Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.
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Archive for October, 2010

Two Arrivals & One Departure

October 30, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, Kingdom Heirs, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Dixie Melody Boys

It’s been a week for lineup changes in Southern Gospel, and yesterday brought the announcement of two additions to groups, and also one group that is searching for a tenor.

1. Brent Mitchell Joins Gold City – The blogs and forums were buzzing earlier this week when it was announced that Josh Cobb was out as Gold City’s tenor, and that the new one would be debuting that night. As it turns out, it is former Mercy’s Mark and N’Harmony tenor, Brent Mitchell:

Gold City has announced that Brent Mitchell has joined the quartet as tenor vocalist, filling the vacancy created by the departure of Josh Cobb.

“No one dislikes change more than I do,” says Gold City’s Daniel Riley. “But that doesn’t change the fact that changes do happen. Often times, people don’t always understand the reason behind the changes—we don’t always understand it ourselves, as change can come quickly for any of a huge number of reasons.

“Josh Cobb is an incredibly talented person and we’ve enjoyed our time with him. We wish him the very best in his future endeavors.

“Brent will officially start his role with Gold City November 11,” continues Riley. “Many Southern Gospel fans will remember Brent from his tenure with Mercy’s Mark. He possesses a very distinct tenor voice, and we’re very excited to welcome him to our group.”

Brent, his wife, Heather, and their 7-year old daughter, Ivy, live in Moulton, Ala., and he’s excited about joining the legendary quartet. “I grew up listening to this music,” says Brent. “It has always been a dream of mine to be part of a legacy like Gold City. I am excited to have an opportunity once again to sing the best music in the world.” (Singing News)

If there is one thing that Gold City needs to keep their legacy strong, it’s a distinctive, solid tenor with a strong stage presence. Josh Cobb brought those factors to the table, and Brent does as well. I enjoyed hearing him with Mercy’s Mark and N’Harmony, and I think he will do just fine with Gold City.

For those wondering how he’ll sound on a Gold City classic, check this out. I’d also like to see him bring his take of this Cathedrals song with him to GC.

(more…)

Josh Cobb No Longer With Gold City

October 28, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

In the final change from the “too good to be true” lineup of Gold City, tenor singer Josh Cobb announced on Facebook today that he and Gold City are parting ways:

I got a call from Danny’s friend Jason Maise yesterday informing me that Gold City was going to let me go because of “logistical” reasons. As most of you know, I live in Oklahoma City and my wife has worked in the field of genetic research for the past decade. There is not much of that going on in Gadsden, AL so it was impossible for us to move there.

I’m a little sad. A little relieved. Looking forward to singing my songs again. I love the Riley’s and Bruce and his family. I enjoyed my time with “The City”.

I can’t say much more than what other bloggers have already said: we’ll miss Josh and hope to see him back in SG soon. However, Brandon Coomer says that a replacement is to be named soon. No word yet on how the change affects the release of their upcoming mainline project, Somebody’s Coming (although it was apparently pulled from Providence Distribution’s list not long ago) or those who pre-ordered it already, although I’d imagine it will be released with the new tenor’s vocals.

CD Review: Ernie Haase & Signature Sound – A Tribute To The Cathedral Quartet

October 26, 2010 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 4 stars

Producers: Wayne Haun & Lari Goss
Label: Gaither Music Group
Website: www.erniesigsound.com

Buy The CD Here or Buy The DVD Here.

Track list: “Wedding Music,” “Step Into The Water,” “Boundless Love,” “I Thirst,” “This Ole House,” “Champion Of Love,” “I’m Gonna Live Forever,” “Can He, Could He, Would He,” “Wonderful Grace Of Jesus,” “Sinner Saved By Grace,” “An Old Convention Song,” “Mexico,” “God Delivers Again,” “Life Will Be Sweeter,” “Moving Up To Gloryland,” “Plan Of Salvation,” “We Shall See Jesus,” “Yesterday,” “Gaither Medley,” “He Made A Change,” “Oh What A Savior”

When Ernie Haase started the Signature Sound Quartet in 2002, it was no secret that the group’s ties to the Cathedral Quartet legacy were strong. After all, Haase’s father-in-law was the Cathedrals’ bass singer, George Younce. Wisely, however, the group set out to make a name for itself, rather than just riding on the coattails of the Cats’ success, although they did throw in the occasional Cathedrals song here and there on their project. Now that the group has established itself as a quartet all its own, it seems like the perfect time to give a salute to the group from which its founder came.

One thing I have always admired about Signature Sound is that whenever they cover a song that has been done previously, they do not simply do the same arrangement that every group has done; they try something new with it. Such is the case with the bulk of this project. Take, for instance, “Boundless Love.” Rather than starting the song with a couple of piano chords like you would expect, the opening “boom boom clap” (think Queen’s “We Will Rock You”) throws the listener for a loop and leads into a high-energy arrangement of the familar quartet number. Several more subtle changes are made as well, with inclusions that will intrigue long-time Cathedrals fans, like when piano player Wayne Haun is featured on “Champion Of Love” in an interesting parallel to piano player Gerald Wolfe’s feature on the same song when it was first recorded.

Final thoughts: Overall, I was very impressed with this body of work. Am I a fan of every song that was selected? No. But there’s really nothing here that has me reaching for the skip button. I’d much rather hear those particular takes on those songs instead of the take that every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a quartet has tried to do. That is one of the main reasons this project is such a good tribute; it’s not just recycled arrangements and lackluster performances. It’s an honest effort to maintain the originality and highlight the harmonies that The Cathedrals were known for.

Bottom line: For fans looking for a fitting tribute to one of the finest quartets Southern Gospel music has known, or a collection of classics that have been given new life, this is the project to turn to.

Jonathan Price Joins The Dove Brothers

October 18, 2010 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Dixie Melody Boys, The Dove Brothers

In a press release from Southern Spin Entertainment, The Dove Brothers confirm what I heard a couple days ago; Jonathan Price has joined the group:

“Multi-award winning quartet the Dove Brothers are excited to announce the addition of Jonathan Price as the group’s new tenor vocalist.

“We auditioned Jonathan this weekend, and he brought the house down,” mentioned McCray Dove, owner/manager/lead vocalist of the popular quartet. “He’s got a different sound than any of our previous tenors, but it’s a good fit, and we’re excited about his future with our group.”

McCray continued, “I was taught a long time ago by a prominent member of the Gospel music community that you don’t go looking for a replacement when someone leaves your group. You have to look for someone who brings something fresh to the group. Jonathan brings that fresh sound to our group, and we know he’s going to do an exciting job in this post.”

Jonathan has a strong resume within the Southern Gospel music community. Price joins the Dove Brothers after a three-year tenure with the Dixie Melody Boys. Price sang with Paul’s Journey before the Dixie Melody Boys. Jonathan and his wife Vivian currently reside in Farmville, North Carolina.

Price will begin full-time with the Dove Brothers during the month of November. Price replaces long-time vocalist Jerry Martin who left the group to pursue other interests…”

I’ll admit, when I first heard the news, I was a bit skeptical. It just didn’t seem like his voice would mesh, or be able to handle the material that the Doves do. However, attendees at a recent Dove Bros. concert told me he can handle it very well, and even though, like McCray said, his sound his different, it apparently sounded great. I’m looking forward to hearing how he sounds; a young tenor always has room to grow, and even in his tenure at Ed O’Neal University, he improved quite a bit, so I’m looking forward to hearing what Price brings to the table with this quartet.

Jerry Martin Leaves Dove Brothers

October 15, 2010 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Dove Brothers

I should have known that it was just the calm before the storm when Doug said, “So things seem pretty dull lately, no?”

In the second major (and unexpected) change this week, The Dove Brothers announced today that Jerry Martin, their tenor singer for the past eight years, has departed the group. Says the press release at the Singing News website:

McCray Dove, of the Dove Brothers, has announced that tenor Jerry Martin has left the group to pursue other interests. A replacement for Jerry will be announced soon.

“Jerry has been with our group for over eight years and has done a great job,” says McCray. “We wish him the very best in all his endeavors. Jerry felt it was time to make some changes in his career, and we respect his decision. We will be announcing our new tenor very soon, so stay tuned!”

I’m currently racking my brain to figure out who the new tenor may be, but I’m coming up short. Jerry Martin was part of that elite class of tenors that includes Ernie & Eric Phillips, Brian Free, and Jay Parrack (among others), that can sing in the rafters night after night and make it sound absolutely effortless. Some of the more recent Dove Brothers arrangements utilized that high tenor, so whoever they bring in has some big shoes to fill. As known tenor singers go, Parrack doesn’t fit the sound, and I don’t see Eric Phillips back on the road anytime soon. While I’d hate to see Jodi Hosterman leave The Inspirations, he has a sound similar to Martin’s, and he’d be a good fit. Perhaps McCray has a fresh, untapped talent in mind. We shall soon see…

This announcement comes right on the heels of yesterday’s news about the departure of Troy Peach from The Perrys. I had a review ready to go of a pre-release copy of their new project, Blue Skies, but since I learned that the album is being re-cut with new baritone Bryan Walker’s vocals, I will not post it. However, Daniel Mount has a fine review up of it in its current form, and I shared many of the same thoughts he had in the review.

Update: A later press release expands a little on the departure. From McCray Dove via Southern Spin Entertainment:

“Jerry has been a big part of our group for the last eight and a half years. This decision was mutual between us. We have no hard feelings for Jerry and wish him the best in the future. Sometimes one knows when their time is up with a group, and Jerry felt that it was time for him to transition to a new area. What that is exactly we don’t know – but we love Jerry and support him in whatever way he chooses to go.”

Troy Peach Departs The Perrys, Bryan Walker Joins

October 14, 2010 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Perrys

From the press release sent out by the group earlier today:

Daywind Recording artists, The Perrys, have announced that Bryan Walker will be joining the award-winning group effective October 22, 2010. Bryan will be singing baritone, filling the vacancy created by the departure of Troy Peach. Bryan is no stranger to Southern Gospel music as he has been a member of Safe Harbor and the Dixie Melody Boys. Most recently, he has served as a police officer for the city of Sevierville, Tennessee.

“Troy feels that his work with the Perrys is done, so we want to offer our appreciation for all of the hard work and effort that he gave to our group during the past two and a half years,” says Tracy Stuffle of the Perrys. “We love Troy and we wish him nothing but God’s blessings for all of his future plans.

“At the same time,” continues Tracy, “we’re excited about welcoming Bryan Walker to our group. He’s a great young man and a fine singer. So make sure you say hello to him at a concert soon!”

I share the same reaction that many have had: this was not a move I expected. Peach brought a solid sound and energetic stage presence to the group, and did an excellent job on their new project, Blue Skies (the review of which will be posted on this blog tomorrow.) However, Walker brings a great voice to the table as well, and he has good stage presence from what I remember of his DMB days. It will be interesting to hear how the new voice will change the dynamic of the group.

Marty Raybon Update

October 02, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Uncategorized

In an update from The Bluegrass Blog, the former Shenandoah lead singer announced not long ago that he is undergoing treatment for prostate cancer.

“Dear friends, I am humbled at the thousand of emails, letters, and phone calls I have received  since last week on the news of my condition. Words cannot express my deepest gratitude to all of you. I am back home getting my strength back (from Melanie’s good cooking) and I am looking forward to being at  IBMA on Saturday. I can’t wait to play again and I am really looking forward to seeing many of you there. IBMA  is a great event not only for the performers, but also for all the great fans that support us all year long. 2011 (because of you), I believe will be my best year ever.

May The Lord bless every one of you. Pray for the people having a hard time right now in our great country, and please remember our troops who are fighting to keep all of us free!”

CD Review: Three Bridges – Refined

October 02, 2010 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, SG Artists, SG Music, Three Bridges

Rating: 4 stars

Producer: Rick Sandidge
Label: Mansion Entertainment
Website: www.threebridges.net

Track list: “David,” “Satan and Grandma,” “In The Valley There’s A Rock,” “Cooling Water,” “Not The Great I Was,” “Don’t Let Go,” “Everyday It Starts All Over Again,” “Wait On That Mountain To Move,” “I Believe,” “A Little Song Coming On,” “In The Sky,” “Free”

Three Bridges is a group whose name has been around for several years in Southern Gospel music. The trio debuted in 2002 with the Soldiers album, and from there went on to get nominations for awards such as the 2005 and 2006 Trio Of The Year in the Singing News Fan Awards, as well as have great radio success, garnering seven Top 10 singles and three #1 singles.

Other than the occasional appearance on TBN and a couple spins on the radio, I was not all that familiar with the group going into this review. I can remember hearing most of their stuff and not being entirely impressed. However, a lineup change earlier this year gave the Three Bridges sound a complete overhaul. Baritone and group manager Elliott McCoy filled the tenor and lead positions with Jeremie Hudson and Shannon Smith, respectively. Those two names should be recognizable to fans of The Imperials, as both of those men were with the group a couple years ago.  The change was met with a largely positive reception, and I can’t put it any better than fellow blogger David Bruce Murray did when he said that Three Bridges “went from a group I wouldn’t drive across town to hear to one I’d drive an hour or more to hear.” Refined is the first effort from this new lineup.

In a situation such as this where a group has had numerous hits and have a shakeup of this caliber, the best move is to make a release with covers of those hits as well as some new material. This way, their fan base can hear how the new voices handle the old material, but are introduced to the group having a new sound all their own. Refined does exactly that. The project wisely starts off with two new songs. The opening track, “David,” is an upbeat tune featuring lead Shannon Smith, as well as some tight harmony on the choruses. The next new song, “Satan and Grandma,” is an interesting country ballad about the power of prayer that tenor Jeremie Hudson delivers to fine effect. Just from these two songs, anyone even remotely familiar with Three Bridges can tell that the sound is something completely new for the group.

For the next nine tracks, many of the groups better-known songs are covered. Vocally, the group definitely turned it up a notch from the previous forms of Three Bridges. Hudson and Smith still have the dynamic harmony that they had with The Imperials, (check out “Not The Great I Was,” where the two hit a couple of David Phelps & Guy Penrod-esque chords) and baritone Elliott McCoy blends well with their voices, and the new versions of these songs blow the originals out of the water. The only downside to this is the fact that most of the group’s hits featured the lead singer and had a similar sound, so after hearing Smith’s voice on a lot of songs that sound close to the same, it starts to run together. The only old track that doesn’t feature Smith is “I Believe,” a slow, soft song near the end of the album featuring Hudson. A new track, “Free,” brings this CD to a close. It’s a progressive track that features a guitar in the mix with riffs similar to that from rock group Santana’s “Smooth” and a sound that recalls, coincidentally, something that a recent Imperials lineup would do.

Final thoughts: I was very impressed with the sound displayed here. The only real complaint I have is the one I addressed earlier: most of the covers sound alike, so it runs together. Nevertheless, this new chapter of the group sounds fantastic throughout, and I am looking forward to hearing future efforts from them.

Bottom line: Refined solidifies this lineup as a breath of fresh air in the history of Three Bridges, improving upon the group’s previous material as well as introducing new songs that show what the group can do on their own.