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

Archive for October, 2011

Gold City Posts Clips of “Somebody’s Coming”

October 30, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, SG Artists, SG Music

A look at Gold City’s Facebook reveals that the group has clips of the new project up. Here’s the playlist from their Bandcamp page:

It seems that two songs that were on the original list have been cut. One, of course, is “I Stand Redeemed,” which was removed after Josh Cobb’s departure. The other song is “Heaven,” which was the Michael English hit from the 90s that was also to be a tenor feature. Other differences I noticed is a change in key and new instrumentation on “Peter, James, and John,” as well as a rearranging of the song order.

The music player states the release date to be November 15, and these clips have me excited to hear the full release.

CD Review: Song of David – Modern Pioneers

October 28, 2011 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, David Bryan, SG Artists, SG Music, Song of David

Rating: 3 stars

Producers: Danny Crawford & Brian Beatty
Label: Manor House Music
Website: www.song-of-david.com

Song titles: Love Comes to Town; The Holy Hills; Water in the Wilderness; Modern Pioneers; The Sound of the Sun; One Step (at a time); When I Leave it in Your Hands; Angels Watching; This Storm; Power In His Name

Download Here

This is one of those rare instances where it seems that several Southern Gospel bloggers decided to review a particular project at the same time without doing a mega-review. It seems that a couple of the bloggers that I habitually read had something to say in their reviews on the same week that I was planning to do one! That being said, you can go to David Murray’s blog and Daniel Mount’s blog to read their thoughts on it, and since I share the majority of their opinions, I’ll keep my comments to a minimum.

One thing that you can definitely come away with on this project is a sense of appreciation for the creativity in a lot of aspects. The very name of the artists speaks to that; Song of David is not a group, but a songwriter/soloist by the name of David Bryan. You’ve probably heard his work from Legacy Five; he wrote their quietly popular tenor feature “Peace (When I Leave It In Your Hands),” and that song gets covered here with a more country flavor than L5’s take. Another interesting cut is Bryan’s rendition of the Dottie Rambo classic “The Holy Hills of Heaven Call Me,” which is given a progressive, electric guitar-driven treatment that certainly sets it apart from other versions of the song.

My only complaint is that, other than the couple of songs I’ve mentioned, there are really no stand-outs here. Song of David certainly has a defined sound, but this release has fallen into the trap of the songs all running together. Fast, slow, in between; all of them have the same country tinge, with little variety. A note I would give moving forward for Song of David’s next body of work is to explore other styles with the music.

Overall, Bryan has put together a collection of songs not unlike reminds me of something a group like Paid In Full would do stylistically. If you like that sound, this project is right up your alley. Modern Pioneers receives 3 stars.

Ryan Seaton Quartet In Action

October 25, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Ryan Seaton Quartet, SG Artists, SG Music, Youtube

Today’s Youtube finds are three videos that have been posted of the much-discussed Ryan Seaton Quartet, a group that Seaton put together and travels with part of the time. Besides Seaton on lead, the lineup consists of Toby Hitchcock (Austins Bridge) on tenor, Andrew Goldman at baritone, and Aaron McCune (Palmetto State Quartet; Gold City) on bass. Roy Webb (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound; Gold City) was a special guest at this particular date, playing piano.

This video has already been featured today by Adam Edwards. I echo his comments; it’s nice to hear McCune sing this again.

Hearing the Gaither Vocal Band arrangement of “The Love of God” with a true bass singer… I like it!

It’s only fitting to include a clip of the song that introduced this quartet: the GVB song “God Is Good.”

CD Review: Mark Trammell Quartet – Treasures

October 15, 2011 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Mark Trammell Quartet, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 5 stars

Producers: Mark Trammell, Kevin McManus, Dustin Sweatman
Label: Independent Release

Song titles: Echoes From The Burning Bush; Gentle Shepherd; Bloodwashed Band; That Day At Calvary; I’ll Have A New Life; Statue Of Liberty; An Old Convention Song; I Thirst; Master Builder; Wedding Music; Then I Met The Master; Boundless Love

There has been a whole slew of Cathedrals tributes that have cropped up in the past couple of years, perhaps the biggest being Ernie Haase & Signature Sound’s latest album. A major release, that project consisted of re-done arrangements of about twenty-one songs from The Cathedrals, and came with a live video. The Mark Trammell Quartet went the complete opposite direction; they have released a table project that doesn’t even mention The Cathedrals by name, only referring to “Pop” and “The Old Man” in the liner notes. Straight-ahead arrangements, a table project, no video that features all the tracks; this project differs from that of EHSS in almost every way.

Where they are comparable is the high quality of the music.

The MTQ didn’t just take all the big hits that EHSS re-did and do versions not that much different from the originals (the only ones the two share are “An Old Convention Song,” “I Thirst,” “Wedding Music,” and “Boundless Love”). Rather, they reached back and pulled out songs that haven’t been recorded to death. Songs like “Bloodwashed Band,” the upbeat opener to The Cats’ Travelin’ Live that was long overdue for a revival, “That Day At Calvary,” and “Statue of Liberty.” Two of the songs are live cuts from a live DVD the group released and feature fellow Cats alum Gerald Wolfe at the piano. While the new and creative arrangements that Signature Sound brought to the table were certainly stellar, the lower-key feel of this project makes just as much a fitting tribute as that project did.

Really, Trammell did the Cats proud on this project. While I would have liked to hear Dustin Sweatman and Joel Wood featured more (especially since this turned out to be Wood’s final effort with the group), the singing is impeccable. Pat Barker’s voice has drawn comparisons to George Younce over the years, but on these songs especially, the similarity is almost scary. If you enjoyed the Cathedrals and didn’t care for the HUGE sound of EHSS’ work, then this tribute to one of the best groups in SG history will be right up your alley. Treasures receives 5 stars.

Gold City Releasing “Somebody’s Coming”

October 14, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

At long last, Gold City is completely finished with the project that they have spent over a year and a half, and a couple of lineup changes, making. The announcement was made this morning on Gold City’s Facebook page:

It is finished!!!!!!!!!! Our new CD will be available the first week of November!!!!

There you have it. Now, maybe Gold City can get this behind them and look ahead to the future with this great new lineup.

Youtube Feature: Gold City with Jerry Pelfrey

October 08, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, SG Artists, SG Music, Youtube

Last night, I attended a Gold City concert about 45 minutes away from me, and took plenty of video of the event. Rather than write a review, I’ll let the videos speak for me.

This was my first time seeing them outside of NQC since Brent Mitchell and Craig West were still with the group. I was looking forward to hearing Dan Keeton with them, as well as hearing new lead singer Jerry Pelfrey. He has only been with them for a couple of weeks. Take a look at how the sound has come together:

CD Review: Greater Vision – The Only Way

October 08, 2011 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Greater Vision, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 4 stars

Producer: Gerald Wolfe
Label: Daywind Records
Website: www.greatervisionmusic.com

Song titles: He Didn’t When He Could’ve Passed By; Safe Within His Hand; No Longer Chained; I Know A Man Who Can; He’s The Only Way; Like I Wish I’d Lived; But God; We Still Have To Pray; Eternity’s About To Begin; Heaven Can’t Be Far Away; Another Child’s Coming Home

Buy Project Here

Since the release of Not Alone in 2008, the group has undergone a period of transition that saw the return of the trio’s original tenor, Chris Allman. Though Allman’s voice has been heard on the Jubilee 2 project, Welcome Back (a collection of studio re-recordings of recent Greater Vision songs), and a spectacular independent Christmas release, this is his first “true” mainline release since his return to the road. This is also the first mainline project in a number of years without Lari Goss producing; that task went to lead singer Gerald Wolfe this time around.

Unless you have been living under a rock since around April 2010, you’ve heard the buzz that Chris Allman has generated (and continues to generate) with his vocals, that have only improved with time. Those are a highlight reel all throughout The Only Way, with tenor features ranging from the prayerful “Like I Wish I’d Lived,” to the upbeat “Eternity’s About To Begin,” to the Kirk Talley signature that has gone over very well for Allman in concert settings, “I Know A Man Who Can.” Though the latter is usually done with just piano and bass guitar accompaniment when sung live, the studio version is no less spectacular. He also closes the CD with a song from his own pen that could go very far for him in terms of garnering attention for his songwriting skills, “Another Child’s Coming Home.”

Allman and Rodney Griffin got the lion’s share of songwriting done on this project; Griffin has four songs (one of which he co-wrote with Twila LaBar, “But God”), Allman has three, and the two co-wrote one. “He Didn’t When He Could’ve Passed By” could be a good radio single, and I predict that “No Longer Chained” will become another “Rodney Griffin signature” song. Gerald Wolfe revives “But God,” a tune that the late Roger Bennett of Legacy Five sang on his final project, Live In Music City, and though the delivery is different between the two, Wolfe’s emotion shows throughout and makes it an equally well-done rendition. While I prefer the original recording of “Heaven Can’t Be Far Away” (as recorded by the original Greater Vision), it is a nice inclusion here, though it could have been left off without a real gap in the music.

Greater Vision’s sound with Allman’s return is solid, and this project affirms that very well. Another thing this project accomplishes is giving a taste of what the production value will be when Lari Goss can no longer sit in the producer’s chair; Wolfe did a fine job with it on this effort. The Only Way receives a solid 4 stars.


New Quartet: Canton Junction

October 07, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Canton Junction, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, Youtube

Hat tip goes to Daniel for this one: check out this clip of a new quartet that was just announced. The lineup is tenor Matt Hagee (pastor of Cornerstone Church), lead Aaron Crabb, baritone Michael Sykes, and bass Tim Duncan.


Tim Duncan had this to say on his Facebook page:

I am so excited to finally be able to tell you about the new quartet!! Canton Junction consists of Pastor Matt Hagee, Aaron Crabb, Michael Sykes and myself. These guys are great and I am so blessed to be a part of this amazing new group! Stay tuned for more information!!

No real word yet on whether this group is full-time or part-time, but I have a feeling that with Hagee’s pastorate, it will be part-time. The Youtube video description also bills them as the “new Cornerstone Church quartet,” which further leads me to believe it’s a part-time deal. I’ve been surprised before, though.

Either way, these guys have a really good sound (a la the Ryan Seaton Quartet), so hopefully we’ll get a recording out of them at least.

Introducing: Daniel Ashmore

October 06, 2011 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Old Paths

Yesterday, the Old Paths officially announced that they have hired 21-year old bass singer Daniel Ashmore of Southaven, MS to take that position following the departure of Brandon Barry for the LeFevre Quartet. Now, via their official Youtube channel, comes a clip of his singing. Here is “Going Home:”


Ashmore is already garnering a lot of attention from fans and artists alike. For being such a young age, his voice is surprisingly mature. The comparison that comes to my mind is Chris West, but I can hear shades of Mike Allen as well. When he is so inclined, he can also sound like Pat Barker. For evidence of that, and a taste of his lower range, see this clip that was released around NQC time, when he was still “unknown” and the group was trying to get people to guess his age:


Daniel certainly has a bright future in Southern Gospel music, as evidenced by getting such a warm reception already. From the artist’s side of things, I read a post where the Dove Brothers and The Old Paths were on the same program. Dove Brothers bass Burman Porter made the remark that “when that boy gets a little more age on him he’ll sound like a fog horn.” How’s that for a vote of confidence?

The Blackwood Quartet and The Toney Brothers Merge

October 04, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Blackwood Quartet, SG Artists, SG History, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Toney Brothers

When a change hit the Toney Brothers earlier this year that left bass singer and group owner Terry Toney as the sole full-time member, many wondered what the future held for the long-standing quartet. Over the past couple of months, I’ve observed some movements taking place in that regard, but tonight, an official statement was released from Mark Blackwood and Terry Toney about the situation:

Blackwood Quartet and Toney Brothers have joined forces!

The history of the Blackwood family and the Toney family goes all the way back to the 1940’s, when Alden Toney joined the Blackwood Brothers to sing tenor when the group was based in Shenandoah, IA. He stayed as tenor through the move to Memphis, TN in 1951 and together they introduced great songs such as, “Lead me to that rock”.

Some 30 years ago, Mark Blackwood and Terry Toney became friends and for many years have had a close working relationship. They have filled in for each other’s group in times of need, helped each other in scheduling, and have lended moral support to each other. Mark and Terry have often discussed the possibility of merging these two groups. The timing just was not right, until recently.

Effective immediately, the Toney Brothers and the Blackwood Quartet have merged. Mark Blackwood and Terry Toney will now bring their collective talents together as the Blackwood Quartet. Terry Toney says “Mark is a good businessman, strong vocalist, and great stage manager. I am really excited to join forces with him.” Mark says “Terry brings not only his strong bass voice, but 39 years of experience to the stage. Terry has a winning personality and provides great comic relief”.

A new project is underway. Be sure to check the group’s schedule so you can come see them soon.

As expected, the group is filling both dates that the Blackwood Quartet had already scheduled and dates from the Toney Brothers’ calendar. The current lineup is: tenor Derrick Boyd, lead/baritone Mark Blackwood, baritone Roger Robinson, and bass Terry Toney. This sounds like a strong enough group that I am looking forward to hearing the new project.

I wonder if Toney will bring over some songs from his group’s repertoire to sing. I, for one, would like to hear this quartet cover “Just As He Is,” a song recorded by the Toney Brothers that was never released on a project but is a strong enough song that it would provide good radio presence to the group if they singled it. You can still hear it at the Toney Brothers webpage, and interestingly enough, it features Blackwood Quartet members Derrick Boyd and Terry Toney, giving a preview of sorts for the new Blackwood Quartet sound.