Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.
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Gaither Send-Off For Gordon Mote

June 02, 2012 By: Aaron Category: Gaither, Gordon Mote, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

I’ve seen few send-offs that have been more classy or from the heart than the one that Bill Gaither did for Gordon Mote at the Family Fest when the announcement was made that Gordon is leaving the tour. Here’s the entire video, including Gordon being featured on the piano:

Pondering On Gaither Homecoming

November 29, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Gaither, SG Artists, SG History, SG Industry News, SG Music

Author’s Note: Yes, folks, I’m still here! As usual when there’s long periods of bloggerly silence on here, that “real world” stuff just got in the way! To be honest, I had hoped to get something up while on break from college last week, but in the midst of moving to a new house and having the Internet inaccessible until the latter part of the week, that didn’t happen. I hope to get back into the routine of commentary and project reviews soon.

While perusing Youtube yesterday for something totally unrelated to Southern Gospel, I happened to notice a new post from the official Gaither channel in my subscription feed. The description started with, “Look what Bill Gaither found in his Homecoming video vault!” That’s all it took to pique my interest; I had thought it would be a short clip of a special moment from older tapings that was previously unreleased, but as it turns out, it’s a full-fledged trailer for an upcoming video:

I can honestly say that I have not had this level of excitement for a Gaither Homecoming video in quite a while, and from observing the chatter around the SG corners of the web, many others are sharing this fresh anticipation. It got me to thinking; why is that? Why has there been a relative lack of excitement for recent Homecoming releases? The entire Homecoming franchise is certainly successful, and the concert tour is arguably the highest quality SG concert experience out there. The quality of recent videos is far from bad, as well.

Perhaps it’s because the original Homecoming releases featured the legends mixing with the “up-and-comings,” and now that most of the legends are no longer with us, the videos have become an “NQC lite” of sorts, gathering a lineup of artists not unlike what you would see on main stage. Count me in the number that got chills when Howard and Vestal came up in that trailer singing “I Wouldn’t Take Nothin’ For My Journey Now,” and was thrilled to hear Jake Hess sing again (I’d forgotten just how…. GOOD he was!).

My prediction is that sales for this video will surpass the recent ones, and that’s because they have that “spark” that made the franchise as big as it is today. Gaither will start to find more and more of these treasures from the vault and release them. I believe I read somewhere that they have hours of material that was never released from the tapings, so it is possible. In the meantime, I think I know a good use for an extra $15-$20 I may have laying around come January 24.

Concert Review: Gaither Homecoming – Lovin’ Life Tour 2009, Charlottesville, VA

May 12, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Bill Gaither, Concert Reviews, Gaither Vocal Band, SG Artists, SG Music

I had the privilege of attending this April 26 concert. I call it a privilege simply because it was an awesome night.

The concert opened up with Bill Gaither singing “Old Friends” and interacting with the audience. He then introduced Sue Dodge, a native of Northern VA and has been featured on many of the Homecoming videos. She was followed by a three-song set by Gordon Mote consisting of “All That Noise,” “Mercy Walked In,” and “Don’t Let Me Miss The Glory.” The videos that went with Mote’s songs really added to the performances.

Ben Speer was featured on one song. It is good to see a legend like that still chugging along at such an advanced age. Janet Paschal did a two-song set to follow.

Ernie Haase & Signature Sound charged the crowd up with their energetic song list. They brought David Griffith with them to play bass guitar, giving them a complete live band with Kevin Williams on guitar, Grit on bass, Greg Ritchie on drums, and Wayne Haun at piano. The crowd ate it up, warranting several completely live encores of “Get Away Jordan,” in one particular instance. Judging by the response, it is a pretty safe bet that EH&SS will carry out what they mentioned a while ago about adding a live band to their solo concerts. (Side note: Since the time of this writing, they’ve announced that they are adding a three-piece band for their 2009 Summer Tour, at least.)

Another thing I have noticed with EH&SS lately (and this concert further confirmed it) is that their stage presence has definitely matured over time. It’s not all about the choreography and dancing around anymore; rather, that’s become a small part of their set, and they are now more of a throwback to the old quartets. Most of their set was done around two mics, even throwing in an impressively tight-harmony a capella rendition of “Wonderful Grace Of Jesus.” Sure, the energy is very much still there, but they’re giving the naysayers a whole lot less to complain about.

Lynda Randle followed up with two songs, the latter in tribute to a couple that happened to be in the arena that helped her into a Christian school. Bill Gaither encored it a couple times, and then the lights went completely out. If you’ve read recent concert reviews and kept an eye on Youtube, you can guess what happened next; the new GVB started into “Alpha & Omega,” with the lights progressing up as the song went on.

I came to the concert not knowing what to expect from the new GVB. I’d heard they were incredible, and I’d seen the Youtube clips, but unless you hear something like that for yourself, it’s all talk.

All those who are unsure about the new lineup, go catch a concert soon. I have heard every lineup the GVB has ever had, and I can honestly say that this one is the best. The blend is superb, and each singer is impressive in his own right. David Phelps and Wes Hampton alternating on tenor makes for a great high range. Michael English is sounding more and more like his old self again, and is clearly having the time of his life. Mark Lowry has matured in both voice and stage presence. Sure, he’s still the clown, but his serious side has developed a whole lot since he went off on his own. Even Bill, at the ripe old age of 73, is still sounding good. I was particularly impressed at his bass slide on the end of “He Touched Me.” Tim Duncan was nowhere to be seen, so I was surprised that something that low could come out of Bill Gaither.

The second half was a typical Homecoming gathering, with different singers singing old songs. The concert closed with a powerful version of “Because He Lives,” followed by “Holy Highway.” All in all, it was a fantastic night, and one that showed a bright future for the GVB. I am eagerly awaiting the two projects that they are currently at work on.

My friend Jeremy Bell over at VA Southern Gospel was in attendance and took many pictures, which can be viewed here, here, and here.