The DQ of Amherst College

The 1980s: Rebirth of the Q

Rising from the 20-year old ashes

of the DQ of yore, the singing group reformed in 1985, this time without restricting itself to the mathematical limitations of its name. Reborn as an a cappella rather than a barbershop group, the DQ’s membership swelled to 14 by 1986. Despite these changes, the group nonetheless retained the traditions of their forefathers by performing in their famed tattersal vests and keeping old DQ favorites like “Button Up Your Overcoat,” and “Drinking Song” as mainstays in their repertoire. By the end of the decade, after releasing two brand-new albums, the DQ had firmly reestablished its presence in the singing community on campus. 

John Hunt provided his recollections of the re-birth of the group in the mid-1980s in a 2001 interview:

Me and Bob Kennedy, James and TJ —Tom Jones — James Woodbridge, Paul Linn, Gary Hudson, and Jack Lloyd. That was the orignal group. Not sure Paul was in the original group, actually.  TJ was the music director, he was class of ’86, and Jack Lloyd was class of 86, and Paul and James and Bob Kennedy and me, and Gary Hudson were all class of 87. We started singing, TJ did the arrangements, he was an amazing arranger, and still is. He put all the songs together — all the songs we did, he arranged. By the third year, I think Davy McDermott was doing some. 

We got together and did some really crappy singing — basically, we worked over the summer a little bit to learn some music and then did some crappy singing in the beginning of the Fall of 1985, at the Freshman Picnic. Then we held some auditions and we got some really amazing singers from the freshman class who tried out and joined the group. When they auditioned, we told them that we were a new group, started up in the Spring. They were all very aware that we were a new group, and conveniently, none of them had seen us at that freshman picnic concert, because we sucked. We got Kevin, two Kevins — Kevin Fraser and Kevin Platt — Rob Reid, Geordie Vining. I think that Jed and Davy Mac joined the same time that young crowd did. 

The guru of singing at ‘the singing college’ was Bruce McGinnes, and he gave us the hint that there was some music in the library from and old group called the DQ. We went out and dug up the music in the library which TJ rearranged modestly, and took a signature song out of that, “Button Up Your Overcoat.”  Somebody came up with the design for the DQ, linked the letters together, and all of the sudden we had a business card. TJ was the Music Director the first year, I was the Business Manager, so we were the two officers. And then Bobby Kennedy took over when TJ graduated in ’86, became Music Director. I stayed on as Business Manager. TJ arranged like crazy, Bob Kennedy arranged some of the music, Davy Mac joined in and started doing some of the arranging, and he took over music director after Bob. Geordie Vining took over the business manager after me, I think. 

We sang with the Yale Whiffenpoofs, they came up to sing with us at Amherst, probably in the Fall of ’86. We were just kind of developing that first year, and then by the second year, we won that contest over at Smith, the Silver Chord Bowl. The Zumbyes had graduated a good chunk of their best singers in ’86, and we still had most of our core group. We were the rockin’ group that year, we had a cult following behind us, we had our own roadies, who would hang out with us….

From The DQ of Amherst College (1987):

Re-founded in May, 1985, by six guys who refused to remain silent, the DQ still can’t seem to keep its collective mouth shut.

From Other Time (1989):

The DQ has been around ever since it was refounded in 1985. There were no free albums then, and no free rides on the PVTA either. Everybody had to work for their money.