Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.
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Youtube Spotlight: Ernie Haase & Signature Sound (3/3/13)

March 06, 2013 By: Aaron Category: Concert Reviews, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, SG Artists, SG Music, Youtube

The EHSS bus once again rolled into my home area of Lynchburg, VA for a concert at Thomas Road Baptist Church this past weekend. It’s almost become an annual date for the group; they did not come in 2012, but came the year before that when Ian Owens had just recently started singing with them, and had a couple of concerts there when Tim Duncan was there. This time, they have Paul Harkey in the bass slot, and are experiencing change on the band side of things; guitarist Kelly Vaughan recently left the group, and drummer Zak Shumate is on the way out for a position with The Isaacs.

While I was not able to attend this year because of being away at college, my Mom did, and filmed a few videos of the night. Thanks, Mom! 🙂

Every bass singer that has been with EHSS has had a signature song at some point in their tenure that was usually a softer selection. For Tim Duncan in his early days, it was The Old Rugged Cross. For Ian Owens, it was “I Believe.” For Paul Harkey, it’s “Scars In The Hands Of Jesus.” While this song is more often heard as a tenor feature, it works quite well for Harkey’s smooth upper range. Look for this as a featured track on the group’s upcoming project, Glorious Day.

This is a brand new song entitled “That’s Why” from the group’s upcoming release. Mom did not film the main song, but was so impressed with it that she made sure to film the reprise. I don’t know how extensive the instrumentation is for the track, but the song sounds as if it was made for a “stripped down” sound like what is done here. This “teaser” makes me look forward to hearing the full thing on the project in April.

In the last of “new” clips from the night, the group does a cover of “Noah Found Grace In The Eyes Of The Lord,” which was recorded by several groups, but was arguably made the most popular by the Statler Brothers. EHSS takes off from the Statlers’ later arrangement that was recorded with Jimmy Fortune, right down to the held tenor note near the end, and it fits their energetic style.

There’s not much to say about “Sometimes I Wonder” that hasn’t already been said, except that Doug Anderson was a perfect choice to be featured on this song. Like Scott Howard of Legacy Five, he seems to always get songs that fit him like a glove, and this is no exception.

The concert closer, “Then Came The Morning” has rightfully remained a concert staple for the group, as evidenced by its strong response even after eight years of staging it.

Randy Byrd Joins LeFevre Quartet

January 02, 2013 By: Aaron Category: LeFevre Quartet, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Anchormen

Today, the final piece of the LeFevre Quartet puzzle fell into place. Since the departure of Paul Harkey for Ernie Haase & Signature Sound shortly after NQC 2012, the group has had several fill-in bass singers, including Keith Plott and Tim Duncan, during their search for a new member. That search has finally come to a close, as former Blackwood Brothers and Anchormen bass singer Randy Byrd announced the transition in a Facebook status, citing wanting to move back to being closer to family as the reason for the departure. No word yet on future plans for the Anchormen, but look for an announcement there soon.

In Daniel Mount’s review of the group’s latest release, But For The Cross, he made this statement about the track “I’m So Saved”:

Mere weeks after the album released, Paul Harkey left to join Ernie Haase & Signature Sound. This song shows the potential he could have had with the group if he’d stayed. The song requires a bass comfortable with incredibly low notes; here’s hoping the LeFevre Quartet can find replacement who can pull off this challenging arrangement with aplomb.

The LeFevre Quartet has picked up a  capable singer in Byrd, and it’s worth noting that he has proved that he can handle Paul Harkey bass parts, as this is the second time he has followed Harkey in a quartet. I believe the above criteria has been met. Couple with the recent hire of tenor Thomas Nalley, there is much potential for this group.

Join me in welcoming Randy to the LeFevre Quartet, and looking forward to what this newly solidified lineup will do!

First Look: Paul Harkey With Ernie Haase & Signature Sound

October 25, 2012 By: Aaron Category: Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, First Look, SG Artists, SG Music, Youtube

Youtube user EHSSQfan1 has posted a ten-minute video featuring songs from Paul Harkey’s first night with the quartet. Harkey’s features on “Scars In The Hands Of Jesus” and “Old Rugged Cross” are instant standouts, and, like his predecessor Ian Owens, he had a funny moment getting used to the choreography. Hearing the sound from his debut makes me look forward to how this lineup will gel.

Ernie Haase & Signature Sound Announces Change

October 01, 2012 By: Aaron Category: Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, LeFevre Quartet, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

I guess it’s safe to say that NQC Turnover Season 2012 is underway.

In one of the more surprising moves in a while, the group announced the departure of their bass singer, as well as his replacement:

Dear Friends,

For the past two years the EHSS team and fans have been enriched by the voice and personality of Ian Owens. Ian has announced that he will be pursuing other interests (both musical and personal) and we fully support him and wish him great success. Ian’s last date with EHSS will be October 13th, 2012 in Sunnyvale, TX. Come out and support Ian and please pray for Ian and his wife Megan as they follow this new path.

We will miss Ian dearly. He is a funny, FUNNY man who has become a great friend and that will never change. We will update you at a later date with all information concerning Ian and his plans. Our new bass singer is a young man you are going to love. His name is Paul Harkey. We will fill you in on all of his information soon. Pray for EHSS as we navigate through this transition time.
Sincerely, Ernie

Color me shocked, first that Ian is leaving, and second, that Paul Harkey is coming in. Harkey joined the LeFevre Quartet several weeks ago, and was the featured bass vocalist on their new mainline release. For them to have a lineup change so quickly is surprising, possibly even more surprising than EHSS experiencing a change.

Owens brought a different style of bass singing to the quartet than they were used to with Tim Duncan, but it was one that left a positive mark on their arrangements, with a fuller upper register that allowed for tighter harmony. While Harkey has that same solid upper range, he is a bass in the Tim Riley/Jeff Chapman tradition, so look for this to change the group’s sound quite a bit.

For a good example of how Harkey sounds, here’s a recent video of him with the LeFevre Quartet:

For a showcase of his higher range, here’s “One Day” by the Anchormen. Paul has the first feature:

LeFevre Quartet Hires Paul Harkey

August 15, 2012 By: Aaron Category: LeFevre Quartet, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Anchormen

A visit to the LeFevre Quartet website today yielded a pleasant surprise; the quartet has picked up Anchormen bass Paul Harkey after the departure of Brandon Barry last month. Harkey presumably starts singing with them this weekend, and will be the bass vocalist on the group’s upcoming mainline release, which is their debut release on the newly formed Activate Records.

This is a smart move on the part of Mike LeFevre; the new single from the project indicates that the group is striving for the progressive sound found on their last label effort, Nothin’ But Good, in 2008, and a young vocalist like Harkey fits that style perfectly. Since Canaan Records went belly-up shortly after Nothin’ But Good was released, the group has done nothing but table projects since, and has seen multiple lineup changes that eventually settled with the quartet being made up of tenor Harold Reed, lead Jordan LeFevre, baritone Mike LeFevre, and, up until recently, bass Brandon Barry, essentially making the vocal lineup an entirely different group from the one of 2008. It is wise to go for hiring an up-and-coming young talent to carry on in the bass slot, and Harkey’s work with The Anchormen has turned several heads, showing great potential.

The question now is, what is next for The Anchormen? The rumor mill has already strted turning, and I’ve heard some rumblings of who is stepping in. The group will be in my area this weekend, so be looking on this blog next week for a report and possibly some video footage.