Hunkin of the Musical Island Boys.

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