Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.
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Archive for March, 2009

New Piano Player For The Kingsmen?

March 30, 2009 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG History, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Kingsmen

Hat tip goes to Brandon Coomer for this one.

According to this post at the Singing News Forums, the 17-year old pianist that has been traveling with The Kingsmen for several months, Cody McVey, was introduced as the official Kingsmen pianist. With him comes a bit of Kingsmen history; Cody was the final student of the late Anthony Burger.

What does this mean for the return of The Kingsmen band? Well, they’re one step closer. All that’s left to do is find a bass guitarist, and if Brandon Reese steps behind the drumset once again, it will complete the reconstruction of the Mighty Kingsmen band!

Keep an eye on this one; I’ll post a press release as soon as (and if) it becomes available.

Update: Susan Unthank commented on the Coomer Cove blog that she talked with Brandon Reese and nothing is official yet. Stay tuned.

Joint Album Review: Liberty Quartet – Amazed

March 20, 2009 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Joint Reviews, Liberty Quartet, SG Artists, SG Music

Contributors:

Daniel J. Mount (www.SouthernGospelBlog.com)
Wes Burke (Burke’s Brainwork)
Aaron Swain (Swain’s Musings)

1. Amazed at the Change
Aaron: The album with a slightly slow, country-style tune. Sounds like something out of The Kingdom Heirs’ songbook. Nice way to open up the project.

2. Keep Me
Wes: This is a nice midtempo song with a slightly progressive edge to it. The harmonies are nice and smooth, and they do a really good job of using some unison lines and verses to keep the song musically interesting. This is a really nice cut.

Aaron: This song utilizes some great progressive harmonies to drive it. The group would do well to release this to radio soon.

3. Broken But Blessed
Daniel: This song, featuring tenor Keith Waggoner, is musically subdued but lyrically powerful. It was co-written by Twila LeBar and Sue C. Smith, two of the best but least recognized songwriters in Southern Gospel. (LeBar is co-writer of songs like “Orphans of God” and “The Great I Am Still Is”; Sue C. Smith has co-written songs like “But For the Blood,” “He Forgets,” “Forgave Me Saved Me Raised Me,” and “Realms of Glory Bright.”)

Wes: Keith does a great job on this song. He’s not the highest tenor you are going to hear, but he has a very pleasing voice and does a great job interpreting this song. There’s nothing really flashy here, as Daniel alluded to, but just some solid singing on a nice tune.

Daniel: Keith actually does have a few high notes in him. But he’s said in the past (here) that one thing the group stresses is that none of the vocalists push the limits of their range—that they only record and stage what they can consistently produce.

Aaron: That’s an interesting tidbit, Daniel. That shows me that these guys care about putting out quality music and preserving their voices.
The project’s first truly slow song is a good song. Just straight-forward singing, no vocal showboating.

4. Just Stand
Wes: Midtempo number featuring bass singer Royce Mitchell. This sounds a lot like something you’d hear from the Kingdom Heirs. Actually, there are several songs on this disc that sound a lot like KH tunes. Since the KH are one of the most solid quartets around, that’s a good thing. This is a very enjoyable tune.

Daniel: Royce has had professional voice training and often utilizes an operatic voice. On this song, he drops the vibrato. I’d agree with Wes’s observation that this gives the song a Kingdom Heirs feel.

Aaron: Like the other guys have said, this does sound like a KH song, but I also find that it recalls the song “God’s Still Good” from Gold City’s Revival project. Mitchell displays a nice lower range here.

5. Into the Water
Daniel: This uptempo song is a nice change of pace from a string of slower ballads. If Liberty singles an uptempo song, this is probably the most radio-friendly uptempo song on the CD.

Wes: There is some nice smooth harmony on this song. These guys know how to sing and how to blend.

6. Call It What It Is
Daniel: This song has a distinctive enough lyric and melody to be unique—but at the same time, it is unmistakably a Southern Gospel big ballad. This song should stand out and do well if singled. I received the CD about a week ago and (rare for me) the song is already on my top 50 most played list on iTunes (out of 11,000+ songs).

Aaron: Awesome song. Lead singer Dan Gilbert has a sound to his voice that sounds like Bryan Hutson, and it works very well for this track. Great choice for a single.

Daniel: Interesting comparision. I hadn’t thought of comparing Gilbert to Hutson—I’d been thinking along the lines of a comparison to Phil Cross or even Arthur Rice.

Wes: I actually don’t hear any of the 3 comparisons. I think Gilbert has a sound all his own. That doesn’t detract from the fact that this is one of the strongest songs on the disc. Nice smooth harmonies on this number. I really like this song.

7. Music at Midnight
Wes: Nice uptempo number. This song sounds like the group was going after the type of sound that was found on Gold City’s “If God Be For Us” with strings and brass behind the more traditional SG instrumentation, including some nice banjo/guitar interplay on the instrumental break. This song doesn’t quite measure up to Gold City’s gem, but it is still very enjoyable, and kudos on the arrangement.

8. He’s Been There Too
Daniel: Liberty Quartet bass singer Royce Mitchell is featured on this song. It’s somewhat unusual to give a bass singer a solo on a big ballad, but Mitchell is equally adept at singing straight-ahead low bass and almost operatic higher bass, and he showcases his operatic bass/baritone range to great effect here.

Aaron: As a first-time listener of Liberty Quartet, one would be hard-pressed to believe that the featured singer here is the same guy that was rocking the low end of the spectrum a couple of tracks back. But it is indeed Royce Mitchell, and like Daniel said, his bass/baritone range sounds great here.

Wes: This is a nice ballad, and Mitchell really shows some nice range.

9. Why Wouldn’t I
Aaron: Lead singer Dan Gilbert is a two-fold singer; on slower songs, he sounds like Bryan Hutson. But give him a hard-driving faster song like this and you have a young Arthur Rice. This is a good, country-style track.

Daniel: I didn’t notice earlier that you were about to get to the same comparison I had in mind!

Wes: This is a nice, solid uptempo track. Nothing flashy, but just good solid singing.

10. He Will Quiet You

Wes: This is a nice, soft, tender ballad. I like the echo harmonies on the first part of the chorus up against the unison echoes on the last part of the chorus. The round like harmonies on the bridge are very nice as well, and something to set this song apart.

11. That’s What Love Does
Daniel: This song was written by baritone/pianist Doran Ritchey. The group pulls off some tight jazz harmonies with confidence.

Wes: I’m a sucker for jazz influenced songs, and these guys pull it off very well. They have a really smooth sound, and this is one of my favorites. The soft swing beat gets your foot tapping and your head bobbing.

Summaries:
Daniel: This is one of the strongest independently released projects I’ve heard this year. A label would really do well to pick this group up as soon as they can.

Aaron: I can’t say much more than Daniel has. It’s about time that this group gets the national recognition they deserve and get picked up by a major label. Of course, with Crossroads signing groups like nobody’s business these days, it may not be long!

Wes: These guys are one of the best kept secrets in Southern Gospel music. These guys are solid at every position in the group and have a good concept of their strengths as vocalists. They play to their respective strengths and don’t try to be something they are not. They’ve done a good job of including a variety of styles on this project as well. Somebody needs to pick these guys up on a major label, and soon!

RATINGS:

Daniel: Average song rating – 4.0. Overall rating: 4.5.
Aaron: Average song rating – 4 stars. Overall rating: 4.5 stars.
Wes: Average song rating – 4 stars. Overall rating: 4.5 stars

Top Tens For The SN Fan Awards Announced

March 18, 2009 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, Singing News Fan Awards

The Singing News announced who the top ten artists are in each voting category today. It’s always fun to look at the list and guess at who will win each award at the next NQC. My predictions for the winner are as follows:

Favorite Artist of the Year
Booth Brothers – They swept the Fan Awards last year, they continue to be successful, and there’s no reason why not!
Brian Free & Assurance
Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
Gooch, Karen Peck
Inspirations
Legacy Five
Parker, Ivan
Perrys
Triumphant Qt
Wolfe, Gerald

Male Quartet
Brian Free & Assurance
Dove Brothers
Down East Boys
Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
Gold City
Inspirations
Kingdom Heirs
Kingsmen – This group released one of the best albums of the year and have done a great job of revamping their sound without doing so too drastically. These guys have it coming.
Legacy Five
Triumphant Qt

Mixed Group
Beene Family
Browns
Chuck Wagon Gang
Collingsworth Family
Diplomats
Hoppers
Isaacs
Lesters
McKameys
Perrys

Trio
Booth Brothers
Greater Vision – After bidding goodbye to their tenor of 13 years, Jason Waldroup, they picked right up and got a fantastic young tenor, Jacob Kitson. They haven’t missed a beat and continue to be one of the classiest trios in the business.
Greenes
HisSong
Jeff & Sheri Easter
Karen Peck & New River
Mark Trammell Trio
Pfeifers
Talley Trio
Whisnants

Soloist
Bishop, Mark – His Fields Of Love project was very well done and was a very interesting concept.
Combs, Michael
Crabb, Jason
Ford, Larry
King, Sharron Kay
Mitchel Jon
Parker, Ivan
Parsons, Squire
Paschal, Janet
Ritchie, Charlotte

Male Singer
Bishop, Mark Soloist
Booth, Michael Booth Brothers
Booth, Ronnie Booth Brothers
Brady, Jim Booth Brothers
Campbell, Melton Inspirations
Fowler, Scott Legacy Five
Free, Brian Brian Free & Assurance
Parker, Ivan Soloist
Rice, Arthur Kingdom Heirs
Wolfe, Gerald Greater Vision

Female Singer
Bean, Peg McKamey McKameys
Easter, Sheri Jeff & Sheri Easter
Gooch, Karen Peck Karen Peck & New River
Greene, TaRanda Greenes
Hopper, Kim Hoppers
Paschal, Janet Soloist
Stuffle, Libbi Perrys
Talley, Debra Talley Trio
Talley, Lauren Talley Trio
Whisnant, Susan Whisnants

Horizon Individual
Alvey, Brian Tribute Qt
Barker, Pat Dixie Echoes
Crist, Breana Crist Family
Crist, Jackie Crist Family
Easter, Morgan Jeff & Sheri Easter
Hitchcock, Toby Austins Bridge
Kitson, Jacob Greater Vision – This was honestly a hard pick for me. It makes sense for Kitson to get it this year because of his seamless transition into Greater Vision after Waldroup’s departure, but be looking for Bruce Taliaferro to take this award in 2010.
Mitchel Jon Soloist
Stringfield, Andy Kingdom Heirs
Taliaferro, Bruce Gold City

Horizon Group
Akins
Austins Bridge
Ball Brothers
Calvary’s Voice
Cross 4 Crowns
Crabb Revival
Crist Family
New Desire
Soul’d Out Qt – Another hard choice. Soul’d Out has had it coming a long time, and both they and Cross 4 Crowns put out outstanding projects this year. Look for the latter to get it next time around if they can stablize their lineup.
Voices Won

Young Artist
Brown, Michaela Browns
Collingsworth, Brooklyn Collingsworth Family
Easter, Morgan Jeff & Sheri Easter
Elliott, Bryan Perrys
Fortner, Eli McKameys
Habedank, Joseph Perrys
Kitson, Jacob Greater Vision
Rivers, Justin Austins Bridge
Smith, Zach Crabb Revival
Thompson, Amber Nelons

Tenor
Booth, Michael Booth Brothers
Free, Brian Brian Free & Assurance
Haase, Ernie Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
Hodges, Billy Kingdom Heirs
Kitson, Jacob Greater Vision
Martin, Jerry Dove Brothers
Phillips, Eric Mark Trammell Trio
Seamans, Frank Legacy Five
Sutton, David Triumphant Qt
Watkins, Archie Inspirations – An award such as this would be a great parting gift to the long-time Inspirations tenor. A legend in his own right.

Lead
Booth, Ronnie Booth Brothers
Carden, Ricky Down East Boys
Dove, McCray Dove Brothers
Fowler, Scott Legacy Five
Habedank, Joseph Perrys
Inman, Clayton Triumphant Qt
Rice, Arthur Kingdom Heirs
Seaton, Ryan Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
Shivers, Bill Brian Free & Assurance
Wolfe, Gerald Greater Vision

Baritone
Brady, Jim Booth Brothers
Campbell, Melton Inspirations
Dove, Eric Dove Brothers
French, Steve Kingdom Heirs
Griffin, Rodney Greater Vision
Howard, Scott Legacy Five
Hutson, Bryan Kingsmen
Inman, Scott Triumphant Qt
Selph, Derrick Brian Free & Assurance
Trammell, Mark Mark Trammell Trio

Bass
Bennett, Eric Triumphant Qt
Chapman, Jeff Kingdom Heirs
Duncan, Tim Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
Dustin, Glenn Legacy Five
Hester, David Dove Brothers
Holcomb, Mike Inspirations
Lile, Jeremy Brian Free & Assurance
McCune, Aaron Gold City
Reese, Ray Dean Kingsmen
Stuffle, Tracy Perrys

Soprano
Collingsworth, Brooklyn Collingsworth Family
Crabb, Amanda Aaron & Amanda Crabb
Fortner, Connie McKameys
Gooch, Karen Peck Karen Peck & New River
Greene, TaRanda Greenes
Hopper, Kim Hoppers
Isaacs, Sonya Isaacs
Penhollow, Terah Crabb Crabb Revival
Starkel, Tami Crist Crist Family
Talley, Lauren Talley Trio

Alto
Bean, Peg McKamey McKameys
Brown, Michaela Browns
Clark, Kelly Nelon Nelons
Easter, Sheri Jeff & Sheri Easter
Hopper, Connie Hoppers
Jackson, Susan Peck Karen Peck & New River
Stuffle, Libbi Perrys
Talley, Debra Talley Trio
Whisnant, Susan Whisnants
Woodard, Carol McKameys

Musician
Collingsworth, Kim Collingsworth Family
Cook, Martin Inspirations
Elliott, Bryan Perrys
Fortner, Roger McKameys
Mote, Gordon
Murphy, Dennis Kingdom Heirs
Parton, Tim Legacy Five
Stice, Jeff Triumphant Qt
Varnado, Stewart Dixie Echoes
Webb, Roy

Songwriter
Bishop, Mark
Brady, Jim
Crabb, Gerald
Cross, Phil
Griffin, Rodney
Hinson, Ronny
Inman, Scott
Knight, Sandy
Rowland, Kyla
Wilkinson, Dianne

Album
Always Have A Song Mark Trammell Trio
Ephesians One Karen Peck & New River
Everyday Triumphant Qt
God’s Been Good Legacy Five
How Great It Is Inspirations
Life Goes On Talley Trio
Not Alone Greater Vision
Room For More Booth Brothers
Something More McKameys
When God Ran Kingsmen – As I stated before, this album gave the Mighty Kingsmen a whole ‘nother sound, and solidified their place as one of the top quartets in the business. If they hold on to this lineup, and bring back the band soon, they’ll keep chugging along for many years to come.

Song
Hello After Goodbye Legacy Five
I Know It Was The Blood Perrys
I Want To Know That You Know Greater Vision
I Want To Thank You Karen Peck & New River
Jesus Made A Believer Out Of Me Kingdom Heirs
Loving The Lamb Mark Trammell Trio
The Old White Flag Triumphant Qt
The Rose Inspirations
What Salvation’s Done For Me Booth Brothers
When God Ran Kingsmen

The Dove Brothers Have A Surprise…

March 17, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Blogging Community, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Dove Brothers

… but they aren’t “letting the cat out of the bag yet,” says McCray Dove. He says it will be an exciting thing that other artists have thought about doing lately as well.

My guess? The Dove Brothers will start touring with a live band. With all the buzz about the Band Of Gold sometimes touring with Gold City, as well as EHSSQ’s recent gig with a band, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least. It’s also interesting to note that McCray’s previous post was saying something to the affect of needing more touring SG groups with bands.

Hm…

CD Mini-Review: Legacy Five – Decade

March 17, 2009 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Legacy Five, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 4 stars

Producers: Legacy Five
Website: www.legacyfive.com
Songs: “I’m Feeling Fine,” “Joy,” “Vessel Of Mercy,” “I Found Grace,” “The Prettiest Flowers,” “Strong In The Strength,” “That’s What Grace Is For,” “Out Of My Darkness,” “Jericho Road,” “I Know That I Know,” “What A Friend,” “Steppin’ Out On The Water,” and “Why Wouldn’t I”

I call this a mini-review because I am not going to go into detail about each track of this project. Most likely, if you’re going to buy this project, it’s because you are a fan of Legacy Five and are familiar with the songs on the project. Therefore, there’s no need for a super-detailed analysis.

This release marks the 10th Anniversary of the formation of Legacy Five in 1999. To celebrate this, the group has put out a project compiling some of the favorites of their years as a group and re-recorded them with new vocals and tracks, plus three new songs never recorded by the group before. The second disc consists of the original versions of these favorites.

One of the best parts about releasing the project this way is the opportunity to compare the original cuts and the new ones side by side. It’s fun to hear how much has the group has improved over the years. The new arrangments on these songs stand on their own feet and sound very fresh.

As far as the brand-new songs go, “I Know That I Know” goes for more of an old-timey feel than did the original version by the Mark Trammell Trio, but MTT does a better job, as it’s a song that sounds more like it was suited for a trio. “What A Friend” is a rendition of the old hymn that didn’t hold my attention, perhaps because of the slow tempo. The best new song, however, is “Why Wouldn’t I,” which was originally done by Liberty Quartet on their latest project, Amazed, and was written by that group’s pianist, Doran Ritchey. Both groups do a fantastic job on the song, and Legacy Five’s version is such that if I hadn’t heard Liberty’s cut first, I’d have thought it was written specifically for L5.

This is a fine project from a fine group, and the new versions of these songs are great to listen to. The vocals are smooth, and the production quality is as well. The mix on this project sounds very decent, and not muffling the vocals like the group’s latest major release. Old and new fans of the group alike will enjoy this look back at the group’s ten-year history.

Upcoming review: Ronnie Milsap – Then Sings My Soul

Ernie Haase & Signature Sound with a band?

March 16, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, Gold City, SG Artists, SG Music

Ernie Haase says on his blog that the group did have a live band with them at a recent concert date. I’ll have to check Youtube later to see whether anyone got video footage.

I’d imagine it’d be a similar setup to what they have at their Homecoming dates; split tracks, with instruments like bass guitar and drums being live, as well as piano, of course. Although, I wonder if they throw guitar into the mix like Gold City does on dates when they have the band.

No word on whether the band will become permanent addition to the EHSS concert experience yet. I’d imagine, if not that option, that they’d take Gold City’s route and charge an additional fee for the band. I’m sure the crowd response to the band would encourage the latter at the very least.

Legacy Five Releases "Decade" Project

March 10, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Lari Goss, Legacy Five, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

Hello, all. It’s been quite a while since my last post, but there’s really been nothing going on that I could add anything meaningful to. I’d encourage you to scroll down the page to the blogroll to see what the other guys have had to say lately!

Today marks the release of the 10th Anniversary project of Legacy Five. They’ve released a two-disc project in which the group has put together the original cuts of some of their best-known songs, then re-recorded them on the second disc with all-new vocals and tracks. Songs include: I’m Feeling Fine, Joy, Vessel Of Mercy, I Found Grace, The Prettiest Flowers, Strong in the Strength, That’s What Grace is For, Out Of My Darkness, Jericho Road, and Stepping Out on the Water. Also featured will be three songs the group has never recorded: I Know That I Know, Why Wouldn’t I?, and What A Friend We Have In Jesus. Be looking for a mini-review of the project on this blog.

Also worth mentioning, the group has started work on their next major release, produced by none other than Lari Goss. Mr. Goss has produced some of the finest albums out there, and I for one can’t wait to hear the results from this latest work.