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 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.

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!

Youtube Spotlight: The Anchormen

August 20, 2012 By: Aaron Category: Concert Reviews, SG Artists, SG Music, The Anchormen, Youtube

I had the opportunity to drive only a little way from my house to a concert last Saturday night in my home area of Lynchburg, VA. The Warren Smoot Benefit Concert is held every year by the Central Virginia Angel Hearts organization, and the proceeds benefit some in need in the area. This was the event’s twelfth year, and the lineup was headlined by The Anchormen and Aaron Wilburn. While I didn’t video any of Wilburn’s set (which is just as well; my laughter would have ruined any audio on the video!), I did manage to get most of what The Anchormen sang.

This was an especially interesting night to see the group, as it was only their second concert since Paul Harkey’s departure for the LeFevre Quartet. As has been reported on various sites, Randy Byrd, formerly of the Blackwood Brothers, is the group’s new bass singer. The group has also seen the departure of lead singer Dale Forbes to go back into the pastorate, so this concert was also the second one featuring Anchormen alumnus Corey Wilson filling in on the lead part. Check out the videos of the night:

Hearing this one makes me wish that Corey wasn’t just back for a fill-in!

Youtube Spotlight: The Blackwood Brothers

August 16, 2012 By: Aaron Category: Blackwood Brothers, Concert Reviews, SG Artists, SG Music, Youtube

The Blackwood Brothers came to Madison Heights, VA, this past Sunday night. I had not seen this quartet outside of NQC, and I was curious to hear their change in sound since the departure of bass singer Randy Byrd. The vocal lineup now stands as tenor Wayne Little, lead Jimmy Blackwood, baritone Billy Blackwood, and bass Butch Owens. The group brought a great concert in the tradition of the classic Blackwood Brothers, and did the majority of their songs with no tracks, just piano. Speaking of piano, Mike Hammontree has officially returned as the group’s pianist after coming off the road due to a quadruple-bypass heart surgery, and added quite a bit to their performance. Here are the clips I got of the night:

 

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News Catch-Up (7/24/12)

July 24, 2012 By: Aaron Category: Beyond The Ashes, Dixie Melody Boys, Freedom, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

While I was out of town the past few days, several items of interest came through in the world of SG news:

1. The Dixie Melody Boys have officially announced their new lead singer. Here’s a snippet from the press release:

The Dixie Melody Boys announced a few weeks ago that they would be accepting demo’s for the lead singer position. They also stated that the new member of this legendary group would be introduced on the main stage at this year’s convention. Over the course of three weeks the group received over 300 applications. “It was an overwhelming response. We didn’t expect so many men to apply. It proved to me that there is a lot of talent in Southern Gospel music. As we stated, our plan was to audition several men, take them on the road with us and then announce them in September. Sometimes plans change. “Stated Matt Felts. “As I was going through demo’s a voice begin to sing and I knew we had found our next lead singer. Ed listened to his demo and agreed. The moment we met Mike Rogers and heard him sing with us we knew God had brought us the right fit.” added Matt.

“Mike started with us the next weekend. The fans have already shown us that we made the right choice. We debuted him at the Absolutely Gospel Fan Fest and Frank Arnolds Songfest in Jackson, TN. After the response he received we knew it wouldn’t take long for word to get out online so we altered our plans and decided to move up our announcement. When God moves, you go with it. Mike is a great talent and we are proud to have him.” said Ed O’Neal.

A couple of videos have surfaced of Rogers with the group on Socialcam. The first features him on a DMB Band classic that was recently revived, “Good Ole Boys.”

The other song is “Daystar,” accompanied by Rogers on guitar. This is a very different sound and stage presence than we are used to for the Dixie Melody Boys, but it’s a “good” different, and showcases the unique presence that Rogers brings to the table. You can view it by clicking this link.

2. Beyond The Ashes have announced the departure of their lead singer, Casey Rivers. He is leaving on a good note, opting to spend more time with family as his third child is on the way. Here’s the announcement in Casey’s own words:

“For more than three years now I have been blessed to be one of those three singers that make up what many have come to know as Beyond The Ashes. Saying goodbye to family, and all I’ve grown accustomed to, is not an easy thing, but nevertheless, a new season has come for BTA and for me. I am 100% supportive of my brothers, and I know they are of me, as we all begin this new journey we’re embarking upon. Also, to pacify any wondering minds, I just want to clarify that I am leaving on an incredibly good note. After much prayer and discernment, I decided this was the best decision for me and my growing family. Most of all, I’m confident that it is God’s will for us. Thank you Anthony, Kellan, Dusty, Rob, fans, friends, and most importantly God for the awesome ride! Love you all…”

3. On the “that’s interesting” front, Freedom Trio recently appeared at the Absolutely Gospel Music Fest…. as a quartet. The group, composed of John Rulapaugh, Josh Garner, and Tyler Vestal, brought up two additions for a few songs during the concert: bass singer Randy Byrd (formerly of the Blackwood Brothers) and pianist Stewart Varnado (formerly of the Dixie Echoes). You can view the video on Socialcam.

Byrd has also done a few concert dates outside of this with the group, so one has to wonder… what’s next?

Glenn Dustin Resigns Legacy Five

July 12, 2012 By: Aaron Category: Legacy Five, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

On the heels of the Mark Trammell Quartet’s announcement of change in the group, here’s one that is arguably the most shocking to come along in quite a while:

Dear Legacy Five Family,

If you know me at all, you know I am a man of few words, so I’ll be brief.

It is with much regret that I am announcing my resignation. Effective immediately, I will no longer be traveling and singing with Legacy Five. I have had the time of my life, traveling the highways with L5, getting to meet so many wonderful people. However, nothing lasts forever. I have been honored to see so many things that I would have never had the opportunity to, apart from L5. I have so many wonderful memories, and I will miss so many people.

Please keep me and my family in your thoughts and prayers, and continue to pray for and encourage L5. I will miss those men, and I doubt there will be a day that passes where I don’t think of them. I have so many wonderful memories.

In His Grip,

Glenn “Cuz” Dustin

The group goes on to state that they have started looking for a new bass, and interested singers can send an mp3 to scottfowler@legacyfive.com.

I, for one, never expected this news, but I understand that change is inevitable. Dustin’s vocal technique has developed quite nicely over his twelve years in the group since its inception, and he is leaving the group as one of the smoothest and best-blending bass singers in the industry.

As with any change, the speculation of “who’s the new singer” will start soon, so I will throw my prediction in here. If Legacy Five were to go with an already “established” name, they couldn’t go wrong with Randy Byrd. Not only does he have the depth and power to handle the bass parts for the group, but on the group’s Know So Salvation project, they took two of his features with the Blackwood Brothers (“O Say But I’m Glad” and “Where No One Stands Alone”) and gave them to Glenn Dustin. Similar arrangements, same key. Having that connection makes the prospect of his hiring very intriguing.

They may very well go for an “unknown” singer, so let’s have fun with this one. How about this bass singer? Don’t know his name, but he can tote the mail:

Blackwood Brothers Hire Butch Owens

May 31, 2012 By: Aaron Category: Blackwood Brothers, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

Jimmy Blackwood and the Blackwood Brothers made the announcement of their new bass singer following weeks of fill-ins and auditions. Butch Owens is stepping into the bass position following the departure of Randy Byrd. He has already been in the studio working on the quartet’s next Daywind release. Owens is no stranger to Southern Gospel music, having sung with groups such as The Stamps Quartet, The Anchormen, The Florida Boys, The Blackwood Quartet, and, most recently, a second stint with The Songfellows Quartet. His son is Ian Owens, bass singer for Ernie Haase & Signature Sound.

Here are a couple clips of Butch singing with The Blackwood Quartet (Mark Blackwood’s group) a while back: