Wednesday, May 31, 2017

When Lyrics Speak - Anything But Happy

I'm reviving an older series today. This music is all about the message. It's about how the Spirit works through the music to encourage and draw people closer to him. It's about how songs minister to us when we need to most.

Today, I'm just going to focus on just a few lines -

"The windows of Heaven are pouring out blessings,
And here I stand with this tiny cup.
When will I learn that I cannot contain the love of God?"

This is from the song "Anything But Happy" by Jeff and Sheri Easter. I've always been drawn to these lyrics. But it's funny how words and phrases mean different things to you at different times. On the good days, it's easy to see how rich God's blessings are. You might sing along with a smile feeling and knowing how God has blessed you thinking about an answered prayer, time spent with a loved one and little extra money in the bank.

However, on the days that are just a struggle, it can be sung through tear-filled eyes. God doesn't change. His love doesn't change. His blessings remain the same. Even when we don't feel Him, when our prayers feel unanswered, when life is overwhelming, His blessings are still pouring out to us. His love is still uncontainable. His love is unfathomable.

So many times, I find myself standing ready with my small vessel waiting for God to drop this tiny blessing in there, whatever my human mind has been praying for at the moment. Because in my humanness, I dwell on these small, specific blessings and I miss the outpouring that God is giving all around me. I'm missing the chance for Him to move in a way that overflows my cup. He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly beyond what I can think or imagine.

The song is rightfully named "Anything But Happy" because when you think about all that God has in store, His blessings, His love, His faithfulness ... how can we be anything but happy?

Saturday, May 27, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - May 27

Here are news items from this week in Southern Gospel music -

  • Prayers are requested for Mike Watson, a founding member of Exodus. He was diagnosed with cancer and had surgery to remove a tumor in his jaw. He's unable to travel with the group at this time. Cole Watson, Mike's son, is now singing and traveling with the group.
  • Prayers also requested for Bryan Elliot's stepfather, Tony Butler. He's been diagnosed with cancer. Bryan has set up a GoFundMe to help with their expenses during this time. 
  • Daryl and Jessica Amundrud from The Amundruds (Canadian gospel group) welcomed a baby boy, Wells Alan Amundrud, on May 7. Mother and baby are doing well.
Anything I've missed?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Thankful - Triumphant Quartet - CD Review

Triumphant Quartet released Thankful last month. This is the group's third release with StowTown Records. The quartet proves why they continue to be the fan favorite in the industry with this release. Triumphant Quartet is one of the most consistent groups in the business not only with the lineup but also with their own sound we have all come to love.

The project starts with the worship song "We Welcome Your Holy Spirit." It's a nice song that features a snippet from "Sweet, Sweet Spirit." I thought it was a nice touch.

"Chain Breaker" is the next song and the first single. I've already heard this song quite a bit on the radio and wouldn't be surprised to see it at the top of the charts soon. The song was originally done by Zach Williams, but I really prefer Triumphant's version. The quartet sound works really well with this song. Scotty does a great job on the verses.

Thankful has 11 songs, five of which were written by baritone Scotty Inman. It's no surprise that he's been listed as a top five songwriter for the last couple of years. The first one on the project is "God Will Always Be God" also featuring Scotty. The message is simple but always a needed reminder. "The Cross Is All the Proof I Need" is the next one. The song features Clayton and David. I love the arrangement and how the song builds for a powerful ending.

Eric is featured on "One Happy Man," a song that tells the story of a man's funeral from a rather interesting perspective. It's his funeral but knowing the life he lived and where he is now, he's one "happy man." However, my favorite feature of his is "Bottom of the Barrel." It's a fun uptempo song with some nice brass in the background.

"Thankful, So Thankful" is definitely a favorite for me and one of the more upbeat songs. It picks up the pace with a little bit of a banjo and bluegrass. "Never Assume" is another uptempo song that will make you tap your foot along but also might step on a few toes as well. The song reminds us to always be a witness to others around us, because we never know when we need to be ready to share Jesus with those around us.

David has the solo on the Kirk Talley-penned "I Know Him." This is a great ballad; I love the hook of the song, I know Him, but best of all He knows me. I love David's smooth vocals on this song.

Clayton has a great feature on "Grace and Mercy." It's a great traditional church song with the organ backing them up. The last song "My God Called Me This Morning" has a soulful, black gospel sound that's a cappella. It really showcases the great blend these guys have.

Triumphant continues to show why they have been the top quartet in the industry with Thankful. The project has a number of songs that I could see as chart-toppers for the group. The project does have a number of slower songs, but with the strength of each song on the album I don't really mind it. It's a CD you must add to your collection!

Song that will take you to church - "Grace and Mercy"
Songs to turn up - "Bottom of the Barrel" and "Thankful, So Thankful"
Song to put on repeat - "Chain Breaker"
Song to give a second listen - "I Know Him"

Song List -
1. "We Welcome Your Holy Spirit"
2. "Chain Breaker"
3. "God Will Always Be God"
4. "The Cross Is All the Proof I Need"
5. "One Happy Man"
6. "Thankful, So Thankful"
7. "I Know Him"
8. "Never Assume"
9. "Grace and Mercy"
10. "Bottom of the Barrel"
11. "My God Called Me This Morning"

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Gold City - Concert Recap

Gold City was in Arkansas earlier this month in Jacksonville at Landmark Baptist. It's become almost an annual stop for these guys. Last year when they were here it was the first night of a fill-in/try out lead singer by the name of Scott Brand. Of course, Scott went on to get the job permanently. And this lineup of Gold City is sounding better than ever together.

Gold City Quartet - Bryan Elliot, Thomas Nalley, Daniel Riley,
Scott Brand and Chris West
It's good to hear them bring back several of the older songs. A few I wasn't all that familiar with, so I like that they are introducing newer fans to these songs. Gold City has such a large repertoire of songs that I'm sure it's impossible to get in what everyone wants to hear along with new songs from recent projects. I really enjoyed the variety of the set list that night.

Here are a few highlights -
  • "If God Be For Us"
  • "Windows of Home" - Really love hearing Scott on this song. You can definitely hear the Ivan Parker influence in his voice. 
  • "Shouting Ground" 
  • "A Strong Hand" - This was a song I was not familiar with. In fact, I had to do a little research when I got home on the exact title. It's actually from their Standing in the Gap project. Chris has the feature on this one. It was probably the moment of the night for me. 
  • "God of All Gods" - Thomas sang this one right after he gave his testimony of how God miraculously restored his hearing. It makes for such an incredible moment. 
  • "Victory in Jesus" - This is always a fun one to hear the guys sing. I love their rendition of this song. Danny does a great job on this song. 
  • "When I Get Carried Away" - Danny passed off his mic to Bryan on this song. I think this is becoming a more regular part of their concerts to let Bryan sing a little bit. It's good to hear him step out a sing. 
  • "That Little Baby"
  • "Midnight Cry" - Of course, it's always a highlight to get to hear this song live. 
It was a great night filled with a lot of great music. I enjoyed hearing a few songs that I didn't know as well. After hearing them, it's easy to see why they have brought them back recently and why Gold City is known for having incredible songs and has been such a strong group through the years. In fact, the group was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame just a few days after this concert. 

Don't miss Gold City if they are in your area. Check their schedule to see when they might be in concert near you!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - May 20

Here are news items from this week in gospel music -
  • Prayers go out to the family of Rosa Nell Speer Powell. She passed away at age 94 on Tuesday. Services were held today.
  • Top 5 nominees for the Singing News Fan Awards were announced this week. Check out the full list here
  • Kody Erwin is still in the hospital because of viral meningitis/encephalitis. Please continue to keep him and his family in your prayers.
  • Eddie Couch has joined 4 One Quartet as bass singer. He replaces Will Funk who was a member of the group since its inception.
Anything I've missed?

Friday, May 19, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - Amber Nelon Thompson He's Making Me

Happy Friday! This week the music video for "He's Making Me" from Amber Nelon Thompson "He's Making Me" debuted on Facebook. The song will actually be included in the the motion picture soundtrack for Champion The Movie. The movie opens this Friday night in select theaters. The video features Amber and scenes from the movie. Check it out below!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Ball Brothers - Concert Recap

The last day of April I made the trip south to Pine Bluff, Arkansas to see the Ball Brothers. They are one of those groups I really don't get to see very often. The group consists of brothers Andrew and Daniel Ball, brother-in-law Chad McCloskey and newest member Matt Davis.

The thing I love about this group is that they really bring something different to the industry. They are their own style.

Here's a look at what they sang -

  • "Let Your Light Shine"
  • "I Wouldn't Miss Heaven for the World"
  • "Gentle Shepherd" - Andrew does a great job on this arrangement of the familiar hymn. He really shows off his higher register. 
  • "Happy Rhythm"  - This one featured the newest member of the Ball Brothers, Matt Davis. 
  • "Count Your Blessings" - Chad shows off that "big band" sound with this song. 
  • "Mary Did You Know" - Daniel said that since he got to pick the set list he was going to have them sing one of his favorite songs, which was more associated with Christmas, but  
  • "Victory in Jesus" - Love their take on this hymn!
  • "Mercy Tree" - Great take on a more contemporary song. I'm glad they are introducing this song to Southern Gospel audiences. 
  • "Good Day"
  • "Glory to God in the Highest"
  • "I Smile" - The guys have a lot of fun with this one!
  • "It's About the Cross" - Love this song!! One of my favorites. 

The music was, of course, great, but it was also great hearing the hearts of the guys on the stage. Daniel shared a story of how they grew up with seven kids in a relatively small house. They didn't really think about it growing up but knew they didn't have a lot of things that other kids their age had like new basketball shoes. However, they realized how blessed they were when they had the chance to go on a mission trip and visited an orphanage. Daniel said he was amazed at the living conditions of those boys, the holes in the walls, the food they had to eat and the lack of heat in the building. He realized what it was really like to be poor and not being able to have basic needs of life. It gave him a better understanding of how blessed he was and how he committed to use his platform to help kids like he saw that day.

If you get a chance to see the Ball Brothers, don't miss them!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - May 13

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

  • Congratulations to Gold City for being inducted in the Gospel Music Hall of Fame this week. Check out this video from the induction courtesy of Dayna Ladd that Gold City shared on Facebook.
  • Continue to pray for Kody Erwin who was diagnosed with viral meningitis/encephalitis and hospitalized this week. He is home now, but still has two to four weeks where he could suffer from headaches.
  • Gordon Mote has joined Canton Junction as vocalist and instrumentalist. He replaces Ryan Seaton who left last fall. Gordon will continue his solo ministry. 
  • The Troy Burns Family recently announced Jacob Kluttz of Salisbury, North Carolina has joined the group as piano player.
  • Ray Flynn announced his cancer had returned at Singing in the Sun. It was found in late December and he underwent radiation from January through March. He also reported that the numbers on his latest reports were significantly lower and classified in the level of undetectable for cancer!
Anything I've missed?

Friday, May 12, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - Jeff and Sheri Easter's Homecoming

Well, I'm back. After a long week out of town for my regular job, I am back home and back to blogging.

Jeff and Sheri Easter have their annual homecoming this weekend in Lincolnton, Georgia. They had Triumphant Quartet last night. Apparently they had some fun yesterday with Jeff Easter before concert time. Check out these videos from Jeff & Sheri's Facebook of Jeff hanging out with the Triumphant guys for today's Fun Clip Friday!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - Ed O'Neal - On the Couch With Fouch

Happy Friday to everyone. The latest installment in the On the Couch with Fouch series is the legendary Ed O'Neal. Be sure to check it out for today's Fun Clip Friday. Here him talk about Ed O'Neal University, J.D. Sumner, his golfing and more!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

They Don't Know - The Kingsmen - CD Review

The Kingsmen's new project They Don't Know released a few weeks ago. The group's last CD Battle Cry was one of the best releases of the group to date. This is also the quartet's first release with tenor Joshua Horrell. Let's see how They Don't Know follows up.

The project starts with the title track. It's one of the more progressive songs that the Kingsmen have released. I love the play on words here ... they don't know (what the Lord can do). I also like that they chose that as the album title. The song is definitely one of my favorites on the CD.

"Keep the Lions Hungry" has that country gospel flair, probably also a bit more on the progressive side. Bob Sellers is featured on this one. It's a fun, toe-tapping song that talks about several different lion stories in the Bible with David killing the lion and then Daniel in the lions' den. Then it brings in that "application" verse. I really like this style for the Kingsmen.

New member Joshua Horrell is featured on the ballad "God Calls It Grace." This is the first of three features for Joshua. Love getting to hear a lot from him. This is probably my favorite of the three.

Bob is also featured on "Hear the Word of the Lord." This was another highlight. It's another more country sounding song. He's also highlighted on "Cost of the Cross." I love the challenge of the song - "May I never forget the debt my sin cost and live forever grateful for the cost of the cross."

"The Evidence I Need" is a slower-paced song. I really love Randy on this song. "Don't Underestimate God's Grace" is another great feature for Randy. It starts off with the steel guitar intro and is one of the more traditional songs on the project. Randy not only shows his vocal chops but also has a songwriting credit on the album with "Fade to Black," featuring Joshua. The song is a great ballad that reminds us of the promise of Heaven.

The Kingsmen throw in a traditional quartet song with "I'll Sail Away Yonder" showing off the high notes of Joshua and showing how low Ray Dean can go. It's a song that traditional quartet fans will love!

They Don't Know introduces Kingsmen fans to a new and fresh sound. They set the bar high with Battle Cry but this project is a great followup to that with a more progressive sound that really shows the blend of the group. Fans will NOT be disappointed with They Don't Know. It's one to add to your collection!

Songs to Turn Up - "They Don't Know" and "Hear the Word of the Lord"
Songs to Put On Repeat - "God Calls It Grace" and "Keep the Lions Hungry"
Songs to Give a Second Listen - "The Evidence I Need" and "Fade to Black"

Song List -
1. "They Don't Know"
2. "Keep the Lions Hungry"
3. "God Calls It Grace"
4. "Hear the Word of the Lord"
5. "The Evidence I Need"
6. "I'll Sail Away Yonder"
7. "Cost of the Cross"
8. "Let Go and Hold Fast"
9. "Fade to Black"
10. "Don't Underestimate God's Grace"
11. "Legacy"