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

Archive for the ‘Gold City’

Gold City with Jerry Pelfrey

September 26, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, SG Artists, SG Music, Youtube

Youtube user bigdrummer21 has put up a couple of videos of one of Jerry Pelfrey’s first concerts as lead singer for Gold City (hat tip, jdsumner):



Though the videos are certainly not pristine quality, these offer a glimpse into the potential of this lineup. I noticed that Pelfrey’s stage presence is already strong, and will only get better the longer he’s with the group. I can already hear the Ivan Parker similarity in his voice as well. I’m looking forward to hearing them for myself in a couple of weeks.

Gold City’s New Lead Singer Is…

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

Jerry Pelfrey. He’s apparently sung in some regional groups, and he’s from Chattanooga, TN. He just put on his Facebook that he is the new lead. A press release should be forthcoming soon.

He should be appearing at NQC on Thursday (h/t, Brandon.) Brandon has some clips of Jerry’s singing, and he sounds like a young Ivan Parker. It appears Gold City will not be losing a thing in the lead department.

Craig West Leaving Gold City

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

Nate Stainbrook has the scoop straight from the horse’s mouth at NQC: West is leaving because two days a week at home is not enough time to raise his son. The quote here:

“Well, you see I have never traveled with a Southern Gospel group before, and I have a ten year old at home that has been used to seeing his daddy home every day. At first it was fine as my son thought it was real cool that his dad was a singer; but after awhile it started getting to my son that he only gets to see me maybe two days a week. My wife told me one day that our son was not doing well at all without his dad at home. So I went and talked to my son about it, after some gentle prodding, he told me that really wants me to be home with him again. Well you see I myself had been feeling like I was not putting my family first and then when my son verbalized his feelings to me about the situation which convinced to start really seeking God’s will. One day while I was running some errands my old boss saw me, and said he wanted to talk to me about something. So we went to lunch where he asked me if I were interested in coming back to his company. After which he told me that God had been impressing it on his heart to talk to me about working for him again. Well I knew then what I had to do. I got ahold of Danny and let him know what was going on.”

Gold City has had a lot of changes take place over the past couple of hires, and I won’t go into the nature of all of them here, but this is probably one of the most clear-cut reasons out of the bunch. Family is important, and often, juggling family and work becomes a full-time gig in and of itself. Some artists (and their families as well) can handle Dad being out on the road so much better than other singers or their spouses/kids, and they make it work. Others don’t handle it quite so well, as is the case here. It is perfectly understandable why Craig is stepping down; there’s no hidden agenda here, and Stainbrook finally going and asking him about it can put the rumors to rest better than any press release about the departure. Yes, he’s leaving, and it is to spend more time at home. As disappointing as it may be to some, Craig is just doing the right thing, the honorable thing, and there’s no juicy story.

Craig West is a tremendous young talent, as I have said many times. His contributions to Gold City’s sound, though short-lived, was profound, and I will miss hearing what he brought to the table. Perhaps one of these days, we will see and hear him again with another big group.

I have been told that Gold City has already found a new lead singer from a regional group, but I will refrain from posting who it is until I get the green light. I wonder if he has already put his vocals on the upcoming project…

Youtube Find: Dan Keeton with Gold City

May 09, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, SG Artists, SG Music, Youtube

Since the official hire of Dan Keeton to the tenor position in the Gold City quartet, the only video footage available came in the form of two videos from a webcast on a date when Keeton was filling in. He was still getting used to the other voices and the material at that point, but it still sounded good; however, more footage was being sought after. Finally, more has come. Take a look at these videos, the first being what is apparently Keeton’s signature solo that he has brought to the group, Oh What A Savior:

That video alone is probably the finest performance I’ve seen Keeton give ever, much less with Gold City.

Here are some more of him tackling some Gold City fare:

Interesting to note about this one: I have heard many a person say that they wish Gold City had hired Keeton after the departure of Jay Parrack. I’ve noticed an increase in the number of Parrack era songs being brought back recently, and this one is one that is exceptionally challenging for tenor to consistently sing because of the high arrangement. Keeton passes the litmus test for that one (even though I’m pretty sure I’m hearing stacks, he comes through clear enough that you can tell he doesn’t fully rely on their support.) (h/t Nate for posting the video first over at his blog!)

This one includes a fun moment before Gold City sings by bringing on a “scrap-iron” quartet of tenor(!) Jeff Easter, lead Scott Fowler, baritone Clayton Inman, bass Tim Riley, and pianist Jeff Stice.

Personal Update & Gold City News

March 30, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

I’m back! It seems like that I have said that a lot recently, but quite honestly, this senior year of high school has thrown my schedule out of whack more than it has ever been. Hard to believe it will be over in a little over two months. On a positive note, I finally made my college decision, and will be attending Radford University in the Fall as a Software Engineering major!

Now, turning the focus back onto the world of Southern Gospel, Gold City is once again welcoming a new tenor. From a Facebook message posted by Gold City around the time I started this post:

“Brent Mitchell has decided to come off the road. Dan Keeton is the official new tenor for Gold City. As many of you know, Brent and Heather welcomed a new baby girl, Paislee, back in January. She has been experiencing some health problems and he has decided to come off the road to focus on his family. We will miss Brent and covet your prayers for his daughter. For more on this, visit goldcityqt.com

Earlier today, Dan Keeton posted an open letter at his website, keetonsong.com. You can read the letter in its entirety there, but I will post an excerpt of it that makes the announcement:

“…As of Monday, March 28th, 2011, I retired and disbanded “The Keetons”. Nancy is doing what she loves, being a High-Risk Labor and Delivery RN. Jim Sheldon will follow his calling in a full time music ministry and your friend, Dan Keeton, has accepted the position of Tenor in the one and the only … Gold City Quartet!

Thank you so much for your prayers and support of The Keetons. Please come see me soon with Gold City!

Dan Keeton

I was talking a friend of mine the other week after a webcast appearance of Gold City in which Dan Keeton was filling in, and at the time, I was unimpressed. It could have been the quality of the webcast, the fact that I was forgetting that it was only his second night out with them, I don’t know; whatever the reason, I told my friend that I didn’t think Keeton was a good fit at all.

That being said, I have heard clips and comments from several people who don’t mince words about what they think about a group’s sound; people who can be very tough critics. Every single one of them have come away from seeing Keeton with the group recently saying that the sound Gold City had was unbelievably strong, and that it was reminiscent of the Jay Parrack days. I’m hoping some new video will pop up soon, because my interest has definitely increased.

My doubts in Dan’s fit have certainly been erased by what I have seen and heard, and may this lineup of Gold City have the best possible run it can have! I certainly wish Brent Mitchell and his family well, and I encourage you all to pray for he and his little girl as they deal with the recent health issues.

Update: Also from Facebook, a personal statement from Brent Mitchell:

For all who have asked. I am no longer with Gold City. My 3 month old daughter has been very sick for the past few weeks and I feel I need to be with my family at this time. Family has always come first in my life but I am so sad to leave my dream job. I just did not think it was fair to Gold City for me to hold them back not knowing the future health of my little girl. Please pray for my family that she will get thru whatever her little body is going thru right now. I will miss GC and cherish the little time I had there!

Video Roundup: Gold City at Temple Baptist Church, Madison Heights, VA, Feb. 25, 2011

March 05, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, SG Artists, SG Music

I got the opportunity to attend a benefit concert in my area last weekend featuring Gold City, Garden of Grace, and Doug Smith. This concert was part of an annual series put on by Central Virginia Angel Hearts, and all the proceeds for this event went toward the medical expenses of Erin Hope Coleman, a four-year old girl who has complications due to a very premature birth. I was unable to take any video, but my friend Andrew Graham was, and here’s what he posted:

“It Won’t Be Long” will be featured on the groups upcoming release, Somebody’s Coming, but in the meantime, they’ve been staging the song and working in some comedic moments!

What Children Believe – This was an unplanned moment in the concert, but Daniel had remarked from the stage how fun it was to watch little Erin Hope (the girl whom the concert was held for) dancing around to the songs the group was singing. As soon as he said that, she made her way up the stairs to give him a big hug. He picked her up and told Bryan he wanted to do this song for Erin Hope, and so the group did. This was one of the highlights of the night, as far as I’m concerned.

Truth Is Marching On

Midnight Cry – New lead singer Craig West has been making quite a name for himself in that position for Gold City, especially on this signature song. Ivan Parker may have introduced it, but Craig gets my vote for the best singer to take it on since Parker. It is worth noting that I was told after the concert that Craig was still recovering from bronchitis that night.

Anyone who has perused the various SG blogs these past few months undoubtedly knows that former Mercy’s Mark bass singer Chris West (who is, coincidentally, Craig’s brother) is the soundman for Gold City, and that he has been coming up to sing bass on a couple of songs every night. Daniel Riley confirmed from the stage what speculation has stated for some time: Chris is being prepped to take Tim Riley’s spot when he eventually retires again. West only sang this song, “After A While,” with the group that night, but judging by the sound and the response of the crowd, he will be the perfect fit with the group.

What’s been happening?

February 21, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Cathedrals, The Inspirations

Due to “real world” time constraints, and the fact that the Southern Gospel world has been relatively quiet, I haven’t been blogging lately, but time is more free now, and what better to start the blogging back up than a news roundup of the past week?

1. The Songfellows Quartet have announced the hire of two new members, and the change and people hired are big enough that this announcement caught my eye immediately. On tenor is a recognizable name from his days with the Singing Americans, Stamps, Kingdom Heirs, etc., Rick Strickland, and bringing the bass part is Brad Smith, whom you may know from his days with Monument Quartet and Blackwood Quartet, among others. Both of these hires possess considerable talent; I have long said Smith is one of the most underrated vocalists out there, and while Rick Strickland sounded a bit shaky at the Singing Americans reunion, time on the road will solve that. While I’m not all that familiar with the Songfellows, this personnel change is very intriguing, and I’m hoping to get to hear them sometime soon.

The rest of my updates are nothing but Youtube videos, so let’s get started!

This video of a young Scott Fowler with The Sound has been making the rounds, and rather than be redundant, I won’t post it, but if you look through that particular user’s channel, he has a veritable gold mine of footage from groups. Here are a couple clips I found, but if you have the time, it’s well worth it to go through his entire channel:

To finish up, here’s the first clips of baritone Jon Epley with The Inspirations:

Gold City with Chris West

January 17, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, SG Artists, SG History, SG Music

When I went to Youtube this morning to search for something, I got a pleasant surprise in my subscription bar; a video entitled “GOLD CITY’S NEW BASS SINGER 1-16-2011” (caps not mine.)

I had heard rumors that Chris West, former Mercy’s Mark bass singer and current sound man for Gold City, was being called up to sing several songs every night with the group, but this video was the first true evidence I had seen of it. It starts off with Tim Riley (who sounds like he’s channeling JD Sumner in this clip!) talking about Chris and their friendship, and then bringing him on stage as “After A While” begins playing. He then steps off to one of the wings and West proceeds to nail the song with a bass voice that has all the depth and power to it that Riley has now.

This video, I think, is solid proof that Riley is prepping West to take his place after his eventual second retirement. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it on this blog or not, but I have a feeling that is the most prudent method. With Bill Lawrence, and even Aaron McCune, it was almost a case of Tim up and retired, hired another bass singer, and rode off into the sunset. The problem with that is this: fans of Gold City immediately think of Riley and his singing when Gold City is mentioned. All of a sudden, they’re left with a new bass to get used to. That didn’t go over too well, and neither Lawrence nor McCune, unfortunately, were ever really accepted as “Gold City’s bass” by many of its fans.

Now, before I go any further, let me say that none of that was meant as an offense to either of those singers. They are both fine basses and I enjoyed both of them with Gold City, but I just observed over those time periods what the general response was from the fan base.

The beauty of this method of transition is this: it is already known that Tim is coming off the road again eventually. Bringing Chris up on stage every night and introducing him saying that he has been working with him gives fans a concrete image of Tim giving this young man the thumbs-up as his replacement, which is something that did not happen with the other two. If fans can physically see the passing of the torch, they will more readily accept him. It also helps that West sounds like a young Riley, anyway.

And so, dear readers, here’s a preview of the next generation of Gold City:

New Year’s Roundup

January 04, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Blackwood Quartet, Gold City, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, Statement of Faith, The Down East Boys

Though I’m a few days late, welcome to 2011, everybody!

I haven’t found the time to update the blog in the past couple of days, so here’s a roundup of what I missed:

1. Tony Jarman joins the Down East Boys – Daniel Mount has the scoop: the former Poet Voices, Legacy Five, and Old Time Gospel Hour Quartet tenor has joined the quartet after the end of Jason Runnels’ eight-year run. Jarman starts on January 13. I’ve thought for quite some time that the Down East Boys are one of the most underrated quartets out there, and this newest addition to the group may be what they need to produce some music that will give them some well-deserved attention.

Nate Pritchard has posted a video on Burke’s Brainwork of one of Tony’s big songs of his L5 days, but I’ll post one of my personal favorites: this performance of “Little Is Much” is taken from the Live At The Palace video that L5 did with Greater Vision, and features Jarman out front with piano as the only instrumentation, leaving that clear tenor to deliver the song unmarred by an overly loud track.

2. David Mann joins Statement of Faith – Right on the heels of the news of the trio’s former baritone heading to The Inspirations, they have announced that Mann will join his brothers-in-law. Mann comes from a stint of a few years with the Blackwood Quartet, and I have always been impressed with his voice. His talent, combined with those of Jacob and Joe Kitson, will make for a great trio in Statement of Faith. Their debut project already impressed me; their next should be even better.

Here’s a clip of him singing baritone for the Blackwood Quartet. The lineup at the time this clip is tenor Dale Evans, lead Mark Blackwood, baritone David Mann, and bass Chris West.

3. There are clips floating around of Craig West’s debut as Gold City’s lead singer. I won’t post them all, but here’s one of a Gold City standard: Midnight Cry. Craig’s voice possess the soul-tinged vocals of Michael English, while having the power of  Josh Feemster or early Ivan Parker. If this clip doesn’t convince you that West fits the group like a glove, I don’t know what will.

New Gold City Lead Singer Announced

December 19, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

Well, that was fast!

A trip to the Singing News website today revealed that Gold City has announced their new lead singer, who is taking the position after the resignation of Bruce Taliaferro:

Gold City has announced that Craig West  of Jasper, Alabama, is the group’s new lead vocalist. (emphasis mine.)

His first date with Gold City will be Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010, in Villa Rica, Georgia.

“Bruce Taliaferro, who sang with our group for three years, is a dear friend,” adds Daniel Riley, “and one of the finest lead singers to come along in years. I will miss singing and traveling with him. I look forward to introducing Craig to the friends of Gold City at a concert or church service near you soon.”

Diana Brantley (DinanaSN on various forums and Youtube) has already said on the Southern Gospel Forums that she will be there to take videos of Craig’s debut concert, but in the meantime, she has captured several videos of him over the years. These three videos are of the “No Name Quartet,” an unnamed group that was set to hit the road a couple years ago but never did. Brent Mitchell, the current Gold City tenor, was filling in for this first concert while the group was searching for a full-time tenor. Josh Feemster (Mercy’s Mark) sang the lead, Craig was the baritone, and Gold City soundman and former Mercy’s Mark bass Chris West (brother to Craig) was the bass singer:


What has struck me most about Craig, both when I first heard him and now, is how much he sounds like a young Michael English, all the while having a style of his own. He’s a great choice for the part; he definitely has the range to handle the material, and there’s the added bonus of having sung with Brent Mitchell before (he, Brent, and Chris had a quartet of their own several years back), so that will make for a strong blend.

Another good thing is that, according to several reports I’ve seen, Chris West is running sound with the group, but is getting called up to sing several songs each night. This leads me to believe that when Tim Riley eventually retires again, Chris will step in as the new bass. This will give Gold City three singers that have previously sung together, plus Daniel Riley. That will make for a great sound, and it should be similar to the current one; Chris already has the depth and power in his voice that Tim has, and that can only grow stronger with time.

Craig should be on the upcoming mainline release, so, much like Bruce did when he first joined, he’ll have new material with which to make a name for himself. Gold City has made a great pick here; they managed to get a lead singer that has the command of a vocalist like Ivan Parker or Jonathan Wilburn, while having Bruce Taliaferro’s soulful sound as well.

Update: David Bruce Murray left a comment with a link to a post on his blog that Kyle Boreing put up this morning featuring two clips of the Promise Quartet, a group that Brent, Craig, and Chris sang in together. Throw in Daniel Riley and you could be hearing what Gold City will end up sounding like in the near future, claims Kyle. Check them out!

The first clip, “Glory Land” features Craig and shows off some of his upper range that I, personally, didn’t realize he possessed, and is very uncommon for a lead singer to have. After hearing that, I hear some similarities between he and Josh Feemster. The second clip, “Turn Your Back” features Chris. Coincidentally, that song was done on Gold City’s last mainline release, Moment of Truth.