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

February 28, 2013 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, Sounds of Jericho

Sounds of JerichoI’m digging myself from the piles of schoolwork I’m under this semester to update this blog (finally!). I hope to be able to start updating a bit more regularly than I have been, starting with this announcement of a new group that may contain some familiar faces to some of you:

“We would like to announce the formation of a new male quartet, Sounds Of Jericho.  Sounds of Jericho founding members are Stacy Bragg, Stephen Sigmon, Ken Thomas, and Matt Tyler.  Stacy and Stephen are not strangers to Southern Gospel Music, many will remember them as also being founding members of the 2006 Singing News Horizon Group of the Year, The LeFevre Quartet.

Stacy is one of Gospel Music’s finest bass singers, having tenure with several notable groups including The Statesmen and The LeFevre Quartet.  Stephen spent almost 3 years as tenor with The LeFevre Quartet and prior to that was a member of a regional quartet, based in Georgia, for over 15 years.  These men have teamed up with some very talented singers in Ken Thomas and Matt Tyler.  Matt has over 18 years experience with the Peachland Quartet and Ken Thomas is a featured soloist at one of North Georgia’s largest churches, Blackshear Place Baptist Church.

“We are very excited about this new venture and we fully believe that God still has plans for us in the Southern Gospel Music Industry”, says Stephen Sigmon.  “We have recently released our inaugural project, entitled The Story Of His Grace, and look forward to sharing our Story of Grace in concerts around the Southeast.”

Sounds Of Jericho can be reached through their website, www.soundsofjericho.com, or through their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/SoundsOfJericho.”

Be looking for a CD review of Sounds of Jericho’s debut project some time this weekend.

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!

NQC 2012 Thoughts: Wednesday

September 13, 2012 By: Aaron Category: NQC, SG Artists, SG Music

I arrived in Louisville this evening just in time to settle in for the first group at 6:00, and stayed the rest of the night. A few thoughts from the evening:

1. If one were making a case for the comeback of live bands in SG, they could point to several of tonight’s sets as positive examples. The LeFevre Quartet’s set kicked off the night, and while a whole set of brand new songs by itself would be great to listen to, it grabbed my attention more when they hit the stage with a live band.

I also enjoyed seeing the Dixie Melody Boys with a band once again; while the “All-Star Quartet” that was scheduled never made it to the stage, the DMB brought the “All-Star Band” on stage: pianist Stewart Varnado, bass guitarist Scoot Shelnut, guitarist Madison Easter, drummer Michael Booth, and Adam Crabb on harmonica. It felt like going back in time hearing “When I Cross To The Other Side of Jordan” and “Ride That Glory Cloud” with a live band, complete with encores!

2. It was a night of debuts, with several vocalists making a first time appearance on Main Stage. The Dixie Echoes brought two new faces in tenor Craig Thomas and bass Jordan James, and the crowd enjoyed James especially, giving applause before the first line of “How Big Is God” was even finished. The Kingsmen presented lead Bob Sellers and tenor Chris Jenkins for the first time at NQC tonight as well, and the group got several standing Os in their set. To tie this in with the first note of the night, I sure wish the Kingsmen had put together a band!

Though not his first time on Main Stage (I believe he performed there with The Anchormen at least once), Paul Harkey made his first appearance there as the LeFevre Quartet’s bass singer. His vocals added to an already solid three other parts make for the best sound the group has had in their existence, and I thoroughly enjoyed their set.

3. Gold City’s “let the fans pick the set” thing that they did tonight made for one of the strongest sets of the evening. No talk, just singing. “Midnight Cry” especially got a big response, with most of the crowd standing at the end. The Jerry Pelfrey-Ivan Parker comparison was very strong.

4. This is usually the note where I would give my annual complaint about how awful the sound was, but I’m pleasantly surprised to say that I have no notes to that effect. Were there hiccups? Sure. However, the sound tonight was mostly an improvement over recent years, and I hope that this trend will carry throughout the week.

Look for more thoughts tomorrow night, and feel free to leave your own in the comments section!

Bonus note: Soul’d Out Quartet is AWESOME! (Rankin, I accept cash, checks, food, etc.).

Youtube Spotlight: The LeFevre Quartet

July 16, 2012 By: Aaron Category: Concert Reviews, LeFevre Quartet, SG Artists, SG Music, Youtube

The LeFevre Quartet came to Concord, VA for a concert last Friday night, and I was glad to be able to attend. This was my first time hearing the group since the addition of Harold Reed at the tenor position, and I was not disappointed. This is arguably the strongest lineup the quartet has had yet, and I am looking forward to hearing their upcoming debut project for Activate Records. Here are some clips of the evening:

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First Look: Harold Reed with The LeFevre Quartet

January 20, 2012 By: Aaron Category: First Look, LeFevre Quartet, SG Artists, SG Music, Youtube

The LeFevre Quartet got a makeover right around the time of NQC 2011 with the departure of lead singer and founding member David Staton, and the additions of Mike LeFevre’s son Jordan at the lead position (moving up from soundman/former drummer) and Old Paths bass Brandon Barry finally filling the position that was being held down long-term by Mike Allen. In December, it was announced that tenor Jeremy Easley was leaving the group and that Kingsmen tenor Harold Reed was coming aboard. Now, three videos have surfaced of this new lineup in action. These are from Reed’s second weekend with the group, and it should be noted that Jordan LeFevre was performing with laryngitis.

This quartet classic features each vocal part out front at some point, and does a good job highlighting the new sound this combination of voices brings to the table. Here’s “Oh The Glory Did Roll:”

 

One of the changes that Harold Reed brings to the stage presence of the group is a keen sense of humor. The previous lineups knew how to have fun for sure, but Reed brings some new comedy to the group, especially in learning the words to the songs! Here’s a double feature of “Crown Him King” and “Wait Upon The Lord:”

 

You never really know how a group’s dynamic changes until you hear a new vocalist singing one of the group’s popular sings. This tenor feature has been sung by Gus Gaches, Jeremy Easley, and even Stephen Sigmon in a fill-in situation. Reed’s voice is a different timbre and style than all theirs, but no less effective on “You’re Never Too Far Away.”

 

Count me in the camp that is looking forward to a project of new material from this lineup of the LeFevre Quartet. I really like their sound!

Kingsmen Looking For New Tenor

December 26, 2011 By: Aaron Category: LeFevre Quartet, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Kingsmen

 

Change has hit The Kingsmen yet again. The group announced the departure of tenor Harold Reed today, and he is making the move to The LeFevre Quartet. From Brandon Reese:

The Kingsmen announce the departure of tenor Harold Reed.

“I have been blessed to sing with one of my favorite Quartets for the past 4 1/2 years and now I feel it is time for me to start the next chapter in my singing career and join The Lafever Quartet,” says Harold. “Sometimes the Lord tells you it is just time and I will truly miss Ray and the rest of the guys but I am comfortable knowing we will remain in contact.”

“The Kingsmen will be celebrating 55 years of music ministry in 2012. Through those years we have had the most talented and enjoyable team members but more importantly good Christians work with our organization,” says Brandon Reese. “Harold is no exception. I know God is in control and has a plan for The Kingsmen. We are more committed than ever to spread the gospel in song all throughout 2012 and beyond.”

For consideration of the tenor position please send all info and demos to: ray@kingsmenquartet.com or brandon@kingsmenquartet.com

Harold is replacing the departing Jeremy Easley. I was very impressed with Easley in the couple times I saw him in a live setting and am looking forward to seeing where he ends up. I have no doubt he’ll be singing in some capacity!

I had a hunch that this move might happen when I saw Harold filling in with the LeFevre Quartet on TBN the other night. I’m very interested to see who The Kingsmen might hire; their tenor part is notorious for being demanding, especially on the older material. Perhaps a young, upcoming talent that hasn’t really been widely heard yet will take the spot.

For a taste of how the LeFevre Quartet will sound, here are their two songs from their TBN apperance. Bass singer Brandon Barry was out in the hospital and Mike Allen was filling in. The addition of Reed gives them a different sound than they are used to, but it’s still good.