1) An anecdotal report from a recent EHSSQ concert. These kinds of isolated pieces of testimony are interpretatively meaningless, of course. I offer it mostly as a way of paying my respects to the old adage that judges a performance by how well it plays in Peoria.

Update: In the interest of fairness, it’s probably worth noting this.

2) Unless I get a revelation or something, I don’t have a lot to say about EHSSQ opting not to replace Roy Webb as pianist that hasn’t already been said. As other’s have noted, Webb’s role in the group’s rise was mostly his comic relief on stage, not his centrality as a player (though he is quite good). All the Ernie haters out there will of course probably continue to believe that when EH says he’s focusing on “the four faces of the singers,” it’s really just another way of saying “I can’t be sure a new guy will drink the EH kool-aid in one quick gulp,” but as long as he’s with the Gaither tour, Haase is making the smartest bidness decision by just keeping Gaither’s keyboardist, Gordon Mote, at the piano.

But it’s still a painful portent for the pianist in me. Pianists have been more or less as expendable as the rest of live accompanists in sg since the digital band track’s hostile-takeover of the sg stage. Only a deference to tradition, a lingering affection for the aesthetics of a live pianist on stage, and a feeling among some owners that “real” artists use “real” pianists has kept keyboard players in bidness the last 10 years or so. To see such a high-profile group ditch the keyboardist and sell it as part of a bid to make the group better … well, that can’t be a good thing for the piano purists among us or the music as a whole.

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  1. Aaron Swain wrote:

    I’m tellin’ ya, I think Webb will come back sometime after this summer, if not sooner. Haase said that the decision wasn’t based on that, but I do think he is keeping the door open in a roundabout way…

  2. Kevin Mathewson wrote:

    Just thought I’d chime in on the recent EHSS appearance in Peoria (especially in regards to No. 1).

    I am with the radio station the sponsored the concert. From our perspective it was a success. Yes, it wasn’t a sellout but it was only bested in ticket sales (of concerts we sponsored) by last years EHSS concert and a Steve Green concert 6 or 7 years ago. And ticket sales for all three concerts were within 100 tickets or so of each other. (I think we gave away more comps to the other concerts too).

    Did the higher prices have an effect on ticket sales? Probably, but it’s hard to say based on numbers since it wasn’t a huge disparity.

    We honestly didn’t expect to sell out the venue (The Peoria Civic Center Theater) but we (encouraged by Ernie) wanted to try a non-church venue.

    Never at any time since tickets went on sale did we feel we were scrambling. (Yes we we would have loved to have 2200 people at the concert but I’m not sure that’s realistic for the Peoria market). We more than broke even (and I believe did better than last years sellout even with dramatically increased costs of putting the concert in the Civic Center as opposed to a local church).

    People loved it and we loved it and there’s nothing at this point to stop us from bringing EHSS back next year!

    Ernie is awesome to work with and I believe he and the guys were a tremendous testimony to the employees/workers at the Civic Center.

    The pianist for the evening (his one and only performance) was Milton Smith. He did a fantastic job. Sound wise it was as good as ever. However, I did miss Roy’s sense of humor and jokes.

    All in all, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound play in Peoria! And we hope they will play for many years to come.

  3. Mark Forester wrote:

    So basically then……the station did OK….the crowd was the same (or within 100) maybe better because of less comps…

    O MY WORD!!!!! Could that mean that Ernie wants to charge more and PEOPLE STILL COME?????

    Could it be that Ernie has found a way to MAKE a living in SG? Heaven forbid…..lets all jump on his case.

    You go Ernie.

  4. RobertM wrote:

    Re: your comments on live pianists, including this summary statement: “To see such a high-profile group ditch the keyboardist and sell it as part of a bid to make the group better … well, that can’t be a good thing for the piano purists among us or the music as a whole.”

    I agree. Strongly.

  5. RF wrote:

    I’ll miss Roy because I remember what SSQ was like without Roy. Despite the wonderful Mr. Dunlap, Garry Jones just played a wonderful piano. That left all the joking to the group and it just wasn’t so entertaining. I’ll miss him a lot.

  6. Bro. Chad wrote:

    Just got back from a concert in Jackson TN. What a great concert. Excellent music selection, a tremendous blend of old and new songs. Love the group. I did notice, however, that Roy was never mentioned at any time. This is just a few weeks since the announcement. They have already removed him from all of their logos and slide shows. They even edited him out of the “Hoosiers” introduction they have on their first Gaither Video. I don’t think we will ever see him again…something has transpired? Gordon Mote was unavailable, so Gaither sent a young man (26 yrs old) from Nashville named Christopher to play for them. He was super. He played much better than Roy, and his interaction with the group was pretty good. I like Roy much better, but I think this kid would make a great permanant addition…if it ever comes to that. He would just observe the group and play his heart out on the spot.

  7. dkd wrote:

    # 6-Bro-Chad. There really are no surprises in any of the comments made about Roy being edited out of all previous slides and shows, that is pretty typical of EH. If you recall when the previous members vanished from the group they were also removed from any and all product, pictures etc. It was Like they never existed, I guess that way you can create your own reality for the situation.

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