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

Archive for October, 2009

Legacy Five Names New Tenor

October 26, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Legacy Five, Priority, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

In the latest post at the Legacy Five blog:

We have a winner uhm…tenor! It’s Gus Gaches and we’re thrilled to have him aboard.

He’s the man that Frank recommended fill in for him if he should have to be out during Frank, Jr.s illness. Fortunately, Frank never had to be absent; however, when Frank decided to go back home to be with his family, Frank reminded us to call Gus. We did and the rest is soon to be history.

Stay tuned for an in depth interview(!) with Gus. He has a great history in Gospel music and will be a huge asset to Legacy Five.

Welcome aboard or in other words, “GET ON THE BUS, GUS!”


Legacy Five has a history of picking good tenors, and Scott Fowler has made a wise selection here as well. Ever since word popped up on various blogs and message boards that Gaches had been auditioning, the general consensus seemed to be he was the man for the job, as people said the sound was fantastic. Gaches does indeed have a good history in this music, being with groups like Calvary Construction Company and the Imperials group with Joe Moscheo, Sherman Andrus, and Terry Blackwood. Most recently, he was with Priority (formerly the Mike LeFevre Quartet) and was a part of their finest project to date, Nothin’ But Good. He brings more than a solid tenor voice to the table; he is also a good songwriter and studio engineer.

As much as I hate to see that Priority lost both their bass and tenor in such a short amount of time, this is a great pick by Legacy Five, and I’m sure Priority will be just as strong when they get another tenor.

I am looking forward to both the interview with Gus and the re-cut version of Legacy Five’s latest CD, Just Stand, with the new tenor vocals.

For some samples of his singing, here are some clips of him with Priority:

When I Get Carried Away
Without Him

Following Suit

October 21, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Blogging Community

Readers of Musicscribe no doubt are aware of recent changes to FTC guidelines for blogs. As such, this blog has added this statement to the sidebar on the right about project reviews:

To comply with FTC guidelines, we at Swain’s Musings state that, unless otherwise mentioned, the CDs that this blog reviews were given to the reviewer(s) free of charge. This does not have any bearing on the final rating and is not even taken into consideration when reviewing the project. Due to recent guideline changes, this statement is necessary, because these guidelines assume that a more favorable review is given when the product is received for free.

Legacy Five Starts A Blog

October 21, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Blogging Community, Legacy Five, SG Artists, SG Music

Via Burke’s Brainwork (who got it from our fellow blogger overseas, Phil), Legacy Five has jumped into the sometimes crazy world of blogging.

Artist blogs are always an interesting read, and I’m sure this one will be as well. Be sure to welcome them into the fold!

Aaron Swain turns 17

October 19, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Uncategorized

Just wanted to send out a reminder to everyone to wish Aaron a happy 17th birthday.

CD Review: Liberty Quartet – The Journey

October 17, 2009 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Liberty Quartet, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 5 stars

Producers: Doran Ritchey, Phil Cross, & Roger Talley
Label: Crossline Records
Website: www.libertyquartet.com

1. The Journey – The first three seconds of this song are very interesting; there’s a drum solo here that sounds almost exotic. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this song, given that. The piano kicks in for a few seconds, and then a rich orchestra adds their sound. This beautiful ballad from the pen of Doran Ritchey and Jim Davis is a great way to both open up the project and give this CD a title. It seems to illustrate both the lives of the singers and the time span in which Liberty Quartet has been a group: “The journey is long, but His grace goes the distance.”

2. He Came Down To My Level – This song will be familiar to fans of the Gaither Vocal Band; it was recorded on their 1981 debut project, The New Gaither Vocal Band, and then re-recorded and upgraded in 1999 on their God Is Good CD.

Rather than wear an old hat, these guys take the song and do something quite different than any version I’ve heard before. They give it a flavor that I can only describe as “country-boogie” music, and they hand the features on the verses to bass vocalist Royce Mitchell. I always appreciate when a group takes a song that’s been done before and gives it a new twist, and this is no exception.

3. I Made It Mine – This country song about salvation features the group’s new baritone, Jordan Cragun. Cragun’s voice fits this style well; the inflection of his voice and some of his pronunciations are very much in the country style. This song will hit home with a lot of people, stating simply that you can’t rely on someone else’s salvation, and you have to make the decision to believe on your own.

4. I Love Living In Grace – It’s not unheard of for groups in Southern Gospel music to record the same song at the same time. It’s not heard of often, though, for groups across the country from each other to do so. This song opened up Tribute Quartet’s latest project, and Liberty Quartet’s version is slightly more jazzy than the latter. The key is also slightly lower. Other than that, there’s not much difference.

5. Till There Was Jesus – This shuffling jazz number features bass vocalist Royce Mitchell. Mitchell’s voice is very smooth here, and he carries his solo verse well. The group as a whole sounds very smooth on this track as well.

6. God Made A Way – I was expecting the SG classic of the same title that has been recorded by Signature Sound and others, but I was surprised when a driving tune in the style of the Kingdom Heirs started up. Lead singer Dan Gilbert gets the solos here, and his vocal style is similar to that of Arthur Rice’s. This song is sure to be a favorite at concerts.

7. He Came To Me – Tenor singer Keith Waggoner gets his first real feature of the project here. Waggoner’s voice is not in the stratosphere, but he is one the finest tenors in the business. He keeps within his range, and is very consistent and smooth. He especially knows how to deliver a powerful slow song such as this, and this is one of the best songs on the project.

8. The Welcome – Former pianist and baritone Doran Ritchey sings a song here written by himself. He recently left the group to join Phil Cross & Crossings, and this song is a nice farewell to him. There’s nothing quite like hearing a songwriter sing his own song, and Ritchey does a fine job.

9. Too Long – Although some of the songs this group does could be considered somewhat progressive, they turn in one here that sounds like something The Cathedrals would have done. Royce Mitchell’s bass here even sounds like George Younce in some spots.

10. He’ll Come Through – It’s back to the country sound here, with this song led by Dan Gilbert. Nothing all that different to say about this than there is about “God Made A Way”; both songs are upbeat and they’re equally good.

11. In The Day Of Our Lord – This Jim Davis & Joel Lindsey ballad hands the solo to Jordan Cragun. The song gradually builds as it goes on, until the final chorus when the orchestra really steps up. This triumphant song really illustrates what it will be like when Jesus returns.

12. Welcome To Heaven – Just as it started, the project ends with a powerful orchestrated tune. The group’s arrangement of the classic Singing Americans song doesn’t stray too far from the original, but the orchestrations sound fuller. All in all, this leaves the listener with something familiar and is a good way to end the project.

Final Thoughts: At the risk of sounding like a crazed fan, I’ll make this statement: Liberty Quartet is one of the best-kept secrets in Southern Gospel music.

Being out of the traditional SG travel circuit (they’re based in Boise, Idaho), not many people are exposed to this group’s music other than one week a year at NQC (if they hear them there at all). However, the group turns out music that is just as high quality as any of your popular quartets, if not better at some points. The vocal blend is great, even with guys like Jordan Cragun who haven’t been part of the group as long as the other guys. No member of the group strays out of range, and each member is very consistent in their singing.

That said, this project is a good example of all of that. Nothing about it would give me any reason not to give this project a 5 star rating. The new songs are good, and the older songs that the group recorded here are as well. “He Came Down To My Level” is refreshingly different, and though “Welcome To Heaven” is pretty much like the original, it’s just as well-done.

Bottom line: Liberty Quartet may not gain the attention of groups such as Legacy Five or Triumphant, but their music puts them on par with any top quartet.

News Roundup

October 10, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Priority, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

1. Priority Quartet Announces New Bass Singer

The Singing News website has this press release: Keith Inman (Clayton Inman of Triumphant’s brother) has joined the group as their new bass vocalist.

Stacy Bragg, the group’s former bass, had a work schedule that had become too busy to allow him to do dates. Inman had filled in before, so he already had a good rapport with the fans, which Mike LeFevre says has been evident when he sang with them before, so this pick fits like a glove.

I’m looking forward to hearing the new lineup of the group. I wish Stacy Bragg good luck in his endeavors. He is a very underrated bass singer, and perhaps we’ll see him pop up again somewhere in an few years.

2. Petition For SG Hall Of Fame Inductee

A petition has been started to induct Sam Goodman, an original member of the Happy Goodmans, into the SG Hall Of Fame. You can join this Facebook group and sign the petition when it is put up if you are interested.

Side note: I will have the joint review between Jeremy and I on the new Tribute CD on Monday. I haven’t had much time to do the review this week, but will use this weekend to do it.

Changes For Swain’s Musings

October 06, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Blogging Community

For a little over two years, I’ve been bringing all of you readers post after post of thoughts on Southern Gospel music from my perspective as a 16 (almost 17) year-old. God has really blessed my endeavors, giving me a wide readership and opening so many doors for me and this site. It has been a real joy watching God cultivate my efforts.

For those two-plus years, I’ve been going it solo in my blogging. Recently, however, an opportunity has come along that I am very excited about. I would like to introduce you all to the new co-author of Swain’s Musings: Jeremy Bell!

Jeremy hails from Lynchburg, VA, a neighboring city to my hometown of Bedford. For the past couple of years, we have worked together in VA Southern Gospel, an organization that works to bring Southern Gospel music to the younger generation. Jeremy has run his own blog under that same name for a time, focusing on Southern Gospel in VA, as well as on the national scene. Often, however, we tended to overlap on many things, resulting in either one of us not being able to post to our blogs because of the overlap.

To remedy this issue, our blogs are merging into one. We both decided that we should keep the Swain’s Musings name, because it would be easier than creating a new identity and essentially starting from scratch. Jeremy and I will do our separate posting on here, but we will also collaborate on things such as CD reviews from time to time. Our first joint review, Tribute Quartet’s For This Time, will be up soon.

Head on over to Jeremy’s old blog to see his previous work, and be sure to welcome him to the writing team here at Swain’s Musings!

CD Review: Legacy Five – Just Stand

October 03, 2009 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Legacy Five, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 5 stars

Producer: Lari Goss
Label: Daywind Records
Website: www.legacyfive.com

1. New Born Feeling – This song that The Cathedrals used to do opens up this project in a nice up-tempo way. This arrangement is quite a bit different from any previous treatments this song has gotten; it’s very jazzy and the group does a nice job of breathing new life into it. The verses are sung in mostly unison, splitting into parts near the end. Right away, it is evident that the group’s harmonies have been capitalized upon in this latest effort.

2. Great Is Thy Faithfulness – Typically, when one hears the name Lari Goss, they think of the lush orchestrations that usually show up in his productions. This project is no exception. Goss arranged this version of this great hymn of the church, and the orchestration fits perfectly with the song. Tenor singer Frank Seamans is featured on the second verse, hitting high notes that were heretofore not really featured in his voice. The whole song fits the group like a glove.

3. One Thing God Can’t Do – Pianist Tim Parton sings the first truly “new” song of the project. Parton’s voice is not grating, but it doesn’t hint at any powerhouse vocals either. Rather, his soft vocals are what they are, and he doesn’t try to make it any more than that. The soft ballad songs seem to be where his vocal strength lies, and he turns in one of the finest performances he’s done with the group.

4. Just Stand – Fans of the Liberty Quartet will recognize this CD’s title track. This song was written by former Liberty pianist/baritone Doran Ritchey and was featured on their Amazed project, the review of which has been done here.

Legacy Five takes this song, raises the key a full step, and kicks it up a notch. The jazzy horns are back, and this hard-driving track gives bass singer Glenn Dustin room to showcase his lower notes. Dustin has improved over the past 10 or so years as a vocalist, and he sounds great on this song. This is sure to become a concert favorite for the group, and would be good radio single material.

5. Faithful To The Cross – Legacy Five is one of those groups that likes to have a premier ballad on each of their projects; a slower song that is powerful and comes to mind whenever that particular CD is mentioned. This track is likely to be that song for Just Stand. Lead singer Scott Fowler gets the feature on this powerful statement of the group’s mission. Frank Seamans shines on the bridge and final chorus. Like Dustin, Seamans has improved over his tenure with the group as well.

6. Above All Circumstances – Baritone Scott Howard gets the solo on this “orchestrated country” track. Howard’s voice sounds very well-rounded on this song. Songs of this type seem to be his forte, and he does a great job here.

7. When They Found Nothing – Another ballad featuring Scott Fowler that is similar to “Carved In Stone” from the group’s Heroes Of The Faith project. It is similar in both sound and lyrical message. I’m told this will be the first single from the project, and it’s a good choice.

8. My Soul Is Firmly Anchored – This song was featured on Paid In Full’s latest project, No Trace Of Rain, and unlike Paid In Full’s heavily country-influenced version, Legacy Five gives the song a more straight-forward quartet treatment. The song really picks up when the lead is handed to Frank Seamans near the end and the other guys all sing different lyrics under him.

9. Statement Of Faith – This song features four groups: The Booth Brothers, Greater Vision, The Hoppers, and Legacy Five. It is in the anthem style, and while not every member of each group is featured, it is still a good song, and every featured vocalist does a fine job.

10. Thankful For The Change – It’s back to the upbeat, horn-driven style for this track. While not immediately a standout, it is a pleasant track, and it grows on you each time you hear it.

11. ‘Til We Meet Again – A powerful slow song about going different directions in life closes out this project, and as others have mentioned, it is almost like a send-off for the departing Frank Seamans. They couldn’t have picked a better song as Seamans’ final feature, and his performances is sweetened by the fact of his leaving.

Final Thoughts: The team of Legacy Five and Lari Goss is something that should have happened long ago. He had a hand in Heroes Of The Faith, but this is the first project that truly took the reins on for this group. The vocals are smooth, the song selection stellar, and each vocalist shines. This is one of the best CDs the group has recorded to date.

It has been announced that the CD will be re-cut with the new tenor’s vocals, and I may do a separate post comparing the two versions of this album. As is, however, this is definitely something Legacy Five can be proud of.