I arrived in Louisville this evening just in time to settle in for the first group at 6:00, and stayed the rest of the night. A few thoughts from the evening:
1. If one were making a case for the comeback of live bands in SG, they could point to several of tonight’s sets as positive examples. The LeFevre Quartet’s set kicked off the night, and while a whole set of brand new songs by itself would be great to listen to, it grabbed my attention more when they hit the stage with a live band.
I also enjoyed seeing the Dixie Melody Boys with a band once again; while the “All-Star Quartet” that was scheduled never made it to the stage, the DMB brought the “All-Star Band” on stage: pianist Stewart Varnado, bass guitarist Scoot Shelnut, guitarist Madison Easter, drummer Michael Booth, and Adam Crabb on harmonica. It felt like going back in time hearing “When I Cross To The Other Side of Jordan” and “Ride That Glory Cloud” with a live band, complete with encores!
2. It was a night of debuts, with several vocalists making a first time appearance on Main Stage. The Dixie Echoes brought two new faces in tenor Craig Thomas and bass Jordan James, and the crowd enjoyed James especially, giving applause before the first line of “How Big Is God” was even finished. The Kingsmen presented lead Bob Sellers and tenor Chris Jenkins for the first time at NQC tonight as well, and the group got several standing Os in their set. To tie this in with the first note of the night, I sure wish the Kingsmen had put together a band!
Though not his first time on Main Stage (I believe he performed there with The Anchormen at least once), Paul Harkey made his first appearance there as the LeFevre Quartet’s bass singer. His vocals added to an already solid three other parts make for the best sound the group has had in their existence, and I thoroughly enjoyed their set.
3. Gold City’s “let the fans pick the set” thing that they did tonight made for one of the strongest sets of the evening. No talk, just singing. “Midnight Cry” especially got a big response, with most of the crowd standing at the end. The Jerry Pelfrey-Ivan Parker comparison was very strong.
4. This is usually the note where I would give my annual complaint about how awful the sound was, but I’m pleasantly surprised to say that I have no notes to that effect. Were there hiccups? Sure. However, the sound tonight was mostly an improvement over recent years, and I hope that this trend will carry throughout the week.
Look for more thoughts tomorrow night, and feel free to leave your own in the comments section!
Bonus note: Soul’d Out Quartet is AWESOME! (Rankin, I accept cash, checks, food, etc.).