Tenor: Kipp Buckner
Lead: Joe Connelly
Bass: Jay Hawkins
Bari: Paul Gilman
The original four members of Interstate Rivals – Kipp Buckner, Joe Connelly, Geoff Mucha, and Jay Hawkins – were all second-generation barbershoppers. Paul Gilman, who replaced Geoff as baritone in 1986, had been introduced to barbershopping by his uncle in 1980.
Geoff and Joe, members of Cincinnati’s Southern Gateway Chorus teamed up with Kipp and Jay, members of the Louisville Thoroughbreds, in 1982. In 1983, the foursome finished in the top ten at their first international contest.
They placed sixth in 1984, third in ’85, and moved to second in 1986. That year, Geoff’s postal service promotion forced him to move to another city. The remaining three drafted Paul from Cincinnati, and he had the rare thrill of winning a gold medal in his first international contest in 1987 at Hartford, Conn.
Despite their youth (they were the second youngest quartet ever to win the championship), the original Rivals combined 45 years of barbershop experience. Kipp’s father had sung in an international finalist quartet, Joe’s dad was an international quartet medalist, Geoff’s father had directed choruses to two bronze medals, and Jay’s father had sung for many years in Dayton, Ohio’s chorus.
In a display of individual musicianship, and unprecedented in teh Barbershop Harmony Society, each member of “The Rivals” went on to claim another quartet championship – Joe with Keepsake in 1992, Kipp with Gas House Gang in 1993, and Jay and Paul with Marquis in 1995. A couple of years later Joe laid claim to a third gold medal with Platinum in 2000. Still not satisfied, Joe and his partner in crime, Kipp, garned yet another gold medal with 2011 Champs Old School.