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Logs celebrate 50 years of jammin'

The Logs serenade Julie McLellan, then associate director of admissions, in this mid-1970s photo.
The Logs serenade Julie McLellan, then associate director of admissions, in this mid-1970s photo.
Photo / Calvin Campbell

"We stood between two high buildings and started to sing. Very soon, over a hundred windows were flung open, and two walls of women were singing along with us. We kept the tempo steady by swinging our flashlights. So many voices singing along with us. In between songs, dozens of girls demanded to know who we were and we were eventually invited in for cocoa. Delightful."

-- Michael Potash (SB 1966), recalling an evening during a 1960s Christmas season when the Logarhythms "serenaded the girls' dorms" at Boston University.

This weekend, Mr. Potash will be among five decades of past and present songsters convening at MIT to celebrate the 50th anniversary of MIT's oldest close-harmony singing group, the Logarhythms. About 50 alumni of the popular all-male a cappella ensemble will gather together this Saturday, March 13 to reminisce, listen to past recordings, share stories and photos and relearn and sing the old repertoire.

Capping the all-day reunion will be a free public concert (8pm, Rm 10-250) titled "Log Jam," in which Log alumni will share the stage with current members as a grand finale.

Founded in 1949 as a student-run double barbershop quartet, the Logarhythms have entertained MIT audiences with a repertoire that has grown from the classic chords of barbershop to include gospel, folk, madrigal, calypso, jazz and rock, or "anything we feel like singing." Through the years the Logs have become known not only for their songs but for their stunts; concerts commonly include outrageous skits and audience participation, and as part of the audition process, students are asked not only to sing but to tell a joke.

Several "founding fathers" from the original Logarhythms will attend the reunion, said Mr. Potash, the event's organizer, who identified and located Log alums using personnel listings on old albums and by word of mouth. A manager of documentation for the Federal Aviation Administration at the Federal Transportation Department here in Cambridge, he says he continues to sing in an a cappella group at his work place.

Since their first concert at Radcliffe, the Logs have entertained audiences at MIT and throughout the United States, performing at high schools, colleges, alumni/ae events, and on television and radio. In 1998 their spring break tour -- an annual event -- took them to England and Scotland. In 1997 they were semifinalists in the National Championship of College A Cappella (NCCA), winning for best arrangement, best soloist and funniest group. Later that year, they won Wellesley College's Collegiate Cabaret '97. Seth Cooperman, a senior in mechanical engineering and Logarhythms business manager, recalled the announcement: "And first place goes to the hunks!"

In addition to their concertizing, the group is also hired for special services -- everything from weddings to serenading a 'special someone' hunted down at the Porter Square subway station. They donate their talents as well, performing to raise money for a variety of good causes, including Womanshelter/Companeras (shelters for battered women and children) at Mt. Holyoke College on April 10.

At their March 13 concert, the Logarhythms will be joined by the University of Illinois X-Tension Chords (all male), Tufts Jackson Jills (all female), Smith Noteables (all female), USC Sirens (all female) and MIT Muses (all female). At the end of the performance, past and present Logs will unite to sing MIT's official alma mater, "Arise All Ye of MIT" and "Take Me Back to Tech," a humorous traditional MIT song written more than 100 years ago with lyrics by I.W. Litchfield (class of 1885).

Memorabilia available at the March 13 concert include a 50th anniversary T-shirt and a commemorative CD -- "Long Load: 50 Years of Music" -- containing previously recorded songs from all nine of their albums. The CD was co-produced by Will Lee, who confessed as a sophomore in 1993, "Being a Log is too much of a good time."

For information on the concert, call Mr. Cooperman at 577-9507.

A version of this article appeared in the March 10, 1999 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 43, Number 22).

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