Monday, December 08, 2008

Odds and Ends

There's not much to report from the southern gosple genre these days. Once upon a time, Gold City, the Kingsmen, Palmetto State, and various Gaither groups were releasing CD's to rave reviews, but no more. Let's hope for better times. Yes, I know Gold City relesed Moment of Truth, but I haven't been able to secure a copy yet. Maybe soon.

These days, I've been listening to a lot of music, but I recently downloaded Glen Campbell's new release called "Meet Glen Campbell." Campbell is 72, and despite his failings with alcohol professed to be a born again Christian. This time, he's covering a lot of modern pop stuff and it works. The album sounds like one of his very successful pop albums from the 70's and you have to admit he still has the chops to deliver a song. For you southern gosple fans, check out "Jesus." Not a bad song at all. And it's sung brilliantly. I've hard (from the horse's outh) that he is planning another album with the legendary Jimmy Webb in the near future. That should be something to watch for.

I don't know if it's still available, but if you happen to see Webb's "The Animal's Christmas" at your local CD store (if they still exist these days), pick up a copy. It's just the best modern Christmas present you'll ever give yourself. Simply put, Webb is the greatest songwriter of the last half of the 20th Century, and his arranging skills are second to none. It features Amy Grant and Art Garfunkel and is wonderful.

Finally, have a wonderful, blessed Christmas and I'll see you after the first of the year.

Friday, November 07, 2008

It's rare that I get inspired. Maybe by a great southern gospel groups new album or my Cincinnati Reds or WVU Mountaineers doing something wonderful, but this election did it for me. I know I'm out of the mainstream from my southern gospel friends in supporting Brack Obma for president. I accept that and move on. Heck, my Reds and Mountaineer friends don't even agre with me. so, I wonder who (besides me) voted for Obama?

I always thought we that call ourselves Christinas were supposed to be a little different. Silly me. I admire no one as much as admire the talent Gerald Wolfe is, but I was so dissapointed at his blog entry after the election. November 4th was a historic night. It was not the end of the world. You would think that after eight years of George Walker Busch's presidency, folks would realize that this nation is a melting pot of different opinions. Regardless of how much GWB wanted to install prayer in schools, ban abortion, and any number of conservative issues, he failed because, whether we like it or not, the pocketbook and the real needs of the people are more important to most Americans. Americans voted for men who were more concerned with the quality of life for all, and not those issues that no president can change, even with the ability to change the Supreme Court.

We now go forward with a new agenda and one that will not install prayer in public schools or ban abortions, but isn't that just like the last, failed administration, an abboration of ideas that not only did not work, but let agencies that should have been controlled get out of control?

Use the "L-word" or whatever you want, but I see hope. And I see positives. Condemn me to Hell if you must, but remember this. We're all in the same boat and will always be brothers.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Just Wondering...

You certainly remember these groups:

The Martins
Jeff and Sherry Easter
Booth Brothers
Paid in Full
Palmetto State Quartet
The Stamps Quartet

What are they doing these days. Since Gaither is taking a sabatical from doing videos with standard groups (even thought apparently oneis in the can for nearly a year now while we constantly get "Best Of" or "Hymns" projects), you have to wonder. Yes, the Martins were on the Hymns videos and also the Easters and the Booths, but what about PSQ (how is the new grup doing?) and what of Ed Enoch and the Stamps? Just wondering. Have fuel prices put these people out of business?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Is It Just Me Or....

The economy is in the dumpster, as most of you know. Is that the reason we're seeing fewer and fewer new southern gospel releases? Or am I just out of the loop?

Time was when you could count on two new releases (and maybe a table project or two) from most groups. Nowadays, you're lucky to get a new CD a year out of most sg groups including the big boys. What's up with this? Even Gaither is not releasing as many DVD/CD extravaganzas these days (by the way, I'm still waiting for that fantastic Nashville session where all the groups attended and got to sing individually instead of in a choir where hymns were the only songs).

Maybe I'm just impatient, but it seems very strange to me.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

George W. Bush and Southern Gospel Fans

A firestorm erupted over on this week when Avery made what I thought was a funny line about groups beaming like George Bush when he had successfully completed a sentence. Jay Leno does it, David Letterman does it, but Avery shalt not. What gives?

What gives is the undying support among southern gospel fans for George Bush. It mystifies most of us because the country is almost in agreement that his presidency is simply the worst of the last 70+ years. It certainly wouldn't be because of his Christian leanings because another man who had strong Christian convictions (and rivals Bush for a very bad presidency) is typically made fun of without any comment from anyone.

I'm just curious what the fascination is. It certainly isn't in the accomplishments. If you know, let me know.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The New Gold City

I've discussed this before, but now it has become more apparent that the Gold City we all loved in the late 90's and later is a totally new group. The group I'm talking about was Jonathan Wilburn on lead, Mark Trammel on baritone, Jay Parrack on tenor and Tim Riley on bass. Of course that would change when Trammel left to form his own group and replaced by Daniel Riley. Luckily, the group's sound didn't change much and they continued to be successful.

The big changes began when Parrack and Tim Riley left the group. Parrack was replaced by Steve Ladd and Riley handpicked Bill Lawrence (formerly of Brian Free & Assurance) to be the bass. That meant the group that existed in 2000 was gone and it showed. As much as I love Gold City, the group consisting of Jonathan, Daniel, Steve, and Bill just didn't do it for me. I still went to see them and bought their CD's, but when Tim would occasionaly show up, the applause was thunderous. Except to their biggest fans, Gold City kind of took a back seat for awhile. Of course, the untimely death of Tim's son and Daniel's brother Doug, who had played drums or run sound for them, didn't help.

Lawrence was a great guy and a low bass, which is required to keep the Gold City sound alive, and he held up his part of the bargain. He just wasn't Tim Riley and the sporadic appearances just pointed that out. Apparently, Lawrence saw that and resigned from the group. Lawrence was replaced by Aaron McCune, formerly of Palmetto State Quartet. McCune is a fabulous talent who's sound is more like Tim Riley's than Lawrence was. McCune has one trait that Lawrence didn't have. A natural feel for the rhymthic role of the bass. Throughout, the one constant was Jonathan Wilburn.

Their last recorded effort was "Revival" released in 2006. It was a superior album with a new sound. Where other Gold City recordings had featured horn arrangements and a very modern sound, this album went with a more country sound, but it worked. And then there was silence for what amounts to be two years. Earlier this year, Jonathan decided to sell cars (or so I read). Now we really have a new Gold City.

Jonathan was replaced by Brian Taliferro, who had filled in for him previously. I've only heard clips of Brian with Gold City, but I hear a different sound. Where Wilburn could almost sing a soulful lead, I don't hear that with Taliferro. I'm looking forward to hearing the new album recorded with him coming out soon. My hope is that Gold City will return to the top of the quartet heap. I think it is essential that this happens for the health of the quartet in southern gospel music. Do you agree?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Death of Quartets?

There seems to be a somewhat common theme running through southern gospel blogs these days. It kind of goes like this...southern gospel quartets are dead. Gold City has new singers at every position in a short amount of time. Palmetto State is a shadow of its former self. Old Time Gospel Quartet, like Mercy's Mark is defunct. The Perrys don't count because they're a mixed group. It goes on and on.

I contend that if quartets, that traditional four-part harmony configuration that stated the phenomenon, is dead, so is the genre as we know it. Some would applaud this, but they also ignore the tremendous popularity of the Gaither Vocal Band and Ernie Haase and Signature Sound.
So, how can you have it both ways? You can't. I contend that bad quartets are dying. I know, Mercy's Mark was good and so was the Old Time Gospel Hour Quartet, but they suffered from few dates and bad publicity (MM had so many defections, notably Anthony Facello and Chris West, that they had no continuity).

If this genre is to survive, we'd all better hope that Gold City, the Perrys and EHSSQ continue on as viable players. If they do not, we'll all be singing and listening to those obnoxious choruses that our well-meaning clergy and ministers of music think are so great. Think about that.