A&E » Arts

Hola for Hoja



Who: Hoja

Where: MY Place

When: Saturday, May 31

If you think a capella is four guys standing on stage with barber shop hats, you’re sorely mistaken. In Hoja’s case it’s impeccable harmonies, energetic choreography, contemporary clothes, some healthy humour, audience interaction and a uniquely entertaining pop performance style that audiences of all ages will enjoy.

Their songs span every style of music, from doo-wop to pop to rock, country and disco but with one key element – no back up music or instruments. It’s all done through their voices.

Hoja member, Tony Hughes explained: "we break down the song so that we have some guys in the group emulating drums and another doing bass and other instruments and then the others singing the melodies."

You’ll hear a whole range of hits including the Bee Gees’ Stayin’ Alive, Garth Brooks’ Friends In Low Places, Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl, The Proclaimers’ 500 Miles and even Simon and Garfunkel’s Cecilia — just a snippet of a selection from their high energy 90 minute show.

The Saskatoon-based contemporary a cappella group has been wowing audiences across the country for four years now, clocking up thousands of shows and four CDs. Their latest release is called Have You Heard , and is an album Hughes said was "a lot more polished" than their previous releases.

"After all these shows, it’s only natural you’re going to get better so a lot more production went into this album and more confidence means more creative arrangements and a fuller sound."

Hoja perform up to 40 shows a month at fairs, festivals, community theatres and (predominantly) schools cross the country. You’d think with a heavy touring schedule a band would get old and monotonous rather quickly, but Hoja works more like a revolving door of artists, with auditions held regularly to keep the group fresh.

"Most of us generally stay in the group for a year or so before passing on the torch to someone else keen for the experience," said Hughes, one of the longest running residents in the group, along with Steve Wilde, Jonny Gibson and Trent Funk.

"Hoja not only inspires the kids and teens in our audience but it inspires the members within the group who get an unbelievable opportunity to learn new stage skills, travel across the country and perform for thousands of people. The experience is invaluable and just keeps morphing."

So why do the crowds keep clamouring for Hoja?

"We’re promoting creativity with a musical angle," said Hughes. "We are good role models but we also have diverse interests and backgrounds. We promote positivity and ingenuity and the kids really identify with us."

Catch Hoja at MY Place this Saturday night at 7 p.m. Tickets are $17 for adults and $12 for kids and seniors, brought to you by MY Place and the Whistler Moving Chords Youth Show Choir.