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Smooth Edge 2 plays annual Jingle Ball

A cappella group hosts fun show at Baker Street Centre

Smooth Edge 2's Yuletide Jingle Ball will be Dec. 16 at Baker Street Centre.

Published December 14, 2022

’Tis the season for a cappella, and Smooth Edge 2 is here to oblige.

Fresh off playing five shows in six days, the eight local singers will close out the year with their annual Yuletide Jingle Ball with opening act The Ragtag Bunch on Friday, Dec. 16, at Baker Street Centre.

“The physical and mental aspect that goes into it is a lot,” baritone Mike Zipse said in an interview with Whatzup

“We’re high-energy, which surprises a lot of people. They think, ‘OK, this is a little a capella group that is going to get up and sing to us a little bit, maybe sing some carols,’ but we perform some stuff they’ve never seen or heard before. There are some surprises in our show that catch people off guard.”

saying goodbye

Zipse was among the original members when Smooth Edge 2 formed in 2010, getting invited to participate by his choir director at St. Michael Lutheran Church. 

“There were six of us that really just got together and thought, ‘Let’s sing some Christmas music and just see where it goes,’  ” Zipse said. 

Members have come and gone, with the current lineup comprised of Zipse, tenor Greg O’Keefe, tenor Jeff Barnett, soprano Megan Browning, alto Erin Bean, vocal percussionist Kevin Christenson, bass Josh Trumm, and mezzo soprano Sarah Olney.

While that will be the lineup for the Yuletide Jingle Ball, it will change when the calendar flips to 2023 as Zipse and Bean will be stepping away.

“It’s sad to say goodbye to the most fun thing you do,” Zipse said. “That statement resonates with me pretty loud. I’m going to miss it tremendously.

“It’s a lot,” he added. “To do a show is exhausting. I’m at that age where my voice doesn’t hold up quite as well. It’s a young person’s game.”

While replacements have been decided upon, the group is staying tight-lipped about who will fill the voids.

“We auditioned a handful of people and made decisions on our replacements, so the group will continue,” Zipse said. “That was my No. 1 priority.”

the unexpected

For now, the group is gearing up for their holiday show, where Zipse says to expect the unexpected.

“We’ll take ‘(You’re a Mean One,) Mr. Grinch’ and make it something that is absolutely unbelievable,” he said. “We’ll have a Stevie Wonder song, ‘What Christmas Means to Me,’ that is our first song. 

“It’s a new song for us this year, as well as ‘The Grinch,’ and attendees go, ‘Wow, there’s a lot going on there.’  ”

The group will also add songs from popular a cappella groups like Straight No Chaser, Pentatonix, and Home Free, but with Smooth Edge 2’s own arrangements.

“There’s a lot of experience and high levels of talent,” Zipse said of the group. “Everybody has at least some sort of music degree, except me, I have a business marketing degree. I ride the coattails of some amazing singers based out of the Fort Wayne market.”

beyond holidays

The group has released five albums, beginning with the EP Secret of Christmas, as well as the full-length records The Christmas Collection, We Apologize for Mike, Reflections, and their latest, 2020’s 2020 Vision.

With so many songs to select from, they naturally expanded out of the holiday season.

“We have Christmas show and we have a summer show,” Zipse said. “In the summer, we may do eight to 10 shows, and we’ll do them mostly around northern Indiana. Then when Thanksgiving rolls around, we’ll do 10-12 shows.”

While their summer show draws a crowd, audiences really flock to hear a capella once the Christmas season rolls around.

“A capella is enjoyable at Christmas, because there are so many Christmas songs that are sung,” Zipse said. “We take that and we put our twist on it. When you have a song called ‘Reindeer Rodeo,’ it’s one of those songs that people will never forget when they see us.”

With this being their final show of the year, and the final ever for two of them, expect something memorable at Baker Street Centre.

“We’re going to pull out all the stops,” Zipse said. “It’s our last show of the year. We will do most of our Christmas stuff and definitely all of our best stuff, and we’re going to add in some of our summer stuff in the middle of the show.”

Adding to the fun will be the popular Irish folk band The Ragtag Bunch, which includes O’Keefe, and describes themselves as “a ragtag bunch of drunks with a singing problem.”

“They do all the Irish folk songs, all the fun, beer-drinking songs,” Zipse said. “They’re a group of guys that are just a load of fun.”

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