NQC 2017: Monday Night Recap

Night two of the 2017 National Quartet Convention has wrapped.  Here were the hits and misses.

  • What childhood memories came flooding back during the Squire Parsons/Kingsmen set.  Happy Squire was gracious to share his set with the Kingsmen to sing some classic Kingsmen songs.
  • Give all the awards to the Mylon Hayes Family.  I am a sucker for proper technical singing and this family is one of the best.  Mylon and Wendy have trained their kids to sing with proper technique, something Mylon learned from his own parents.
  • 11th Hour sounded great tonight running through several hit songs, most notably, “He Welcomes The Beggar”.
  • The Erwins were the highlight early in the program with their performance of “He’s Still Alive”.
  • Another young group that continues to excel at their craft is the Ball Brothers.  Their classy, sometimes jazzy sound infused with impeccable harmonies is hard to beat.
  • Thank you Loren Harris for returning to Southern Gospel music.
  • The Whisnants had the longest set of the evening, clocking in just under 30 minutes but they kept it enjoyable with a great set list.

  • Scott Fowler already making money off the latest political issue.  Paint me surprised.  I’m assuming Scott has not read the United States code on patriotic customs and proper respect for the flag.  It clearly states the flag should never be used as wearing apparel or used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever.  Should I boycott Legacy Five now?
  • I didn’t get the Browns set.  By the end it became a train wreck of moos and quacks.
  • The Kingdom Heirs had horrible sound issues at the beginning of their set.
  • Lauren Talley had to carry hosting duties on her shoulders this evening and she did really well.  Her co-host looked like they’d rather been anywhere but there.

 

**Now to crown the best of the night:

Best single song performances (in order of appearance):  (1) “Chasing After You” – Erwins  (2) “He’s Still Alive” – Erwins  (3) “Mercy Tree” – Ball Brothers  (4) “Never Made A Promise” – Kingdom Heirs  (5) “He Welcomes The Beggar” – 11th Hour  (6) “Beulah Land” – Squire Parsons  (7) “Look For Me At Jesus Feet” – Kingsmen (*Best Individual Performance of the Night)  (8) “Is That The Old Ship Of Zion” – Kingsmen  (9) “Victory Is Mine” – Karen Peck & New River  (10) “Why He Came” – Mylon Hayes Family  (11) “I Call Him Lord” – Whisnants  (12) “Hear The Word Of The Lord” – Kingsmen  (13) “The Light Just Came On” – Hinson Family

Best Set of the Night:  The Squire Parsons/Kingsmen segment.

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NQC 2017: Sunday Night Recap

The 2017 National Quartet Convention is under way as it celebrates its 60th anniversary.  Tonight’s opening program included Greater Vision, Hoppers, Jim Brady Trio, Mark Trammell Quartet and Tribute Quartet.  Each artist got two sets on the program.  Here was the hits and misses of the evening.

  • The Hoppers have been a testament to the strength given to face the trials that come in life.  So good to see Dean with the family tonight!
  • This was my first time to hear John Epley with Greater Vision.  His rich baritone fits with the trio nicely.
  • If you like classics (songs), then tonight was your night.  Mark Trammell Quartet had the best with one of my all time favorites, “He Is Mine And I Am His”.
  • Jim Brady Trio had a nice moment with just piano and vocals.  Something I hope we hear more of during the week.
  • Strong finale to close out the night with “How Great Thou Art”.

  • Sound issues abound during most of the first segment.  I could hear the cavernous sound of the hall coming through my TV screen.
  • Not only that but the streaming system crashed several times early on.  By the second segment things sounded good and the system didn’t have a hiccup.
  • With all the classic songs sung tonight, it did get a bit boring.  I found myself dozing off a couple of times toward the end.

 

**Now to crown the best of the night:

Best single song performances (in order of appearance):  (1) “I’ve Come Too Far” – Hoppers  (2) “You Were Faithful Yesterday” – Greater Vision  (3) “God Of The Storms” – Tribute Quartet  (4) “What A Day That Will Be” – Jim Brady Trio  (5) “He Is Mine And I Am His” – Mark Trammell Quartet (**Favorite song performance of the evening)  (6) “Wherever I Am” – Jim Brady Trio  (7) “Grace Will Get To You” – Hoppers

Best Set of the Night:  The Hoppers

The Last Big Thing: Kingdom Heirs

GRADE:  B+

  • Album:  The Last Big Thing
  • Artist:  Kingdom Heirs
  • Label:  Sonlite
  • Style:  Traditional, Country
  • Release Date:  09/29/17
  • Digital Download:  Yes (Apple Music)
  • Running Time:  40 Minutes

SYNOPSIS:

This week we take a look at the new album from the Kingdom Heirs, The Last Big Thing.

The Kingdom Heirs have been busy in 2017.  The Last Big Thing will mark the third album from the quartet this year.  Carolina Live was released in January while Something Good was provided to listeners in February.

The Kingdom Heirs/Dianne Wilkinson combo continues on The Last Big Thing as she contributed to six of the eleven new songs on the recording.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The biggest move for the Kingdom Heirs was adding Loren Harris as baritone vocalist.  His seasoned, powerful baritone vocal adds so much to the group’s sound.
  • Loren proves that by getting the feature on the album’s stand out track, “Telling The Story”.  This mid-tempo, Kyla Rowland, song has an Appalachian feel that would fit right at home on a McKameys album.  Great song!
  • The Last Big Thing, while traditional Southern Gospel quartet music, also has some country flavored songs that provide variety for the listener.  The best of this style is the Jerry Martin feature, “Just Another Mile”.  Thank you Dianne Wilkinson for this song!  It is a throw back to the sounds of ’70s Southern Gospel.  The song is also credited as Dianne’s 1,000th song!!
  • Each vocal member of the group is allowed the spotlight.  Jeff is given three features on The Last Big Thing.  The best is the catchy, up-tempo, “Victory”.  This song needs to go to radio.
  • Arthur’s stand out performance is one you would expect to hear from him on a Kingdom Heirs album; a traditional Southern Gospel ballad.  “Heaven Was Counting To Three” is one you will definitely want to give a listen.
  • Arthur also gets the feature on the traditional Kingdom Heirs up-tempo song, the album’s opening track; “Plenty Of Singing”.
  • The album’s closing song, which is also an Arthur feature, has an opening musical score that you would expect to hear on a classic Christmas standard.  “I’ll Trust You With Tomorrow” is a nice mellow close to the album.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Telling The Story”, “Just Another Mile”, “Victory”, “Heaven Was Counting To Three”, “Plenty Of Singing”, “I’ll Trust You With Tomorrow” and “The Last Big Thing”.
CRITIQUE:
  • There has not been one Southern Gospel album release this year that has absolutely blown me away.  An album starts with some really great material and then hits a road bump with several mediocre songs.
  • There are a couple of up-tempo ditties in the middle of the album that doesn’t stand up to the rest of the album.
  • I’m not too keen on the album art.  As far as Southern Gospel music is concerned, I always prefer album art that has the group pictured on the cover.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “I Wanna Do More” and “Heroes Of Faith”.

WRAP UP:

The Kingdom Heirs have been giving Southern Gospel listeners traditional Southern Gospel quartet music now for over thirty years.  While The Last Big Thing is not as strong as the group’s previous effort, A New Look; it is the best quartet album of 2017, thus far.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “Plenty Of Singing”/Ensemble; Arthur – Dianne Wilkinson, Daryl Williams  2. “Victory“/Jeff – Rebecca J Peck, Dianne Wilkinson  3. “Telling The Story“/Ensemble; Loren  – Kyla Rowland, Jessica Thomas  4. “The Last Big Thing”/Arthur – Rebecca J Peck, Dianne Wilkinson  5. “Heroes Of Faith”/Jerry – Gerald Crabb  6. “I Wanna Do More”/Jeff – Dennis Murphy  7. “Heaven Was Counting To Three”/Arthur – Jim Brady, Rodney Griffin  8. “Heaven Just Got Sweeter For You”/Jeff – Jerry Salley, Dianne Wilkinson  9. “Just Another Mile”/Jerry – Dianne Wilkinson  10. “Live It Up”/Ensemble; Loren – Jerry Salley, Aaron Wilburn  11. “I’ll Trust You With Tomorrow”/Arthur – Dianne Wilkinson

Eyes On The Road: Akins

GRADE:  B

  • Album:  Eyes On The Road
  • Artist:  Akins
  • Label:  Custom
  • Style:  Country, Inspirational
  • Release Date:  08/25/17
  • Digital Download:  Yes (Apple Music)
  • Running Time:  35 Minutes

SYNOPSIS:

This week we take a look at the new album from Akins, Eyes On The Road.

It has been three years since Akins gave listeners new music with their 2014 release, Vintage.  Eyes On The Road continues Akins country sound/style that separates them from the pack in Southern Gospel music.

Akins is a family band centering around the lead vocals of Nick Akin (lead/acoustic guitar).  Eli Akin (harmony vocals/banjo/fiddle/acoustic/lead guitar) and David Akin (harmony vocals/pianist/bass guitar) round out the group.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Eyes On The Road starts off with some great up-tempo country sounds in the title track.  If I’m not mistaken this is also the first radio single from the album.  You may just be hitting repeat before continuing to the rest of the album.
  • Front man, Nick Akin contributed to all ten songs on the album.  Hearing him interpret his own composition, “Dying To Be With You” is one of the strongest moments on the album.  This is a must listen!
  • Another of Nick’s own compositions, “You’ll Never Break A Promise” is a modern country medium tempo standard and one you don’t want to overlook.
  • The family band present another great up-tempo song that is probably the most Southern Gospel friendly on the album; “Seek First”.
  • Father, David Akin, is featured on the album’s closing track, “As For Me And My House”.  Another up-tempo number and one where the listener knows the featured vocalist lived the words he sung.
  • Nick, Eli and David share the vocals on another stand out track, “Down To Nothing”.
  • Kudos to the group on contributing to every song on the recording.  From the writing, to the vocals, the arranging and the producing.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Dying To Be With You”, “Eyes On The Road”, “You’ll Never Break A Promise”, “Seek First”, “As For Me And My House”, “Down To Nothing” and “The Lullaby”.
CRITIQUE:
  • The country-style that Akins give listeners may not appeal to a swath of the Southern Gospel listener.
  • I thought a couple of songs tended to fall on the inspirational spectrum instead of sticking to the group’s country sound.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “I Need Your Love To Love Her” and “God Revive Us”.

WRAP UP:

Akins has been in my musical playlists since the release of their debut album, Good Tired (2008).  They brought a style/sound that has been missing since the exit of the Mid South Boys.  Eyes On The Road is another in a list of albums that gives listeners just that; a great country sound/style that should be embraced in Southern Gospel music.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “Eyes On The Road”/Eli; Nick; David – David Akin, Eli Akin, Nick Akin, Whitney Akin  2. “Seek First“/Nick – Eli Akin, Nick Akin  3. “I Need Your Love To Love Her“/Nick  – David Akin, Eli Akin, Nick Akin, Whitney Akin  4. “You’ll Never Break A Promise”/Nick – Nick Akin  5. “Dying To Be With You”/Nick – Nick Akin  6. “Down To Nothing”/David; Nick; Eli – Nick Akin  7. “The Lullaby”/Eli – Eli Akin; Whitney Akin  8. “God Revive Us”/Nick – Nick Akin  9. “It All Comes Back”/Eli; Nick; David – David Akin, Eli Akin, Nick Akin, Whitney Akin  10. “As For Me And My House”/David – David Akin, Nick Akin

The Southern Gospel Notebook: September 1986

Happy Wednesday.  It is time to change the music on the sidebar.  How about we go into my Southern Gospel notebook.  As a kid, into my teen years, I wrote down my twenty favorite songs every month.

I started this in July 1982 and continued until December 1994.  Today’s post is a notebook entry from September 1986.  These were my twenty favorite songs.  Enjoy!

**Music is on the sidebar as a playlist**

Southern Gospel Tidbits

DID YOU KNOW?: Some readers of this blog may have the same story.  On September 11, 2001 I was at the National Quartet Convention.  I had flown into Louisville Kentucky the day before to enjoy the week-long event.

As the reality set in on the events that took place, the days following I remember wondering if air travel would start back up and I would get home.  I did.

As through many other times in my life, Southern Gospel music was there to comfort.  We are now 16 years out and today we honor all those lost.

How Can I Take You Seriously?

How is it that in 2017 when digital downloads and streaming music services are the preferred ways to listen to music, you can’t find the Southern Gospel music you’re looking for?

One huge example is the current #1 song on the Singing News radio singles chart; the Browders, “Put It Into God God’s Hands”.  How can a song go #1 and there be no way for listeners to get access to the song digitally?  Preposterous.

Even, if as an artist, you don’t want to provide your music to the digital download sites for purchase, you should have a way for listeners to purchase your music digitally from your website.

Many will argue that is just not Southern Gospel’s fan base.  They only need hard copy CDs.  Wrong.  This writer/listener will not take you seriously as an artist if your music is not available for digital download.