Many Lions are familiar with the music in the Lions Songbook. But the Shawnee Lions in Virginia have also tackled some Elvis and Tammy Wynette tunes. “Hey Good Lookin’” and “Don’t Be Cruel” are both in their repertoire, as well as some hits from Hank Williams and Tony Bennett. Club President Edward Touchstone, a professional accordion player and singer who performs in an Italian restaurant, has always led the club in song. Originally members kept to the typical meeting routine—a flag salute followed by a club song, a patriotic song, then a prayer and then time to eat. But one evening when the club had finished a particularly fine rendition of “God Bless America,” Touchstone asked if anyone had a particular favorite they’d like to try. He would gladly get the lyrics, and the club could sing it, he said. Lion Gene Burkhart, the first to come forward, expressed interest in a little Hank Williams. Touchstone worked up three of his selections for the next meeting. Charles Puglisi, the club’s conductor, followed suit, and the ball started rolling. Soon after, the Lions took on the crooners, including Frank Sinatra. For Elvis Presley’s birthday, they sang “Love Me Tender” and a few other favorites. “These guys have a repertoire of about 35 selections now, and never have I heard anybody say, “No. Oh, I don’t want to sing,’” says Touchstone. Although most members know the songs, he always has a cheat sheet for them, making sure they don’t sound like the nearby Winchester Lions, whom they razz about not being able to carry a tune. “Never have I heard anybody say, ‘No. Oh, I don’t want to sing.’” Possibly the most challenging request was for the Bee Gees’ disco hit, “Stayin’ Alive.” Touchstone says he overheard one of the guys say under his breath that he wondered if the club could handle it. Quietly, Touchstone wasn’t sure they could either. “But I got the lyrics, and darn if the guys didn’t sing it,” he says, his voice still tinged with amazement. “Of course, we didn’t sound like the Bee Gees. But it’s a lively way to start the meeting. It’s good for morale.” “Sometimes the singing is not that good, and we razz each other. But sometimes it sounds pretty darn good,” Touchstone says. “The idea is that they try their best, and we have a good time.”
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.lionmagazine.org/article/Songbook+Spice+Up/2909108/445205/article.html.