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These guys love to harmonize: Quartet made Valentine's Day extra special and musical

Making a quick sidetrack from their Valentine's Day singing, barbershop quartet from left, Gary Gunstinson, LaVern Maxwell, Daryl Haarstick and Don Matteson sang Happy Birthday to Maxwell's granddaughter.

The melodies of "Heart of my Heart" and "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" rang out on Feb. 14 throughout Detroit Lakes, Perham, Lake Park and Frazee, thanks to a quartet from the Heart O' Lakes Harmony Chorus.

The barbershop quartet -- made up of Gary Gunstinson and LaVerne Maxwell, both of Frazee, Daryl Haarstick of Vergas, and Don Matteson, Fergus Falls -- made Valentine's Day extra special and extra musical at about 25 different locations throughout the towns.

For students at Rossman Elementary to residents at Sunnyside Nursing Home, people of all ages got to enjoy the harmony Monday.

As the quartet stopped in to surprise Braydon Duffney and then his sister, Kayla, students at Rossman School would excitedly whisper and teachers would peek in the doors to hear the four-part harmony, all ending with a hearty applause.

The quartet even made a quick sidestep for Maxwell's granddaughter, who was also celebrating her birthday.

A few years ago, the Skipper Chorus from Detroit Lakes and the Lake Country Barbershop Chorus from Fergus Falls joined forces after numbers in each singing group were dwindling. Now 30 members strong, the group meets every Monday from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Pelican Rapids Faith Lutheran Church. They are always looking for new members, Gunstinson said.

He said they have gotten a new director as well, a band teacher from Underwood High School.

"He's very knowledgeable about barbershopping and very exciting," Gunstinson said. "When he's excited, it excites us. What it amounts to is that it produces an awful lot better sound."

Gunstinson, who was a part of the DL Skippers before the two groups merged and has been singing for 17 years, said more and more guys are joining the group.

"I just like to hit the harmony," Gunstinson said of his reason for being involved in the group. "Not only that, the quartet is the real fun part. I can't say it's more fun, but it just gives you self-pride because of being able to do it. A lot of guys don't like to do that.

"It's a lot of fun and camaraderie," he added. "It's good clean fun is what I like about it."

While Valentine's Day is extra busy for the quartet, Gunstinson said his quartet, which is made of a different foursome than went out singing Monday, performs multiple times a year for different events, basically whenever they are hired for the job.

On April 2, anyone and everyone can come see for themselves the Harmony Chorus as they will be bringing cool to the stage of the Holmes Theatre with a doo-wop show including the Fonz. They will also perform the show in Fergus Falls April 1 and in Wadena on July 15 as part of a tornado anniversary benefit.

"Being a quartet, you really have to listen," Gunstinson said, so the men usually try to stand in the same order each time they sing. "It really teaches you to listen."

And listen everyone did Monday as the quartet sang out to sweethearts throughout the area.

Anyone interested in booking the quartet or men interested in joining the chorus, can call Gunstinson at 218-234-9996.