On changes and shifts (I of II)

Ever since the convention (and more specifically, ever since the Perrys made such an impression), I’ve been thinking about the shifting dynamics within the top-tier sg groups. Certainly, the first thing to say is that the Perrys have arrived at the top-tier, joining a list that includes but isn’t limited to Gold City, the Hoppers, Greater Vision, The Crabbs, the Nelons, Karen Peck & New River, Legacy 5, EHSSQ, and (at least I hope) Mercy’s Mark. I don’t know how useful the comparison between the Perrys and the Goodmans is (there’s a thread on sogosplenew boards complaining about this, but the boards are down right now so I can’t link to it), if only because, aside from being a family group, there is very little stylistically similar about the two groups (and it really matters very little stylistically in this case that Libbi Perry Stuffle was so influenced by Vestal Goodman). No matter, the Perrys’ strong showing in the past year and their illuminating stands at this year’s NQC, taken together with the Hoppers’ last two underwhelming recordings and their ambivalent sets at this year’s convention suggest that the Perrys may well be in the process of eclipsing the Hoppers as The Mixed Group, a point I’m not the first to make. Second, there’s the tectonic plate shift occurring within the constellation of male quartets. As I have argued before, Legacy Five is carefully and smartly laying the groundwork to become this generation’s Cathedrals (though there is still much work to be done in order to accomplish this). What’s perhaps even more interesting is that Legacy Five (instead of Gold City) feels in many ways like the seasoned male quartet of experience and stability within the upper echelons of sg right now. While Gold City has been around roughly twenty years longer than L5, GC looks, feels, and sounds like a much, much younger group that is in many respects remaking itself - not necessarily from the ground up but certainly in major ways. Tim Riley’s retirement and Jay Parrack’s resignation (following relatively closely on the heels of Mark Trammell’s departure) has effectively brought about a near total renovation in GC’s sound. On top of that, Tim Riley’s exit also put a new front man - the severely underrated Daniel Riley, whose singing and showmanship exude charm and class - in charge of staging GC’s sets. Sure, Tim had been rotating Daniel (and to a lesser but still significant degree, Jonathan Wilburn) into front-man duties long before he left the road, but Tim’s long-goodbye to fulltime road work is symbolically and practically a major event in the history of GC that can’t be understated. I doubt this was Tim’s last major NQC appearance - at lest I hope not - but I also hope it signaled the point at which Tim starts to move into the background more, so that the current formation of GC can begin the formidable process of breaking free from the pull of Tim’s mighty presence and influence.

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