Tonic Sol-Fa – Good Medicine

By Christine Wiese

The men from Tonic Sol-Fa came into Holstein last Saturday and brought a whole different form of energy to the Clausen Center for Performing Arts. It wasn’t electric; it wasn’t frenetic; it wasn’t even lunatic. It was kinetic. It created a continuous toe tapping, foot swinging, head bobbing motion throughout all those assembled. There was not one person in the place that sat immobile. It was impossible. These guys are that good.

They opened with “Crazy About a Northside Gal” and then abruptly transitioned into a funky translation of “Long Black Train”. While they may not have covered the music spectrum all the way from A to Z, they definitely made it as far as Q. Their repertoire ranged from a short bit of Italian opera to syncopated sounds like “umph umph umph ticky boom”. They were full of fun one moment and moved the crowd to an emotional high the next.

Who could resist their take off on “Do-A Deer” sung by a nun which they quickly morphed into a Mexican beer song (“Ti – no thanks, I’d rather have a beer.” Indeed.) or their running gag with Gail Todd who said if he hadn’t been in the audience that night, he’d have been home in his easy chair? They are masters of our low key midwestern humor layered with sophisticated musicality.

Tonic Sol-Fa“Just One of Those Days” was one of their best offerings. Still there were so many “bests” that it would be nuts to try to pick one out to stand alone. “I’d Try to Be Butch Cassidy” and “I’m Leaving Heaven” were the two
most talked about during intermission. Then there was the cover of Ray Charles’ “I Got A Woman Way Over Town”. One descriptive word sums that one up – Wow!

Most singers (singly or in groups) need some sort of instrumentation as a back up just as most gem stones need a setting to bring out their brilliance. Tonic Sol-Fa doesn’t need anything to enhance what they do. Their own special brand of all they need and all their audience desires. It’s no wonder they have such a loyal following. Folks quite simply love what they bring to the stage. What a fantastic way to open the Clausen Center’s fifth season.

And there is more to come. Tony DeSare will be in town on November 8th bringing his acclaimed “two parts Frank Sinatra to one part Billy Joel” performance. It’s another one you won’t want to miss. There are a few tickets still available. Call the Rosemary Clausen Center at 712-368-4849 or e-mail Ken Buell at to reserve yours today.