Belatedly: Goodbye, Jonathan Wilburn
Since I’m already woefully behind on this (and so many other things that’ve happened recently), I was hoping I might be able to wait for some of the comments threads to include reactions from people who’ve heard the new Gold City vocalist who took Jonathan Wilburn’s place.
But I haven’t seen any of those comments, and I have a few minutes free tonight during which I can’t possibly imagine more work (even though there’s always more to do, it seems). So here goes.
I can’t say Wilburn’s departure is terribly shocking, mostly for reasons others here and elsewhere have already noted.
And increasingly, it showed. I’ve thought for some time he’s looked strained and mildly exhausted in his publicity photos. But more important: his singing on stage – once a thing of mastery and control – had become a mishmash of gimmicks, gags, and slapstick nonsense occasionally interrupted by legitimate music making. Who knows if this was the inevitable result of a life on the road catching up with him or his feeling he needed to prove he could keep up with the ever-growing brood of boys he worked with every night, or something else entirely.
But he was clearly the odd-man out in the remaking of
The Rileys seem to have no other resource in more abundance than patience, and so one would assume Wilburn wasn’t pushed out. Not least of all because he was (and will remain, I imagine) immensely popular with fans. Which means, among other things, that unless this new guy with the unpronounceable name – please Lord if you must test us with pestilential jokes about this fellow’s name, let them last for only a short while – has stratospheric talent, we might see Daniel Riley move vocally into the lead role that Wilburn performed - if not officially then for all practical purposes. After all, Riley has more or less assumed the lead role in the group every other way but vocally (and there’s precedent for this, mostly recently with Scott Fowler moved from baritone to lead in the move from the Cathedrals to L5). Or not. Who knows. But in any event: no question, Riley has the vocal ability and showmanship to pull it off.
Anyway, I’m not sad to see Wilburn go. Once he stopped meeting the standard of excellence as a vocalist that he himself helped set originally, there was little reason to find his antics amusing or his polemics tolerable. But that’s on the purely professional level. On the human level, it’s hard to watch anybody at Wilburn’s age shuffle off the stage only to go sell cars. Just one more way, I guess, that his years on the road took, as he himself put it, a heavy toll.Email this Post