I have just returned home from my first night of NQC 2012. I have been coming every year since 2006, at least one night each year. Some years every night, some just one or two. This year it will be a two day event for me. As I stated last night I got a little burnt out after a full week last year, so I am glad that I had to scale back this year. Now without further ado I bring to you my highlights and low-lights from the nights festivities.
ruppesSisters never ever cease to amaze me. They were pitch perfect on the two songs they did tonight. I could have listened to quite a bit more from these ladies. My fiancee’ who was with me tonight hadn’t heard them before, and she was pretty much slack jawed throughout both of their songs. That to me summed up the quality of their performance (my fiancee was a music major).
- Gaither Vocal Band: other than poor David Phelps forgetting some words to his feature “Glorious Freedom”. The Vocal Band’s performance was probably the biggest highlight of the night for me. They had a solidly paced set that went over extremely well, though I believe they should have switched their final two songs around. Michael English was so amazing on “Winds Of This World” the other guys had to try and keep up. They closed with a slow song “Sow Mercy” which is a great song featuring Mark Lowry; but didn’t really fit after their blow the roof off renditon of “Winds Of This World. Back to the Phelps feature, they had some breath taking vocal inversions on that one. Similar to what they did on “Please Forgive Me”; but with this song they have taken it up another notch. I was pretty well gobsmacked throughout that entire song, once David got things figured out. I will say though that David has had a tough week, his sister is entering the final stages of cancer and is in hospice, so keep them in your prayers for sure!
- The Mark Trammel Quartet was quite good tonight, Mark only seems to get better every time I hear him sing; and Pat Barker, WOW what a singer. He isn’t just a bass singer, he is a singer who happens to sing bass. Eric Phillips has also gotten better since I last heard him, he isn’t over singing his notes nearly as much as he used to, which is a very good things and something that others could learn from. Highlighting their set was Mark knocking the ball out of the park with his spot on rendition of “Too Much To Gain To Lose”. This quartet is going places trust me on that one folks.
- The Perry’s had a decent set, I missed their first song and apparently so did Joseph Habedank. Their set was highlighted by “When He Spoke”. I am still amazed at Josephs progression as a singer since he joined the group nine years ago. He always had potential, and he is just really starting to take a hold of that potential and build on it.
- The Nelons knocked it out of the park. Amber Nelon proved tonight that she belongs in the conversation as one of the best female singers on the road today. She beat the tar out of “I’m Going Home With Jesus’”. To be honest Jason and Kelly had trouble keeping up! I am looking for great things out of Amber Nelon over the next few years
- Tribute Quartet was a highlight for me this year, their sound has really evolved into something really worth perking up and listening to. “The Song Of Heaven” and “Good News From Jerusalem”were the big hits from their set. The former really gave Riley Harrison Clark a chance to really shine. Josh Singletary has, like the group evolved as a singer. His solo on “Good News” was spot on and well done. I look for big things in the future for this group.
- First lowlight of the night was when I found out my “media” identity had been stolen! I got to the media booth and gave the kind lady my name, and she said someone had already picked up media passes under my name. I have to say that I was floored to learn of this. I then proceeded to show her my ID; and she obliged by giving me another set of passes. I later learned that Daniel Mount had the same stolen identity issue. I would encourage NQC to tighten up on this, by simply requiring ID before any passes are handed out!
- The crowd was pitiful at times tonight. Not to mention the fact it was probably the lowest crowed I have ever seen at an NQC on a friday night. They two upper sections closed off with a large black curtain. I hope it picks up next year and beyond, because if this year is any indication then the NQC could be in trouble down the road somewhere.
- The Exhibit Hall was an absolute ghost town. I haven’t ever seen so many empty booth spaces on a friday night. Though the flea marketers still seemed to be out in full force peddling their garbage. A lot of the groups booths had already been tore down and gone. I can remember days when groups stayed the entire week, now due to the economy alot of groups have to schedule dates on Friday and Saturday to pay the bills. I hope things get better; because what I saw tonight really bothered me regarding the future.
- The sound was pretty solid most of the night, until the gaither show started, they had more than one instance of some really awful feedback coming through the speakers. It ruined what would have been a decent sounding night.
Overall I came away pleased with what I witnessed. Sure there were performances that fell short of what should be a high end standard at NQC; but I can’t really complain to much about night as a whole. I had a good time. On another note I thought the first NQC awards show was tastefully done and it was good to see some winners that don’t ever win though they deserve to in the singing news awards. Dianne Wilkinson was a very deserving winner of songwriter of the year, and Kim Collingsworth was very deserving of her musician award. Also it was nice to see David Phelps win favorite tenor, and the Collingworth Family win favorite mixed group. As I stated already I had a good thing, and tonight left looking forward to tomorrow night. I can’t say that has always been the case at NQC.
Last summer Southern Gospel promoter extraordinaire Bill Bailey, started Southern Gospels latest outdoor jubilee in Bean Blossom. Indiana at the Bill Monroe Memorial Music Park which was once considered the mecca of Bluegrass. The event runs three days and features many of your favorite artists. It was enough of a success last year that they held another event this year. which was held this past weekend, Thursday through Saturday. I made it for the Friday night and Saturday night events. The Perry’s were the host group, and they did a terrific job. Below is a breakdown of the Friday night lineup (in the order in which the groups appeared) and my highlight moments from each. Lets get started shall we?
The Perrys- The Perry’s were without Joseph Habedank for the weekend as he had to sing in a wedding, so their lineup was a little different. Bryan Walker sang the lead part, Matthew Holt covered the baritone spot making for a softer, yet pleasing Perry’s sound. Bryan did a solid job manning Joe’s part and Matt Holt is a very good harmonizer. The highlight of their set was Libbi Perry Stuffle’s stirring rendition of “Celebrate Me Home” The Perry’s most recent radio hit. They of course closed with the ever popular “Wish I Coulda Been There” Bryan who was seemingly a little uncomfortable at the start of their set, was settled into a groove by the time this song rolled around and he knocked it out of the park! I thoroughly enjoyed The Perry’s set even without Joseph Habedank who is one of my favorite singers in Southern Gospel.
Brian Free And Assurance- Brian Free And Assurance was plagued with sound problems for most of their set. Jeremy Lyle’s (the bass singer) mic was turned down way to much, and I could barely hear him as I set in my camp chair about 10 rows back; but I digress BFA pulled off a great set, even with the sound issues. Highlighting their set was their opener “Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee”, which was sung without any music, which amplified the groups superb harmony. They of course brought the house sky down with “For God So Loved” And “Long As I Got King Jesus”. The real fun began on their very last song of the night (after the intermission) when Brian Free brought Karen Peck on stage for a sing off between the two of them. They sang “Looking For A City” just like Vestal and Johnny did it back in the 70′s, except Brian and Karen went even higher and higher… They ended up in a tie around (and this is a guess) the Eb-F-sharp range… It was quite a sight to behold and something I will not soon forget…
Karen Peck And New River- Karen Peck has, like Brian Free one of those distinctive voices that just wows you every time you hear her sing. She was without her sister Susan on Friday night. Filling in for Susan was a young lady by the name of Stephanie Scragg, she was once a part of the Jody Brown Indian family. Jeff Hawes was the other singer on stage. Highlighting their set was what I believe is next big KPNR hit “On The Banks Of The Promiseland” it is a beautiful tune that features Karen doing what she does best. The crowd undoubtedly ate this song up and rightfully so. Jeff Hawes turned in a terrific performance on a excellent new song titled “This Is What Mercy Does” Hawes is a exceptionally talented singer; but he seems a little hesitant to truly let it all out… I am sure that will come with more time in the industry. They closed their set with a scorching version of “We Shall Wear A Robe And Crown” I will probably never get tired of hearing Karen whip this song into submission! It was encored four times and Tracy Stuffle joined them on the encores to add some serious bass singing. KPNR probably had the best set of the night, and that is no slight to any of the other groups!
The Kingsmen Quartet- The Kingsmen arrived very late after they had some bus trouble on their way from North Carolina. They had to hurry and set up their sound system, so they got off to a little bit of a rough start; but they overcame that,and turned in a very solid set. The highlight of their set for me was Brian Hutson’s rendition of “I Owe It All To Him”. Just Cody Mcvey’s excellent piano accompaniment, and Brian’s brilliant vocals made for a glory bump moment for me! Randy Crawford made his first return to the group after a one month medical leave, he was understandably not in top form; but he pulled through quite well. Another song that I immensely enjoyed is their latest single “He’s Everything I Need” That is a winner for sure, and the audience agreed with me. Another performance that I truly loved was Harold Reed on “God Saw A Cross” He was in top vocal form on Friday night and it certainly showed on that song. Overall the Kingsmen with everything they went through on Friday had a very enjoyable set that I truly enjoyed.
Summary of the night- Overall it was a great night of gospel singing from some of the best groups in this genre… It was my first ever outdoor Southern Gospel event, and I really enjoyed being able to sit in my comfortable camp chair and enjoy some splendid singing. If you like the outdoors, and can handle warm weather I encourage you to go to at least one in your life.
Final Review Of NYE Celebration-Legacy Five, The Collingsworth Family, Triumphant Quartet, Freedom Singers
I am back home after one of the best weekends of Gospel music that I have ever experienced! God really moved on Saturday night, and it made for the best concert I have ever attended. Saturday morning featured the Freedom Singers giving their stirring testimony and some unique Romanian accented singing. Saturday night as mentioned above featured L5, The Collingsworth Family and The Triumphant Quartet. Below is a breakdown of how the day went, starting with Saturday Morning. Also included is a quick synopsis of Sunday mornings closing event.
Freedom Singers- The Freedom Singers have a very unique and spell binding testimony of Gods wonderful grace and mercy. They shared some of that with us on Saturday morning, and sang a few songs. They have a very good blend when singing in ensemble… Their thick accents make them a little hard to understand when one of them does a solo, but you can tell they are really enjoying doing what they do; and they ar enjoying their freedom to share their story/testimony. They sang about six songs, I don’t remember all of the titles since I lost my notes from that concert; but two songs that really stood out were “Come Make A Place” and “Because He Lives” I encourage everyone that can to check these guys out if they are anywhere near you. They will stir you, and bless you with their singing and amazing testimony.
Saturday Night: Saturday night was the highlight night of the weekend for me. I had really been looking forward to seeing the Collingworth Family again, along with Triumphant. One thing that struck me about the three groups (L5 included) was that they all feature great musicians (Tim Parton, Kim Collingsworth, and Jeff Stice) maybe the three best currently in Southern Gospel (as far as pianists go) so that alone was worth the price of admission. The singing was great as always from all three groups. And below I will give the highlights from each groups set.Ken Davis was also included, and I will say this… He had everyone laughing non stop for his entire set he is bar none the funniest Christian comedian I have EVER heard…
Triumphant Quartet: This was the first time since 2004 that Triumphant had been a part of one of L5′s celebration events. I have to say that they really brought IT throughout their entire set, as they always do. Below is a song by song breakdown of their set.
- Saved By Grace- This song is a great song to kick off a concert with; TQ sang it with a ton of passion and energy there was a around at the end, that went over very well; I am usually not a big fan of a group turning around their opening song, but it worked here… Scotty Inman in particular gave this one his all. His progression/growth as a singer has been a marvel to behold over the last few years.
- Love Came Calling- This song is pretty much the polar opposite of the last one as far as energy level. I loved the delivery that Scotty Inman gave this song, he sings it with a precision and care that few singers can match on a song in this vein. I also love the harmony between he and David Sutton on the first verse. I have to say that this song was the highlight of their set for me.
- Don’t Let The Sandals Fool Ya- They did this one with piano only, and while it worked I actually prefer the track on this particular song.
- Look For Me- Eric Bennett delivered this song beautifully, he is really good at delivering and communicating a slow pondering lyric like this one. I was also impressed with how tenor David Sutton ended the song, he stayed on pitch and didn’t over-sing like some tenors try to do when given an ending to a song…
- Forgave Me, Saved Me, Raised Me- They had fun with this song for sure, especially David Sutton. He may have had to much fun with this one…
- Goodbye World Goodbye- Jeff Stice and David Sutton did a piano/harmonica duet on this number. It brought the crowd to their feet for the first time of the night. Yes it was that good…
- Old White Flag- Clayton Inman was coming off hip replacement surgery on December 7th and had a cane on Saturday night. Well he usually goes crazy on the stage on this song; you would think considering his situation he wouldn’t have this time… well… He did anyway cane and all; You would think it was the first time he had ever sung this song. The crowd never fails to eat this one up with their hankies a waving.
- Down From His Glory- Jeff Stice showed on this number just why he has been voted favorite musician the last three years. Jeff is not only a great musician (though he does tend to overplay just a bit now and then) but he is stage performer. He knows just what buttons to push. He is a professional in every sense of the word.
- He’ll Pilot Me/William Tell Oveture- Few musicians can merge a Southern Gospel song with classical song like Jeff Stice… (actually all three of the aforementioned pianists there that night can do this very well) But with this one, Jeff really knocked it out of the park without a mistake.
- Moving Up To Gloryland- TQ closed with this number and had a ton of fun doing it… They mixed a little comedy routine in with this one involving David Sutton and his tenor line…
TQ OVERALL: As I mentioned above TQ really brings a ton of energy to the stage every night, and Saturday was no exception to that rule. I you ever get the chance to see them in concert I highly recommend that you go, and you won’t be let down you will see why they were the favorite quartet last year SN fan awards.
The Collingsworth Family- Scott Fowler introduced The Collingsworth Family by stating that they when they were at this event two years ago that they received the strongest response of any group that they had that particular year; so he just had to bring them back. Well he did and they did not disappoint. Below like with TQ’s set is a song by song break down of their set.
- I Shall Not Be Moved- The entire family sings on this one and that always makes for some interesting blend and harmony from this great family group.
- Meeting In The Air- Kim played this old classic with class, and a flair that only Kim Collingsworth can provide…
- Holy Holy Holy- This one was sung all A Capella and WOW I have to say that it was very impressive, the arrangement they put on this beautiful hymn is quite stunning. It is one of those things you have to hear/see it to believe it.
- Tell Me About The Good Ole Days- This song featured Olivia and is a country flavored song that actually reminds me a little of Gold City’s “What Children Believe”. It is in a sort of first person mode with Olivia talking to her grandpa, asking him to tell her about the “Good Ole Days” Her siblings did a wonderful job being Olivia’s back up singers. This song went over very well.
- Fear Not Tomorrow- This song never fails to move me greatly. After what I have been through this past year this was the perfect song for the setting up of a new year. The three women (Kim, Brooke and Courtney) have such a beautiful blend that it just plain amazes me. They did an amazing job communicating this lyric to everyone of the 1300 people in the audience…
- I Know-This song featured Phil Jr. The song was written by Gerald Crabb specifically for the Collingsworth Family. It has a very good message to it that I love. Towards the end the lead was handed up to Brooklyn who handled the transition expertly. This song also has a built in turnaround that really added nicely to the live setting.
- Wonderful Grace Of Jesus- Brooklyn And Courtney were featured with their violins on this one. There was a little problem with the mics on the instruments; but they made it through it mic problems and all with crowd eating it up… These ladies have come a long way since their early years of playing those violins!
- My Tribute- Kim was featured on the piano on this one and WOW… I can’t really find the words to say how amazing she played this song. The crowd gave her around a five minute standing ovation, I believe that should tell you just how good it was… She is without a doubt one of the most gifted musicians that I have ever heard.
- Kim Testimony- Kim got up and gave a very stirring testimony about how God had led her family through a trying year in 2010. She told about how Phil had went through brain surgery just a few weeks ago; and how God had led just the right brain surgeon to them through what seemed like random connections at the time; but Though God was in it with them the entire way. Then they had gotten the chance to witness to the doctors and nurses by doing a concert for them a couple of weeks after the successful surgery.
- I Want Jesus More Than Anything- The closed with this song and it was the most powerful vocal performance from their entire set. I was very moved by their performance of this beautifully penned song. It was just what I needed to hear at that point in time without a doubt.
Collingsworth Family Overall: After Saturday night I was thinking this thought “Is there a more talented family group or any group for that matter in Southern Gospel right now?” I can’t answer that question fully; but I think you would be hard pressed to find one (when it comes to just overall talent)… I would encourage anyone that hasn’t heard this amazing family to go see them as soon as possible.
Legacy Five- L5 came up after a intermission and closed out the night with the best set I have ever heard them sing… They were just ON that night, and I have never heard them better. They had a very special guest join them onstage who had a story that Scott told, that had most everyone in tears… Read below to find out all the details. I will be doing this one a little more in story mode without the bullets.
Legacy Five came out and opened with what I feel is the best concert opening song ever… The song was “Strike Up The Band” and that really set the tone for the rest of the night. They went straight from there into the Dianne Wilkinson classic “Boundless Love” They really brought some energy on this one, and encored it without music.
Then the tears started flowing… The other guys left the stage and Scott brought a special friend up on stage with him, this friend was none other than little ten year old Hanna who was being raised Muslim, and through a miraculous set of circumstances her and her mom had met Scott at a Celebration event a couple of years ago. Scott had told them about Jesus at that event. Months later little Hanna accepted Christ into her hear to be her personal savior. You can quite a bit of her story here, here and here (these are blog posts by L5 about Hanna) Anyway Scott then went onto tell us that Hanna’s mom had also gotten saved just this past Thursday. Needless to say by this time there was not a dry eye in the room. Its a marvelous story that stretches from Nashville Tennessee to North Carolina (where Hanna lives with her parents) and then all the way to Pakistan. There was a story told of how Hanna had went to Pakistan with her family to visit relatives; they went to the Muslim mosque and when Hanna got to the door they asked her if she was Muslim and she said “No I am a Christian and I love Jesus so I will wait outside” needless to say Hanna’s family over there is not happy with her or Scott… Her uncle has even gone so far to to email Scott and tell him how displeased he was. Scott also said that a cousin of Hanna’s had been emailing him recently wanting to know more about Jesus. I think this is an amazing story of just how amazing God is… Hanna and her mom had ended up at that first event seemingly by accident while all the time it was being orchestrated by God himself.Continue to pray for Hanna and her mom as they take a stand for Christ against some pretty tough odds…
Scott used that story to set up their next song which was “Faithful To The Cross” Scott somehow pulled it off even through tears; the rest of the guys were struggling to contain their emotions as well. They were given a very strong standing ovation after that song. Scott then had them slow things down and sing “There’s Something About That Name” (I still say no group does it better) after which Scott had Glenn lead them out in a beautiful rendition of “I Will Serve Thee”. These songs were right in line with how the night had went so far and I when I thought it could not get any better, Scott pulled out his bible and set up the last song of the night. He read the resurrection story from Luke and said sometimes people just stop there and don’t really think about what is going to happen next. Then they started into my favorite all time Southern Gospel song “We Shall See Jesus”, I first saw them do this the Sunday after NQC last September. They did a good job that day but to be honest they were pretty wore down, and weren’t up to their highest level like they were on Saturday. Glenn did a fantastic job with his verses, and then Scott took it away on the third verse and knocked it out of the park. The crowd rose to their feet in unison as soon as they started into the chorus from there it was a breathtaking performance by L5. Tenor Gus Gaches in particular really hit his line with power and sheer force going up to a high C. It was the perfect conclusion to an incredibly encouraging night of Southern Gospel music.
On Sunday morning Ken Davis preached a very stirring and powerful message on living your life “Fully Alive” in 2011. Then L5 then came out and introduced their families. After which they sang about three songs, one of which was “Wedding Music” on which they brought in bus driver Gary Buckner to sing the bass part, he did a very solid job. Then L5 had a question and answer session with different people from the crowd asking them whatever they wanted to ask. Then Gus gave a personal testimony during which he named ME out by name, and had me acknowledged in a room full of people! Needless to say I was shocked that I had had an impact on his life. Gus then started singing “Peace When I Leave It In Your Hands” I don’t think I have heard it sung better. I have to say that Gus is one amazing guy, and one of the best tenors in the business; he is genuine and humble, you can’t get a better combination in a great singer. That could be said for all of the guys in L5, and all the other artists that performed this past weekend. They closed the weekend out with the song “Til We Meet Again” which was a very fitting song to close things out. If you ever get the chance to go to a Celebration event then please go. You will be uplifted, and totally refreshed and encouraged.
I am currently in Nashville Tennessee for Legacy Fives first New Years celebration at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel (which is a spectacular architectural wonder as far as Hotels go IMO) they have been doing this event since 2004, and it is usually on memorial day and labor day; but due to the Nashville flooding last May they had to reschedule this event. I was elated when I got the chance to attend this event, and I have been looking forward to it for months. Last night kicked things off in style with the Booth Brothers, L5 and Greater Vision ringing in the new year Jubilee style. The set up went like this; Greater Vision started things off; followed by L5, and then the Booth Brothers. They closed the night with a one hour jubilee segment. What could be a better way for me to spend my New Years Eve? Below will be the highlights from each segment of the night.
Greater Vision: They kicked things off with “He’d Still Been God” which never seems to get old with the crowd (I suppose you could say that about more than one of their songs) They followed that one with “You Were Faithful Yesterday” which was fitting considering this was New Years Eve; that song though is a very good song and was sung very well by Greater Vision. They also sang their latest number one hit “Never Been” which is very deserving of its number one spot on the radio charts. “It Pays To Pray” was my own personal highlight of their set, that song has really taken on a new meaning lately for me, as I have family and friends that I have really burdened to pray for. They closed their set with “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” They put some oomph into that one for sure; it may be one of the higher keyed recent Greater Vision songs that I have heard; Chris Allman really showed his chops on that one. They also sang “My Name Is Lazarus and Hallelujah Square (which Allman nailed)
Overall: GV had a very solid set of songs showcasing their abilities; and their blend with Chris has only gotten better in the nine months since he joined them. I just wish this wasn’t their only night here.
Legacy Five: L5 had a nice classy set that went over very well; they have got to be one of the classiest sounding quartets in SG. They opened with “Newborn Feeling” I absolutely love their vocal arrangement on this particular song; it is a very challenging one that requires a precise skill on the singers part, and L5 pulled it off perfectly. They went from that one into their old standby “I Found Grace”, that song (which is L5′s only number 1 song) has always been a favorite of mine and never gets old. Glenn Dustin then stepped up and delivered a spot on rendition of “I’d Like To Say It Again” ,the harmonies on the chorus have never sounded better from L5. Gus was then introduced; and he then sang “I Stand Redeemed” and he as per usual nailed it. I would prefer however that they raise the key on that one some; but that is just a personal preference. They closed their set with “Life Will Be Sweeter” and “Truth Is Marching On” the former is always a highlight reel of humor, and some great singing, and usually with Gus making peoples jaw drop on his part where he holds out a high note on perfect pitch for about 15 seconds. The latter “Truth Is Marching On” always gets the crowd stirred up,and L5 sang it with true passion and conviction; Scott had the writer of the song Jim Brady come up and sing the second verse which he nailed!
Overall: L5 had a solid and well rounded set that showcased L5′s bread and butter material (meaning what they are most comfortable singing on any given night) I am looking forward to seeing what they pull out today.
The Booth Brothers: Americas new favorite SG trio really livened things up with their uptempo high energy style of singing. They opened with the high octane “I Have An Anchor” and followed that up with the smooth harmony infused song “Absolute Peace”. This group can transition from one style of song to the next with absolute ease. Then as if welcoming friends in for dinner, they sang “Welcome To The Family” which is always a crowd pleaser.They slowed things down a bit with their next two songs, one being a Ronnie Booth feature “I’m The Lamb” his voice is SO smooth that it make me jealous (in a good way) then Michael sang his signature song “Look For Me At Jesus Feet”. Then suddenly without warning they went into “All Over The World” which if you have heard it, was a complete departure from the last two songs. The crowd absolutely ate this SG samba up! I have to say that it has gotten in my blood as well… It has taken me a while to warm up to it. They then sang a song that I don’t believe I have ever heard them stage; the song was “Storm Now And Then” which Ronnie Booth nailed with that incredibly smooth voice of his. That song like GV’s “You Were Faithful Yesterday” was fitting for last nights setting. They closed with two fast paced songs “Sail On” and “Trading The Old Cross For A Crown” the latter of which was the personal highlight of the set for me.
Overall: I was slightly dissapointed in their song selection. They sang them very well; but I was hoping for more stuff from their Declaration project, especially since this was their only night to sing this weekend. I am not really complaining, for I really did enjoy their se,t and the way they presented themselves. There is a reason people keep voting on these guys in the fan awards, they are the real deal for sure.
Jubilee Portion: This portion of the night served as the one hour lead-up to midnight. They opened it with the ensemble singing “Jesus Is Coming Soon” The tenors really stand out on this one. They kept the ensemble thing with the next song being “Sing Me A Song About Jesus” Glenn Dustin and Tim Parton really shined on that one. The Booth Brothers were the first single group to do a number, they sang Jim Bradys new song “Don’t Hang Your Head And Cry” L5 backs them up making for some nice harmony repeats. L5 then sang “I Never Shall Forget The Day” Gus Gaches really showed off his great pipes with this one. they have built in a turnaround that is a crowd pleaser for sure. Greater Vision then sang “When They Ring Those Golden Bells” Chris Allman stood out and really nailed his lines. The Ensemble then sang Rodney Griffins new song “Undeserving” which led to some humor as some of the guys forgot when they were supposed to come in. They made a big deal about it after the song. The ensemble sang “When I Wake Up To Sleep No More” with Glenn stepping up and knocking his lines out of the park. The Booth Brothers sang their new A Capella arrangement of Crown Him King/He’s My King next and blew everyone away! L5 then sang their big band sounding song written by Henry Slaugter “Everyday”, the harmony on this song is so tight and smooth; once again Gus really stood out on that one. Greater Vision then gave everyone a challenge for the new year with their sobering song song “My House Is Full but My fields Are Empty”. After this they had a prayer; and then had a countdown to the new year. They closed the night in full ensemble mode again with the guys singing “Jubilee” in what was a fitting way to end the night.
Overall: Last night was a great experience; with all the groups really on thier game to start the new year. The future is looking very bright for all of these guys as long a there is no group turnover. I am really looking forward to seeing each one of these groups in 2011.
Today will feature L5, Triumphant Quartet, The Freedom Singers, The Collingsworth Family and Ken Davis. I can’t wait to see what today will hold it starts at ten with L5 and the Freedom Singers. The nightcap will include the other groups along with L5. I will be reviewing this mornings event, and tonight’s possibly in one post.
Last night I took in a concert in Westfield Indiana that featured Legacy Five. I have seen these guys four times now this year and I can honestly say they sounded better than ever. The blend that they have already developed with Gus Gaches is pretty incredible. I went to the concert with my girlfriend who took me there as part of my weekend birthday gifts. I have to say that I had the time of my life for certain. The Legacy Five lineup is Gus Gaches- Tenor, Scott Fowler- Lead, Scott Howard-Baritone, Glenn Dustin- Bass and Tim Parton- Piano. Below will be a full list of the songs they sang last night, with comments after most of them.
- What A Friend- They have some very pretty harmony on this old hymn, though it is a rather interesting choice as a opener.
- Heavenly Signs- This is one of my favorite songs from their “God’s Been Good” project. It features all of the guys in short lines then they put into second gear with some very nice harmonies interspersed throughout.
- I’m Feeling Fine- In my honest opinion no group that has ever done this song has touched Legacy Fives version. There is just something about the way that L5 sings this particular song, with a energy that is just infectious.
- Roll On- They have been introducing Glenn on this particular song for a while now. I like the song but I like his new feature “Just Stand” more, and I would like to see them introduce him with that song more.
- I’ve Been Changed-They stayed with Glenn with this one. This is one my favorite all time L5 songs and Glenn has only gotten better at singing this one since they recorded it on Live In Music City. Gus did a great job taking the lead at the end and brought it to a rousing finish.
- Thankful For The Change-This was a nice follow-up to the last song and this is one of those songs that sounds much better live than it does on the CD. It is another one of those great energy songs.
- Tim Parton- Wonderful Grace Of Jesus-Tim Parton is one of the best (and most underrated) musicians out on the road today. Every-time I hear him play this song he does something a little different that makes it even better, this tells me that he works on his craft and is always striving to get better. He is.
- Above All Circumstances- This was Scott Howard’s only feature of the night. He is a fine baritone, and he can carry a nice lead when he needs to and this country sounding tune is perfect for his voice. The harmony on the chorus of this one was spectacular, the guys really had some fun with this number.
- Peace When I Leave It In Your Hands- I emailed Scott a week ago and requested that they do this song. Gus told me at intermission that during sound-check Scott saw my name on one of the reserved seats, and he remembered that I had requested it so they rehearsed it. Well I have to that I was not let down one bit by the end result. Gus Gaches completely nailed this song,(it was the first time he had sung it live) which is a perfect fit for his softer full voiced style of tenor singing. Gus has a very rich and pleasant tone to his voice that stays clear and full in his upper registers without sounding shrill. I have to say that I really love his voice. He is on his way to being a top tenor in this business.
- Wedding Music- I have to say I was thrilled to see them stage this one once again. Glenn really has gotten better on his part and Gus didn’t miss a beat when the lead was handed to him. The crowd really loved this one giving them an extended ovation.
- I Can Hardly Wait- This is a nice song off of the highly acclaimed Jubilee project. Glenn did a great job with hitting some really nice solid low notes.
- Boundless Love- This was a highlight of the night for sure. Their arrangement is pretty much the same as the original Cathedrals version. The guys knocked it out of the park, Gus in particular really did a splendid job with this one. He sang his notes right on pitch and did not over-sing them like some tenors tend to do. The crowd really got stirred up on this one giving them a standing ovation and demanding an encore, so L5 of course obliged by giving a full A Capella encore that was spot on and really brought out the stellar vocal ability of Legacy Five. Not many groups would or could sing an unrehearsed A Capella encore like that, and nail it like Legacy Five did.
- Life Will Be Sweeter- Legacy never fails to disappoint on this song. Last night was not exception to the rule. Gus in particular really sounds good on this one especially with his vocal ad lib on towards the end. He holds out his high note (Bb) for a good 10-15 seconds. That to me is very impressive. The crowd also really loved it.
- My Soul Is Firmly Anchored- This is Legacy Five’s current radio single written by Woody Wright is a great upbeat song with a positive message. Last night Legacy Five knocked it out of the park, showing why it is a current top ten song on the radio charts.
- When They Found Nothing- Scott Fowler did a great job setting up this song and great job singing it. One commentator said that Scott Fowler’s voice has really matured like a aging cheese over the years since moving to the lead position with Legacy Five. He has quietly become one of the best lead singers in the business and his performance on this song proves that point exactly. Gus Gaches also really nailed it on this song.
- Newborn Feeling- They opened up the second half with this great old song, and while I loved this song on the studio CD I was curious to see if they could pull off their arrangement of this song live and it not lose anything… Well it passed the test and then some. I actually think I liked it better live than I do on the CD.
- I Go To The Rock- This great old number is one that they breathed new life into a few years ago and it is still a big hit with the crowd. Gus really sings his lines with authority on this one.
- I Stand Redeemed- Once again Gus did not disappoint with this one. This is the most recognizable song that Legacy Five has ever recorded. And while most still associate it with Josh Cobb, I am very glad that L5 has decided to keep on singing it. And Gus with just piano on this song is just perfect. I usually prefer the soundtrack with a song like this one but if anyone can pull it off without a soundtrack it is Gus Gaches, and last night was no exception.
- God’s Been Good- Scott Set this one up by telling a sweet story about his boys and Tim always sings this one with passion and feeling. I love this song!
- Great Is Thy Faithfulness- I always get chills when I hear the Legacy Five/Lari Goss arrangement of this song. And even more so when I get to hear it live. Gus (and I have mentioned him alot but talent has to be recognized and praised) totally killed his part of the second verse. And when they went up for Gus to hit his high C well he nailed it with his full voice, and that my friends is no easy task.
- Til We Meet Again- This is a great concert closer and I am glad they closed with it. Once again this song fits Gus voice very well and he really did a nice job with it. Also the harmonies throughout the song are hard to beat.
Final Thoughts: I have to say last night was worth more than what the ticket cost was for sure. Legacy Five never fails to cheer me up and make me laugh, and bless me all at the same time. This group does not have weak link vocally or personality wise and if they stay together (and something tells me they will) they could see that run atop of the genre that you see other groups have. They have a new CD coming out soon that… Well lets say I have heard some of it and it is going to be fantastic, the blend and harmonies are incredible. I think it will be their best table project that they ever done, and one of the best overall projects vocally they have ever done. Also they were in the studio a couple of days ago starting on their next “Label” release. So the guys will have some good stuff coming out over the next several months. If you have never seen Legacy Five live and in person you really need to, you will find a new appreciation for their music and them.
When I found out back in May that the Ernie Haase and Signature Sound Cathedrals tribute taping was going to be in Anderson Indiana (about 2 hours from my home) I just had to get my hands on some tickets. I ordered two tickets, and gave Daniel Mount the chance at one of them free of charge, which was an opportunity he of course jumped on… When that day finally arrived, I met with Daniel in Anderson at a local Steak & Shake, and had lunch and good companionship with a great guy. Daniel is one of the most knowledgeable people that I know of about the genre of Southern Gospel music, and it was delightful to get the chance to once again pick his brain.
After lunch Daniel and I made our way to the venue which was located about 5 miles from where we ate lunch. The venue itself was the Anderson University auditorium, where Ernie Haase and Signature Sound have recorded two videos previously. I had never been here so I did not know quite what to expect, lets say I was very impressed by this facility. We made our way to our seats (in the balcony) and sat down. The first thing I noticed was the band, they had 2 trombone players two trumpet players a tenor sax and maybe an alto sax, a keyboard player (Tracy Phillips) and a grand piano player (Wayne Haun), they also had a bass guitarist and Kevin Williams was there as a utility player (meaning he would end up playing about 3 different stringed instruments including a banjo) Their drummer who is very good is Zach Shumate for some reason I was expecting Greg Ritchie I had forgotten that Ernie had hired his own drummer. There was also a xylophone sitting on the stage… At about 6:07 Bill Gaither came out on stage and had us rolling in laughter in no time. He led us in the pre-recorded clapping routines, and then told us to sit tight, that EHSS would be out very soon…
Well the moment we had all been waiting for was almost upon us, we waited about 5 minutes and then with no warning here they came 5 men in a row walking onto the stage like they owned it, and like they knew that they were going take us on a ride that we would never forget. They kicked things off with “Wedding Music” which features mostly Tim and Ernie, Tim nailed down his part, and Ernie did very well on the power tag. “Step Into The Water” was up next and it once again featured Tim, and man he really impressed on this particular song, they have really breathed new life into this old classic and have made it their very own. They went straight into their next song, which started out with some heavy drum beats that had the crowd clapping along very loudly along with the beat. They then started singing maybe the best rendition of “Boundless Love” I have ever heard, Ernie Haase in particular sounded great on this one, he really skied high on the power tag. The crowd went crazy and they encored this one I believe twice.
Ernie slowed things down and talked a little bit after Boundless Love, this gave the guys time to catch their breath before starting into things again. Their next song was “I’m Gonna Live Forever” which featured Ernie on the verses, nice song that featured some nice pretty harmonies from the guys. New lead singer Devin McGlamery got his first feature of the night next on “Yesterday” he did a solid job on a song that is normally thought of as a bass lead. Ernie set up his staple song “Oh What A Savior” with a great story about his very first concert with the Cathedrals. I hope the story makes the video because it is quite touching and funny at the same time. Ernie shows really no sign of his voice letting him down even at his age of 45, he totally nailed this song in the key of F#. Some people might argue that they should not have done this song since they have recorded several times already, well I believe no setting in which Ernie Haase is singing is complete without this particular song. And his fans still love every bit of it.
Ernie then changed things up a bit and had Wayne Haun (who was playing the piano) and Tracey Phillips (who was on the keyboard) switch places so Tracey could offer up her skills in convention style playing as they sang ironically enough “Old Convention Song” her intro was so good that Ernie had her do it over again. The guys did well on the song itself. Wayne Haun who is their producer/piano player/tuba player wunderkind joined them for the next song, to make for some great five part harmony the song (which featured a great arrangement from Wayne) was a terrific acapella version of “Wonderful Grace Of Jesus” that really brought the house down for sure.
Doug Anderson whom I feel may be the most underrated singer in the business, stepped out front on their next song “Sinner Saved By Grace”. Doug really nailed his verse, I was expecting more of Doug on the second but they handed the lead off to Devin who was a little shaky to begin with but smoothed it out for a nice finish. Even though I would have preferred Doug on that second verse, Devin really did do a nice job. The group ensemble of this particular song was strong but not quite as strong as the most recent Gaither Vocal Band Version. I would however put it on par with the Cathedrals version from the Farewell Celebration project, which is what I believe they were shooting for.
Ernie set up the next three songs by saying that it was these types of songs that influenced George and Glen to do what they did. They started with “My Heart Is A Chapel” and then went into “Swinging On The Golden Gate” which I have never been a big fan of. They closed this part of the program by bringing out what Ernie called the “Big Dog”… Bill Gaither…To tell some George and Glen stories which were quite funny and touching for the most part. Bill then told Wayne to move aside and let a master take over on the keys. He accompanied them on their next song “Walk With Me”. The Crowd totally ate it up with Bill on the piano, and Ernie displaying some very nice control in his upper registers,Bill was instructing him to hold out his high notes extra long on this song..The Crowd wanted a encore at the end.
The brass section who had sat out the last segment came back on stage, Wayne Haun came out with a sousaphone and Tracey Phillips joined in with a clarinet for the next song, which was “Can He, Could He, Would He” They had quite a bit of fun with this particular song, at one point they surrounded Wayne in circle and were singing and dancing around him. I have to say it was quite amusing. Even some kids got involved in the dancing down close to the stage… They sang “Life Will Be Sweeter Someday” next and I have to say they did a nice job with this one… Another Cathedral heritage group Legacy Five have been staging this song lately as well, I have to say on this particular song that I actually prefer L5′s version. Mainly due to Tim Partons superb accompaniment. Wayne Haun is great at what he does but I have to give Tim the edge on this particular song. There is room however for both versions at the Southern Gospel table. I also found it interesting that on the part of this song where the piano player would normally play a solo, they had Kevin Williams do it on the electric guitar, he was quite awesome on that part it was a pleasant surprise for sure.
On the next song Wayne Haun once again showed his versatility and moved over and played the xylophone though it could have been a marimba, I could not really tell from the balcony. The song was “Mexico” I really enjoy this song and I think the guys did too… Some stage hands came out in the middle of the song and put sombreros on the singers heads… Ernie’s was pink, everyone was rolling with laughter… After the clapping a laughter died down they brought out a special surprise visitor to join them for their next song. Ernie introduced him as the man who truly helped him get to where he is today. That man was Squire Parsons, who received a standing ovation as he took the stage to sing his classic “Beulah Land” with the guys, I have to say that this was a highlight moment of the night for sure.
Tim stepped up and sang “God Delivers Again” next and he really did a great job with this one. They then went straight into “He Made A Change” which Doug of course knocked out of the park… Next up was “Moving Up To Gloryland” which the guys (particular Ernie) had probably way to much fun with… Towards the end of the song Ernie ran around with his mic and had several of the band members attempt his little “moo-oo-oo-oovin’” part he then had the crowd do it… I have to say it was very funny, I enjoyed their singing of this song as well…
Ernie then took the time time recognize each of the songwriters that were in the audience. Including Joel Lindsey and Dianne Wilkinson, he also took the time to recognize family of the Payne and Younce families. I thought this was very tactful and nice of Ernie, it just shows how classy this man is. Their next song was the “Laughing Song” which was made famous by George Younce, his son actually sang the first and only verse of this song last night and really did a nice job, after which they played a video of George doing the laughing part. I have to say it was a touching and funny moment all at the same time.
One of my favorite Cathedral songs from the nineties came next “I Thirst” which featured Doug and Ernie was very well sung and was definitely a more unnoticed highlight of the night … Their laid back arrangement of this song went over very well with the crowd. This set up what I feel may have been THE highlight of the night. And that was their arrangement of “Champion Of Love” featuring Wayne Haun on the vocal part… While I grew up listening to the Fowler version and that has always been the one I prefer along with Gerald Wolfe’s version… I have to say Wayne went a long way to changing my mind on that last night… While he does not have the vocal power of Wolfe or maybe even Scott Fowler, he does however have a very smooth lead voice that communicates a lyric very well, and he really sold that song as his own last night!
To slow things a little bit they sang “Plan Of Salvation” which went over very well especially Tim’s solos. This was a choice as a song to set up their next song… When I first heard that they were going to be doing “We Shall See Jesus” I was excited and reserved about it at the same time… Devin gets the lead on this song and he definitely sung his heart out in tribute to his hero Glen Payne… They actually for the third verse played a video of Glen Payne singing it… While this went over very well and everyone was on their feet by the time the verse was over, If I were Ernie I would have let Devin carry the lead through to the end Which I feel would have really cemented his place in the hearts of EHSS fans. But I can’t argue with the success it brought, even if the nostalgia of it all may have been a bit much, but I digress…
Once again they slowed things down and sang a very nice medley of Gaither songs including (Gentle Shepherd, Something About That Name, and I Will Serve Thee) all of which the Cathedrals had of course recorded. After this they played a touching video of George and Glen from the Farewell video singing “Search Me O God” I have to say that it was a very emotional time for everyone… Glen Paynes wife was there and I can only imagine the emotions she was feeling.
The group closed with “This Ole House” as their final full song. The arrangement was not much different from the original Cats version.Tim in particular did a great job in Georges place… Then they encored Boundless Love to finish things off. It was a very fitting finish to a great night of music, laughter and raw emotion… I will relive that night for days and weeks to come.
Ernie and his guys really outdid themselves, and I have to say that I think George and Glen would be very proud of him. They kept to the core sound of the Cathedrals music, while at the same time putting their own take on some beloved songs.When I first heard that Ernie Haase and Signature Sound was doing this tribute taping I was a little unsure about the whole thing… But as the night went on I found myself thinking “wow I am so glad I got the tickets to this.” I am really looking forward to the DVD/CD set that is to be released on October 26th. So when that is released go get yourself a copy, and never get rid of it because I believe it will be a piece of Southern Gospel History that will be cherished for a lifetime.
Saturday night I went to see the Dove Brothers in concert for the first time outside of NQC. The concert was held in Indianapolis. I was very curious to see them with a live band, as I really wish more groups would go that route. I came away very impressed by the class and overall stellar performance of the Dove Brothers.
Below I will list all of the songs they sang, with thoughts about the standout moments.
- I Recall- This song which makes for a great opener really set the tone for the rest of the night. The song itself is off of their newest studio project Unshakable which I will be releasing a review of this week sometime. Thoughts on the actual song will be on that review.
- Little David- I grew up singing this song at my church. So getting to hear it sung live by the Dove Brothers was a treat for sure. David Hester does a great job with this one.
- He’s Gonna Smile On Me- This song features Eric Dove who in my opinion is one of the most underrated baritones in the business. He does a great job on this song.
- If I Knew Then- This is another song off of their new project. Mcray Dove really does a great job with this one, it is in a slower style that I feel suits his voice a little better than the faster songs.
- I Can Pray- This has been Jerry Martins signature song now for three years. His voice is one you would think would burn out over time but it seems that it gets stronger and stronger with time. The song itself is one of my favorites from the last decade.
- You Don’t Know Gods Love- Mcray is featured on this great song. The song has great message that just reaches out a grabs you.
- I Know He Heard My Prayer- This old classic is one that I am glad to the see the Doves bring back. They recorded it on their 2001 project Every time I Feel The Spirit. Their arrangement of this song is very nice, with a high power ending that Jerry Martin nails.
- Group Intros
- The Band-Getting Ready To Leave This World- Adam Harmom was the star of this one though… Devin Dove (Drummer) and Marc Peele (Bassist) provided some excellent accompaniment to Harmons stellar piano stylings.
- How About You- This old Blackwood Brothers song is sung very well by David Hester. It was just accompanied by the piano. This song can also be found on their latest album.
- A Little Good News- Jerry Martin does a great job on this country sounding number. I like the message in this song.
- Hold On- This was probably the highlight of the night. Mcray Dove really goes to town with this one, his voice is perfect fit for this particular song and he has really mastered it… The crowd ate it up, and really got into this one after they had been pretty stoic most of the night. They encored this number 3 times. This song is also the new number one song (on the Singing News Chart) for next month.
- You Would Think He Would Learn- This song came after a brief intermission… They had to catch their breath from “Hold On” I really like this song and Mcray once again turns in a great performance.
- Did’nt It Rain- They always crank up the energy on this one. Jerry Martin really sounds great on this one… And Mcrays rain dance was not as drawn out as normal… They did not encore this one they segued straight into their next song when they reached the final note.
- Get Away Jordan- They closed with probably their greatest hit that they have ever had and the song they are most known for currently. They encored it twice and then had the crowd stand and sing “God Bless America” with them. It was a fitting close to a great night of music and entertainment…
Final Thoughts: I was not let down a bit by my first Dove Brothers concert. I would go to another without a doubt. The Dove Brothers Band also did not disappoint. The Drummer is Devin Dove (Eric’s Son) He is only 15 and he plays the fire out of those drums. Marc Peele is the bass player, and he really played well I was impressed by his abilities. Adam Harmon is quite the pianist and is a perfect fit for the Dove Brothers. Jerry Kelso is a tough act to follow and Adam makes it seem as if there was not a change on the bench at all…
Vocally the Doves are top notch from the tenor to the bass… Jerry Martin is one of the best tenors out there. Likewise for Mcray at the lead spot and his brother Eric at the Baritone. And David Hester is one of the smoothest bass singers you will hear on the road today, he can also rattle the floorboards when he wants to.
If the Dove Brothers are in your area anytime soon go and see for yourself about the quality and class of this terrific quartet, and band.
Whenever I first heard that the Gaither crew was going to be in Indianapolis I have to say that I was elated. For I had never actually been to a Gaither Homecoming event before… I ordered my tickets around two months ago, one for me and one for my girlfriend. I had been anxiously awaiting the day to arrive for quite some time… It finally arrived this past Friday. My girlfriend and I met her cousins, and we went out to eat in Greenwood Indiana (a suburb of Indy) at a Logans Roadhouse, before the event was to start. Come to find out her cousins (who had ordered tickets about a month earlier than us) seats for the night were right next to us! The odds of that are pretty slim out of about 10,000 seats! Needless to say we were pretty excited about that development…
We arrived at Conseco Fieldhouse about 20mins before the event was about to start and found our seats… It was my first my time to ever visit this venue. I have to say that it is stunning. I would have loved it if NQC had decided to move their headquarters to Conseco, for more than one reason. Around 6:50 Kevin Wiliams came out and did a guitar solo which I thoroughly enjoyed. Rory Rigdon joined him and they started telling jokes, and talking about the different deals at the Gaither Table.
Bill Gaither then came out to much applause. He introduced Charlotte Ritchie, who came out and sang one of my favorites by her “I’ve Got Joy” I am glad that Charlotte is doing well since she left the Easters. I have always really enjoyed her voice since her days with the Nelons. Buddy Greene was then introduced and sang “Just Like John” (I am guessing on that title) I am not very familiar with his work, other than that he is an amazing harmonica player! he then did one of my favorite hymns “Come Thou Fount” that quite frankly blew me away. He was being backed on both songs by the Isaacs and they can make anyone sound really good… Buddy Greene is a very solid singer, along with being a great musician. Gordon Mote came out next, you could definitely tell that he is very popular with the crowd. I really enjoy his singing and playing. He sang a song I think was called “Rolled Away” but I am not sure… Like Buddy Greene I am not that familiar with Gordon’s music. Next he sang a great song called “Mercy Walked In” which is a song that grabs your attention from the outset. His voice has very nice tone quality that compliments his terrific musical ability well. The Martins then took the stage with a great response from the crowd. They started out with one of their older songs “Joshua Fit The Battle.” After which they went straight into a A Capella medley of the Doxology, that blew everyone including me away. They closed their set with “The Promise” Which is a song that really fits the Martins well… It has a great message coupled with the Martins stellar vocals making for musical magic! I am very happy to see the Martins back out there together, I am really looking forward to their upcoming album. Russ Taff then took the stage. He only sang song which was “I Believe” and had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand… He definitely knows how to master the stage, and to connect with his audience no matter what crowd he is singing to…
Bill Gaither introduced the Booth Brothers next. Much to my delight… I have always loved their harmony drenched vocals, to go along with their raw energy, and just pure mastery of the stage… They started out with “Castles In The Sand” which is a song that features their harmony to its highest extent. They went straight into one of the brand new songs next “All Over The World” this is a song that has very interesting arrangement to it.(it is on their upcoming project ,which is their best by far in my opinion) I won’t really go into much detail on the actual song. However there is a review of the new album forthcoming, so you will have to wait until then… Next they slowed things down again with the most beautifully done version of the Mosie Lister hit “Then I Met The Master” that I have ever heard… It is also on their next project. They kicked things up several notches in their closing number, by turning Jim Brady loose on “Tradin’ The Old Cross.” I absolutely love their upbeat and fun arrangement of this song… It really showcases Jim Brady’s vocal abilities extremely well. The Booth Brothers are tops in my opinion. And other than the Gaither Vocal Band, they may have been the highlight of the night.
The Issacs were next. I am not the biggest bluegrass fan but the Isaacs are the exception for me. Their style is definably Bluegrass, but they are without a doubt on the contemporary side of the genre. Which in my opinion pretty close to pure Southern Gospel. They started with bluegrass hymn medley of songs, including “Love Lifted Me/In The Sweet By And By/Just Over In The Gloryland/and I’ll Fly Away. It went over extremely well. By the end of the song The Isaacs had the crowd riveted. Next they sang a song from their new project “The Three Bells” which features mostly Ben. I am not a big fan of this song, It just seems a little to random to me, if that makes sense that is just in my opinion of course. Next they sang “A Little Bit Of Heaven In Every Gospel Song” which has a very nice arrangement. Next was their stunning A Capella version of “I Will Praise Him” Sonya Isaacs really shows off her range on this song, and Ben shows his abilities nicely as well… And their harmony is pretty much unparalleled. The Isaacs were a hit here in Indiana for sure! Up next was Lynda Randle . Have always enjoyed her ability to be able to connect with the audience in a way that few singers can. She sang a song that I believe was called “Walk With Me.” She closed with a beautiful rendition of “He Will Carry Me” Lynda Randle is a very capable vocalist that I really enjoyed hearing.
Finally the moment that we had all been waiting for. The lights went low and the music started playing and then the magnificent sound of five incredible voices started singing… The lights suddenly flashed onto the stage, and there was the Gaither Vocal Band standing their in full glory singing their hearts out on “Alpha And Omega.” The crowd was in a frenzy by this time! Then they really took off on it with their vocals soaring and the lights all came on, and the crowd went crazy. That song will never cease to be a great opener for this group… David Phelps was really on Friday night and it showed from the get go. The Vocal band then went straight into “The Love Of God” which really features the two tenors David and Wes with some nice group harmonies interspersed throughout the song. Wes has really grown as a vocalist these last five years. I have always liked his voice and I think he has only gotten better… He is releasing a solo project sometime this year. I have to say I am really looking forward to that one. “When He Blessed My Soul” was up next which is really starting to become a big hit for them. I still personally like Gold City’s version of the song a little better… Mostly due to Tim Riley… With that said the Vocal Band does a stellar job with it. Mark then starting popping off to Bill which is always quite hilarious… Mark has some new stuff that is pretty funny and he was in rare form on Friday night! They used this comedy to set up their next song “Journey To The Sky” which always takes a little while to get started,with Bill interrupting Mark so much at the beginning and with Kevin Williams joining in, it made for some pretty hilarious stuff… Once the song got going however it was really good… Wes really belts his lines out with power! David Phelps was then featured on his Italian aura “Nessun Dorma” he totally nails this song. His pure vocal power and control never ceases to make my jaw drop… He commands a lyric like NO ONE ELSE. He is in my opinion the best singer in the world bar none.
Bill Introduced Marshall Hall (who filled in Michael English who was greatly missed by this blogger) next and had him sing his classic version of “Jesus Loves Me” I do really enjoy his voice, and I believe he has actually gotten better since his time with Vocal Band. Next was the old classic “Hide Thou Me” they did this as a true quartet with David on Tenor, Wes On Lead,Mark on Baritone, and Gene Mcdonald joined them singing bass, with Bill on the piano. And WOW what a sound these guys put out… That lineup I truly believe would be the best quartet on the road immediately! Gene Mcdonald is a very good bass singer… Next they sang one that I don’t believe they have done since Marsh left. The song was “Give It Away” And they knocked it out of the park. They gave away some tee shirts, by throwing them to the crowd towards the end of the song. That song went over really well. Mark Lowry then stepped out and sang “Mary Did You Know” and the crowd really responded to this one with a huge standing ovation. I have always loved that song and seeing the writer of the song, singing his “Baby” is always a nice thing to get to witness… Marsh, David and Wes joined him for part of it, making some amazing harmonies stacked above Mark. They closed their set with a song that I have always wanted to see done live with David Phelps commandeering the tenor spot. The song was “Let Freedom Ring” and WOW did they lift the roof off with that one! David and Wes really nailed it… David’s verse was as strong as I have ever heard him! This song is so powerful and strong that you can’t help but get excited and blessed just hearing it. It was a great song to close out the Gaither Vocal Bands set in Indy. They announced that they were taking about 15 mins and they would be back to do a Homecoming sing along.
The sing along started with Gene Mcdonald coming out and doing “Up Above My Head,” Wes then came out and took the lead on Jake Hess’s part. Marshall joined in as well… They showed some old video of George Younce along with some of the other legends, singing along with the current singers. Gene Mcdonald really showed his great ability on this one! His range is amazing… I really like his voice. Buddy Greene came out next and did some pretty amazing things with his harmonica. He can play one of those things like I never imagined anyone could! The Martins came back out and sang “So High” they were backed by the other artists. Buddy Greene came back out this time with his guitar and sang a very nice rendition of “Shall We Gather At The River” he was also backed by the other artists. I really enjoyed that one. Charlotte Ritchie came back out and she led the other artists in singing “Tell Me The Story Of Jesus.” She is very good vocalist, and I hope does well in her solo career. Next was “Rock Of Ages” which started out being led by the Martins, but then turned into a video tribute to Vestal Goodman. She was such a icon and was so loved by her fans… Her voice was so powerful. She is truly missed, but I am glad we have the video capability of today. Next was another Vestal hit. “What A Lovely Name” 13 year old Logan Smith came out and blew everyone away with his voice that sounds almost identical to Vestals… That boy can flat out sing… He was joined by Wes Hampton and Mark Lowry making for a very nice trio!
Bill set up the next song by talking about how you never know when you will have a spiritual experience, it might even come listening to a secular veined song… He said one such experience for him was when Woody Wright sang “It’s Good To Be Home Again” at the Red Rocks Homecoming. He had Woody sing it since they were now “Home in Indiana.” I have to say that I really enjoyed the acoustical version of this nice song. Woody along with being a great songwriter is a very capable singer and guitar player. Mark Lowry stepped out next and sang a solo of “Make It Real” He is a better vocalist than some people give him credit for, and he can really connect well with a crowd… Bill talked some after this and said how good the night had been and then had the entire crew sing one of my favorites “I Then Shall Live,” I love that song! They really blended well together and that song may be Bills best solo (he sings a couple of lines solo) They closed the night out with “Because He Lives” and O my did Wesley Hampton and David Phelps really blow me away on that one! That is such a great song and I am glad they are still singing it… It may well be the best song Bill and Gloria have ever written!
After it was all said and done the night that was well worth the money that I spent on the tickets… I have to say that Conseco Fieldhouse is a great venue for a concert, the acoustics are great for any singing event and if NQC ever decided to move to Indy you can’t get much better than Conseco. I got to meet some of the artists but not as many as I would have liked… I have to say I am not a big fan of waiting in extremely long lines just to shake someones hand… I did get to talk to Jim Brady of the Booth Brothers quite a bit! He is a super nice guy that really fits Michael and Ronnie very well. I will definitely go to another homecoming event without a doubt. My next one could be Louisville in December, where I will get to enjoy a Christmas homecoming for the first time! I can’t wait to hear David belt out “O Holy Night” LIVE. I hope you enjoyed this bloggers perspective of a Gaither Homecoming Event.
A few months ago I was on the Gold City website looking for a concert that would be within driving distance for me. I saw that were going to be in Wesport Indiana, on April 29. I went last night and I have to say that I had a wonderful time. I had heard great things about the new lineup but wanted to see it for myself before making any judgments. When I arrived there was a line outside the door. It was first come first serve seating so I got there plenty early. I got a seat about 3 rows back center row, which was really great seating in a church that held about 300. It was packed to the gills. Since there was about an hour before the concert started, I laid some things on my seat to save it, and made my way back to the product table. No one was there so I just looked over their product. The first thing I noticed is that Josh Cobb has a solo album out with him singing with just some light instrumentation. It was released very recently. It has alot of old hymns and gospel classics on it, including his hit that he is singing right now “Satisfied.” But more on that later.I made my way back to my seat and waited for the concert to begin.
At 7:00 a local group of ladies came out and opened for Gold City. They did a good job singing a couple of songs that I did not really recognize, but they had pretty good harmony and a solid stage presence. Finally they introduced Gold City and they kicked things off with a bang by singing “I Cast My Bread Upon The Water” I really like this song, and Tim Riley did a great job on the bass repeats towards the end. I am so glad that Tim chose to hit the road again with these guys! He may be the best bass singer on the road today. Gold City went straight into one of my favorites from the new CD “By Your Grace And By Your Glory” this song really shows the groups ability to harmonize, and the chemistry that they have already is pretty incredible. They took things up a notch with a rousing rendition of “When He Blessed My Soul.” As much as I like the Gaither Vocal Band, Gold City owns this song. Tim Riley really shook the floorboards on this song. And Josh Cobb really shined on his part of this song. Daniel Riley then talked a little and set up their next song, which was “It’s Still The Cross” I have loved this song for a long time. It was my first time getting to see it sung live. And the guys did a awesome job. After this song Daniel introduced the guys. Roy picked on Daniel quite a bit when Daniel said “we all have wives and kids.” Roy said “you might have ‘wives’ but I only have one, good luck with that one Daniel.” It was quite funny to say the least… Roy took it a step further, when Daniel talked about his little girl. Roy was like “Which wife had her?” :I have lost track of how many you have now.” To say the least Roy had the crowd in stitches. That man is one funny guy. After all the laughter died down they sang “I’m Rich” which features lead singer Bruce Taliferro. That guy is without a doubt one of the best lead singers in the business. His voice is very strong and he has great tone and pitch control. He also has great range though maybe not as high as Wilburn however he more than makes up for that with his pure vocal power. Daniel set up their next song “What Children Believe” with a nice story about his daughter. I really like this song it brings back some memories from my own childhood. “After Awhile” was up next and Tim Riley does great on that one. After which Daniel told the story of how his dad came back to the group. And set up the next song “Rainbow Of Love” And man did Tim really dig deep on that one. His voice in my opinion has gotten stronger than it ever was before. Roy Webb played a very uptempo rendition of “Have A Little Talk With Jesus” I have to say that I was very impressed by how smooth he played that song at that tempo. He made it look very easy and well I will say that it is not easy! He is truly blessed with a great ability. After Roy finished Daniel introduced Josh Cobb. Josh sang “Satisfied” and really showed how great of a vocalist he really is. That song allows him to show all sides of his vocal ability. He started smooth and ended it on a high power ending that really blew me, and everyone else away! They went straight from there into “I’m Not Giving Up” The guys always do awesome on that one Bruce espiecally. Tim in was once again pounding out some awesome low notes. Daniel then set up the song “Preach The Word” by telling people even if you cant preach, just get out there and do what you can to spread the gospel. Steve Ladd owns this song, but Josh Cobb is very quickly making it his own. He really nails the high notes on that song without to much trouble. The more he sings it the better he will get at it. After this song was intermission. During intermission I made my way back to the product tables. Where I got to meet Josh and Roy for the first time. Those guys are great and personable and also very funny. I bought Josh’s new CD and said a few more words and made my back to my seat.
After intermission the guys came out with a great rendition of “When I Get Carried Away” I am glad they brought this one back. Bruce really did a great job on this one. They then sang a song that I was not familiar with, but one I really liked. It was “He’ll Do It Every time” That song was on their What A Great Lifestyle CD. I love it that they are bringing back some of their older songs and putting a fresh sound to them. They then sang “I’m Saved I’m Sure I’m ready” I love that song. Daniel said afterward that his brother Doug wrote that song, and when they were going through Doug’s things after he died, they found the hand written copy of that song. So that song will always be special to Daniel. After he told that story he told Roy that some people were wanting him to play a solo on the Grand Piano that the church had. (Roy had been playing on a keyboard) Roy of course obliged by playing a beautiful soft rendition of “Softly And Tenderly.” Tim Riley then set up the next song by talking about all the troubles that we as a christian people have to face each and everyday. He then sang probably what would be considered his signature song “Under Control” the guys really do a nice job with this one… The ending was really solid. To be honest I was choked up throughout this song. I really needed it tonight. The last month has been the roughest of my life since the passing of my mother. They closed the night with “Midnight Cry” that song is one of my all-time favorite Gold City songs. And if you ask me it has never sounded better. Bruce really sings it from his heart. To close the night Bruce preached a little bit and gave an invitation. Bruce seems to be a very sincere genuine man. He led the crowd in singing “There’s Something About That Name” and prayed for everyone that was there. After his prayer it was over. I made my way back to the table and talked to Josh and Roy some more. They said the new Doug Riley Tribute CD should be out soon. I told them it was great meeting them and left. I listened to Josh’s new CD on the way home and was blowed away.
Well after last night I can honestly say that this may very well end up being the best lineup that Gold City has ever put on stage, in my humble opinion. The new guys Josh and Roy really add quite a bit to the group in their own respective positions. Josh brings a dynamic to the tenor position that is not easy to find. His voice is very different from any other tenor Gold has had… The only one close was Steve Ladd. Josh has the range of Steve but with even more power and authority. He can also sing very soft and tender with a tone that is really easy on the ears. Roy on the other hand, brings a great musician and comedian to the stage all wrapped up in one like a package. He can really play the piano with ease and he does not show off, he just plays. What he really provides the group is his onstage humor. I saw Gold City last April and I honestly cannot remember laughing one time throughout the night. And I am not saying that I go to gospel concerts to just get a good laugh. I am saying that it does not hurt at all to have some comedic relief mixed into your program. And Roy helps to brings that and then some. Overall I would say that if this lineup stays together it could be the best Gold City lineup ever. And I grew up listening to Jonathan, Tim, Mark and Jay. That was the best lineup IMO but this lineup really has a good chance to reach that ‘elite’ status once again. I can’t wait to hear the new stuff. Their new CD is being produced by Michael English, and he will really push those guys to their limits it should be some good stuff upcoming. Tim Riley also has a solo CD coming out this year and there will be another CD of gospel classics along with the Doug Riley Tribute. So if Gold City is in your area anytime soon you really need to check them out. They will make you laugh and really impress you and you will come away feeling refreshed and renewed.