Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.
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Archive for February, 2014

Video of the Day: The Hoppers Revised

February 26, 2014 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Music, The Hoppers, Youtube

This clip was just too good not to post. Borrowing from the uploader’s title for the video (h/t, psalmofpraise), this comes from the Southwest Gospel Music Festival in Phoenix, AZ. Kim and Connie Hopper were snowed in and unable to make it to Phoenix for the Hoppers’ set that night, so Dean, Claude, and Mike put together a group of “honorary Hoppers” in the meantime. They were joined by Doug Anderson on Connie’s part, Chris Allman carrying Kim’s part, and Tim Lovelace sitting in on the piano.

If you’re going to put a group of singers together in a pinch, this is the way to do it!

Youtube Spotlight: Skyline Boys

February 25, 2014 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Music, The Skyline Boys, Youtube

Last weekend found me attending the Winter Hearts Benefit Concert, an annual event held in my home area of Lynchburg, VA. Each year, this organization brings in a Southern Gospel group (or multiple artists) to put on a concert to benefit a local family in need. This time, the lineup featured Howie McKinney (a soloist from Salem, VA), the Skyline Boys, and the Rick Webb Family. Space constraints and battery life prevented me from capturing the Rick Webb Family’s set, but I will say that I came away impressed from my first time hearing them. It was mentioned by the promoter that they are return favorites for the event, but I had never had the opportunity to hear them.

I did manage to take a few clips of the Skyline Boys. They were traveling with a fill-in lead singer after Brian Alvey’s departure, but it was not mentioned from the stage that he was filling in, and you wouldn’t have known the difference if you weren’t aware that they are searching. I hadn’t seen the group outside of NQC before, so it was nice hearing a fuller set from them. They did two songs from their new project, Love Came Through, and I was able to capture one: “Sing It, Brother, Sing It.” The new songs went over very well.

The lineup for this concert was tenor Jodi Hosterman, fill-in lead Chris Williams, baritone Chris Little, and bass Dennis Powers.

Woodsmen Quartet Welcomes Two New Members

February 20, 2014 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, Woodsmen Quartet

We all know about the big announcement this week with the Gaither Vocal Band. That’s been covered well, so I won’t rehash it. Instead, I’ll spotlight another group that has reconfigured.

You may have seen the Woodsmen Quartet in their brief appearances on main stage at NQC, or maybe you’ve heard of them because of some of their past members (Derrick Boyd of the Dixie Melody Boys, Carolina Boys, and others, or Jim Huston, brother to Bryan Hutson of the Kingsmen and Soul’d Out Quartet). They’ve recently had a shift in membership, with two faces that some might recognize coming on board:

The Woodsmen Quartet would like to announce the new additions to the group!

As you may have already heard, Josh Arnett, our lead singer has announced his departure and has decided to pursue other things. Josh is one of the best lead singers in the business and we will definitely miss him a lot as he was a huge part of the Woodsmen and always will be! We are thankful for Josh’s time with us and wish him the best! Coming back to sing lead for the Woodsmen is our own Jim Hutson, as you may have heard. We’re very excited to have Jim back with us and look forward to see what will happen in 2014!

Some of you may have heard but our tenor, Scott Joss has also announced his departure from the Woodsmen. Scotty has been a great asset and we will miss him and wish him the best! Coming in to fill in the tenor shoes is 22 year old Daniel Rivera from Merrillville, IN. Daniel is no stranger to Southern g=Gospel music. Having sung with The Toney Brothers, Blackwood Legacy, Promise, and The Hallmark Quartet, Daniel brings to the stage a sound of a seasoned southern gospel veteran. We look forward to this brand new lineup and can’t wait to see what God has in store! They will start together in March!

This has the makings of a quartet with a great sound. I’m not all that familar with Jim Hutson’s singing (just enough to know he’s good), but I actually got to hear Daniel Rivera when he filled in with Promise back in 2012. Here are a couple of clips from that concert:

It’s safe to say that these two men will be an asset to the Woodsmen Quartet.

CD Review: Mark Trammell Quartet – Your Walk Talks

February 06, 2014 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Mark Trammell Quartet, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 4 starsYourWalkTalks_CD

Label: Crimson Road Productions
Website: www.marktrammellministries.com

Song titles: Don’t Stop Running; God’s Been Faithful; When the King Comes To Claim His Throne;  Thanks to Calvary; I’ll Go Over Jordan Someday; Man of Sorrows; Your Walk Talks; To Know He Knows Me; I’ll Take It To The Grave; I Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way

The Mark Trammell Quartet has had quite a time since their last release of new songs (Testimony in 2010. They’ve released three projects of mostly older material since). The lineup on Testimony included tenor Joel Wood, lead Dustin Sweatman, baritone Mark Trammell, and bass Pat Barker. During the span from then to now, Wood left and original tenor Eric Phillips rejoined the group. Sweatman came off the road and Mark’s son, Nick, stepped into the role. Phillips then left the road again, and the group was left looking for a tenor. After a trial run, Dustin Black was eventually named as the new guy.

Despite these transitions, the group has not rested on its laurels. This project serves as a debut for two things: a new sound/lineup for the group, and the birth of a new record company in Crimson River Productions.  With stakes as high as these, one would be forgiven for wondering if this project collapses under the weight of its own promise. It does not.

The wait for truly new music from the Mark Trammell Quartet has been long (four years), but worth it. While the better-known projects in the group’s discograpy have been pretty ballad centric, this one only has one such track in “Man of Sorrows.” That is certainly a strong track, but one will probably think of the upbeat songs when recalling this CD. “When The King Comes To Claim His Throne” and “I’ll Take It To The Grave” are two major standouts, one telling of the milennial reign and the other celebrating the joy and peace that we have forever in Christ. On the other end of the tempo scale, “God’s Been Faithful” and “Thanks to Calvary” are worth mentioning. The latter is the George Younce signature, and while it doesn’t stray too far from the original, it is a fitting tribute in the context of the recent Cathedral Family Reunion.

I have alluded to the “new sound” that debuts with this project, and that’s one of the reasons I appreciate this release. The difference is most evident with the tenor part. Though no one could truly duplicate the sound the group had with Eric Phillips, Joel Wood was a hire that had a similar tone, so the group’s sound never really wavered from what it used to be. Dustin Black, on the other hand, is another matter entirely. Phillips made the MTT/MTQ unique because of his through-the-roof notes and consistently high harmonies; Black makes them unique by having a different sound from any tenor on the road, and while he is not as stratospherical as Phillips, his blend with the group is smoother. His feature at the end of the project, “I Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way,” is a perfect showcase of this, though “I’ll Take It To The Grave” sounds like one they would have done with Phillips.

MTQ continues their line of strong song choices and a recognizable sound with Your Walk Talks, and this will undoubtedly be seen as one of the best quartet releases in 2014. It receives 4 stars.