Circle of Fourths:
bearing music
February 1995

Not many bands boast a medley of bear tunes.

But the Circle of Fourths is not put off by the "cute and cuddly" image.

"We probably have about eight tunes just about bears," said singer/guitarist Joe Lynch.

The Circle recently performed their octet of ursine ditties for a special performance at the North Museum planetarium in Lancaster, Pa. This evening, they'll perform those and others at nearby Borders Book Store.

They hope to start making the rounds of local coffeehouses and restaurant/pubs, Lynch said. "We're not a hardcore bar kind of band."

Circle of Fourths evolved from a larger group of acoustic musicians who play regularly at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Rohrerstown, just a few miles west of Lancaster.

"We thought it'd be fun to try and get something together," Lynch said. "Right away things sounded very clear. It just took off."

The band started playing as a quartet about two years ago, he said. One of the first things to catch their attention was the way his and Cindy Stewart's voices blended together in vocal harmonies.

"Hopefully the group will be known for its harmonies," Lynch said. "We're looking eventually to move into four-part harmonies. Tom (Castner) and Joe (Spurlock) are both excellent vocalists, but right now they're concentrating on their instruments."

Although they'd like to start writing their own music eventually, Lynch said the band now focuses on covers. Their playlist ranges widely, including Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven" and "Wonderful Tonight," the Beatles' "Blackbird" and "Day Tripper," plus tunes by Jimmy Buffett, Bruce Hornsby, Nanci Griffith, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and several old traditionals.

The band's name was derived from music theory.

"Music is very mathematical. It's based on a progression of harmonies," Lynch explained. "A circle of fifths is a progression that makes up a nice blend of tones and harmonies. We figured, since there are four of us, to go with a Circle of Fourths."

Members of the Circle are not career musicians by any stretch.

"None of us do music for our living, but it's a passion for all of us," said Lynch, a college psychologist. "It'd be nice to make a few bucks, but we're mostly in it because we enjoy each other's company and we like playing."

Castner, he said, is a high school guidance counselor, Spurlock is in retail sales and Stewart is a community volunteer and mother of four -- "a full-time job for anybody."

"We're not out pounding the pavement looking to play six nights a week," Lynch said. "We have a lot of fun. If we didn't have fun at practice, we wouldn't be together."

interview by
Tom Knapp

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