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

October 07, 2013 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG History, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Inspirations

Last week, it was announced that longtime Inspirations bass singer Mike Holcomb has resigned the group after 42 years to become a full-time evangelist. Obviously, after such a lengthy tenure for any singer, the group’s sound would be easily identified by that vocalist. The big question is, what does the future hold for the Inspirations?

While this is almost assuredly not what the final sound will be, here’s an interesting look at how the group is filling the gap. Tenor Mark Clark is the only one here in his usual spot; lead singer Steve Srein had the weekend off, so former lead singer Matt Dibler filling in there, multi-instrumentalist Luke Vaught is holding down the baritone, and usual baritone Jon Epley is standing in at bass. Here are a few clips of a recent concert featuring this lineup. For a mostly shuffled quartet, they fit together pretty well!

With the advent of sites like Youtube, fans are afforded a peek at a page of a group’s long history that they may not be able to see otherwise.

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The Dixie Echoes Hire The Utech Brothers

July 31, 2013 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Dixie Echoes

At long last, the lineup is finalized for the Dixie Echoes after the departures of tenor Craig Thomas and bass Jordan James. Earlier this8m5e_bioimgmainalexandrew year, the group hired George Shelton, Jr. as tenor, but they have taken their time in hiring a new bass. Now, they have gotten a bass singer, along with a new musician and driver!

The Dixie Echoes are proud to announce the addition of Alex Utech, from Scottsboro, Al, as the bass singer for the quartet. In addition, Alex’ twin brother, Andrew, will also be a part of the group as a musician and driver. These young men are 20 years old, and are extremely talented. They have been singing sing the ageĀ of 8, and used to travel and sing with their grandfather, and were quite popular at the Grand Ol’ Gospel Reunion. Be sure to come and meet Alex and Andrew at a concert soon!

Alex Utech was a name I knew I’d heard before, so I took to Youtube for answers. As it turns out, he has filled in for Mike Holcomb with The Inspirations a few times. Here he is around 18:

And here he is again about three months ago:

The Dixie Echoes’ bass singer hires lately have been guys in their early twenties with loads of potential. I am excited to hear Alex as he settles in with the group, as well as hearing his brother add to the sound as a musician.

The Inspirations In The Studio

April 25, 2012 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Inspirations

Hat tip goes to Daniel Mount for recording (and posting) these two clips of The Inspirations at work on their next release through Crossroads. Interestingly, both songs featured are updated recordings of past Inspirations songs. The first one is a fairly recent radio hit, “In The Twinkle Of An Eye,” which was found on their 2004 release, What a Day. I particularly enjoyed watching baritone Jon Epley’s reaction to Mike Holcomb’s low ending on the verse:

 

The next song is quite a bit older; over thirty years old, in fact. “It Won’t Be Long” was recorded on the 1980 album Singing in the Smokies.

 

What strikes me about both of these “covers” is that, with this lineup, it doesn’t feel that way. The hiring of Jodi Hosterman changed the sound and dynamic of the group, and while they are still maintaining the classic sound that makes them “The Inspirations,” the vocals are versatile enough that they can do different things with the harmonies on these older songs. It makes more of a mark on them than it would have if the Dallas Rogers lineup had gone back and re-recorded them; in that case, it would have just sounded like the old group recording it with modern technology. I’ve enjoyed hearing the harmonies changed up even in these short clips, and I am looking forward to the final product.