NQC tribute to the Florida Boys

So the Florida Boys are going to go out in grand style at NQC this year. Thus an FB’s press release:

[T]he multi-award winning quartet has agreed to perform at all of their previously scheduled performance slots during the National Quartet Convention scheduled to be held in September. The group will be joined during those performances by several former quartet members, as well as the current group as it exists at the time of their retirement.

Additionally, the National Quartet Convention will feature a special segment on the Saturday evening concert, paying tribute to The Florida Boys’ 60-year career. The tribute will be followed by a very special, last performance by The Florida Boys.

The interns have been howling away down in the basement that while they recall a few extended NQC performances from the mainstage acknowledging other groups in the past (the festival of atonality and pitchiness that passed for a Kingsmen reunion/farewell/tribute a few years back – with Hammil brandishing that cane of his in a menacingly flagrant way – came to mind), this whole “special segment” feature for the FBs tastes a bit of the boss (NQC president Les Beasley) throwing himself a farewell bash. But those interns are a cynical bunch.

Still, it might raise an eyebrow or two that the typically tribute-averse NQC (see here and here, for instance) is suddenly pulling out all the stops to say goodbye to the group owned by NQC’s principal powerbroker. But then again most of the tributes that have been conspicuously missing in the past have been of dead people. So maybe this is a new “roses for the living” approach NQC is taking with legendary artists who retire on this side of the grave?

Final question: will the “last performance by the Florida Boys” be the current configuration that’s finishing off the group’s dates or the McDonald/Reed configuration whose picture is still (rather misleadingly) being passed around with FB press releases? Certainly I might not be the only one unwilling to hang around that long Saturday night to hear Not-Gene MacDonald and Not-Harold Reed do some nostalgifying on the mainstage.

Update: Reader CC reminds me that there is a precedent back in the 90s for the FBs farewell at NQC:

For my money, the NQC sendoff for the Speers a few years back was very tastefully done, what with all the “younger artists” parading across the stage presenting the Speers with roses. So the “roses for the living” deal isn’t entirely new.

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Comments

  1. Aaron Swain wrote:

    I hope it’s gonna be the McDonald and Reed-included lineup for the final performance, because quite frankly, the “current” lineup is nothing to look forward to…

  2. TE wrote:

    I’m glad that the NQC is opening up for this. The FB’s deserve to go out in a blaze of glory.

  3. C.W. Griffin wrote:

    Why so harsh an article on the FLORIDA BOYS? Why not appreciate all the 60 years of labor that Les has put into the Southern Gospel Music industry and let them enjoy their last stand? Don’t be too critical of the S.G. industry leaders, they are only doing what they think is best for the industry.

  4. Grigs wrote:

    The Cathedrals also got a nice sendoff in ‘99. It was bitter sweet because of Glen’s situation.

    Of course, the Speers farewell was the best with hundreds of artists giving them roses as Jerry Goff led the audience in Dad Speer songs.

  5. RF wrote:

    I really do not think there was anything harsh about this post. It is strange that the FB’s are getting this treatment when others kind of fade away.

    I loved the latter years FB’s with Alan at tenor, but I equally loved them with Harold also. I just can’t imagine them with Les at lead and Josh at tenor without Gene. I too hope that Harold or Alan participate in that final session at tenor and Gene does most of the bass singing (not that I dislike Butch).

    I think everyone in sg wishes them well and I just hope the young Josh lands on his feet.

  6. Mary wrote:

    So, are they going to comtinue touring untill Septmber? Or will they come of the road in July, as previously stated, then make a special ‘last apperance’ at NQC?

  7. gc wrote:

    “It is strange that the FB’s are getting this treatment when others kind of fade away.”

    The Florida Boys have been a mainstay in SG for 60 years.Les Beasley is the ringleader of SG for the last 50 years. The latest line-ups of the Florida Boys are really a non-factor in the heritage of the FB’s. If anyone deserves a send off at NQC, It would be the Florida Boys.Are they my favorite vocal group? at times during their career I would say yes..

    Name one group that has had the success of the Florida Boys and continued with the core of it’s group for 60 years and just faded away. Give credit where credit is due!

  8. Big Ken 54 wrote:

    I saw the Florida Boys in concert on June 16, and at that event, Les said that July 22 would be their last appointment, but then added that the quartet would be at the NQC this year, “those of us who are still around.” This last comment was accompanied by a sideways glance at Josh Garner, and then Les said, “I don’t know what that means.” Following the concert, Josh gave me the impression that he may rest for awhile before seeking another position when he said, “I’ve been doing this since high school.” As far as the sound of the current lineup, Butch Owens is solid on the bass (in my opinion), particularly at the low end of his range. Josh is passable at tenor harmony, but he slips into lead for a lot of his solos. At one point he attempted a high tenor ending on a song, and I believe 90 percent of the blood in his body was in his face, but he held onto the note for all he was worth. Les was featured on several songs, all older offerings, including “Lead Me to the Altar” and “The Little Boy From the Carpenter Shop.” Afterward, I heard him say that he didn’t think he did bad, and I have to say that he did the best he could for a 79-year-old lead singer. Glen Allred sang lik Glen Allred always has, and for a baritone of his age, he sounded like he still knew how to do it. Darrell Stewart told me that he was ready to retire, adding that he’d been doing this for 54 years. It’s amusing to read some of the websites for younger groups who boast of 25 or 30 years of combined experience, when the Florida Boys have over 160 years of combined experience, and that’s just counting 3 of their members.

  9. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    A point or two:
    1. The piece you quoted specifically addresses your final question. “The group will be joined during those performances by several former quartet members, as well as the current group as it exists at the time of their retirement.”

    That’s remarkably intelligent wording for a press release, if you ask me. It names no names. This allows current group members to change between now and September and for former group members who show up to be determined as the date approaches.

    2. I wouldn’t equate a tribute to a dead legend with a farewell performance. As you’ve pointed out, NQC’s track record for memorials hasn’t been the greatest.

    However, as others have pointed out, NQC has featured farewells to retiring groups and made memories in the process, particularly with the Speers, Cathedrals and Kingsmen. Of course, there aren’t as many of these as there are individual deaths. A farewell performance depends on the group’s popularity meriting such a recognition. A less obvious factor is that many groups lack the proper foresight to declare in advance that they’re on their way out.

  10. Stella wrote:

    DBM writes ” . . . However, as others have pointed out, NQC has featured farewells to retiring groups and made memories in the process, particularly with the Speers, Cathedrals and Kingsmen. Of course, there aren’t as many of these as there are individual deaths. A farewell performance depends on the group’s popularity meriting such a recognition. A less obvious factor is that many groups lack the proper foresight to declare in advance that they’re on their way out. ”

    It is only fair to point out the Brock Speer, Glen Payne, and Eldridge Fox (and at the time the name was retired, Charlie Burks) were ALL on the board of the NQC. I don’t think that is just a coincident.

  11. Grigs wrote:

    Does anybody know who came up with the Speer tribute? I’m assuming that they got board approval, but it looked like it was artist initiated and Libbi Stuffle spoke for the artists, not a board member.

    Butch Owens is very good. He’s strong on the low stuff and has a smooth solo voice. Gene might have been the Rolls Royce, but Butch is a Cadillac at worst.

    I think David makes a good point. It will be interesting to see which former Florida Boys wind up on stage.

  12. Aaron Swain wrote:

    I hope Gene McDonald will show up…

  13. Tony Watson wrote:

    To my knowledge, Eldridge Fox was never on the board of the NQC.

  14. Paul Jackson wrote:

    I would like to see my buddy Rick Busby sing the signature #1 hit, “When He Was On the Cross…” Rick can still sing very well. He and his wife have a wonderful church centered ministry…I hope he can make it.

    Paul Jackson / The Prophets

  15. Grigs wrote:

    Paul, I’m with you 100%. I’d even settle for “Paid In Full” or “I Lean On You, Lord”.

  16. Jenn wrote:

    The Speer tribute was done by the artist. They did not ask the board members. It just happened that way. They got the word to the other artist if they wanted to be a part they were more than welcome to be in the tunnel on the Speers last song for the march in. The board members had no idea this was gonna happen. But at the time, Brock was a board member so who could say anything. During the parade across the stage, just about every board member was in line to show their respect. I think this was very respectful for the artist to honor their peers in this fashion. I believe the roses were done by Libbi Stuffle.

  17. thom wrote:

    I am glad the Florida Boys will be at NQC. They deserve a big send off and every SG fan should personally “thank” them for keeping the music going for nearly 60 years.

    (See my previous post in the FLA BOYS string from a couple of weeks ago)

    See you at NQC.

  18. Brett wrote:

    I’ll definetly will be skipping that final night of the Florida Boys. Heck I would stay if a proper send off was for the Nelons. They didn’t get to have a send off and are not on the program this year. Nelons certainly gave us better songs then the Florida Boys.

  19. Brett wrote:

    1 thing to add, it is a shame it is not the Inspirations retiring. That’s a group long overdue for retirement!

  20. smith wrote:

    AAAAAAAAAaand Brett needs to take a chill pill!!! Get off the Inspirations, man. Not everybody likes ‘em, but get off their case. Most groups would kill to be as popular and have the fan base that they have.

    Yeah, it’s such a crying shame that the Nelons didn’t get a send off… such a cryin’ shame. Who cares that they didn’t get a send off! Does one of them own the majority of stock in NQC? Nope. So, that’s probably why. Are any of those members SG legends? Nope. So that’s probably why. Need I go on? And if you can list better songs that came from the Nelons than from the Florida Boys, then go right ahead and try. Maybe we can have a vote. Florida Boys would win hands down.

    DBM, I know you think you know it all, but the press release wasn’t worded to try to trick anyone. It was worded like it was meant. The CURRENT line-up of the Florida Boys will be at NQC…Les, Derrell, Glen, Josh and Butch. They will be joined by some former members for the big send off. Why would they want to name names? Ask any of them, and they’ll tell you who’s coming and who’s not. The “current” lineup isn’t going to change between now and September.

  21. Brett wrote:

    No I guess the Nelons are not important. Thats why we got Karen Peck, Janet Paschal, Kelly Nelon, Charlotte Ritchie, Jeff Stice. Certainly bigger names then the same boring quartet the Florida Boys. Wow the FLorida Boys even copied a Nelons song of “I Lean on You Lord” It takes more tallent to mix 2 females and 2 males then quartet sound that is a dime a dozen. Lets see every Nelon cd is different then the Florida Boys. Florida Boys and Inspirations are bland. Don’t get me started on that dumb song by the Inspirations of “2 shoes” What crap is that? Let’s see for variety purposes the Nelons song of “In Jesus Name” is differen then say “I”ll Talk to the Father” The Nelons had a different style for every song they sang. Let’s see real tallent not boring like the Florida Boys who sound like Gold CIty that sounds like Inspirations that sound like Brian Free etc. Name a variety of songs Florida Boys sing that show they are fresh and on the cutting edge as the Nelons were. And to close “Alleluia To the Lamb” is different then “Bring My Children Home” Such variety and class that spawned many other singers in SG. FLorida Boys the same bland singers for however long they were together. How boring? No Wonder Harold Reed left.

  22. Brett wrote:

    Oh I watched the Inspirations on the NQC site they can’t even hold the right key. What an embarrassment to SG.

  23. Brett wrote:

    Oh i forgot to add the Florida Boys copied a song from THE NELONS, called “Unto the Hills” that former member Jerry Thompson wrote. You see even the FB knew the Nelons has better songs as they recorded that and released it as a single. The Nelons win I see, send the FB to retirement. It’s long overdue.

  24. Lenny wrote:

    Wait… The Nelons are retiring?

  25. Rob wrote:

    Wow Brett relax….I too enjoyed the Nelons especially the sound they created in the 80s; Cutting edge pushing the typical envelope…But if everyone attempted to create the Nelon sound it would have become redundant…Groups like the Florida Boys, Inspirations, etc. had and have thier niche and fan base as well…I appreciate a variety of SG groups but judge them by thier sound and uniqueness….something that is sore lacking in today’s SG

  26. Grigs wrote:

    Bret, why must you tear down groups that aren’t your favorite? If you think the Nelons deserve an NQC tribute, fine. Go ahead and say so. Why spout off a bunch of garbage about other artists? Your heroes The Nelons have done hundreds of concerts and TV shows with the Inspirations and the Florida Boys. They probably wouldn’t appreciate you carrying on like a lunatic and insulting their co-workers and most likely, friends.

    There seems to be an epidemic of this among Southern Gospel fans. Consider the following:

    “The XYZ Quartet is my favorite group and I think they’re the best. Each singer is my favorite at their part, their band is the best, and they have great song selection!” What’s wrong with that? Why can’t people build up their favorites and leave it at that?

    Instead, too many times, we get “The XYZ Quartet makes L5 and Gold City sound like minor leaguers! XYZ’s tenor sings much better than Bedhead Haase and that sawed off Jason Waldroup! They sound like basses compared to XYZ’s tenor! Our lead singer is much better than Jonathan Wilburn and he doesn’t need a haircut like Guy Penrod! You call Rodney Griffin a baritone? XYZ’s baritone could have laryngitis and still outsing him….” And on and on it goes.

    Is this just an SG thing?

  27. Fred wrote:

    Aaron Swain, I have read your blog and read your comment on here concerning the Florida Boys, and quite frankly, I think you need to HEAR them in their current configuration before you blog and post about them like they are “has beens” and you need to HEAR Josh Garner sing tenor before you belittle his abilities. I just heard them with Josh singing tenor AND Les singing lead recently and they didnt sound bad at all. Maybe not as great as the Reed-McDonald lineup, but they sounded good. Josh can very much handle the tenor,(which you stated he could’nt) and probably whatever other part he wanted to sing. Oh, and Brett, what business do you have cutting down both the Inspirations and Florida Boys. If you dont have any respect for those two groups why bother listening to Southern Gospel. They may not be your cup of tea, but cutting them down on a public message board is SAD…..

  28. Grigs wrote:

    “Aaron Swain, I have read your blog and read your comment on here concerning the Florida Boys, and quite frankly, I think you need to HEAR them in their current configuration before you blog and post about them like they are “has beens” and you need to HEAR Josh Garner sing tenor before you belittle his abilities. ”

    Surely, Aaron hasn’t criticized their sound without hearing them. That’s almost like commenting on someone’s spiritual condition based on a picture on a My Space page…..

  29. Aaay Nonemus wrote:

    I think we all just need to get in a cirlce and hold hands and sing “Kum Ba Ya”

    Ready?
    KUM BA YA MY LORD
    KUM BA YA

    OH, LORD,
    KUM BA YA

    Now…don’t we all feel better now? I know I do ;)

  30. Brett wrote:

    ok you lead, I’ll follow.

  31. Grigs wrote:

    Ok, now let’s do “Peace Like A River” and then we’ll have “popcorn testimonies”….

    I’VE GOT PEACE LIKE A RIVER
    I’VE GOT PEACE LIKE A RIVER
    I’VE GOT PEACE LIKE A RIVER
    IN MY SOUL…..

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