When Jared Mielke joined Solid Rock Quartet, made up of guys in their 70s and 80s, the members not only got a new tenor, they also got a new audience.
“He hasn’t heard our old jokes yet, so it’s kind of fun,” bass Ken Mettler.
Solid Rock Quartet started five years ago. Mettler, lead Dan Smith and baritone Rod Wetzig are in a barbershop chorus together, and decided to form a quartet. They couldn’t find a tenor at first, until Mettler suggested someone he knew from childhood.
“I said the best tenor voice I’ve ever heard in my life is Denny Schafer,” Mettler said.
Schafer was in, and Solid Rock Quartet began.
“We learned to love each other, first of all, and loved the music,” Mettler said.
Now Schafer has become a snowbird, so the group was again looking for a tenor. They found Mielke -- choral director, organist, pianist and soloist -- to fill the space.
“He has one of the biggest ranges as far as vocal,” Mettler said.
Mielke said he thought and prayed about it, and decided to join.
“It’s fun to sing with Christians, and I love gospel music and Christian music and I love quartets,” Mielke said.
The new member has done a great job jumping in, Mettler said, learning his parts quickly. Mielke said he has enjoyed it.
“It’s so fun singing with them, and I love how encouraging they are,” he said.
Mielke doesn’t mind being the youngest in the least, he said. The group practices for three or four hours at a time, Mettler said, and the others admire his energy.
“After four hours we kind of sag,” Mettler said. “ The 25-year-old guy has no sag left in him, he’s still going.”
Solid Rock Quartet performs southern gospel, Christian barbershop songs and some hymns as well, though “they sound a little bit peppier,” Mettler said.
The group performs at a variety of events including weddings, funerals, community events, birthdays and more. Members are from Lindstrom, Amery, St. Croix Falls and Granstburg, and they perform throughout St. Croix, Polk, Baron and Burnett counties as well as in eastern Minnesota.
The best part, no matter where they are, is getting it right and making the chords sound good, Mettler said.
“Not just singing notes and words,” Mettler said. “We have something in our hearts that is bigger than all of us put together, it’s God.”