The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

September 7, 2012

‘American Idol’ finalist joins Pierce Arrow quartet

BRANSON, Mo. — Luke Menard is the new kid on the block at Pierce Arrow Theater. He’s the latest addition to the quartet that headlines the theater’s lineup.

“The guys (in the quartet) made me feel very welcome here from day one,” said Menard, who placed in the top 16 during season seven of “American Idol.” Missouri’s David Cook won the top spot the season Menard competed.

Menard said his coworkers have made his transition easy.

“They have been here for 12 seasons, so they have been here for a while,” he said. “I enjoy it. It’s a fun role. There was some pressure, and it was a challenge. People always have their eyes on the new guy. It challenged me to push myself to make sure I’m not screwing up on stage.”

Menard, who has a wife and young child, had settled in Branson more than a year ago when the tenor job in the quartet came open. He jumped at the opportunity to have a permanent gig.Ê

He’s happy to be in the Pierce Arrow show, no longer touring so much, he said. For the better part of his career, Menard toured with the group Chapter Six.

“We sang a cappella,” he said. “It was pop and rock and jazz and a lot of fun.”

Menard said he likes the variety of music he gets to sing while appearing in two shows a day at the theater.

“Pierce Arrow has a big mix of music,” the 33-year-old said. “It’s not all country. We have some pop and country and do a lot of gospel. In every show we do some gospel. We just started doing a Motown medley, and it reaches all audiences.”

With two shows a day through the end of December, the cast of Pierce Arrow works to keep its shows fresh and different. Unlike his a cappella past, Menard now enjoys having the house band backing up the vocals.

“It’s completely different,” he said. “Having a live band is completely different for me coming from just singing a cappella. When you are singing a cappella you don’t really have to project as much because you are the only one up there singing. Your voice isn’t hidden as much as it is when working with a live band.”

Menard praises the three other vocalists in the quartet, which includes:

¥ Gary Koreiba, a Michigan native and the longest serving member of the group.Ê

¥ Scott Fraker, of Niangua, Mo., is a three-season veteran of the quartet and a longtime gospel singer.

¥ Tim Storms, who hails from Waterloo, Indiana, sings the bass lines. It’s his sixth season at Pierce Arrow. He holds the Guinness Book of World Records mark for singing the lowest note.

“It’s different singing with different guys,” Menard said. “You have to sing differently and blend differently because everybody sings differently. That is one of my favorite parts of singing in a group Ñ trying to make the chords lock and trying not to stick out too much and make the best music you can.”

Menard called this season’s show “hip and modern with some classics thrown in.” He thinks it makes a positive impact on the audiences that see it.

“What I notice with audiences that come to the show is that it’s an escape,” he said. “It’s a great show to come with your family. It’s an escape to come to and forget about their troubles. We get a lot of people who come back, and that’s a good sign. It’s very uplifting.”

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