Wednesday, September 30, 2015

National Quartet Convention 2015 - Wednesday Night Recap

I was off and on tonight watching the webcast. Tomorrow night I hope to be able to watch all of it. I caught a set and a half before I went to church and then was able to catch the end of the Erwins' set through the finale.

I was able to see the Jim Brady Trio and part of Ernie Haase and Signature Sound before I went to church. The Jim Brady Trio is really sounding fantastic!  They had some issues with their mics, but that didn't stop them! They kept rolling with it. Melissa shared the story of her dad coming to Christ, and what an amazing testimony! Then she sang "Greatest of All Miracles," incredible moment!!

Someone who knows more about the history of NQC than I do, is Ernie Haase and Signature Sound the first artist to ever throw frisbees into the audience? They did this in Branson with the song "Happy People" but I didn't expect that during NQC! Definitely livened up the place! Dustin Doyle was then featured on "Redemption Draweth Nigh," which is when I was sad that I had to turn it off!

I tuned in back in time to catch the end of the Erwins with "I Choose to Be a Christian." Love this young group!

The Hoppers were another highlight of the night. I love that they are including the Hopper Brothers 2.0 so much. This lineup sounds great! It's great seeing Claude and Connie back on stage with the family. I love all the different combinations of voices that the Hoppers offer fans now.

Jason Crabb had a strong set that featured a couple of new songs. Really liked "If I Shout!" And I love that he pulled Kelly Bowling on stage with him to sing "Through the Fire." He and Gerald Wolfe co-hosted the night. They are funny together and play off each other well. It was funny how they kept plugging their own CDs and teasing about their favorite songs from the other one's album. 

The Booth Brothers' set was also a highlight of the night. I love hearing Ronnie Booth on "Then I Met the Master." They paid tribute to Mosie Lister tonight. They ended their set with "Still Feelin' Fine" where they pulled up both Steve Ladd and Jim Brady to help them close!

I love how they are doing the finales each night. The entire Heritage of Gold set was amazing!! Heritage of Gold included Gold City, the LeFevre Quartet, Steve Ladd, Jay Parrack and Vocal Event and Wilburn and Wilburn. The band even included Gold City alum Jeff Easter on bass. They sang favorites like "When I Get Carried Away," "One Scarred Hand" and "Not Giving Up." Tim Riley was there and featured on "Under Control," sounding great! They ended the night with "Midnight Cry," perfect end to the night!!

Highlights of the Night - 
  • "Greatest of All Miracles" - Jim Brady Trio
  • "Truth Is Marching On" - Legacy Five (with Jim Brady)
  • "Jesus Saves" - LeFevre Quartet
  • "Something's Happening" - The Hoppers
  • "If I Shout" - Jason Crabb
  • "Then I Met the Master" - Booth Brothers
  • "Midnight Cry" - Heritage of Gold

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

National Quartet Convention 2015 - Tuesday night recap

I tuned in tonight just in time to catch the end of the Lesters' set. I'm sure I missed some highlights and I know I missed several good groups early in the night! But here is what stood out to me from what I saw:

The Collingsworth Family absolutely nailed it tonight! Definitely one of the strongest sets I saw. I loved getting to hear so many of their new songs, "That Day is Coming," "Gotta Get to Jesus" and "You're About to Climb."

The night ended with the Cathedral Family Reunion set with Gerald Wolfe, Scott Howard, Mark Trammell, Ernie Haase, Danny Funderburk and Pat Barker. They used photos and clips of George and Glen in tribute to them. They gathered around the piano for "Jesus We Just Want to Thank You." It was a beautiful moment, but I loved them ending the night on "We Shall See Jesus."

I tuned in just in time to catch Jonathan Lester recognizing his dad for his years of service to the group. The Lesters have carried on the tradition of singing gospel music longer than any other group on the road today and a great deal of that credit goes to Brian Lester. He was featured on "He Didn't Throw the Clay Away," great moment!

The Taylors and the Talleys both had solid sets! I loved hearing Suzanne Taylor Hise on "I Tremble," always been a big fan of that song! The Talleys sang a new song "People in the Line." Lauren does an outstanding job on it and such convicting lyrics! We never know what the people around us are going through. 

It was neat seeing Mark Bishop share the stage with his daughters tonight. They are a great young talent. He also had a full band on stage with him. 

Greater Vision also had a solid set. It was good hearing Chris featured on "Hallelujah Square!" I also love the song "As We Speak" from their new project that Gerald sings. 

Of the quartets I saw, I really enjoyed the Inspirations' set. I haven't heard this group in a while (I missed them in Branson a few weeks ago.), and they pulled out several old familiar favorites. They sang a version of "Beulah Land" that was incredible!!

  • "He Didn't Throw the Clay Away" - The Lesters
  • "I Tremble" - The Taylors
  • "Hallelujah Square" - Greater Vision
  • "As We Speak" - Greater Vision
  • "People in the Line" - The Talleys
  • "Beulah Land" - The Inspirations
  • "Gotta Get to Jesus" - Collingsworth Familiy
  • "We Shall See Jesus" - Cathedral Family Reunion

Monday, September 28, 2015

National Quartet Convention 2015 - Monday Night Recap

I got to watch the webcast in its entirety tonight from the Mylon Hayes Family to the last shout. I have to say overall, I had no issues as in years past. There were a few pauses and hiccups with the webcast during the night, but nothing major at all!

The Mylon Hayes Family got the night started. I was so glad this family got a full set this year! They had a strong set to start the night with two great hymns, "Stepping in the Light" and "What a Day That Will Be."

From the looks of the live streaming, The Old Paths got the first standing ovation of the night with "I Bowed on my Knees." They had a great set! Quartets overall were on fire tonight! It was great hearing the new lineup of Kingdom Heirs with Brian Alvey. Gold City pulled out a couple of older songs including "How Deep Is the Water!" Tribute also had a great set! I'll be honest "Oh What a Savior" is a great song, but seriously overdone in my opinion. That being said, Tribute featured Riley Harrison Clark on the song, and wow! Loved his version! Triumphant was the last quartet to take the stage and had a solid set. Loved hearing Clayton on "Welcome To Heaven."

I think the moment of the night though belonged to Karen Peck and New River. Their set was incredible featuring their new singer Ricky Braddy on an a cappella version of "Were You There." Even though he's sung on large platforms before, major kudos for it being his first time at NQC and singing a song a capella solo. They played an emotional video about Rickey Gooch's battle with cancer and harsh treatment he went through this year. The end of the video talked about Rickey drawing strength from lines of his favorite song. The song was "My God Will Always Be Enough." After the video, Karen sang the song. Beautiful, touching moment!!

The Hoppers had one of the strongest sets of the night, but had a different start with Karlye singing "I Am a Promise." I'm not typically a fan of the novelty kids songs, but I have to say I liked her jazzed up version of the song. It was good hearing the Hopper Brothers again on "Can't Give Up on God." Kim mentioned that this was the fifth anniversary of her brother Tony's passing before she sang "Grace Will Always Be Greater Than Sin." They paid tribute to the Hoppers at the end of the night and ended with "Shoutin' Time." Triumphant and Wilburn and Wilburn joined the Hoppers on stage for the finale. 

Highlights of the Night - 
  • "The Love of God" - Jim Brady Trio
  • "I Bowed on my Knees and Cried Holy" - The Old Paths
  • "Can't Give Up on God" - Hopper Brothers 2.0
  • "Grace Will Always Be Greater Than Sin" - The Hoppers
  • "My God Will Always Be Enough" - Karen Peck and New River
  • "Jesus Loves You" - Jeff and Sheri Easter
  • "The Old Rugged Cross Made the Difference" - Wilburn and Wilburn
  • "Welcome to Heaven" - Triumphant Quartet
  • "Oh What a Savior" - Tribute Quartet
  • "Shoutin' Time" - Hoppers (with friends Triumphant and Wilburn and Wilburn)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

National Quartet Convention 2015 - Sunday Night Bonus Concert

Tonight I got to watch the webcast of the National Quartet Convention. My plan is to watch Monday, Thursday and Friday nights in their entirety. I'll probably be able to catch some part of Tuesday and Wednesday nights as well. So hopefully I'll have some highlights each day this week to share with you. But for now, let's start with the bonus concert they had tonight:

The concert started with all the groups from tonight singing "Bless the Lord," and they ended it that way as well. Each group sang once in the first half that was part of the free webcast tonight. Then, the concert continued with each group taking the stage again.

It was a great night for the newbies. The first group to take the stage was Jim Brady Trio. Of course, Jim and Melissa Brady and Tim Parton are not new to the NQC stage, but as a group this was their first time. The Hoppers brought several first time NQCers with them - Nathan Kistler, Abby Paskvan and Matt Griffith. It was also the first time for the NQC audience to see Blake Buffin with Mark Trammell Quartet. I was impressed by all of their performances.

The Jim Brady Trio was the first group to take the stage and definitely started the night off well, but I loved their second set!! Jim paid tribute to his dad, and they sang "That Sounds Like Home to Me." They sang with just Tim on the piano. Then, they started the chorus again a cappella, great moment! Melissa was also featured on "The Greatest of All Miracles," which was incredible!

It was great to see Claude and Connie back on the stage with the Hoppers. They sang a few songs including "Thank You Lord For Your Blessings on Me" and "I'll Take You Home." They thanked everyone for the many prayers that had been offered on their behalf. They shared their story about how hard their year had been. I thought it was cool that they brought up Abby Paskvan to sing "All Rise." What an incredible young talent! I hadn't heard her before at all. I also loved getting to hear the Hopper Brothers 2.0 on the webcast on "I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary." I also hadn't heard the Hoppers with the addition of Nathan, who's a great addition to the group.

Greater Vision and the Mark Trammell Quartet have to be two of the most consistent groups in the business, and tonight was no exception. Both groups had two solid sets. Both groups sang a mix of recent songs and familiar favorites like MTQ on "Wedding Music" and Greater Vision with "Champion of Love." The Mark Trammell Quartet ended the group's second set with "It's Almost Over," which was a great moment of the night! Greater Vision ended their second set with "It Pays to Pray." Loved hearing them stage this song again, great moment the Gerald set up well talking about how important it was to keep praying no matter how long you've been praying for something.

Tim Lovelace provided some comedy throughout the night in addition to great singing! It was a good first night, look forward to watching more this week!

Highlights of the Night (no particular order) -

  • "That Sounds Like Home" - Jim Brady Trio
  • "Thank You Lord for Your Blessings" - The Hoppers
  • "All Rise" - Abby Paskvan
  • "It's Almost Over" - Mark Trammell Quartet
  • "It Pays to Pray" - Greater Vision
  • "There Is a Fountain" - Kim Hopper and Melissa Brady
  • "I Believe in a Hill Called Mt. Calvary" - Hopper Brothers 2.0

Saturday, September 26, 2015

In Case You Missed It - Sept. 26 - News and Tidbits

Here are just a few news and tidbit items from this week in gospel music -

  • Please keep Josh Ball in your prayers. He's been in the hospital for more than 20 days with issues with his pancreas. He needs to be transferred to Vanderbilt because of the severity of his issues and upcoming surgeries he needs to have. Follow the Ball Brothers on Facebook for the latest updates on Josh's condition. 
  • Congratulations to Jeff Hawes (formerly of Karen Peck and New River) on his recent engagement!
  • The National Quartet Convention starts next week. They are offering a free live stream of the kick-off concert on Sunday night. Go to for more details. (I'll be able to watch the live stream Sunday, Monday, Thursday and Friday nights in full, so look for blogs on those. I should be able to catch part of Tuesday and Wednesday nights, but not sure how much.)
Anything that I've missed?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fun Clip Friday - 11th Hour and Pat Barker

Happy Friday to everyone! A few weeks ago, Pat Barker had his second Pat Barker and Friends concert at Meadowbrook Baptist in Oxford, Alabama. He had 11th Hour as his guests that night. 11th Hour consists of Amber Eppinette, Jaquita Lindsey and Grant Gibson. You can check out a full recap at MusicScribe by Diana Brantley.

For today's Fun Clip Friday, here's a clip of 11th Hour with Pat singing "Glory Road." Looks like they had some fun with this one!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Booth Brothers - Still - CD Review

The Booth Brothers released Still in July. This is the group's first recording with Paul Lancaster at baritone. Jim Brady was not only a main-stay in this group for more than a decade but also provided the group with some of its best songs from his pen. While Jim is not on the project vocally, he did write two of the songs on the album.

Paul Lancaster is a great fit for this group. His voice complements Michael and Ronnie's well. I was really impressed when I saw them live for the first time in Branson and then with this project I was even more convinced.

"Jesus Saves" has to be the stand out song of the project for me. The Collingsworth Family joins the trio on this song. The group sang it at NQC last year introducing Paul to fans for the first time. It was a powerful moment then, and it's a powerful moment of the project. Paul does an incredible job on the song.

"I Am the Word" was another standout song. The orchestration behind the song really makes it build and makes it a highlight. Ronnie is featured on this song. I'm a big fan of Ronnie's voice, and I like that on this project he tackles a few different styles. "Down by the River" is another favorite on this project that Ronnie sings, but it definitely has a modern country flair. This song will have your toe tapping and your hands clapping along! "Dirt on my Hands" also has a country flavor but in different way from the previously mentioned song. It has more of a Booth Brothers sound.

"Wild Flower" features Michael. It's the testimony song for Michael's wife Vicki. It really shows the tender side of Michael's voice. He does an amazing job on this song. Rebecca Peck wrote the song just for Vicki and her story. It's a beautiful song that paints Vicki's story so well.

Paul sings on "Touch of the Master's Hand." I love his take on this song. Definitely another highlight of the album! "Faith Keeps Walking" is the song that starts the project that also allows Paul to showcase his voice. I really loved this song in a live setting. The song really shows how well the guys blend together.

The title song, "Still," features both Michael and Ronnie on the verses. Jim Brady wrote the song. The song is a beautiful reminder that no matter what God's on the throne and He's in control. That never changes.

The Booth Brothers prove why they continue to be at the top of this industry with this release. I think it really showcases this new lineup well. It's an album that you'll definitely want to add to your collection!

Song List -

1. "Faith Keeps Walking"
2. "Happy Rhythm"
3. "Still"
4. "Dirt on my Hands"
5. "I Am the Word"
6. "Touch of the Master's Hand"
7. "Whenever I Speak His Name"
8. "Down by the River"
9. "Wild Flower"
10. "Jesus Saves"

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Praise Songs in Southern Gospel - Commentary

Ask any average Southern Gospel fan, and they will tell you that they do not prefer praise songs. At most gospel concerts, if any artist asks a question about liking older songs the audience is going to respond favorably with applause. Audiences in general love the old hymns and traditional worship.

That being said, one thing that really stood out to me when I got back from Silver Dollar City is how many artists are putting a Southern Gospel spin on praise and worship or contemporary songs. And the audiences love it. Of course, I'm sure many of them might not know that it's a "praise" song.

"Jesus Saves" has become a big hit in Southern Gospel for a few groups. It was definitely a highlight of NQC last year when the Booth Brothers took on the song with both Paul Lancaster and Jim Brady and the Collingsworth Family backing them up. When the Booth Brothers sang it at Silver Dollar City, it was a highlight of the night. The LeFevre Quartet has also recorded the song. At one of their shows at Silver Dollar City when it was time for requests, the audience wanted to hear both "Jesus Saves" and "Days of Elijah." Triumphant Quartet recorded an album last year of both traditional and contemporary songs.

It is funny to me that fans who will say they are opposed to modern, praise songs, don't really act that way when their favorite gospel groups are singing the song. It just goes to show that it's not really about style or age as much as quality of song. Longevity doesn't make a song good. A good song will have longevity; it will last for decades and generations to come.

What do you think? Are you a fan of Southern Gospel groups taking on praise and worship?

And just for fun, here's a clip of the Booth Brothers and Collingsworth Family singing "Jesus Saves" at National Quartet Convention last year (courtesy of Diana Brantley's YouTube).

Saturday, September 19, 2015

In Case You Missed It - News & Tidbits - Sept. 19

Here are some news items from this week in gospel music -
  • Karen Peck and New River announced that Ricky Braddy will be the group's newest member. He was on season 8 of American Idol and has been filling in for the past several weeks.
  • Jeremy Lile is leaving Brian Free and Assurance after eight years at the bass position. Jeremy has had some health issues recently and feels that it's best to come off the road. 
  • Carroll McGruder passed away late Monday night after a battle with cancer. His service was held on Thursday. In addition to being part of the McGruders, he penned several well-known gospel songs including "I'm Going Home With Jesus" and "He Set Me Free." Please keep his family in your prayers. 
  • Charles Brady, father of Jim Brady, passed away this week after complications with his heart. The service will be on Tuesday. Please keep Jim, Melissa, Jim's mother and all of his family in your prayers.
  • Boyce Flener of the Crossmen Quartet was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and is now receiving treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Please keep him, his family and the group in your prayers.
  • Congratulations to Greg Bentley who was promoted this week to Associate Director of A&R at  Crossroads Entertainment & Marketing. He has been at Crossroads for 22 years.
  • Christian Davis has resigned from Dailey and Vincent after five and a half years. He will be pursuing a solo career. Aaron McCune is joining the group at bass.
  • Michael Howard is leaving Soul'd Out Quartet as its piano player. He's been with the group for seven years. The group said in the announcement via Facebook that another announcement about the future would be made soon.
Anything I've missed?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Fun Clip Friday - TaRanda Greene, Doug Anderson and Jody McBrayer

A couple of weeks ago a new trio debuted at First Baptist of Indian Trail, North Carolina. TaRanda Greene, Doug Anderson and Jody McBrayer (formerly of Avalon) are joining forces. They will be putting out a record as a trio and doing some select tour dates. They will all still continue to do individual dates as well. For today's Fun Clip Friday, here's a clip of them singing together "Jesus Never Fails."

Thursday, September 17, 2015

In Everything Give Thanks - When Lyrics Speak

I don't mind admitting to you that the past month has been a little rough, a little different. Life has brought lots of changes. Today brings lots of changes. It's so easy to get bogged down with the circumstances of life. We look to things around us to fulfill us. We focus on life situations that didn't go as planned. We look around, and we're not where we expected to be. It's easy to compare with others about what you don't have or what they have that's better than yours. But at the end of the day, is life really that bad? Aren't we guilty of focusing on one thing that's not going right and not all the things God has blessed us with?

Joy is not about circumstances. It's so easy to equate joy with happiness. But joy is so much more, it's far from temporary and not dependent on the here and now. However, when life happens and when plans fail, that's when it's really important to choose joy. So today, even when life is not going as planned and when unwelcome changes occur, choose joy and gratitude. In everything give thanks. When life is not as you expected, give thanks.

Lord, help me be thankful. When life is not at it's best and when I'm not at my best, help me give thanks. When I'm tempted to look at things that aren't where I want them to be, help me to thank You.  When loved ones pass away, help me to thank you for the time with them. When work is overwhelming, help to me to thank you for a job that I love. Today, may I focus more on giving thanks to You than complaining. May I give thanks more than make requests. In everything, help me to give thanks!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Find Me on Facebook

This weekend I decided to launch a Facebook page for the blog. Check it out here!

I decided it would be another good outlet to use in addition to the blog and the Twitter account. It's another way to get information out and the demographics really fit more of the Southern Gospel audience than Twitter does. So I decided it was the time. I'll also be able to share more photos from concerts and events. I added an album with lots of Silver Dollar City highlights!

Be sure and check it out and like it!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Jeremy Lile Departs Brian Free and Assurance

Today Brian Free and Assurance announced that after eight years bass singer Jeremy Lile will step down from the group. He is coming off the road to focus on more some health concerns. The group will continue to travel as a trio until a replacement can be found.

Please keep Jeremy and Brian Free and Assurance in your prayers as they enter this transition.

Here's the group's full release on Facebook -

We are announcing the departure of Jeremy Lile after more than eight years of filling the position of bass singer. Many are aware Jeremy has been experiencing health issues the past several months. After taking time off from the road to focus on health matters, it became evident that he could not continue to tour with the group.

The BFA family offer their love and support and are thankful for Jeremy's time with the group. Brian Free and Assurance will continue to perform as a trio until such a time as the right individual comes along to fill the bass position. We ask that you pray for us during this transition. We look to God to send just the right person to compliment this ministry.

Those interested in applying for the position of bass singer with BFA can send a bio, photo and not more than two or three mp3s for consideration to: Brian Free and Assurance, P O Box 1909, Douglasville, GA 30133. Applicants can also email their bio to

Ricky Braddy Joins Karen Peck and New River

Karen Peck and New River announced on the group's Facebook page this morning that Ricky Braddy will be joining the group. I got the chance to see Ricky with the group in Branson and was very impressed! He was on Season 8 of American Idol and made it to the top 15. He said in the video announcement that he grew up on gospel music. This is his first national gospel group to sing with but you can tell he's definitely had experience on stage and singing. Here's the video announcement.

Announcement from Karen Peck and New River ...
Posted by Singing News on Monday, September 14, 2015

I think this is a great fit for Karen Peck and New River. Check out this video of him singing "Were You There" a cappella at Silver Dollar City.

Just Sing - Amber Nelon Thompson - CD Review

When Amber Nelon Thompson released her EP last year, Southern Gospel audiences took note. It was an incredible set of four songs that made people realize what a talented vocalist she is. As one of the youngest sopranos in the industry, she's also one of the most powerful.

Amber really set the bar high with her EP, so I was anxious to hear the rest of the project. And I was NOT disappointed. In addition to the four on the EP, she added six new ones.

The opening song, "Sing-a-Long," is a fun tune to start the project on. Bill Gaither even gets in on the fun of the song. It's very catchy and light-hearted.

While this was a solo project, she had some help on a few other songs from more talented vocalists. Of course, her family, The Nelons, sang with her on "Be Thou My Vision." She has a duet with both Michael English and Joseph Habedank as well, both of which are highlights. "Another Time, Another Place" with Michael is definitely a must-listen. It's a remake of the Sandi Patty/Wayne Watson duet, but I'd put Amber and Michael's version right there with it. I also loved "Without Your Love," her duet with Joseph. Their voices complement each other well.

"He's Making Me" is one I found myself hitting repeat on. It's a great uptempo, more progressive number. It's a song I definitely found myself identifying with as it talks about God molding us into who we need to be.

"God Is Always Good" was another highlight. Amber does an incredible job on this ballad, communicating these powerful lyrics. The song has a soothing sound and a soothing message that reminds us of Romans 8:28. He's working things for our good.

Another standout ballad that was included on her EP release is "Falling." I love this song; it was my favorite from the EP release! The song has a very long intro with great orchestration. The song talks about the omniscience of God, when we see things falling apart, He sees them falling into place.

In addition to producing, Jason Clark wrote four of the 10 songs on the project, "Sing-a-Long," "What Do You Say?," "Without Your Love" and "Give It to Jesus." He doesn't get enough credit for his writing skills or producing for that matter. "What Do You Say?" is one I can see crossing over into country.

Many Southern Gospel fans have watched Amber grow up. She's still a young face but has the experience and maturity in her voice of someone much older because she started at such a young age. With this release, she proves that even as still a young face in the industry she deserves a place among the top female vocalists in the industry. I think Amber with her power vocals, distinctive style and young appeal can also help recruit younger listeners to this industry which is important. There's no doubt that this is one of the best releases of the year, and a project you definitely need to add to your collection!

Song List -
  1. "Sing-a-long"
  2. "He's Making Me"
  3. "Another Time, Another Place"
  4. "Be Thou My Vision"
  5. "What Do You Say?"
  6. "Without Your Love"
  7. "Grateful"
  8. "God Is Always Good"
  9. "Give It to Jesus"
  10. "Falling"

Saturday, September 12, 2015

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - Sept. 12

Well, this will be a catch all of the past couple of weeks since I was in Branson. Here are some recent news items in Southern Gospel -
  • Anthony Facello has announced a new season of ministry. He will be branching out as a soloist and closing the door on Beyond the Ashes as a full-time ministry. Beyond the Ashes and Friends will have some sporadic dates throughout the year.
  • Tyler Vestal, who was with Beyond the Ashes, is joining Ernie Haase and Signature Sound. He will be playing piano for the group. Wayne Haun will still travel occasionally with the group and continue to serve as the musical director and producer. Wayne is now hosting a daily radio show and continues with a busy schedule with StowTown Records.
  • Starting Monday, the Solid Gospel Radio Network will change to Singing News Radio. It will launch three news shows with new hosts. Find out more here
  • A new documentary, America's Gospel Singers, The Legacy Lives On, will air on public television of the Chuck Wagon Gang. It was developed for New Haven Films by Marty Stuart. The full-length documentary chronicles the group’s 75-year history through family photographs, poignant personal stories, old recordings and new live performances.  
  • Prayers requested for Joshua Ball, former member and brother of Ball Brothers, who has been in the hospital for more than a week with pancreatitis. Josh needs to have surgery to remove his gallbladder and any blockages, but he is very unstable at this point. Keep up with him on the Ball Brothers' Facebook page. If you'd like to contribute to help with medical expenses, go to his Go Fund Me. 
Anything I've missed?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Fun Clip Friday - Silver Dollar City 2015 Recap

Well, if you've read this blog at all in the last two weeks, you know I've spent most of that time at Silver Dollar City for its Southern Gospel Picnic. You can catch highlights of each day I was there here.

I love this event. When you stop to think about it, it's amazing that a theme park for 12 days solid promotes the gospel. When you first step on the park, gospel music is what you hear. Whether you came for the festival or to ride a few roller coasters, you'll hear gospel music walking around the park. People could easily wonder into a show escaping the heat and hear the gospel through song and testimonies. So many times we were in line for a show, and people walked by asking what the line was for. They wouldn't know anything about the artist but figured it must be good if people were waiting in line for it! It's really incredible for a public theme park to do this.

I posted recaps of each day, but here are some overall highlights/ comments about the festival -

  • It was really neat to me to see how the artists supported each other. Artists could be seen backstage or in the audience supporting their fellow singers while they were not singing themselves. A couple I saw stayed over days after they sang, I'm sure for the theme park too, but they were also in shows supporting this genre, the artists and the festival.
  • I have to say that the new group I was most impressed with was the Craguns. Check them out if you get a chance!
  • Of course, it had to rain one night of the festival, but Triumphant Quartet didn't let the rain or part of the crowd leaving slow them down! Clayton even joined the audience in the rain (clip below).
  • The reunion shows were great this year! Of course, I love everything Chosen Few gets together, but it was good to see the lineup of Jay, Jonathan, Mark and Tim of Gold City in person. Check out this clip Mark Trammell Quartet post!
  • For many artists this is the only chance I get to see them each year. I don't mind admitting that I am tired after the festival but I try to see as many as I can. Silver Dollar City crams in so many shows and artists each day, it's really impossible to see everyone you want to see.
  • The women of gospel music are troopers. Sonya Isaacs Yeary and Amanda Crabb both sang outside in the heat several months along in their pregnancies. Sheri Easter was two weeks out of hernia surgery singing on stage in the heat. Big kudos to these women!!
  • I got to see a number of groups with new members or at least new in that I hadn't seen them in person yet - Mark Trammell Qt., Booth Brothers, Gold City and LeFevre Qt. There were a few other groups with recent member changes but it was also my first time seeing them live like Signature Sound. I was pretty impressed with all the new guys and how well they were meshing with their groups now.
D.A. Callaway is the entertainment manager at Silver Dollar City and posted several videos during the week. I'm still going through photos and videos I took, so for now I'll just share his. Here are a couple for today's Fun Clip Friday!

Talk about a sing-a-long! Duane Garren leads 4,000 in preparation for Booth Brothers concert at Silver Dollar City.
Posted by DA Callaway on Sunday, August 30, 2015

Crazy man in the rain, Clayton Inman of Triumphant Quartet at Echo Hollow concert, Silver Dollar City.
Posted by DA Callaway on Saturday, August 29, 2015

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Silver Dollar City Southern Gospel Picnic - Sept. 7

I'm a little late getting up the recap of the last day at Silver Dollar City up. It was back to the real world for me first thing on Tuesday unfortunately. No more days full of gospel music, but actual work! However, the great time we had at Silver Dollar City was definitely worth the pile of work waiting for me when I returned to work!

Silver Dollar City's Southern Gospel Picnic went out on a high note on Monday night. I was able to see five different groups on Monday night including two groups I had never seen live before. I wanted to get in all I could on the last day.

Here are the highlights -

Dixie Melody Boys

  • I really don't think I have ever seen this group live before. I could be wrong, but if I have it was so long ago before I really kept up with all the groups and was as big of a fan as I am today. Anyway, it was good to see the legendary Ed O'Neal in person.
  • "Little Is Much" - Tenor Doug Pittman really impressed on this song!
  • "Family Bible" - Loved hearing Ed sing this song!
  • "Hello Mama"
  • "The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow"


  • I normally just see this group at Southern Gospel Picnic and honestly I forget how good they are. With the live band, they really are a group packed full of talent.
  • "He Gave Me Joy in the Storm"
  • "Rainbow of Love" - Gotta love when the bass and tenor show out!
  • "I'm Winging My Way Back Home" - Since Alex Utech has joined the group, his twin brother is driving the bus. They brought out Andrew to sing in the quartet on this song.
  • "Unclouded Day" - Instrumental
  • "God Walks the Dark Hills" - Rita knocked this one out of the park!

Sunday Drive

  • This was a new group to me. Although, when Jeff Treece was making the group introductions I definitely recognized that name. He played for the McKameys for many years and had The Jeff Treece Band for a few years as well.
  • "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know"
  • "Happy Happy Happy" - Great song. I actually heard this on the radio a few days before I saw them in person. The song caught my attention, and I had to find out who was singing!
  • "I Wouldn't Take Nothing for my Journey Now" - They did a great job on this Happy Goodman Family classic.
  • "American Hero"

The Browders

  • "Lift Up His Name"
  • I love hearing Tommy Browder give his testimony. It's really incredible to hear how the Lord has worked in his life. After his testimony, he sang "I Am So Blessed."
  • "Praise You in This Valley" - Such a powerful song! One of my favorites from this group.
  • "Fall on my Knees" - Matthew sang this one alone, definitely a powerful moment with just Sonya on the keys accompanying him.
  • "Stumbling Blocks to Stepping Stones"
  • "Listening for the Shout" - Great uptempo song to end their set with! 

The Isaacs

  • Anytime the Isaacs sing something a cappella it's going to be a highlight! They seriously amaze me every time with their incredible harmonies. They sang several songs a cappella:
    • "Walk Together Children"
    • "The Lord's Prayer"
    • "I Will Praise Him"
  • "I Know Who Holds Tomorrow" - Becky was featured on this great hymn!
  • "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive"
  • "Waiting in the Water" - Becky gave a little bit of her testimony before the song.
  • In addition to Becky's testimony, Sonya opened up about her miscarriage last year (She is now expecting again.) Lily also read from her book talking about all that her parents endured being Holocaust survivors. Loved that they opened up and shared their hearts.
  • "Four Men Walkin' Around"
  • "Get On Board"
  • "He Ain't Never Done Me Nothing But Good" - What a great way to end the night and the festival!!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Silver Dollar City's Southern Gospel Picnic - Sept. 6

Sunday was a day I had been looking forward to on the schedule. I grew up seeing Chosen Few at Silver Dollar City, so whenever they get back together for a reunion event, it's going to be good! In fact, it made the #1 Moment of the Year for me in 2014. Of course when you have Jeff and Sheri Easter in Echo Hollow, you know it's going to be good! And then beginning the day hearing Dennis Swanberg speak, you really couldn't have a bad Sunday at Silver Dollar City.

Here are a few of the highlights -

The Williamsons

  • "It Was the Word"
  • "Way Down Deep in my Soul" - They showed off their bass singer with this song. I have to say he's probably one of the lowest I heard during the festival.
  • "How Great Thou Art" - They sang this again with the trumpet part and including the audience singing. Great moment!
  • "Shout" - Can't get enough of this song!
  • "He Lived to Tell It"
  • "Tell Somebody" - This is a great song, and Karl shows off his harmonica skills during this song!

Chosen Few

  • It really felt like old times at Silver Dollar City. The camaraderie between the guys is still there and the same as it has been. It was like coming back home for them because that's where they performed for 10 years.  
  • It was great hearing so many classic Chosen Few songs again like "The Little Things," "I Will Carry on This Way," "Let Go and Let God" and "Deliverance Has Come." Brian Arnold is an incredible songwriter and is now singing with Chosen Few.
  • Brain Arnold on piano - I really forgot how good he is! I'm not sure what else to say here, but wow! He plays the piano with one hand, but you could never tell it by listening. 
  • "How Great Thou Art" - There are so many versions of this song, but Scott Fraker and Chosen Few singing this song is my absolute favorite. Scott shows off his 4 1/2 octave vocal range on this song.
  • "I Bowed on my Knees" - There's Michael English on this song, Tim Rackley's version, but I would put Casey's right at the top with them. 
  • "I Am the Man"
  • "Long Black Train" - This was a new song for Chosen Few that they recorded for "best of" project with this being one of two new tracks for the CD. Loved hearing Scott sing this song.
  • "Wonderful Love" - Ashley got his chance to show off his tenor skills on this song.

Mountain Faith

  • This was not on the schedule for them to be down in Echo Hollow. Duane Garren announced that afternoon that there would be a special surprise starting at 6 p.m. in Echo Hollow and Mountain Faith was it!
  • Jeff Easter joined them on the harmonica for "No Condemnation."
  • "Love That Never Ends" - Really not sure if this is the correct title, but great song they sang at the end of their set.

Jeff and Sheri Easter

  • I loved hearing so many of their new songs live! Their project Small Town has really been one of my favorite releases of the year!
    • "Small Town Someone (Lunch)" - Such a great song that they opened the night with!
    • "Someone's Listening" - Morgan did an incredible job on this song live!
    • "Jesus Loves You" - Loved hearing Sheri sing this one. Incredible message that Sheri delivers so well!
    • "I Love You" - Sweet love song!
  • I hadn't seen them since Madison came off the road. Jared Easter is now playing guitar, mandolin, steel guitar and banjo for them. He even sang a little bit! They also have a new drummer since Landan Smith came off the road.
  • Jeff had a sweet tribute to his dad and sang "Like Father, Like Son" with the recording of his dad singing with him.
  • "Praise His Name" - Anytime I hear Sheri Easter sing this song, it's going to be a highlight. One of my favorite gospel songs!
  • "Roses Will Bloom Again"
  • "Sitting on Top of the World" - Love this song!
  • "Thank You Lord for Your Blessings on Me" - They had the audience join in with them on the last chorus. Great moment to hear the 4,000+ voices all singing this together!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Silver Dollar City Southern Gospel Picnic - Sept. 5, 2015

A soloist, little bluegrass and some great quartet singing is what yesterday held at Silver Dollar City's Southern Gospel Picnic. I had the chance to see several groups for the first time, the Williamsons, Mountain Faith and Ernie Haase and Signature Sound. I had seen several of the members of EHSS before when they were with other groups but had never seen the group itself.

Here are highlights from the day - 

Mountain Faith

  • This group has been on America's Got Talent this season and has developed quite the following from that! They made it pretty far in the competition and I can see why! They not only have a strong vocal talent but great musicians!
  • "Emily, It's Love" - This song was made popular by Francesca Battestelli. The group definitely made the song its own.
  • "There Is a God" - Beautiful song that Summer, the female vocalist, really shined on!
  • "No Condemnation"
  • "Absent From the Body"

Joseph Habedank 

  • It was good seeing Joseph in a solo setting again. I hadn't seen him in person since last January when he first started as a soloist. He did a great mix of the hymns, new songs and favorites from his days with the Perrys.
  • It was good hearing a lot of the new songs live for the first time like "Never No Never," "Welcome Home" and "Begging for Change."
  • "Beauty of the Blood" - Before he sang this song, he had the audience sing with him on "Nothing But the Blood," great moment!
  • "What a Day That Will Be" - He stated that this was the song he sang when he tried out for the Perrys.
  • He ended a set with "Wish I Could Have Been There," which has always been a personal favorite!

Dixie Echoes

  • Junior Shelton was still with the group at Silver Dollar City, so it's the same lineup I saw at Memphis Quartet Show a few months ago.
  • The bass singer, Chandler Johnson, still really amazes me! Incredible talent for such a young guy!!
  • "If You Know the Lord" - They sang the true four-part harmony on this song.
  • "Roll on Jordan"
  • Randy pulled out his guitar and played "Happy Rhythm." Not only is he pulling vocal duty now and playing the keys, but then he also showed off his guitar skills!
  • "How Great Thou Art" 


  • This was my first time seeing the group live, but I'm hoping to catch them again today. I was familiar with some of their music. 
  • "Shout" was of course the song most people knew right away. I seriously hear this song on Southern Gospel radio daily. Great song and the audience was on its feet at the end!
  • "Tell Somebody"
  • "Monday" - Great song about how it's more important on how we live out the Christian life during the week, not just on Sundays.
  • "It Was the Word"
  • "How Great Thou Art" - This started with a trumpet solo, then the group joined in and invited the choir of 4,000+ people there to join with them. Incredible moment!

Ernie Haase and Signature Sound

  • This was one of the moments I was anticipating most of the festival since I had never seen the group live before. I thought I knew what I was in for and I almost did, but their live concert experience is not something soon to be forgotten.
  • The energy level of the night was just incredible. These guys don't stop. I never saw them tire out or slow down, they gave it their all every second they were on the stage.
  • "Noah Found Grace in the Eyes of the Lord" - Such a fun song live!
  • "Get Away Jordan" 
  • "Ol Man River" and "Never Walk Alone" - Two songs from their new Broadway release. It was fun to hear these two songs for a little variety to the festival.
  • "Jesus Changed Everything" - Love this song!!
  • "Happy People" - Of course the audience was on its feet for this one, and they had to be when members started throwing frisbees in the air to try to catch!
  • "Oh What a Savior" - I definitely expected to hear Ernie sing this one live during the night.
  • "Step Into the Water" - Nice tribute to the Cathedrals with this song
  • "Boundless Love" - They came back after the audience remained on its feet clapping with this one as an encore! Definitely glad they chose this song!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

All About Family - Southern Gospel Picnic Silver Dollar City - Sept. 4

It's that part of the festival where things are winding down. There are only three more days left. And yes, I'm starting to get a little tired, but still sad to see it all come to an end for another year.

We started out the morning at the park, took a short break in the early afternoon and then came back. But in all, we managed to see five different groups again today. It was all about family groups today. There's truly nothing like family harmonies and seeing families sing and worship together.

Here are the highlights -

The Lesters

  • It was a nice surprise to see Ginger singing with them this weekend. Matt Felts has been sick with strep throat, so she was filling in. 
  • "Blessed Beyond Measure"
  • "He Is" - This group was the first one I ever heard sing this song. Always a powerful moment of a concert.
  • Southern Gospel Picnic is normally the first time I hear a Christmas song. This year it was the Lesters who first brought Christmas cheer with "Angels We Have Heard on High" a cappella. 
  • "Favorite Song of All"

The Goulds

  • I'm glad I got to see this group again. The Goulds consist of father Tim Gould and his two daughters, Kelsey and Christa. 
  • "No Place to Hide"
  • "He's Alive" - Great song!
  • "He Promised Me" - Fun, uptempo song that reminds us that God won't leave us.

The Dunaways

  • If I could have picked out songs of a Dunaway set that the songs I know best from them, this would have been it! Great song selection!
  • "Church in the Kitchen" - This is one of those songs you can't help but like. 
  • "Didn't I Walk on the Water" - Love this song!
  • "Don't Start Doubting Now" - My absolute favorite!!
  • "I Wanna Feel It Again"

Aaron and Amanda Crabb

  • This couple knows how to worship at a theme park. They really set the tone for the night where we could just have church.
  • "If I'm Guilty" - Love this song!
  • "Hold to God's Unchanging Hand" 
  • "He Looked Beyond My Fault" - Aaron sang this on by himself. Great version of the Dottie Rambo classic.
  • "Please Come Down to Me"

The Bowling Family

  • It was good to hear so many of their new songs on their upcoming release! I cannot wait to hear the full album!! I'm not sure on these titles, but here are my best guesses -
    • "I Was There" - Kelly said this will probably become one of Mike's signature songs, and after hearing it I have to agree! Incredible song!!
    • "One Glorious Moment of Faith" - Hope does such an incredible job on this song. She just owns it. 
    • "Praise God He's Alive"
  • "Don't You Wanna Go" - They pulled Aaron up to join them on this song! It really got the crowd going!
  • "Your Cries Have Awoken the Master" - Always a highlight to hear this song live!!
  • "I've Got My Mind Made Up" - This is an older song, so I'm not sure if it's included on the new project or not. They ended the night on this song with the audience on its feet clapping along. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Silver Dollar City's Southern Gospel Picnic - Sept. 3

Thursday was a full day at Silver Dollar City. We saw five different groups today, starting and ending with some great quartet music. I also got the chance to see a couple of groups I had never seen before! Here are the day's highlights -

Gold City

  • "Redeemed" - I love this arrangement of the song. 
  • "That Little Baby" - I've always loved this song! It was a fun song that really got the audience clapping along.
  • "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" - Bryan did a fantastic job on his piano solo.
  • "When I Get Carried Away" - Love this classic Gold City song. 
  • "Power of the Cross" - Such a powerful song! I'm sure this is becoming one of the group's most requested songs. They knock it out of the park each time.

Master's Voice

  • This was my first time hearing this group live. They have a really good sound together and sang a lot of the older songs that the audience really loved.
  • "This Same Jesus" - This was my first time hearing this song, but it was definitely one I looked up when I got back.
  • "At Calvary" - Loved the group's jazzed up version of this song.
  • The group asked for requests and got several of the older hymns that they sang, including "It Is Well" and "He Touched Me."

The Whisnants

  • They sang a short a cappella clip of their latest song, "Worry Ends Where Faith Begins." Loved it! They sounded awesome!
  • Ethan and Austin have always been great on stage, but they really impressed me yesterday. These guys are great vocalists. They sang a couple from their latest project "1+2+3" and "I Lean on You Lord." Austin also sang a song that normally Susan sings, "I'm Not Afraid to Trust Him."
  • "All Is Well" - Anything Susan sings this song, it's always a highlight to me!
  • "I'm Trusting the Blood" - They sang this song and then restarted it a cappella. Absolutely beautiful!
  • "I'll Trust the Potter's Hand"

The Goulds
  • This was my first time hearing this group as well. Was really impressed by the young talent in the group!
  • "Love Never Ends" - This was a sweet father/ daughter song that really fit the group well.
  • "There Is a Fountain" - Beautiful song written by Jim Brady.
  • "Jesus Speaking Peace"

Legacy Five

  • "Great Medley" - Love this fantastic medley and arrangement.
  • "Who Is This Man" - Scott set this song by talking about the trip to Israel they are taking later this year. Powerful moment toward the end of the first half.
  • Trey Ivey needs his own bullet point. He played two piano solos and we even got to hear him sing last night. He's incredibly musically talented with the piano, vocally and as an arranger. We really got to hear what all he could do last night.
  • "That's a Hallelujah"
  • "Life Will Be Sweeter Someday" - They sang this just the four guys around the piano. 
  • "Champion of Love"
  • "What a Happy Day (medley)" - Great way to end the concert! Audience was on its feet clapping along!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Reunion Day at Silver Dollar City - Southern Gospel Picnic - Sept. 2

I got up early yesterday morning to make my way back from Central Arkansas to Branson, Missouri. I was hoping to be there in time for Mark Trammell Quartet's first show at 10:30 a.m., and I was successful.

I had been looking forward to today for a while with the Gold City Reunion tonight in Echo Hollow. From videos and music, I would say the Jay, Jonathan, Mark and Tim lineup of Gold City, but I never had the chance to see them live together until last night.

Here are highlights from the day -

Mark Trammell Quartet

  • "The King Is Coming" - I love hearing this group sing this song. It's always a powerful moment!!
  • "Your Walk Talks" - The audience eats this song up, every time.
  • "It's Almost Over"
  • "Wonderful Time Up There" - This is always a fun song live!
  • This was my first chance to see Blake Buffin with the group, and I'll just say I'm impressed. He's blending well with the group already. He was featured on "Tis So Sweet to Trust In Jesus." He did a great job! Enjoyed hearing both him and Randy stepping out on "Echoes From the Burning Bush" as well.

Jay Parrack and Vocal Event
  • "Rock of Ages" - This was a cappella and amazing!
  • "Love Lifted Me" - Loved this song from their latest project!
  • "Glory Road" - Jay's high tenor just amazes me.
  • "Where Eternity Begins" - Beautiful song that was written by two of the group members!


  • "Everything I Need" - This is probably my favorite Kingsmen song, so it's always a highlight in my book.
  • "Cross of Grace"
  • "Oh Yes I Am" - They encored this song several times and the audience was on its feet by the end!
  • "Oh What a Savior" - Chris Jenkins slays this song every time.

Gold City

  • "Farther Along" - This is a fun song to see the guys sing long with the black gospel version of the sing.
  • "Power of the Cross" - Such a powerful song, and a great way to end the first half!
  • "I'm Rich"
  • "Turn Your Back" - Chris West is a great bass voice and really sounds a lot like Tim. Great to hear him featured on this song!

Gold City Reunion

  • I'm trying to keep it at highlights, but I think I'll probably mention most of what they sang. I'm a fan of these four guys individually, but there is really something special that happens when the four of them take the stage together. Jonathan commented that they all still live close in the same area and apparently keep in touch pretty well. It seemed that they had never missed a beat tonight!
  • "I Can Tell You the Time" - They opened the reunion part of the night with this song. 
  • "Born to Praise the Lord" - Mark did an incredible job on this song! Great to actually hear it live!
  • "Then I Met the Master" - Jay was featured on this song.
  • "Show Me the Cross" - Apparently I'm a bad Southern Gospel/ Gold City fan. I was not familiar with this song, but I'm definitely glad I am now!
  • "Midnight Cry"
  • "I'm Not Giving Up"
  • "When He Calls Me I'll Fly Away" - They ended the night with this song, and I don't think anyone in the audience really wanted it to be over.