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

Pat Barker Launches Website

July 30, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Pat Barker, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

For the past couple of days, the online community has been buzzing about a “big announcement” that was promised by Pat Barker. Today, that announcement hit:

(Gadsden, AL) July 30, 2014 – Pat Barker announces the launch of his new online community – You Tell Me. Through the “You Tell Me” campaign introduced on his site, individuals will have the opportunity to share how BIG God has been in their life and read how He has shown up in others. There will be artist video testimonials and prayer requests where you can respond in real time to requests made from all over the world.

Most of you were introduced to Pat Barker eight years ago when he joined the legendary Dixie Echoes. Fans from all over discovered his love for gospel music to be contagious. Fans not only loved his ability take a solo and sing it like no other bass singer, but his spirit and personality off the stage. With Pat’s move to the Mark Trammell Quartet, thousands more were introduced to his talent in some of the largest venues across the country including his unforgettable appearance with the Cathedral Family Reunion. When Pat left the road, many wondered if they would ever have the opportunity to see him again involved with the music he loves so much. Do we ever have good news for you. If you thought Pat would start his own group or launch a solo career, you weren’t thinking BIG enough. Today you can join a community of believers from all over the world through Pat’s brand new site http://HOWBIGISGOD2U.COM!

As a member of the community you will also have access to where Pat will be ministering and his latest products. July 30 is the day where You Tell Me and the rest of the world how BIG God is! You can also join Pat live Sunday August 3rd from 3 – 4 o’clock p.m. Central time to ask anything you like. Ask about the new site or find out what’s going on with Pat in the near future. DON’T MISS IT!! More information on Pat Barker and the You Tell Me campaign can be found online at: http://howbigisgod2u.com or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HBIGYouTellMe

This is certainly a unique idea that goes beyond the normal solo career announcement. I look forward to seeing how it progresses as time goes on. Be sure to check it out!

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.

MTQ Blog Tour Stop #4: Pat Barker

January 15, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Mark Trammell Quartet, SG Artists, SG Music

ywtblogtour_fbcoverpatThe Mark Trammell Quartet has quickly become one of the finer quartets in this genre of music, with a journey that began before they added a bass singer. I started paying attention when they released the Once Upon A Cross as a trio, and I have continued to appreciate their strong song choices and their ability to hold that standard even through personnel changes.

I got the chance to catch up with the bass singer for the quartet, Pat Barker, and ask him about the group’s latest effort:

Aaron Swain: What is your favorite song from “Your Walk Talks,” and why?

Pat Barker: My favorite song is “Your Walk Talks.” I was on the Alaska cruise when Rodney (Griffin) and Babbie (Mason) went into the piano bar and wrote that song. They came out to the table and immediately pitched it to Mark. I loved the hook from the beginning and the arrangement is perfect. Mark does a perfect job on the solo, even throwing in a little Jake Hess just for fun.

AS: “Thanks To Calvary” was a signature song for George Younce, and your admiration for him is no secret. What went into the decision to include that song?

PB: “Thanks to Calvary” is a “George” song, no doubt. He is the greatest, and will always be the greatest.

I have had the honor of doing Remember the Music concerts along with Glenn Dustin and Matt Fouch the last few years. It has been a dream come true. More recently, I got to be a part of the Cathedral Family Reunion. At a RTM concert, someone in the audience requested “Thanks to Calvary.” I had never sung it, but I knew the song. Something special happened, and we literally didn’t know what to do next. It became a permanent fixture at the RTM concerts, and was added to the CFR concert as well. Gerald Wolfe was the one who suggested that we put it on the album. My testimony is the story in that song, so it is an easy one to sing. I love that song.

AS: Other than Mark Trammell, you are the only member that has been with the group from the beginning of their “quartet” days. With the other two parts changing over this time period, how do you think the sound has evolved, and do you feel that the change is reflected with this project?

PB: Lots of things have changed. Losing (Dustin) Sweatman was a tough loss. He brought a lot to the table with his piano skills and his ability to win the crowd over. He was also a big help in the studio and picking songs. I still miss having a piano on stage, but Nick (Trammell) has taken over beautifully on lead. He is also a great songwriter, which shows up on this new album.

With the loss of Eric (Phillips), we not only lost an incredible tenor, but I lost my buddy. We bonded very quickly, and that relationship continues, but not as much as I would like. When Dustin (Black) came on board, I knew it would be a challenge for him. I could not be prouder of someone musically than I am of him. There is no other tenor that he sounds like, and I, for one, welcome the change. His solo at the end of the project is one of my favorite cuts.

Thanks, Pat, for a great interview!

I’ll echo Pat’s sentiment about “Your Walk Talks.” At first listen, it just sounds like a bouncy little ditty, but there are very true and applicable lyrics in such a fun song. Another that has taken up residence on my “most played” list is “I’ll Take It To The Grave.” The team of Rebecca J. Peck and Dianne Wilkinson penned a great song with that one, and I’m glad to see it get a fine quartet treatment.

Head over to Musicscribe for the next stop on the MTQ blog tour as Diana Brantley interviews Dustin Black!

CD Review: Mark Trammell Quartet – Lifetime

October 30, 2012 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Mark Trammell Quartet, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 5 stars

Producers: Lari Goss and Mark Trammell
Label: Daywind Records
Website: www.marktrammellministries.com

Song titles: Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah; ‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus; Way Past Ready; Garden City Tour Medley; Wonderful Time Up There; Too Much To Gain To Lose; Meet Me Over On The Other Side; Footprints of Jesus; I Sing The Mighty Power; The King Is Coming Medley

I’ll admit it; whenever I see the description of an upcoming project of “hymns and classics,” and the project is supposed to be a mainline release, I cringe. This is because these projects usually just rehash the same old songs that everybody and their brother has recorded, and doesn’t really do anything to break the mold, and I just end up wishing it was a table project to tide the listener over for the next major CD. When I saw some of the songs on the track list for this album, I had the same reaction. My interest was piqued a little when I saw some songs that haven’t been done to death, but I still had doubts as I gave the CD a first run-through.

The Mark Trammell Quartet has released a collection of material here that, thankfully, exceeded my expectations. Starting with a triumphant rendition of “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah,” it’s clear that this list of old songs isn’t just more of the same. A good example of this is a brassy arrangement of “Wonderful Time Up There.” This song is one that could have easily fallen into the problem I mentioned earlier; everybody seems to record it at least once, so it all runs together. Not so this time around; the orchestration gives it a unique flair, and bass singer Pat Barker turns in one of the stronger performances of his career.

Tenor Eric Phillips marks his return to the group on this project, and sounds as if he has not lost a thing in his years off the road. His solo feature on the CD, “‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus,” may not be pitched in the rafters, but it shows a smoother side of his voice that was rarely brought to bear with the Mark Trammell Trio. That’s not to say he doesn’t do some high singing here; his ensemble work on songs such as “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah,” “Wonderful Time Up There,” and “Way Past Ready,” to name a few, give the listener plenty to enjoy in that regard. Speaking of “Way Past Ready,” it is the only original song on the project, and is strong enough to fit in with the rest of the track list.

Baritone Mark Trammell is the frontman for most of the songs, and over the years has perfected a delivery style that is both unique and reliable, hitting notes that few baritones attempt (for example, the high B-Flat during “Golden City Tour Medley.”) Though the project was built around the concept of songs from the years of Trammell’s life, he is featured on the only “new” song, the aformentioned”Way Past Ready.”

While I would have liked to hear the solo feature tracks divided more evenly (Mark Trammell gets the lion’s share, with Eric Phillips and Pat Barker getting one each and new lead Nick Trammell getting none), this CD is evidence that the Mark Trammell Quartet has truly found their niche. Lari Goss’ production work, coupled with the strength of the vocals, makes for a “hymns and classics” project that is worth pushing through whatever reservations the listener may hold with that description. Lifetime receives 5 stars.

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.:


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.