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

Archive for July, 2009

The Results Of A Good Work Ethic

July 30, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, SG Artists, SG History, SG Music, Steve Ladd, The Anchormen

Youtube is a truly amazing thing, but especially in the world of Southern Gospel Music. Such technology allows us to go back in time to see our favorite groups and singers from yesteryear; and sometimes, it allows us to see how our favorite current singers have improved over the years.

When you think of singers in SG that have worked their butt off to improve themselves and become dynamite singers, Steve Ladd almost immediately leaps to mind. Take a look at this clip of Steve singing with The Anchormen. Judging by the lineup, this is probably around 1999. Steve is the one singing the second verse. You may want to turn up your speakers, because the clip is not loud at all.

Now, fast forward to the year 2009. Here, Steve Ladd is featured as tenor for Gold City, and he gets the solo pretty much all the way through.

Can you hear the difference? When Steve left Gold City, he went out a better singer than he came in. Like I said before, he worked hard to improve as a singer, and those two clips are solid proof.

I wish I’d found these two clips around the time Steve left GC, but consider this my belated tribute to Steve Ladd. I can’t put it better than Doug Harrison at Averyfineline did: “Gospel music could stand more of that sort of work ethic.”

Doran Ritchey Leaves Liberty Quartet

July 29, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Liberty Quartet, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

From the group’s latest newsletter:

For the past four and half years, Liberty Quartet has enjoyed the musical talent, humor and personality of Doran Ritchey. We are excited for Doran’s new adventure as he and his wife Diane join Crossing with Phil Cross, noted Southern Gospel song writer and vocalist. Change is never easy and losing a talent like Doran Ritchey will be difficult to say the least. Many of you have enjoyed getting to know Doran, Diane and their family over the past few years. Many of the songs Liberty currently sings have been produced through the talents and creative heart of Doran.

Doran says “The last four and a half years have provided a wealth of experiences while singing with Liberty. The friendships that I have made are deep and lasting. I’m grateful to Royce and the opportunity he provided to travel with Liberty. While I’m going to miss traveling with the guys, I’m also looking forward to the chance to minister with my wife Diane. Thank you for your support and prayers as we make this transition. We love you guys!”

Please join us in wishing the Ritchey’s the very best in this new adventure. We trust that God will enrich their ministry as they join Phil and look forward to hearing and singing future songs that have been written by Doran.

Phil Cross has gained one of the most talented up-and-coming writers in SG right now. It will be interesting, to say the least, to hear the results if Cross and Ritchey start co-writing songs. Best of luck to Doran as he begins this new endeavor.

New SG Bloggers

July 24, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Blogging Community

He goes by L5BBfan on various SG forums, but now he’s diving into the blogosphere with Nate’s Southern Gospel Ponderings.

It’s always great to welcome a new blogger into the fold. Be sure to go over and welcome him to the Web!

Update: It seems that several young bloggers have dug into the blogosphere well lately. Be sure to go over and give Phil Boles a warm welcome!

Gaither Vocal Band Taping Set List

July 22, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Bill Gaither, Gaither Vocal Band, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

Hat tip goes to Nate at Burke’s Brainwork for this one. Nate had a friend who attended the taping and gave him a set list from memory and in no particular order:

Alpha and Omega

There’s Always A Place at the Table (featuring Wes, Michael, and David)

I Am Loved

I Believe In A Hill Called Mt. Calvary

Loving God, Loving Each Other

Better Day

Mary, Did You Know

He Touched Me

Something About That Name

At The Cross

Hide Thou Me

Low Down The Chariot

Cant Stop Talking About Him (featuring Michael and Wes)

The Love Of God

Lord Feed Your Children

Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go

Worthy The Lamb

Where Could I Go?

I’m Forgiven

Go Ask

God’s Church Triumphant

This is shaping up to be an incredible video project. I noticed that some of the songs on the list are ones I haven’t heard of the new lineup doing in other concerts. It will be interesting to hear five parts on “Low Down The Chariot,” “Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go,” and “Worthy The Lamb.” “I’m Forgiven” should be pretty cool as well.

I noticed that a lot of the songs will be featured on the Reunited project, “God’s Church Triumphant” in particular. Seeing that made me wonder if they were going for a combo release of Reunited and this video in September (although, it seems to me that would have been pretty early).

The press release on Gaither.com, however, had this to say:

“… The DVD of this Gaither Vocal Band taping in San Antonio is scheduled for release in January 2010. Watch Gaither.com in late November or early December for the chance to put in your order. This is one you will not want to miss! …”

That would put it right around the time of the group’s project of all-new songs. “This is one you will not want to miss” is right!

Head over to Gaither.com for pictures of the night.

Things I Missed

July 20, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Blackwood Brothers, Gold City, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, Tim Riley

Good to back with you all after a week in the Word at camp. Let’s see what I missed in my absence:

1. The Gold City lineup change rumors are back, and I’m still not buying it till I see a confirmation. I couldn’t put it better than AVFL commenter HP did:

As far as the GC rumors, I think they’ll need to come forward to clear it up. Though, I think the longer it all goes “unconfirmed” the more likely some part of the rumor is true. As in this genre it seems the smaller truth gets blown up into a large, widely circulated rumor. Could it be that group “moves” are becoming more entertaining than the music/performances themselves?

2. Speaking of which, Tim Riley will be appearing with Gold City at the Mull’s Singing Convention next month. Combined with the rumors that Aaron McCune is leaving, this is giving people fits. At any rate, it’s just a special guest appearance. (h/t, Wes)

3. Wes was on a roll last week, also posting the story that Daywind Records has signed the Blackwood Brothers. This is the group that features tenor Wayne Little, lead Jimmy Blackwood, baritone/pianist Brad White, and bass Randy Byrd. One of the best quartets on the road today, Daywind has made a great move in signing this group. I’m looking forward to the debut Daywind release from these guys.

Off For A Week

July 12, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Vacation/Going Away Notice

I’ll be out of town and away from internet access till Saturday. See you all when I get back!

Concert Review: Soul’d Out Quartet & The Dills

July 12, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Concert Reviews, SG Artists, SG Music, Soul'd Out Quartet, The Dills

I had the opportunity on Friday night to head over to Buena Vista, VA for the second night of the 8th Annual VA Southern Gospel Jubilee. The event is held every July in Glen Maury Park. The weather was great, so having the event outdoors was a good idea.

There were several pastors and local groups on the program. The event is headed up by Pastor Larry Clark of the Pentecostal Outreach Church, so he opened the event by inviting another pastor to lead in prayer. Then there was some congregational singing, and a local female singer whose name escapes me. The Dills then took the stage and turned in a great set. I wasn’t too familiar with their material (other than one or two songs) but the group impressed me, as it was my first time seeing them. They have some great harmony, and really deserve more recognition in the SG community.

The set included (a rough set list, since I don’t know much of their stuff): Days Of Elijah, Holy of Holies, The Lord’s Prayer (the a cappella harmony was fantastic!), End Of The Beginning (the David Phelps song, great job by Sean Dill), Fight To The Finish, Tired Of Running.

After a little break, another local lady came up to sing. Her vocal style reminded me of that of Vestal Goodman, and she actually got with a family group to sing a Goodman song that was encored at least three times. Soul’d Out Quartet was last group of the night, and they did not disappoint. Their set list included: The Day My Lord Was Raised, We Shall Rise, Bass Medley, Michael Howard piano solo (don’t remember the song), Heaven Medley, How Great Thou Art (piano solo), I’ve Got That Feeling, Jesus Is Coming Soon, Standing On The Rock, Jesus Knows My Need, There Is A Fountain, Ain’t Nobody.

Overall, it was a great night. Both groups sounded great, and if they’re in your area, you’d do well to catch one of their concerts.

CD Review: Daybreak Quartet – Hymns

July 11, 2009 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Daybreak Quartet, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 5 stars

I’ll keep my comments about individual tracks to a minimum, since most of my thoughts are on the album as a whole.

Like many quartets have seemed to favor doing recently, the Daybreak Quartet has recorded a project of old songs and hymns with the “stripped-down” sound of just piano and vocals.

This group does not disappoint with this effort. The vocals are smooth and full, and being backed by Tim Parton on some songs and Greg Howlett on others, the instrumental part of the album is solid as well. No member of the group shows off or sings out of range; each vocalist knows their limits and sticks to that. The arrangements are good as well.

Now, to the question most are asking, how does tenor singer Joel Wood sound? After listening to this project, I can honestly say he will fit in with the Mark Trammell Trio. Daniel Mount said he sounds like Keith Waggoner from the Liberty Quartet; I concur. He is a smooth tenor vocalist, whom I can’t wait to hear with MTT.

Bottom line: the Daybreak Quartet is an underrated group who have churned out a great tribute to the older songs of Southern Gospel music. And, as a bonus, the project is available for free download from the group itself through July 24. It is certainly one worth adding to your collection.

Greg Howlett Offers Free CD Download

July 10, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Daybreak Quartet, Greg Howlett, SG Artists, SG Music, Special Offers

Most of you have probably heard of Daybreak Quartet, especially with all their recent attention in the SG blog and news world (their tenor was just hired by the Mark Trammell Trio.)

Greg Howlett travels with the Daybreak Quartet sometimes and plays piano for them. He is now offering, from his website, a free download of his latest piano instrumental CD. I highly recommend getting both his CD and Daybreak Quartet’s latest project, Hymns (the latter of which Greg plays on some songs and of which I’m working on a review). You will not be disappointed with Greg’s playing.

This is an unusual offer coming from an artist, so be sure to take it!

Change For The Blackwood Gospel Quartet

July 07, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Blackwood Gospel Quartet, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

The BGQ announced today that tenor singer Daniel Childs will be coming off the road due to health reasons. From the SoGospelNews article by the group:

We regret to announce that Daniel, our tenor singer, has decided to leave life on the road due to health reasons. With the uncle/nephew relationship between Mark and Daniel, parting wasn’t easy. There was always the possibility of him carrying the Blackwood heritage into the next generation, and that possibility was just beginning to flourish. It’s true that Daniel’s heart has always been in music, but his passion is in church worship, rather than quartet music.

I enjoyed the sound Daniel gave the group in his stint with them, and I wish him well in his future endeavors.

While the group looks for a tenor, Paul Lancaster will be filling in. For those interested in auditioning:

If you are interested, please send a demo, a picture of yourself and a bio to the address below, or simply e-mail it to davidmannmusic@gmail.com .

Blackwood Gospel Quartet
PO Box 22128
Knoxville, Tennessee 37933