Local a cappella group hosts concert

The Innocent Men performs ballads to end out semester

Liam Flake

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Photo by Liam Flake

From left to right: Mitch Pettijohn, Mason Kimbell, Andrew Kroll and Alex Moronge performing on Sunday.

On Sunday, Dec. 11, the Innocent Men, an all-male a cappella group at UW-Eau Claire, performed in Schofield Auditorium at 3 p.m.

The theme of the concert was “ballads” and featured 13 songs, including songs like Lord Huron’s “The Night We Met” and Billy Joel’s “The Longest Time.”

According to the group’s website, the Innocent Men were founded in 1985 and performs two shows a year. On top of this, they also tour schools in Wisconsin and surrounding areas.

The event was one that required an extensive amount of preparation for the group, according to member Brett Dutkowski, who is in his fourth semester with the group. The Innocent Men receive their music around September and proceed to rehearse twice a week for three hours.

On top of these six weekly hours of dedicated rehearsal, Dutkowski said, the group also puts in an extensive amount of time in the weeks leading up to the performance.

“This last week has been insane and it’s well worth it,” Dutkowski said, “I think we did a great job and I am very happy to see all these people that came to see it.”

The first step in this rehearsal process comes with the selection of music. Fourth-year student Mason Kimbell explained that the preparation begins with members simply suggesting songs, looking for both solo and group songs.

From there, songs are considered and selected — for this concert, the set of 13 was narrowed down from a pool of 30 to 40 songs. Sometimes, such was the case for Sunday’s concert, a theme forms around the selections.

“I picked my solo song and they were like ‘I kinda want to sing a somber song too’ and then it was just a trickle effect,” Kimbell said.

Many of the members of the Innocent Men said that their favorite part of being with the group was its casual and welcoming environment. Among these is fourth-year student Eric Augustine, who is in his sixth semester with the group.

“The Innocent Men have more of a relaxed feeling to them,” Augustine said. “You come into college and you’re expecting all these professionals and think, ‘I’ve got to act a certain way.’ And it’s just like, we’re just friends hanging out, we like to sing,” 

According to Kimbell, the Innocent Men like to enjoy their brotherhood but also like to put out good music for the audience which is a good balance. 

“It’s a really laid-back group of guys but we also do prioritize professionalism at the same time,” Kimbell said. 

One person present in the audience of the performance was Steve Kuehnel, grandfather of group member Mitch Pettijohn. 

“We didn’t know what to expect, but it was really good,” Kuehnel said.

The climax of the concert came towards the end of the show with the performance of “Home Sweet Home,” originally by Mötley Crüe.

“I felt like it was such a phenomenal song to end the concert on,” Augustine said. “Like it had all of the moments you wanted. And I feel like it really got everyone in such a good mood for the end of the show.” 

According to Kuehnel, the end of the show was a somber moment for the group. 

“At the end it got emotional for everyone. It’s a big deal that they feel that way about one another,” Kuehnel said.

Overall, the group encourages community members to continue to seek out and support the local live music scene in Eau Claire.

“Support local music. We’re in Eau Claire,” Augustine said. “There’s so many students here that do live music like this. So why not? A lot of it’s free. I think if anyone has free time, they should check out some live music in the area because it’s such a great time.”

The Innocent Men also offer a variety of merchandise, including CDs and t-shirts, which can be purchased at their shows or online at theinnocentmen.bigcartel.com. 

Flake can be reached at [email protected]