Vern Dockter plays a unique role during Valentine’s Day. He is part of a group that provides singing Valentines to area love birds.
“In one way it’s an embarrassing thing, in another way it’s a fun thing,” Dockter said. “... We have fun. It’s a fun thing to do.”
Valentines are available Friday, Feb. 14. Valentines are $35 and include two sweetheart songs and a rose. Although you can make requests, the group usually sings “Let Me Call you Sweetheart” and “The Story of the Rose” (more commonly known for the words “Say you’ll be mine forever”). Proceeds from the Valentines will be used to support vocal music in area schools.
For the past few years Dockter's group, Rocky Road — a barbershop quartet — has been serenading sweethearts in the Delta and Montrose areas on Valentine’s Day. Three of the group members have been singing together for 10 years, and they are also part of the Black Canyon Barbershop Chorus and perform at various events.
Singing Valentines is most likely the biggest thing the group does (aside from the annual shows), said Dockter. Normally, the group will sing about 25-30 songs a day.
“Barbershoppers nationally, internationally have been doing (singing Valentines) for over 50 years,” Dockter said. “And we deliver singing Valentines to people at their business, at homes, sometimes someone will take their spouse out for dinner and we will meet them at the restaurant and entertain.”
Other locations the group visit on Valentine’s Day, that Dockter enjoys most, are nursing homes. There they visit the memory care unit and sing a variety of songs that may be recognizable to those there.
“We sing some of these songs, and people who are not there are all of a sudden there and they’re singing with us,” Dockter said. “There’s no control of the emotions at that time, they take over. Just to see people come alive and all of a sudden be able to connect to memories that they have (is amazing).”
When the quartet shows up, Dockter said the reactions range from embarrassed to excited as people will gather the office around them for the performance. He recalls one Valentine's Day when a woman wanted the quartet to sing to her boyfriend at his construction job. Dockter recalls that it was a wet, snowy day and while the recipient was driving the backhoe, the group performed. “Let’s just say he was not impressed,” Dockter said with a laugh.
To set up a time, call Dockter at 970-210-1793. Usually that Friday the group will be in Montrose until 10 that morning and head to Delta from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. and it usually heads back to Montrose. If there is time, the group will make stops outside of Delta as well. If you call, the singers will try to work with you on a date and time.
“It’s a way of saying, ‘I love you,’” Dockter said. “Valentine's (Day) is about showing somebody that you care and a a singing valentine is unique. It’s not done very often, there are places… (where) it doesn’t happen.”
Monica Garcia is the managing editor for the Delta County Independent.