Hot tracks (sic) comin’ through

Back in the fall, I mounted a pretty vigorous defense of Gerald Wolfe’s decision to trot out “O Holy Night” at NQC. I argued that if you’re a baritone who can sing a full-voice A-flat in a song mortgaged so heavily to one pentultimate note, then … well, you can bring a new kind of life to threadbare tunes. Taken together with some other complimentary stuff I’ve written about Wolfe and Greater Vision, a few folks have taken me to task for being too uncritical of GV. One criticism specifically is that I turn a deaf ear to their heavily stacked digital tracks while flogging others for using them. I guess I’ve always assumed GV used stack tracks (hereafter “stracks” for brevity’s sake). Rodney Griffin and Jason Waldrup are capable singers, but not that capable, after all - certainly not capable enough to create the kind of full sounds that a trio like GV regularly brings to the stage. So since lately I’ve been hearing increased and reliable chatter about how GV is among the top offenders when it comes to using digital stracks behind their stage work, I thought it was important to at least acknowledge as much. As I’ve said before, you’d be hard pressed to find groups that DON’T use stracks. If you ever have the chance to listen to the mixer channel at a live event like NQC, you’ll get an ear full of stracks from almost every group that performs, though there are, I gather, notable exceptions such as the Melody Boys, who don’t make a habit of using stracks. And while it disappoints me that Wolfe uses stracks, for Wolfe not to use them would be rather like Warren Buffet not taking full advantage of every available tax shelter. That’s just bidness. Which is to say, I’ve reluctantly resigned myself to the presence of stracks in live performance (and I am ever bemused by tales from the catty culture of strack-addled performers, who diss other strackheads among their peers … “Could those stacks have been any hotter?” as if you’re not a hypocrite if you don’t push the slider on the strack volume up past a certain point). Perhaps it’s simply a symptom of the times that we now are reduced to judging groups at least in part by how well they sing with their stracks. But here we are. And on that score, GV does pretty well, insofar as they mix the stracks evenly and don’t often or memorably clash tonally against the stracks (as, for instance, Debra Talley did at NQC last year). Now, when you hear me announcing my resignation to shadowy figures in the stage wings beefing up a group’s ending, … well, then the endtimes will be near indeed.

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