Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.

Archive for September, 2007

Legacy Five’s New Website Complete

September 28, 2007 By: Aaron Category: Legacy Five, SG Artists, SG Music

Very nicely done!


Singing News Has NQC Pictures

September 25, 2007 By: Aaron Category: NQC, SG Artists, SG History, SG Music

Check ’em out: Florida Boys Farewell pictures and more…

CD Review: Know So Salvation by Legacy Five

September 20, 2007 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Legacy Five, SG Artists, SG Music

Buy Here

This second installation in my threefold series of reviews is on one of L5’s newest projects, Know So Salvation.
1. Know So Salvation
The album starts off with jazzy horns and the title cut, written by Dianne Wilkinson. Catchy lyrics and a strong tenor by Frank Seamans drive it with grace.

2. O! Say But I’m Glad
Bass singer Glenn Dustin (voted Favorite Bass this year at the SN Fan Awards) takes the lead on this rendition of a classic hymn. While it is a good rendition, it doesn’t really move me as much as others. Guess this is one that is better in a live setting….

3. I’m Glad That I Know Him
A classic quartet-style sounding song. Once again, good tenor from Frank, but probably better live.

4. Go Right Out
Nice, fast song featuring Glenn Dustin on the chorus. So fast in parts that it was hard to understand though….

5. There Is Hope
The most powerful song on the project. Man, if only this wasn’t a self-produced project… it’d make a great radio hit. If I didn’t know better, I’d say it was originally intended for Roger Bennett, but lead singer Scott Fowler does a great job singing this song that says “As long as Jesus reigns, there is hope!”

6. I Go To The Rock
The guys take this classic and do it well. This is one of my favorite songs on the project!

7. Why
I saw them do this one at NQC, and I must say it’s as good on here as it is there. I believe new piano player Tim Parton adds a fifth vocal in this song near the end. Catchy melody.

8. Heaven’s Jubilee
Another classic that is brought to the table. Very nice rendition.

9. I’m So Glad I Found Jesus
It always amazes me, whether on a self-produced or major release, how the producer always finds songs for baritone Scott Howard that are right up his ally, 100% of the time. Scott takes the lead on this slow song that sounds rather similar to Mercy Extended.

10. Where No One Stands Alone
The last “regular” song on the project that Glenn Dustin delivers with smooth low singin’. I bet this one goes over well live as well.

11.(bonus track) I Stand Redeemed
And finally, the long awaited “redone” version of Legacy Five’s very first hit. Very well done version, but not quite as powerful as the original. They lowered the key slightly, and the orchestration fits well too.

I may wait till Christmastime to review A Little Christmas, which is the latest major release. Be looking either in December or sometime soon.

NQC Showcase Reviews

September 19, 2007 By: Aaron Category: Concert Reviews, NQC, SG Artists, SG Music

While you all wait for me to get around to reviewing the other CDs I got at NQC, I’ll comment on the two showcases I went to.

1. Parade Of Pianos (or Pianorama, whichever you prefer)

I had mixed emotions about this, having only seen it on video when the late Roger Bennett hosted it, and I didn’t know how good it would be without his guidance. All those fears were laid to rest as Gerald Wolfe was introduced as MC. His work with Greater Vision is as good as Bennett’s (and now Scott Fowler’s) work with Legacy Five is. He had some “mighty big shoes to fill” as he put it, and he filled them in for the first half of the showcase, after which it became Dino’s show.
This year’s Pianorama was, in essence, a tribute to Bennett. Here’s the rundown of all that took place:
1. Jeff Stice
When Gerald Wolfe introduced him, he said he was one of Roger’s best friends, and the emotions were very real in this player’s performance. He was fighting tears before even setting down at the piano, and when he launched into “Jesus Saves” (A Bennett song from his Cathedral days), it was all he could do to keep from totally breaking down. I believe everyone in the audience was silently praying and cheering him on, and only once near the end did he falter. He finished the song, took a bow, and collapsed. Debbie Bennett (Roger’s widow) came up to comfort him, and it made for a very bittersweet moment.
2. Joshua Pope
All I can say is “Wow.” I’ve never heard a piano player that young with so much talent (except for a 12-year old boy at my church that can tear the keys off the piano!). He did a rendition of “New Born Feeling” and it was well recieved. No tracks, no background anything, just good ol’ piano music. He’s also supposed to be piano player in the new Florida Boys (my views on which is another story).
3. Channing Eleton
Nice to see this guy playing again. He did a very complicated arrangement of a song (the name escapes me) and he got a standing ovation.
4. Darrell Stewart
The final time anybody saw him play the piano, since he didn’t play at the Florida Boys “Farewell”. He played “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” and then took a seat in the back.
5. Stewart Vernado
This guy’s performance surprised me most, because he almost never performs with a soundtrack, but he did this time.
6. Tim Parton
He’s good. That’s all I can say. He’s good, and he doesn’t have to showboat to prove it! Can’t wait to see his future with L5 play out.
7. Roy Webb
Another guy that I’m glad to see again. He has a distinctly “jazz” style that involves him using the piano as a drum in some parts. He even had Gerald Wolfe “boogeying” in some parts, and he fired up the crowd as well.
8. Stan Whitmire
He can do it all, even perform an impromptu Christmas song upon request. He’s a very outstanding performer, and like Tim Parton, he doesn’t have to showboat.
9. Josh Singletary
Young talent at its finest. He’s gonna be a legend someday, mark my words. Didn’t get the song title though…
10. Kim Collingsworth
Another “Wow”. She was so good, they asked her to play during the evening concert block. She’s has a way of getting into the music like no one else does. And all without a soundtrack most of the time.

The second half of the showcase was all about Dino, and it would take too long to comment on it. A video of Roger singing “It Is Well” with Dino playing closed it out.

2. Artist’s Showcase
I only stayed for three groups on this showcase, and I liked ’em all.

1. Gann Brothers
I’d never heard of this trio before, and they were pretty good. I’d like to see them work their way to NQC mainstage some time.

2. Crystal River
Honestly, they were better as a quartet. They should have hired another bass after Jeremy Lile left for BFA, but to each his own. Their tenor was very good and he performed a powerful ballad to close their set out (didn’t get the name.)

3. Mercy’s Mark
These guys were the whole reason I came to the showcase. Having heard their self-titled and Something’s Happening, I was excited to hear how they’d sound. A few technical difficulties postponed the set, giving Garry Jones time to introduce the guys, including a lead singer who apparently started filling in for them the week of NQC. They performed “When It All Starts Happening”, which is their current radio single that blew me away live. Then the lead singer delivered an awesome rendition of “I Bowed On My Knees And Cried Holy”, with the guys coming in for a big finish.

Thanks for some great singing and playing to all that were mentioned!

Look for my Legacy Five Know So Salvation review probably tomorrow.

CD Review: Real Faith by Brian Free & Assurance

September 18, 2007 By: Aaron Category: Brian Free And Assurance, CD Reviews, SG Artists, SG Music

Buy Here

This new project is the follow-up to the group’s highly-acclaimed It’s So God project, and also the debut project of bass Jeremy Lile, formerly of Crystal River. I was anxious to hear it for both of those reasons.

While this project is no It’s So God, it’s definitely a worthy successor, defining the group’s Progressive direction more so than the project before it.

1. I Keep Looking Up– The album starts off with a bang with this track. Ricky Free’s percussion skills (arguably the best in SG right now) shine through and really help drive the song. To me, it sounds like the first track of It’s So God, but with each singer being featured. This song would be a great radio single.

2. I Believe God– Bill Shivers and Brian Free get the solos on this ballad, which would also do well on radio. It’s one of the most powerful songs on the project and has a Contemporary feel to it.

3. The Biggest Step– This song features baritone Derrick Selph, and has a modern country flavor. Clever wording on the chorus and a great message drive the point home on this track, telling the story of the Prodigal Son looking back on his decisions and deciding to go home.

4. For Now Gethsemane– Another ballad (which seems to be BFA’s forte, besides black-ish gospel). I got to see them do this one live, and it’s every bit as good on the CD.

5. Save Me A Seat– This track is the only one on the album to feature Jeremy Lile, and something tells me that this song was originally intended for bass Keith Plott before he left the group for a solo career. Not to say it’s not a good song (it’s another slow song), but it really doesn’t display Lile’s commanding bass voice quite as well as Crystal River songs like Mercy River do. However, Liles delivers it very well and this is another song to deliver to radio.

6. Praying Man– You don’t even need to have heard of BFA and you’ve probably heard this song already. This is the first radio single off this project, and I must say it’s decent. Nothing like, say, If It Takes A Valley, but clever wordplay and tight harmony are the theme of this track. This is also the song where Free hits his highest note of the project.

7. We Will Sing– Brian Free is featured on this, you guessed it, slow song. It’s a good song, sounds similar to something I’d hear from Phillip’s Craig & Dean, with a bass.

8. You’ve Got To Pray– Another Brian Free feature that reminds me of It’s Good And It’s God. This song sounds like the black gospel with a kick that BFA is famous for.

9. Real Faith- This title track is yet another slow song, and also makes for a good radio single. Brian’s tenor sticks out a little much on this song, though….

10. What Will You Choose– And the album closes with this slow one that has a great message and vocals.

To all those who wondered if Lile would improve BFA’s sound, this album answers with a “yes.” Lile is definitely more powerful and robust than former bass Keith Plott, whose solo career is much better musically. Not a knock against Plott, just my opinion.

A good project, but it’s clearly intended for the Free-Shivers-Selph-Plott line-up and most of the songs are slow ones. The next one will definitely be better.

CD Review: The Imperials-Back To The Roots

September 11, 2007 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, SG Artists, SG Music, The Imperials

I must admit, I was a little skeptical at first, seeing how their self-titled release was more CCM/Christian Rock oriented, with only two songs being SG. I thought the arrangements on this one would be rockish. But this album blew me away. The arrangements are awesome and the guys bring back the SG of The Imperials’ name in fine fashion. There’s only one song on here that has a rockish arrangement, but even that one sounds awesome! (Water Grave)

Originally intended as a “table project”, this quickly turned into one of the most anticipated releases of the year, and with good reason; it’s all Imperials songs, from the early days to the Russ Taff era.

Go check out the mp3 feature on sogospelnews.com and be amazed.

See you all at NQC!

Stay Tuned

September 10, 2007 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Music, The Imperials

Just got my hands on The Imperials’ Back To The Roots project. I’ll be reviewing it in a day or so, and it’ll be the last hurrah you hear from me before my NQC trip.

The L5 Redesigned Site…

September 08, 2007 By: Aaron Category: Legacy Five, SG Artists, SG Music

…is looking very nice! It ain’t done yet; they still have to add a few things and edit some things, but go check it out. Can’t wait to see all the features!



September 08, 2007 By: Aaron Category: NQC, SG Music

Since news is once again hard to come by, I figured I’d better post something…

Only 2 days till NQC starts. I’ll be there Thurs-Sat, so y’all holler if ya see me!

Josh Garner Going Solo?

September 05, 2007 By: Aaron Category: Josh Garner, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Florida Boys

According to SingingNews.com:

Josh Garner Releases First Solo Recording

LIMESTONE, TN (Press Release) – Josh Garner, long time lead vocalist for the Florida Boys Quartet, is proud to announce the arrival of his first solo recording. “Sunday Meetin’ Time” is a collection of some of Josh’s favorite hymns of the church and Gospel standards. “When the Florida Boys retired, I had a lot of free time on my hands and thought I’d use it to finally record a few of my all-time favorite Gospel songs”, Garner says. “I wanted to sing these songs just the way I remembered hearing them on Sunday morning at church. My buddies Stewart Varnado and Scoot Shelnut provided me just the right musical backup to give the recording a truly nostalgic sound.” Pre-release copies of “Sunday Meetin’ Time” will be available at the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, KY.

To order a copy of “Sunday Meetin’ Time” or schedule a personal appearance, Josh can be reached at: Josh Garner 743 Snapp Bridge Rd. Limestone, TN 37681 (850) 529-0790 fbjoshg@aol.com

Aw man… looks like he ain’t gonna be joining any quartets…