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

Clips from NQC 2013

September 16, 2013 By: Aaron Category: Freedom, Mark209, NQC, Omega, SG Artists, SG Music, The Skyline Boys

As promised, here are a few videos of some performances at NQC 2013. We’ll start with the “debut” of Freedom Quartet:

Next up is the Skyline Boys, with completely new top parts with the return of Jodi Hosterman at tenor and the newly hired Brian Alvey at lead:

Here’s a trio called Omega from GA. They have been on main stage as showcase winners in the past couple of years. New lead singer Kevin Harry filled in for the Dixie Melody Boys before Josh Garner joined. From what I can gather, this was the lineup’s first time on stage.

Finally, up-and-coming group Mark209 sang a Christmas song a regional showcase:

NQC 2013

September 09, 2013 By: Aaron Category: NQC, SG Artists, SG Music

It’s that time of year again; the National Quartet Convention, which seems to be unofficially considered the “kickoff” of each Southern Gospel music year. Here’s just a few things I’m looking forward to this time around:

  • The Old Paths’ debut on mainstage. They’ve had it coming for quite a while!
  • The revamped Skyline Boys and Freedom as a quartet.
  • The Dixie Melody Boys. Their lineup right now is one to watch.
  • For that matter, I’m looking forward to hearing several groups that have changed members since last year, like Gold City and the Dixie Echoes.
  • The fellowship in the exhibit hall, which is the best part of events like this.

I’ll be headed to Louisville on Wednesday and staying through Friday.

As far as “live coverage,” I’ve decided to take it easy in that department. It’s the NQC’s last year in Louisville, so I’m going to kick back (as much as you can “kick back” at NQC, anyway!) and take it all in. Who knows; I may have a video or two from different things after it’s all said and done, but as far as regular coverage, I encourage you to check out some of the other SG blogs; I’m sure discussions will be taking place there. Of course, the comments section is open here as well!

As always, I’m looking forward to the biggest event in Southern Gospel music, and here’s to a great final year in Louisville!

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! 🙂

NQC 2012 Thoughts: Friday

September 15, 2012 By: Aaron Category: NQC, SG Artists, SG Music

1. Today marked the first ever NQC Music Awards show, and I’m still trying to decide how I feel about it. On the one hand, there were several moments that echoed the spontaneity of some of the Singing News Fan Awards shows throughout the year, but it ended up running really long and at times felt like a train careening out of control. At the beginning, some ground rules were laid out that basically said, “Stick to the script, no additional joking,” but that rule wasn’t followed, and actually became a joke in itself as the awards show went on. It did make for some moments that made me laugh till I cried, though!

But I digress. I don’t even remember who I voted for, but I can’t think of any winners today that left me disappointed. It was nice to see David Phelps win Favorite Tenor, for sure. Hopefully, if the Music Awards become an annual thing, they can refine what they do further.

2. Gaither’s block made for some of the strongest moments of the evening. Sisters had a strong set, especially with their A Capella number, as did The Nelons. Speaking of The Nelons, I was glad to see them finally get back on Main Stage, as they have had a quality group in recent years that deserved a spot there. Let’s hope this starts another streak of inclusion for them.

The Gaither Vocal Band did several things different from their usual material. Mark Lowry had fun with “I Catch ‘Em, God Cleans ‘Em,” and Matthew Holt played some great licks on the piano. By the way, he was officially announced as Gaither’s new pianist tonight. The new material from Pure And Simple went over really well with the crowd as well.

3. All the sound issues that have held off, for the most part, throughout the week all decided to converge on the day’s events. Feedback, mic level issues, and more plagued the night. Here’s hoping they will disappear so the sound can finish the week strong on Saturday.

NQC 2012 Thoughts: Thursday

September 14, 2012 By: Aaron Category: NQC, SG Artists, SG Music

Today was another busy day at NQC, and most of the evening found me in the exhibit hall visiting with friends. I will say that it was nice to finally meet Brian Crout in person! I thoroughly enjoy reading his blog and am looking forward to his notes on the week. Since I wasn’t in the audience for the evening concerts most the time, my thoughts on those are few, but I do have some observations from the day:

1. While Gaither still hasn’t successfully gotten every Gaither Vocal Band alum back together, it was nice to see Guy Penrod back. I appreciated the fact that the showcase wasn’t a rehash of the videos or last year’s reunion; there were plenty of moments that made it an event all it’s own. While I would have liked to hear Penrod featured more, it was nice to hear “Baptism of Jesse Taylor” again. Closing with “Glorious Freedom,” was a wise move; it’s a powerful song, and served as a sort of “teaser” for the GVB’s newest project, Pure and Simple.

2. In the “Things That Make You Wonder” department: did anybody else notice that Gene McDonald was on stage and singing for the Gaither Vocal Band Reunion? The wishful thinker in me wants that to be foreshadowing for something big…

3. While there were several repeated stories from last year, the “Funniest Stories” showcase is brilliant. The concept itself is great and well executed; it almost plays like sitting around a table at a restaurant somewhere swapping stories, except the audience is privy to the discussion. I would love to see a revolving cast each year, bringing in different artists with different stories each time.

4. Of the sets I did see in the evening concerts, two stood out. First, Tribute Quartet produced what was easily their strongest set since being on NQC Main Stage, and I don’t say that lightly. From song selection to the vocals, it was a testament to the group’s development. “Good News From Jerusalem,” in particular, was met with strong response.

The other set that stood out was Greater Vision’s, partly because of Gerald Wolfe’s generous move in bringing up an A Capella trio to sing the Doxology. Great sound, lots of potential, and very cool of Greater Vision to give up a portion of their time to spotlight a young group.

NQC 2012 Thoughts: Wednesday

September 13, 2012 By: Aaron Category: NQC, SG Artists, SG Music

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.).

National Quartet Convention Announces Move in 2014

September 09, 2012 By: Aaron Category: NQC, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

With college starting up for me recently, I hadn’t found much time to blog as I settled back in to the routine. Now that I’ve found a bit of time, what better news story to cover than a change in the biggest event in Southern Gospel music? It turns out that the rumors that have popped up around our corners of the web of NQC moving to Pigeon Forge are true. Check out the press release (emphasis mine).

Louisville, KY – The National Quartet Convention has announced the dates for the 2013 NQC. September 9 – 14 will be the dates for the 2013 NQC in Louisville, Kentucky. The event will be very special, as it will be the last year for the event to be held in Louisville. Many special and unique events are being planned for 2013, to celebrate the end of a wonderful era for the NQC in Louisville. Thousands of attendees from across the United States and Canada, as well as several countries around the world, will gather one last time in Louisville to relive great memories from two decades of gatherings at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center. Plans are already underway to make the 2013 NQC one of the biggest and best weeks of the event’s 55-year history. Many first-time attendees are also expected, as it will be their last chance to experience the NQC in this historic location.

In September of 2014, the National Quartet Convention will begin a new and exciting era as Gospel Music’s Largest Annual Event moves to one of America’s most popular, family-friendly vacation destinations… Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Reserved seating can be purchased for the 2013 NQC during this week’s event, in the North Wing Lobby of the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center, and will then be available at www.nqconline.com throughout the year. Attendees are urged to reserve seating and lodging early for the final year in Louisville.

It was not mentioned in the press release where, exactly, in Pigeon Forge that that NQC will find a home, but I’m assuming that they aim to hold the event in the new convention center being built there. While I’m not convinced that the size of that, or any of the facilities in Pigeon Forge, are a step up from Freedom Hall, I trust that a lot of time and thought was given to the decision. We’ll see what transpires in the next couple of years.

Speaking of NQC, I plan on being there from Wednesday night onward, and giving my thoughts on each night again (if not every night, then at least the nights on which I am attending). Say what you will about NQC, but the interaction with people on both sides of the stage lights is unrivaled at this event, and I look forward to joining many of you there!

NQC Music Awards: First Round

July 13, 2012 By: Aaron Category: NQC, NQC Music Awards, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

The first round of voting for the inaugural NQC Music Awards has officially begun. Here are my votes for each category this time around.

Bass Singer of the Year – Tim Riley

Baritone Singer of the Year – Scott Inman

Lead Singer of the Year – Arthur Rice

Tenor Singer of the Year – Chris Allman

Soprano Singer of the Year – Sonya Isaacs Yeary

Alto Singer of the Year – Libbi Stuffle

Soloist of the Year – Jason Crabb

Male Group of the Year – Kingdom Heirs

Mixed Group of the Year – The Isaacs

Musician of the Year – Wayne Haun

Album of the Year – Here We Are Again – Ernie Haase & Signature Sound

Song of the Year – “Ask Me Why” – Legacy Five

NQC & TBN

June 14, 2012 By: Aaron Category: NQC, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

David Bruce Murray picked up on this story first. I was going to offer my thoughts in the comments section, but figured I’d better just stick it on my own blog in case it ended up becoming a lengthy rant.

First, here’s the basics: The National Quartet Convention 2012 will be filmed by Trinity Broadcasting Network, which will use the footage to create original programming to be aired in 2012-2013.

I’ll be honest: my gut reaction when reading the story was, “You’ve gotta be kidding me.”

Before this goes any further, I just want to give full disclosure and say that I do watch TBN, but only when a Southern Gospel artist is featured, such as on an episode of Praise The Lord. Any other time, count me out.

I won’t deny that TBN is probably the largest Christian television network out there. Like them or not, they do reach quite a massive audience. My thoughts toward this partnership are complicated, partly because I can see the opportunity in distributing NQC to that amount of people, but I have reservations towards the reputation that TBN possesses.

One only needs to take a quick Google search on TBN to find that they have had quite a bit of controversy over the years, but I won’t get into specifics. I will only point out one criticism of the network that should be enough to have encouraged the NQC to distance themselves from them. TBN has an unofficial representation of being the “prosperity gospel” channel. With a heavy emphasis on programs featuring people such as Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, and Benny Hinn, among others, it’s no wonder that I’ve had discussions with both Christians and non-Christians that blow TBN off as nothing but a “religious hack channel.” That’s a direct quote from a friend who identifies themselves as Christian. Just think of what my non-religious friends have said.

Why is this move bad for NQC? Is it the quality of the programming? That might be an issue, but most likely not. The problem here is, whether intentionally or not, this may make it seem as if the NQC endorses what TBN is selling with the programs they show. Do we really want the biggest Southern Gospel event of the year to be associated with a network that has the reputation of promoting suspect theological beliefs? Why not go with a network like Daystar (arguably just as big, and not nearly as controversial), or INSP (same as Daystar)? If I’m not mistaken, the INSP relationship has happened before, but since they have phased into primarily what appears to be a cleaner TV Land, I can see why they would be passed over. I’m not going to claim to know what goes into the contracts and such for these types of things, but I would hope a strong effort would be made to get a deal with either of those before going with the current agreement.

While  being shown on TBN may boost the NQC’s television audience and presence, will it affect the event/organization’s reputation? I welcome your thoughts.

NQC 2012 News

February 15, 2012 By: Aaron Category: NQC, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

It’s about that time of year again: the time when there’s a new development in the upcoming National Quartet Convention’s schedule on a pretty much regular basis. Two news items have come down the pipe today:

1. The NQC has added the NQC Music Awards, taking the place of the Singing News Fan Awards. This will take place at a Friday afternoon showcase.

The Fan Awards have been at Dollywood the past couple of years and will continue to be held there this year. The absence of the awards show has arguably taken away much of the buzz that used to come with NQC, especially near the end of the week. The wrinkle that separates these new accolades from the old is that there are two divisions to the awards; one is voted upon by fans, and the other is voted upon by “music professionals,” which is defined as those who are exhibitors during the National Quartet Convention. Color me intrigued; perhaps this will help to fill in the “empty” feeling that has hung around NQC these past couple of years.

2. The initial draft of the Showcase Schedule has been posted. Notable additions include:

  • The Gaither Vocal Band Reunion Encore. This is intriguing. I’m hoping that there will be songs picked for this time that weren’t featured on the videos or in the showcase last year. The GVB catalog is broad enough that they can bring out the stuff that hasn’t been revived to death. I’m hoping this will also bring back some of the alumni who haven’t been present at any of the reunion events (Terry Franklin, Jonathan Pierce… heck, how about Lemuel Miller?) I noticed that Guy Penrod gets his own dedicated showcase the same afternoon as this one, but that is done in plenty of time for him to be able to attend the Reunion this year.
  • There’s another Crabb Family reunion showcase. I remember the last one being at NQC 2008, and I enjoyed it for the most part. I also remember it featuring most of their latter, more progressive material, and witnessed a large number of folks walking out on the showcase. Perhaps the Crabbs will play it safer this time around?
  • Tim Parton is reviving the Parade of Pianos. This showcase, originally done by Anthony Burger, then done by Roger Bennett, hasn’t been around in any capacity since Gerald Wolfe hosting it in 2008. The NQC Board wisely gave Dino his own showcase that year, saving the Parade of Pianos from becoming the Dino Show as it had in years past. I’m looking forward to seeing the collection of pianists that Parton puts together.
  • Lari Goss is getting a tribute showcase this year. Well-deserved, and it’s about time! The Hoppers, Greater Vision, Legacy Five, The Booth Brothers, and others will be a part.