Back in 1996, Indiana University had nary an a cappella group in its midst. Then came Dan Ponce. Recruiting the talented voices of Dave Roberts, Randy Stine, Charlie Mechling, Steve Morgan, Mike Itkoff, Jerome Collins, Walter Chase, Patrick Hachey, and Kevin Caroll, Straight No Chaser was formed, taking its name from a Thelonius Monk album.
Both contemporary pop tunes and classic vocal pieces comprised the group's repertoire as SNC built their audience by singing at local events, both on campus and off. The ensemble then started branching out to tour the Midwest in support of their CDs. Straight No Chaser even got to grace the stage at Carnegie Hall, Navy Pier, Comiskey Park, and Wrigley Field.
When graduation was upon them in 1999, the members went their separate ways, coming together for a show in 2006 at Indiana University. A performance filmed back in '98 got slapped onto DVD and released for the reunion date. Being in the YouTube age, a “The 12 Days of Christmas” clip started amassing views to the point of Atlantic Records signing the group, minus two guys.
Because the University kept an ensemble going after the original members graduated, the college group serves as a feeder for replacement vocalists in the professional group. More than 60 guys have flowed through the SNC ranks.
Late 2008 saw the release of Holiday Spirits, the group's debut. After a bout of touring, they doubled down in 2009 with Christmas Cheers and the Six Pack EP. Then, in 2010, Straight No Chaser shed their holiday shroud for With a Twist, a collection of contemporary pop hits by artists like Coldplay, Barry Manilow, and Oasis reworked for the a cappella genre.
Harrah's Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey, booked SNC for 40 shows, after which Ponce departed, replaced by Don Nottingham for the subsequent 75-date tour across North America and the UK in support of All I Want For Christmas which brings together both holiday albums along with their PBS special, Live In New York.
Summer 2011 found SNC back at Harrah's for 52 performances of Back to the Shore: Songs Through the Decades and More.