Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.
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Aaron McCune sings with the Oak Ridge Boys

September 08, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Oak Ridge Boys, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

It’s always cool to see a singer from our genre in the national spotlight, and that happened again this past weekend. Richard Sterban, longtime bass singer for the Oak Ridge Boys, took the weekend off as his family mourns the passing of his mother. The group had the choice to go as a trio or call on a bass singer, so they tapped Palmetto State Quartet/Gold City alum Aaron McCune. Here he is singing one of my favorite Oak Ridge Boys hits:

Many have asked how the group even knew about McCune. Here’s a probable answer:

CD Review: Adoration Quartet – What A Change

September 01, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Adoration Quartet, CD Reviews, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 4 starswhatachangecd

Producer: Wesley Pritchard
Label: 
Independent Release
Website: www.adorationquartet.com

Song titles: Drink From Him; His Tomb Is Empty Now; Just One Hope; I Enter In; Coming Out of the Tomb; Jesus Really Cares; What Ever You Need; I’ve Been Revived; Stepping Out; Peace Through The Blood

Adoration Quartet is a “new yet not new” group that has just re-emerged on the Southern Gospel scene. The group was around a few years ago with current bass Chris Serlick, but their claim to attention seemed to stem from the fact that the group had two alumni from one of the Anchormen’s best eras: tenor Brian Routh and baritone Terry Carter. The group disbanded a few years ago, but recently with Serlick in the bass slot, Declaration’s former tenor Joshua Horrell and pianist Dustin Leming in the tenor and baritone positons, respectively, and Anchormen alum Corey Wilson singing the lead. The quartet wasted no time in putting out new music, which is important for any group looking to get a running start.

While listening to this project, my mind kept recalling the days when Brian Routh or Steve Ladd and Jeff Chapman were part of the Anchormen. The voices and tracks possess the same dynamics found with that era of the group: soaring tenor, rumbling bass, solid voices in the middle, uptempo songs that made good use of those vocals, and powerful slower songs as well. Normally, such a strong comparison would not necessarily be a good thing, especially when trying to make a unique name for yourself with a first release, but since time has seen a shift from that style (the recent Anchormen releases, while great, have progressed from that), there is a niche to be filled, and this group does it well. This is evident on the first radio single,”Coming Out of the Tomb (Stepping Into The Light),” which does a fine job of defining the group’s sound and should do well on radio. “Peace Through The Blood” covers the ballad part of the equation with a strong performance from tenor Horrell. Other highlights include “I Enter In” (which was first recorded with the original iteration of Adoration) and “His Tomb Is Empty Now.” You can hear clips of all of these and more on the group’s website.

As introductory releases ago, Adoration has put a lot of work into making this a quality project, and it shows. The voices fit together well already (though it probably helps that three of the four sang together previously). Horrell shows that he has the potential to be of the genre’s best upcoming tenors. Corey Wilson hasn’t lost a thing in the lead department since he left the road. Serlick lends a solid, smooth low part, and Dustin Leming has a solid, blending baritone voice. Sure, I would have liked to hear brass and strings that weren’t “canned,” but that’s a minor nitpick since they don’t distract much from the rest of the music, and that problem can be remedied with the right budget. Given the right touring schedule and promotion, I look for Adoration Quartet to be around for a good while, as this introduction is a solid representation of what they can do. What A Change receives 4 stars.

Matt Felts to Lesters, Tony Jarman to Depart the Down East Boys

August 26, 2014 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Down East Boys, The Lesters

There were a couple of group changes announced today, the first being the completion of Matt Felts’ transition from the Dixie Melody Boys:

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT……….THE LESTERS WISH TO ANNOUNCE THAT “MATT FELTS” WILL BE JOINING OUR MUSIC MINISTRY! 


Matt and his family reside just outside of Nashville, TN, but he is originally from St. Louis, MO. He was actually raised not too far from where we live in South City St. Louis. His wife’s name is Jennifer, and they are Blessed with a beautiful daughter whose name is Abbey and is 5~years old. Matt is a Graduate of Missouri University in Columbia, MO, with a degree in marketing, and he’ll be the first to tell you his desire is to “Serve the Lord” through singing gospel music and will use everything he has learned to get the message of Jesus Christ out to the world! He has traveled with several different gospel groups in his young life, including just finishing a nearly 5 year stay with the legendary Ed O’Neal & The Dixie Melody Boys. We are grateful to the Lord for sending Matt our way and we’re looking forward to what God has in store for this ministry as we continue our journey for Him. Matt will join us beginning the week of September 8th, so be watching our Tour Schedule and come join The Lesters in concert; get to know Matt, and welcome him to the family.

Message from Matt:

“Growing up in St.Louis, our home was filled with the sounds of great Gospel groups like the Cathedrals and the Happy Goodmans but one group stood out to us above the rest , the Lesters. One of the first songs I ever sang in my local church was “He didn’t throw the clay away”. I never dreamed I would have the honor to sing that song with them on stage. I’m thrilled to be apart of such a rich legacy of ministry and great music. Brian, Jon and all of the Lester family have already made my family feel so welcome. Joining the Lesters is truly like coming home. I look forward to getting to know all of their friends and fans very soon.”

Here’s a video announcement from Matt:

 

The second announcement comes from the Down East Boys, as their tenor for the last several years is also leaving:

Reidsville, NC – Ricky Carden of The Down East Boys has announced that tenor vocalist, Tony Jarman, will be leaving The Down East Boys to pursue other ministry opportunities. Tony has been with the Down East Boys since January 2011. Prior to joining The Down East Boys, Tony sang with Poet Voices, The Old Gospel Hour Quartet, and Legacy Five.

“Tony has been a great asset to The Down East Boys and we will surely miss his presence on stage”, comments Carden. “Daryl, Joe, and I wish Tony nothing but the absolute best in his future endeavors.”

The Down East Boys are currently accepting demos to fill the tenor position. Information on how to submit a demo can be found on the Singing News Jobs Board.

In tribute, here’s a song that became a Tony Jarman signature during his time with the quartet:

Jim Brady To Depart The Booth Brothers

August 24, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Booth Brothers, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

It’s not often that you see a “video press release,” but the Booth Brothers announced today that after 12 years, Jim Brady is leaving the group to pursue a new ministry opportunity along with his wife, Melissa. Jim will remain with the group through the end of the year and Jubilee tour. Be sure to watch the whole video:

Matt Felts Steps Down From Dixie Melody Boys

August 22, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Dixie Melody Boys, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

In both a Facebook status and press release today, tenor Matt Felts announced his decision to step away from the tenor position at the “Ed O’Neal University” after four years:

In a statement today, Matt Felts, tenor for the Dixie Melody Boys, has announced that he will be leaving the group at the end of August.

“I want to thank the friends and fans of the group for the way they have embraced me. It has been a huge honor to sing with Ed O’Neal and the Dixie Melody Boys for over four years. Being a member of the Ed O’Neal University has been a blessing to not just me, but my family. Ed has taught me so much and gave me such an incredible opportunity. Saying ‘thank you’ will never be enough to repay Ed. The last four years have been a great season for the group, but I am very blessed to be a part of the current lineup. I think it’s been a special lineup for the group. Thanks to Aaron Dishman and Josh Garner for the last year, as well as Rayburn Lane for keeping me safe on the roads. Some may say I am graduating, but I’ve learned that you never truly leave the Dixie Melody Boys. It’s a family that you’re always a part of. I will be announcing future plans soon, but for now, I just wanted to thank Ed for an incredible journey.”

Matt joined the Dixie Melody Boys in 2010 and has been a mainstay for the group, having been a part of many awards, including the 2012 and 2013 Favorite Quartet, and was named the 2013 Favorite Tenor in the Southern Gospel Fan Awards.

There have been very few groups that have seen a turnaround in quality and direction like the Dixie Melody Boys have in the past few years, and that is due in large part to what Felts brought to the table. Yes, he sang the tenor part and sang it well, but his marketing background paid dividends in the quality of the group’s presence in the genre and the presentation of their music. I saw them in concert a couple of weeks ago, and that opinion was confirmed. Losing him is a huge blow, but the work that he has put in to building up the group, combined with the other singers that are present, will make the transition to a new lineup smoother. I look forward to seeing what happens next for both parties.

In tribute to Matt’s time with the group, here’s one of the songs I will always associate with him and his tenure with the group:

Pat Barker Launches Website

July 30, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Pat Barker, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

For the past couple of days, the online community has been buzzing about a “big announcement” that was promised by Pat Barker. Today, that announcement hit:

(Gadsden, AL) July 30, 2014 – Pat Barker announces the launch of his new online community – You Tell Me. Through the “You Tell Me” campaign introduced on his site, individuals will have the opportunity to share how BIG God has been in their life and read how He has shown up in others. There will be artist video testimonials and prayer requests where you can respond in real time to requests made from all over the world.

Most of you were introduced to Pat Barker eight years ago when he joined the legendary Dixie Echoes. Fans from all over discovered his love for gospel music to be contagious. Fans not only loved his ability take a solo and sing it like no other bass singer, but his spirit and personality off the stage. With Pat’s move to the Mark Trammell Quartet, thousands more were introduced to his talent in some of the largest venues across the country including his unforgettable appearance with the Cathedral Family Reunion. When Pat left the road, many wondered if they would ever have the opportunity to see him again involved with the music he loves so much. Do we ever have good news for you. If you thought Pat would start his own group or launch a solo career, you weren’t thinking BIG enough. Today you can join a community of believers from all over the world through Pat’s brand new site http://HOWBIGISGOD2U.COM!

As a member of the community you will also have access to where Pat will be ministering and his latest products. July 30 is the day where You Tell Me and the rest of the world how BIG God is! You can also join Pat live Sunday August 3rd from 3 – 4 o’clock p.m. Central time to ask anything you like. Ask about the new site or find out what’s going on with Pat in the near future. DON’T MISS IT!! More information on Pat Barker and the You Tell Me campaign can be found online at: http://howbigisgod2u.com or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HBIGYouTellMe

This is certainly a unique idea that goes beyond the normal solo career announcement. I look forward to seeing how it progresses as time goes on. Be sure to check it out!

Mark Trammell Quartet Hires Randy Byrd

July 16, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Mark Trammell Quartet, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

In a move that is likely not a surprise to anyone who has been observing the group’s concert appearances since Pat Barker’s departure, the Mark Trammell Quartet announced today that they have selected Randy Byrd as their new bass singer. From the group’s blog:

After three months and 36 candidates for the position, Mark Trammell has announced today that Randy Byrd will be the new bass vocalist for the Mark Trammell Quartet.   Mark shares, “We are thrilled with the overwhelming inquiry about this position.  And after much prayer and consideration, the group collectively feels that Randy is the man for this season of our ministry.”

Many of you will remember Randy from his recent years with the prestigious Blackwood Brothers Quartet. He also logged some miles with our friends the Mike Lefevre Quartet and the Songfellows.  Randy relates the following upon receiving confirmation from Mark.

“At 12 years of age, I heard The Cathedrals sing There is a Fountain and I was hooked!! I told my mother that night after hearing George Younce, ‘When I grow up, I want to be a bass singer.’  God has blessed me and allowed me to sing with some of the best in the business.  Three years ago my dream started to fall apart.  Between my flesh and Satan’s attacks it seemed my life was over. I am thankful today that in spite of my faults and failures, God never took His hand off of me.  Everything that Satan robbed from me, God has restored!  I am beyond excited to join The Mark Trammell Quartet! I am living proof that God IS faithful!!  Pat Barker is a dear friend.  I am not and cannot be Pat Barker.  But I can work at being the best version of me that God can use and I gladly accept that challenge.”

Please join us in welcoming this wonderful man to the Mark Trammell Quartet!!!

This is a great pick for the quartet’s next chapter. Randy seems to fit them like a glove both on and off the stage, and there is no doubt that the quality of the music will be maintained with this hire. Here’s a clip from Facebook:

Post by ThOm GilmOre.

Youtube Spotlight: Soul’d Out Quartet (July 4, 2014)

July 12, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Concert Reviews, SG Artists, SG Music, Soul'd Out Quartet, Youtube

The 4th of July is an important American event, and one of the many ways that people celebrated in Bedford, VA, was by having a cookout and concert with Soul’d Out Quartet. The group had been to Mount Olivet Southern Baptist Church a few times before, and they drew a large crowd this time around. The evening started with a cookout dinner served at the church, and then everyone moved to the sanctuary for the concert. Of course, I got plenty of video.

One thing I appreciate about this group is that they tend to keep their set list fresh. They had the added benefit this time of having their brand new project, Great Life, available, so they had some new material to work into the concert, as well as selections from their recent Soulace 3 table project.

Read the rest of this entry →

Guest Post at Musicscribe

July 08, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Blogging Community, SG Artists, SG Music, The Skyline Boys

I recently got the opportunity to travel along for a weekend with the Skyline Boys, and I was asked to do a guest post about the trip on Musicscribe. Check it out!

Triumphant Quartet Signs With StowTown Records

June 30, 2014 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, Triumphant Quartet

StowTown Records has done it again by grabbing one of the biggest names in Southern Gospel music. From the Singing News:

June 30, 2014 (Nashville, TN) - StowTown Records is proud to announce the signing of GRAMMY-nominated and multi-award winning gospel quartet, Triumphant.

The GMA/Dove-nominated group is set for its premier release with StowTown in March 2015. Triumphant will once again partner with producer and StowTown co-founder Wayne Haun on the project.

“I cannot wait to get back in the studio with these guys. They are so talented, and working with them is always a pleasure,” said Haun. “They are genuine and downright fun. We make a great team.”

The longstanding fan-favorite quartet, based in Pigeon Forge, TN, consists of lead vocalist Clayton Inman, his son and baritone Scotty Inman, bass Eric Bennett, and tenor David Sutton.

“Triumphant has had the opportunity of working with Wayne Haun and Landon Beene over the past several years. We have been friends with (StowTown co-founder) Ernie Haase throughout his career,” added Sutton.”We are so excited to join the incredible team that God has put together at StowTown Records. We look forward to being able to create wonderful music together that will touch audiences all across the country. We can’t wait to see what God has in store.”

Triumphant was most recently with The Mansion Entertainment. Purely from an observational standpoint, it seemed that since signing with that label, all projects except the first one (Love Came Calling, one of their best to date) had been independent releases. Many probably did not even notice, as these independent releases were of the same level of quality as a “mainline release,” and even garnered some radio attention. StowTown seems to keep pretty busy, so I’m sure we’ll be seeing more label releases from the group.

Having Wayne Haun on hand to produce and arrange material may also help to ease the transition for the group following the departure of Jeff Stice, although I imagine that since he is doing solo dates and studio work now, he will still have at least a part in that role.