Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.
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Mark Trammell Quartet and The Whisnants To Release Christmas Project

October 10, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Mark Trammell Quartet, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Whisnants

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It’s quickly approaching the time of year when many artists decide to release Christmas-themed projects. This year, it’s a team effort between the Mark Trammell Quartet and The Whisnants:

(Morganton, NC) October 10, 2014 – United Independent Artists (UIA), for the first time releases a Christmas CD combining the family harmony of the Whisnants with the traditional sounds of the Mark Trammell Quartet in a twelve track project titled “Home For Christmas.”  The CD’s official release date is November 3, 2014 and will be available for purchase on both group websites www.whisnants.com and www.marktrammellministries.com.

Home For Christmas features twelve songs recorded by the Mark Trammell Quartet and the Whisnants.  Selections on the project include the groups singing together and individually as well as featuring new songs and traditional carols.  “We decided to do this CD together,” Mark Trammell explains, “when Jeff Whisnant was looking to record a new Christmas project around the same time I was.  When folks heard we were doing this, they asked if we could put together a Christmas program as well.”  Jeff Whisnant adds, “I haven’t been this excited about anything in a long time as I am about the Home For Christmas project.  We are so pleased to collaborate with our friends the Mark Trammell Quartet; we love and appreciate what these men stand for.”

Pre-sales for this project will begin on October 10th, and can be found on both artists websites (links found above).  In addition to the pre-release, The Mark Trammell Quartet and the Whisnants are hosting a special online event in celebration of their first recording together.  This event will take place on the official release date, November 3rd, and will feature exclusive information and unique interaction for fans from both artists.  The event is open to the public – anyone who can access the internet via computer, smart phone or tablet can join for free.  To receive updates and join this online event, visit www.homeforchristmaslaunchparty.com.  Though the event does not begin until November 3st, those wishing to join are encouraged to do so now.

United Independent Artists (UIA) began in 1997 with Jeff and Susan Whisnant at the helm and consists of artists who record independently from recording labels.  Artists such as Greater Vision, The Mark Trammell Quartet, Booth Brothers, Taylors and others use UIA in radio promotions.  UIA is behind #1 songs such as Greater Vision’s “Preacher Tell Me Like It Is,” Booth Brothers “Look For Me At Jesus Feet,” Mark Trammell Quartet’s “I Want To Know” and other successful songs in the industry.     www.uiamusic.com

It is worth noting that this will be the first MTQ release to feature Randy Byrd on bass vocals.

Mark Trammell Quartet Hires Randy Byrd

July 16, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Mark Trammell Quartet, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

In a move that is likely not a surprise to anyone who has been observing the group’s concert appearances since Pat Barker’s departure, the Mark Trammell Quartet announced today that they have selected Randy Byrd as their new bass singer. From the group’s blog:

After three months and 36 candidates for the position, Mark Trammell has announced today that Randy Byrd will be the new bass vocalist for the Mark Trammell Quartet.   Mark shares, “We are thrilled with the overwhelming inquiry about this position.  And after much prayer and consideration, the group collectively feels that Randy is the man for this season of our ministry.”

Many of you will remember Randy from his recent years with the prestigious Blackwood Brothers Quartet. He also logged some miles with our friends the Mike Lefevre Quartet and the Songfellows.  Randy relates the following upon receiving confirmation from Mark.

“At 12 years of age, I heard The Cathedrals sing There is a Fountain and I was hooked!! I told my mother that night after hearing George Younce, ‘When I grow up, I want to be a bass singer.’  God has blessed me and allowed me to sing with some of the best in the business.  Three years ago my dream started to fall apart.  Between my flesh and Satan’s attacks it seemed my life was over. I am thankful today that in spite of my faults and failures, God never took His hand off of me.  Everything that Satan robbed from me, God has restored!  I am beyond excited to join The Mark Trammell Quartet! I am living proof that God IS faithful!!  Pat Barker is a dear friend.  I am not and cannot be Pat Barker.  But I can work at being the best version of me that God can use and I gladly accept that challenge.”

Please join us in welcoming this wonderful man to the Mark Trammell Quartet!!!

This is a great pick for the quartet’s next chapter. Randy seems to fit them like a glove both on and off the stage, and there is no doubt that the quality of the music will be maintained with this hire. Here’s a clip from Facebook:

Post by ThOm GilmOre.

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.

Mark Trammell Quartet Names New Tenor

May 16, 2013 By: Aaron Category: Mark Trammell Quartet, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

From a press release on Singing News:

Gadsden, AL – GREAT NEWS!!!!! On his 26th birthday, Dustin David Black has accepted the position as the new tenor vocalist for Mark Trammell Quartet! Dustin is from Saginaw, Michigan, and will soon become a “southern boy.”

Mark shares the following…”We are SO excited about Dustin coming on board and we look forward to what is in store for both Dustin and MTQ. I am still convinced that God knows exactly what we need and when we need it.” Dustin has been traveling with the group on a 90 day trial basis. He is a brand new face to gospel music and has already made many new friends across the country with his winning smile and warm personality. He has proven to be a true Christian Gentleman in every way. Mark continues, “I was immediately impressed with this young man and his ability to just be one of the boys. Dustin had only been to one gospel concert prior to walking on our bus. It was a Gaither event in California a few years back while he was finishing his Masters degree in music at West Coast Baptist College.”

When Mark was asked about having a “yankee” on his bus, he smiled and replied, “Its certainly a first for me, but we will eventually get accustomed to the smell!”

When you see MTQ in concert in the coming days, make it a point to stop by their table and welcome this fine young man to the world of gospel music.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DUSTIN and WELCOME TO Mark Trammell Quartet!!!

The group came to my area during Dustin’s first weekend of filling in. At the time, he was still learning the material and was understandably nervous, and was also recuperating from a bout with laryngitis on top of it all. Despite all of these factors, he did an admirable job, and it was enough to make me look forward to hearing him when he was in better health and more comfortable with the group. After hearing him on JOY FM’s broadcast of Singing In The Sun a couple of weeks ago, I was impressed.

Black is not the next Eric Phillips (few tenors are cut from that same cloth), but his is a solid tenor that is a departure from what the Mark Trammell Quartet is used to having; more of a blending tenor with an open sound. The blend for this lineup is already tight, and it bodes well that Black has brought a unique style to the table that has already been given positive feedback.

Happy birthday to Dustin, and congratulations to both he and Mark Trammell Quartet as they move forward!

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!

Can You Guess?

September 13, 2011 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Old Paths

I got this in my inbox this morning. The Old Paths have hired this singer after Brandon Barry’s move to the LeFevre Quartet.:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqv5b6FW_0Y&sw

Can you guess the age of this bass singer (or who it is?) I feel like I really should know who he is, but my mind is drawing a blank! From the angle the camera is shooting, the guy almost looks like Pat Barker, and the sound is reminiscent of Barker’s as well, but I’m pretty positive that he hasn’t left the Mark Trammell Quartet. We will soon know for sure who the guy is! My guess for the age is somewhere in the 20-25 range.

Youtube Find: New Mark Trammell Quartet Songs

August 05, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Mark Trammell Quartet, SG Artists, SG Music, Youtube

In yet another find coming from user iamredeemed1, here’s some videos of the Mark Trammell Quartet in a concert that took place the same night as the Tribute Quartet concert mentioned earlier. As revealed in these clips, the group is staging songs from their new Daywind release, Testimony, which was produced by Lari Goss. I remember having a conversation with a couple of the group members a couple months ago, and they stated that this release would not predominantly feature the typical big, orchestration-driven sounds usually found in a Goss production (although they are certainly present on some tracks.) Judging from the clips, they were right. It actually sounds rather like something that any given lineup of the Cathedrals with Mark Trammell might have recorded.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhjyk8KU0fQ

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZF0WD3Z3X0

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