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

NQC 2013 Main Stage Schedule – First Take

January 18, 2013 By: Aaron Category: NQC, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

By now, most of you have probably seen the initial schedule for NQC’s last year in Louisville. Since the showcase schedule is not really fully formed yet, I’ll just comment on the main stage lineup. Daniel Mount gave a good rundown of additions and removals, so I’ll quote his list and give my thoughts below:

The Inspirations and The Torchmen return, and there are five new artists: 11th Hour, Keepers of the Faith, Old Paths, Providence Quartet, Wilburn & Wilburn.

Meanwhile, ten artists on the 2012 program won’t be returning to the mainstage: Bowlings, Browders, Chuck Wagon Gang, Down East Boys, Naomi & the Segos, Nelons, Paul’s Journey, Pfeifers, Sisters, Skyline Boys.

I’ll admit, I don’t “get” some of the moves. I remember a conversation I had with a friend shortly after last NQC. We noticed the strength of both of Tribute Quartet’s sets (two of the best sets of the convention), and my friend commented that the Down East Boys seemed to have been received just as well. As someone who actually attended and caught both groups, I agreed; plus, they are seeing some success from their latest major release. Surely they could have gotten at least one night; perhaps another Quartet Night slot as they did last year.

Sisters were on the Gaither slot, but they also took the spot of the King’s Heralds for “A Capella” moments in between sets. I wonder if they’re doing away with that feature altogether, or if they’ll bring in a completely different group like the Penny Loafers to fill the spot.

Nelons were also on the Gaither slot, and got a favorable response. For their first set on main stage in years, it was apparent that the crowd was glad to have them back. Of course, it’s entirely possible that they and the Sisters will be with Gaither again.

I’m glad to see Wilburn & Wilburn and the Old Paths get spots this year. The Old Paths have had it coming for years; “Battle Stand” going #1 no doubt sealed the deal.

The Inspirations return after not appearing last year; Ernie Haase & Signature Sound and Dove Brothers, so far, don’t share the same fate. If you look around in the comments section of a couple other blogs, you’ll get a pretty decisive answer on one of those, but it’s fair game for these and several other absences.

If history repeats itself, this schedule will undergo several changes before September rolls around, but for now, let the speculating and “armchair quarterbacking” begin! 🙂

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5 Comments to “NQC 2013 Main Stage Schedule – First Take”

  1. Aaron, please explain to me what Down East is doing that Tribute isn’t that merits them a spot on NQC. I have no disrespect for Down East, in fact I’ve met Ricky Carden on a couple of occasions and he’s always been a class act to me. I have nothing against his group at all. But I am failing to see why you think they deserve a spot, apparently at the expense of one of Tribute’s three slots. Since you singled them out, that’s what you seem to be implying.

    Down East doesn’t get in my area often and our radio station never plays them, so truthfully I’m not terribly familiar with this success you mention with regard to their latest album, or anything else about them for that matter. It has nothing to do with their ability or my tastes, it is more a lack of their exposure in my area. Tribute does get to our area more often, and I have become a fan who keeps up with their music. Tribute’s name is regularly on nearly every major promotor’s event roster. They’ve done a lot of major events, cruises, TBN, have a lot of radio play on Solid Gospel (which is what our local station here plays), and I know that Tribute utilizes well their social media and had nine Top Ten Singing News Fan Award nominations last year. They’re on a major recording label and booking agency, and they are involved in industry organizations too. Those are undisputable and documented facts. I also know that the NQC board is made up of a lot of group owners, which makes them peers to the artists they book for the main stage. So, if a group’s peers are saying Tribute is worthy of three nights, it must be because the board thinks they’re quality, fan-favorites, or a money-maker, because that’s the balancing act the board has to deal with annually. I think that’s something we all forget—this line-up is what the board thinks is the best to attract the most amount of people to make the most money. So, if a group isn’t on there…well….I’m sorry if no one wants to think about that stinging possibility that those artists are just not popular enough. AND, there is also the possibility that groups are invited but decline. It does happen. So while everyone is “armchair second-guessing” the board when this list comes out, none of us know the reasons behind the omissions to main stage. I do think that Down East, Bowlings, Nelons, and Sisters could easily have merited being on the list, but every year there are names that fail to make the main stage that keep us all shaking our heads.

    I hope you don’t take me wrong, because I’m really not trying to be critical or confrontational. I just honestly want to know, and if I’m missing something about Down East, then I want to check them out further. But in reading your comment, my first thought was that the statement seemed unprofessional, justifying one group by cutting down another, and on the basis of your subjective opinion of one performance on a stage few artists feel like they do their best on to begin with. For what it’s worth, I was there and thought Tribute had two outstanding sets at NQC last year. I’m sure you didn’t mean it that way, but really is it necessary to single out any other group to compare Down East to in this post? You could have said they got as much response as other groups and left it at that–especially since you cited a group that from what I gather many industry personnel and fans alike consider to be the future of this music based on their already successful here-and-now.

    • Brad, thank you for your comment.

      In comparing Tribute to Down East, I was thinking of a conversation I had with a friend as the both of us were re-watching the footage from NQC this past year in the online archive. He didn’t attend the event, but I did. Tribute (rightfully) got a great response in both of their sets; great music, great vocals, and they FINALLY seem to be getting the attention that they deserve, especially with the stellar project they just put out. This friend made the observation that Down East seemed to be on or near the same level as Tribute in their one set. As someone who was present on the night that they sang, I agreed; the crowd seemed to respond just as favorably to both groups.

      They had one of the better sets I’ve seen from them in years. I’ve heard both “When I Could Do Nothing” and “I Won’t Trade My Crown,” two cuts from their latest project, on the radio station in my area quite a few times, the latter one especially, since it was a single. I think they are on a level with both material and personnel that merits at least one night on main stage; perhaps a Quartet Night spot again.

      I didn’t see that Tribute had three nights this year as opposed to two until you mentioned it. Good for them! Like you said, they deserve it. I only mentioned their name because I thought they had comparable reception from the NQC crowd; I certainly didn’t intend to put them down or suggest that they get cut down one night. Both groups get into my area in Virginia about the same amount, so my exposure to both is even.

      You’re right on our insight into the NQC Board’s decisions; I wish I was privy to some decisions, but I’m not. As such, you and I are left to speculate and commentate on blogs and message boards.

      I hope that this explains what I meant by my comments, and I hope I said nothing to offend you or anyone else. I’ll modify my wording on that part just to make sure my point is taken as intended.

  2. I appreciate your response, Aaron. I do want to reiterate there is no disrespect for anyone involved, yourself included. I personally believe that when one artist does well, the entire industry wins. That’s why it becomes personally disturbing to me when everyone starts picking apart who should and should not be on the stage, why a group was or wasn’t asked or why they declined, etc. Maybe I live in a dream world, but I prefer to honor God by attempting to accentuate the positive and not dwelling on the negative. I think what God uses for good—this wonderful thing called gospel music, Satan wants to infiltrate and destroy. And if he can’t silence it completely, he’ll set into motion discord and controvery over trivial things like this. A hundred years from now it’s not going to matter that one group was on NQC and another one wasn’t. And if it DOES matter a hundred years from now, I’m sure the good Lord himself will explain the great mysteries of the NQC evening line-up to us all! Perhaps that will be part of what the Bible calls the half that has not yet been told. LOL Keep sharing about this great music, Aaron!!

    • I agree with those points, Brad. And I apologize if my comments seemed to be aimed at picking apart any one group. I’ve followed Tribute since their first days with Jacob Kitson, and it’s been great seeing them ascend to where they are now. You’re right; their industry peers seem to view them as part of the future of Southern Gospel, and I believe they are, given the level that they have reached.

      Thank you for an interesting discussion, and your readership! Both are appreciated!

  3. Michael Davis says:

    As a big fan of both artists being discussed in this thread, let me say I applaud you both for your passion regarding them. Gary and Josh deserve all of the credit in the world for their success but so does Ricky Carden. For the record, the Down East Boys also are on a major recording label (Crossroads) and booking agency roster (Dominion Agency). Thank you for your discussion of two excellent male quartets!


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