An intro to ‘Geek A Cappella’

Dave McEwen, facing forward, is an ex-Microsoftie who loves to sing.

I stumbled across some good, old-fashioned geek fun today at the Seattle Symphony’s Day of Music. They call themselves The Baudboys, and they describe their brand of music as “Geek A Cappella.”

I knew I was in for something fun when the members pulled off their formal shirts to display black T-shirts with the word “geek” emblazoned on front.

The Baudboys in action at Benaroya Hall in Seattle on Sunday

But who are these guys? In fact, they are a group of Microsoft employees and alumni who belt out tunes such as Aeroplane, Drift Away and, my personal favorite, Gonna Make You Happy Tonight.

The Baudboys have won some notoriety and press attention in the past, but this was my first encounter with them. Given that I’d never seen “A Cappella 2.0,” I chatted with bass/baritone Dave McEwen after the show to find out a little bit more.

In fact, they aren’t the only singing group to emerge from the software giant. Another group, called the Microtones, predates The Baudboys though they don’t perform in public as regularly.  (You know you work at a big company when it supports a couple singing groups).

McEwen tells me that you have to be a Microsoft “blue badge” to gain acceptance into The Baudboys, but some alumni (including himself) also can stick around after they leave the company.

“Over the years it has grown and shrunk and morphed and about six years ago we decided to get serious and started competing, and now we’ve won our fair share of fame and fortune,” says McEwen, adding that the group is looking to repeat as champions of the Harmony Sweepstakes in Olympia in February.

I then asked McEwen what it is like singing with a bunch of geeks, since he noted that he’s the most “right-brained” member of the group.

“Everyone of these people is world-class, best in the world at developing software. We have some, high, high level people here. We have the guy here who wrote Windows Security. We have a couple of the guys who are the GPMs of major products, so these are perfectionists. So, when we get together and rehearse, we have fun. But it is like, we are going to laser-focus on this and we are going to get that done.”

Some of the lyrics play off geek culture, including one classic line about a guy and his Xbox.

McEwen says they try to infuse geek culture into the performances.

“We know our fan base,” he says. “We can go out there and try to be The Nylons or Take 6 or Manhattan Transfer, but come on. That’s not who we are. We are a bunch of geeks. There is not a Star Trek joke that you could make that all of these guys couldn’t come back with five more.”

Here’s a quick listen and look:

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