Not Too Sharp
|Not Too Sharp|
Not Too Sharp's Spring 2009 Big Show
|Origin||Durham, New Hampshire|
|Genres||A cappella, Pop|
Alex "Toast" Rich
|Past members||Bradley Bensko
Not Too Sharp is an all-male a cappella group from the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire, USA. Begun in 2002, the 9-12 man group performs live on the college campus, at other groups’ venues, and in the New Hampshire community. Their annual benefit show supports the American Cancer Society. The Recorded Acappella Review Board says of Not Too Sharp, “All male, slightly goofy and possessed of an infectious energy… Charisma just drips out of the speakers.” In 2010 the group was presented with a "Best of New Hampshire" award for contemporary a cappella.
University of New Hampshire students Jamie Saucier '03, Jason Reed '05 and Kevin Cleary '05 conceived the group during a trip with the UNH Chorus to perform background vocals at a Barry Manilow concert in Manchester, New Hampshire. A discussion of a friend who had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable but treatable cancer, led them to gather a group who could perform to raise money for cancer research.
The original group decided to perform a new twist on classic barbershop music style – something that could distinguish them from the other a cappella groups on campus at the time - and the a cappella group known as Not Too Sharp was born.
The first show was held in the basement floor of Congreve Hall in 2002. The group rehearsed during the walk across campus, and relied on paper music during the show. This was the first of over 25 concerts for the group in their first year, earning them recognition as “the group who sang everywhere." The group’s first Big Show was held May 3, 2003, in UNH's Johnson Theatre, hosted by members of co-ed UNH a cappella group Alabaster Blue. Over 200 people attended this first semester-culminating show.
Since the first year, the group has continued to perform live around the region, including commencements, weddings, private parties, and even the New Hampshire State House. Their audiences have included school kids, the elderly, and fellow college students.
The group was barbershop-based in its early days. The first album, On Our Way, consisted of many such traditional barbershop arrangements. It was released in 2003, during the group's first year in existence. The songs were recorded live in UNH's MUB Theater.
A self-titled album was released in 2006. The new album reflected the group's growing interest in popular modern music. Fall Out Boy’s track “Sugar, We’re Going Down” and classic rock like The Eagles’ “Hotel California” appeared alongside barbershop arrangements like “Chordbuster’s March." The 2009 album Shifting Gears completed the group’s move away from its traditional barbershop roots, with tracks like Spoon's “The Underdog” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Gone.” A unique arrangement of The Doobie Brothers’ “Black Water” also demonstrated the group’s adventurous nature.
December 2011 marked the group's third studio album release, May Contain Nuts. The title is a play on the group's performance style (as evidenced in the Barenaked Ladies cover "Grade 9") and the abbreviation NTS. The album's sound reflected the advancing field of vocal music production in general and of returning producer Tim Bongiovanni specifically. These developments are demonstrated in an adaptation of Elvis Presley's song "Rubberneckin'" which added features like a modern, driving vocal percussion drumbeat and layered group solos. The song was subsequently selected for inclusion on the best of college a cappella compilation album Voices Only 2012. 
Since the group consists of only current UNH students, graduating students must be replaced each year, leading to a constantly rotating lineup. Any UNH undergraduate is invited to audition.
|On Our Way
|Not Too Sharp
|May Contain Nuts
- Gibbons, Sarah. "Not Too Sharp to sing spirited a cappella songs to UNH assembly." The New Hampshire. 12 Dec 2008.
- Minkoff, Jonathan. "RARB Review of Not Too Sharp." Recorded Acappella Review Board. RARB.org
- "Best of NH 2010 winners." New Hampshire Magazine, July 2010.
- Mullen, Kurt. (2009). "High notes." UNH Magazine, Spring 2009.
- "About us." Not Too Sharp.com
- "Not Too Sharp Reviews." RARB.org
- "Voices Only 2012." 
- Wall, Kim. "A cappella group, "Not Too Sharp," to perform at UNH Manchester." UNH Manchester Press Releases. 21 Nov 2007.