November 2, 2001

Waiting to Excel

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They are given characteristic names upon their “initiation.” They wear khakis and button-down shirts — they gel their hair. They appear to be a fraternity, and they are, of sorts. They are the Cayuga’s Waiters, the fraternity of a cappella groups.

“Drinking can only go so far. We like to drink AND sing,” joked Chris “Geekpad” Wherry ’02 — the group’s Album Sales and Web manager — about the group’s stereotype. (The group’s Web site can be found at “We’ve coined the phrase ‘We’re a drinking group with a singing problem.'” And this is an understatement. Lately, the Waiter’s have been spending upwards of twenty hours a week in preparation for their upcoming show.

This Saturday night, the Cayuga’s Waiters will perform the fifth annual “Intimate Evening with Cayuga’s Waiters,” at 8 p.m. in Barnes Hall. The venue provides room for a couple hundred people, making the show much smaller than the group’s spring concert, which is performed in the mammoth Bailey Hall. “It’s a little more low key than our spring concert,” said Director Michael “Grampa” Anders ’02. “It’s very pretty.”

Rob “R.A.” Alarcon ’03 likes the fact that the fall concert is more intimate. “It takes a lot of the pressure off of advertising and ticket sales and it lets us concentrate on singing.”

“It’s a great thing to do with your parents,” said Matt King ’02, the show’s coordinator. “It’s a definitive Cornell experience … a good place to take your parents before they go to sleep and you go out.”

In their 52nd year, the Waiter’s are Cornell’s oldest all-male a cappella group. Music from approximately thirty of these years has been recorded and remastered on CDs and can be found on the group’s website. Typically, their concerts feature up-beat popular songs, both current and classic, that the majority of the audience will know by heart. They are lively performers, and snap during many of their songs. The Waiters are also known for their song parodies like “We Didn’t Go to Harvard.”

According to Anders, this performance will include songs from artists Paul Simon, Guster, Bill Withers, Shai, Harry Konick, Jr., and Queen. The show will feature a performance by the Tufts’ Jackson Jills, a co-ed a cappella group. In addition, the Shadows Dance Troupe will be dancing with the group for one song. (In September, Shadows co-sponsored the benefit performance “Unite with the Waiters.”) While the group is already infamous for their inclusion of a guitar in their group, the addition of the all-female dance troupe is a first.

This concert will also be the first Waiters concert for four of the group’s five “new guys.” Kevin “New Guy Dad” Wilson ’05 said that he saw Spring Fever last year when he came to visit because he was being recruited for the track team. Inadvertently, he was recruited for the Waiters, too.

All of the “new guys” are excited for the performance. “It’ll be tough to spend a Saturday night with 15 good-looking guys singing to you,” quipped Basil “New Guy McFly” Newburn ’05.

“We don’t spend most of our Saturday nights alone together, though,” added Jonah “New Guy” Johnson ’05.

Their quick senses of humor certainly help the new guys blend right into the group. Nate “Creotine” Pettit ’02, the group’s business manager, said that “part of being in their group is personality and getting along with the people already in the group.” At Monday’s rehearsal session, as two new guys were performing solos, it was apparent that they certainly do this.

“We spend so much time together,” said King. “If we don’t get along we’ll kill each other. So it’s a good thing we’re friends.”

Adam “Chondola” Scheinman ’02 explained, “They add a lot of weight to the group physically. There are now more Waiters because of them.”

Archived article by Sara Katz