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

Mark Trammell Quartet Announces Changes

July 09, 2012 By: Aaron Category: Mark Trammell Quartet, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

The group announced today that some changes are taking place after NQC. Here’s a snippet of the press release:

Lead Singer Dustin Sweatman has accepted the Renaissance Program Director of Choirs position at Bethel University in McKenzie, Tennessee. He will remain with the quartet playing piano and singing thru mid-September and will assume his responsibilities at Bethel the week after the National Quartet Convention. Dustin has been a very important part of the beginning years of this ministry and we wish him Godspeed as he begins this new chapter in his life.

Nick Trammell will be filling the open position in the quartet. Nick and his wife Jessica have served the Lord with The Browns from Lemars, Iowa, for the past year and a half and have just become proud parents of their first child. While both Nick and Jessica have enjoyed singing with Jessica’s family, Nick shares that he is excited to fulfill a dream of standing beside his father in Christian work. Likewise, Mark is pleased to have his son joining him as he carries on a quartet tradition that Mark first loved as a child growing up in Arkansas.

The quartet will be releasing a new mainline project at NQC that will feature Nick’s vocals. This CD will also mark the first recording since the return of original Mark Trammell Trio tenor Eric Phillips. Since Sweatman also played piano for a good portion of their concert sets, Mark had this to say about that void:

“The last time I checked,” says Mark, “a keyboard fits just fine in the bus bays—and these young men know how to carry it into the venue. We might as well use it.”

While I thoroughly enjoyed Sweatman’s vocal development while with the group and hate to see him go, I am looking forward to hearing the new dynamic that Nick will bring to the group. The prospect of a full-time pianist with the group is also intriguing. I am glad to be attending NQC during the time frame of Sweatman’s last appearance with the group.

Ernie Phillips With The Kingsmen…. 2012?

January 29, 2012 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG History, SG Music, The Kingsmen, Youtube

Ever wonder how some of the legends of yesterday that are no longer “in the spotlight” sound today on a more modern song? Here’s one of those legends: Ernie Phillips. One of the more famous tenors to come along in the history of the Kingsmen, and Southern Gospel in general (remember his big ending on “Love Lifted Me” on Live… Naturally?), and the father of Mark Trammell Quartet tenor Eric Phillips. Since the departure of Harold Reed for the LeFevre Quartet, Phillips has been filling in for The Kingsmen. Here he is taking one of Reed’s signature songs while with the group, “God Saw A Cross.”

If this doesn’t make the case for why The Kingsmen should try their hardest to get Phillips out there with them full-time, I don’t know what does. (Well, this and the fact that, from what I hear, he can still do those sky-high endings!)

Update: Daniel Mount informed me this morning that there had been more videos from this concert uploaded since this post went up. I’ll post a few more, some of which also highlight new lead singer Bob Sellers. Even if Ernie Phillips doesn’t turn out to be the man for the job, this is still an interesting look at one of the legends still toting the mail!







Eric Phillips (Re)Joins Mark Trammell Quartet

December 05, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Mark Trammell Quartet, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

Yes, it’s true! Via the group’s Facebook page:

After three months of searching, praying, and auditioning. Mark Trammell Quartet is happy to announce that former Mark Trammell TRIO tenor Eric Phillips will rejoin the group at the end of the year. Eric has faithfully served the city of Gadsden, Alabama as a law enforcement officer for the last 2 years and has earned highest honors in his service to them. Eric states “When music is in your blood, its hard to get it out. I’m looking forward to getting back on the road with Mark and the guys, seeing friends I haven’t seen in two and a half years and most importantly encouraging people with the gospel message thru song!” Mark states “I couldn’t be happier with Eric‘s decision to return. He loved being a police officer and I admired him for his work. The first song we sang together when he asked to be considered again confirmed what God was trying to tell everyone in the room. All I can say is welcome home Eric, good to have you back!”

Mark continues “We would like to thank 28 men and two ladies that showed interest in filling the position. We are honored that you would trust this ministry that much. Also, we MUST thank our friend Jim Cox from Cumming, Ga for his excellent job of filling in at the tenor position over the last two months. Jim has been a true joy to our fans and friends across the country.”

As always, a classy press release from a classy group.

2011 has proved to be a year of returns for fan-favorite singers to the groups which propelled them to that state. Earlier this year, we saw Burman Porter return to the road with the Dove Brothers. Now more than ever, I can say that the Mark Trammell Quartet is the group to watch. Eric has a tenor voice that is high and consistent, and helped to give the trio version of this group the “wow” factor. I believe it was Daniel Mount that stated that Always Have A Song, the Mark Trammell Trio’s final project with Phillips’ voice on it, just sounded like a quartet album without a bass. Phillips’ return will make that quartet a reality!

Join me in welcoming Eric back to SG!