NQC 08: Thursday night

Welcome to another year of live-blogging the NQC. For the newcomers, what follows is a nightly digest I put together after each evening concert. It’s written late (as I begin to write this, it is 1221 on Friday morning; as I put the final edits on it, it’s 235 301), and it’s based on a transcription of notes scrawled hastily in the dark loftiness of the nosebleeds. So it’s bound to contain mistakes, inaccuracies, and other errors that I invite you to correct, whether you were in the hall with me or listening or watching at home. Differences of opinion are, of course,  also welcome.

THE BIG STUFF

Taranda Greene: where has she been all our lives? Well, she’s been right here in front of our faces for quite some time, and her substantial gifts have not gone unnoticed. But tonight she hit a stride or found some new inner resources of confidence or assurance or something. Her performance generated the sort of feeling in me that beggars all but the most ridiculous hyperbole and banally overused adjectives: magisterial, magnificent, electrifying and palpably humane all at once. She opened the Greenes’ set with “Miracle in Me” and though the song inevitably evokes Kim Greene Hopper, Taranda Greene’s rendition was vastly superior to Kim’s, which isn’t to slight KGH (who is no shabby shakes) but to give you a sense of the scope and scale of what I’m trying to convey here. Her voice is unstrained at all registers, her pitches nearly perfectly poised, her vocals balanced, her tones placed with surpassing confidence, her harmonic work full of delightful little filigrees and textures. I could go on, but I’m starting to embarrass myself. She ended with “Oh Holy Night,” and I hear you groaning, but honestly, it was a show-stopper and -stealer. Gerald Wolfe really should just surrender the song to her now. More Taranda Greene, please.

Dixie Echoes: a few friends had emailed me earlier in the week commenting the DE’s solid set, and though I had no trouble believing they turned in solid performances, I was in no way prepared for what they brought this evening. The stock phrases to describe classic quartets really don’t do justice to what was going on with them. First of all and thanks in no small part to having a live band on stage (in addition to Varnado at the keyboard, they used a three piece combo consisting of a a fiddle, a lead guitar, and a bass guitar), they managed to be both understated and musically intense. Instead of volume, they had critical mass (you physicists out there, lay off … it’s late). But most of all the vocals were individually and collectively first rate. Randy Shelnut is one of the most underrated leads in the bidness, without any “classic” qualifier appended to the praise. The baritone and bass know how to play their parts vocally too (though the bass needs to learn some new, subtler hand gestures to go with “How Big Is God”; tonight he looked he was doing interpretive sign language for people in the bleachers), and no one – I repeat no one – in the group oversings. You can know this just by watching them. They stand and sing and rarely does a face turn red or a chin jut out or a neck strain or jerk. Plus they’re fun. And then there’s the tenor. Wesley or Lesley (I couldn’t hear the name well) Smith possesses a voice that is strong and clear and rich and warm at all registers, especially the higher ones. He does not scream. He does not screech. He finds his note and sculpts it to meet the demands of the moment but in a way that keeps it warm and full of depth and feeling. Disappointingly, the crowd just sat and stared dumbly at the DEs for most of their set and seemed wholly unaware of what they were seeing and hearing in this tenor Smith and the group as a whole (it couldn’t have helped that they had to follow the Reggie Saddler Family, who sang a set – believe it or not – with the excitement of a funeral, Reggie Saddler’s antics and sugar-babies notwithstanding). Finally “How Big is God” got a rise out the place. Smith closed out their set with “Walk With Me,” which was embellished beautifully by a fiddle descant (or maybe that didn’t close it out, but that was certainly the big finish in any case). No one else should ever sing this song until they figure out how to outdo Smith’s version (in a perfect world, we’d never ever have to hear David Sutton warble his mawkish way through this tune ever again, now that we know Smith owns it so completely). The set was over far too soon. MNP leaned over and whispered: how nice to hear no stacks, no tracks … just beautiful singing.

Steve Ladd: Gold City did a surprise (at least unscheduled) stand just before the Patrick Henry Hughes appearance (which could have been a sentimental disaster but was actually quite well done, not least of all b/c of a professionally produced video that preceded the kid’s three songs … he does a knock out Ray Charles and made me actually enjoy Brooks and Dunn’s “Believe”). Everybody wants to talk about the new lead, Bruce, with the untypable last name, and indeed BT (as I will refer to him) has a strong, if often brittle voice – he could use some strategically placed vibrato to soften the texture of things, and a smile now and then would be a nice break from his unrelenting stank face. But all this overshadows the realer news: Steve Ladd’s emergence as a bonafide vocal artist, and not just a screaming banshee. He did a verse of “For the Sake of my Heart” that had whatever that quality is that reaches out and pulls you in no matter how far away you’re sitting. His upper registers are still too shrill for my taste but that shouldn’t overshadow his marked and persistent growth over the last few years. That sort of improvement is not the result of just doing your job long enough. It comes from hard work and careful, searching, often painful self-examination and study. There’s not enough of that in sg.

The Booths: the pace of their set was stagnated by poorly chosen songs, and the emotional intensity was slack for ¾ of the stand – the center loose, and disorganized – and even so, they hit a homerun, built almost entirely around “Look for Me,” with Roy Webb  at the piano (as was the case last year). Michael Booth’s set up was interesting too; he offered perhaps the most cogent defense of sg blue hairs I’ve ever heard, emphasizing the wisdom of experience and judgment of age that heighten people’s emotional intelligence and spiritual sensitivity to the blandishments of the heart and the soul poured forth in gospel song … I’m paraphrasing of course, and he didn’t say anything new (plus his claim is arguably true at best), but it was an intriguing and decidedly erudite way to set up an old standard like “Look for Me.” Eventually of course this song will lose its luster for them. But for now it continues to work, the way “Oh Holy Night” used to for Greater Vision. And the fact that even singing ho-hum songs 90% of the time, they were still vocally captivating … well, that’s not nothing. And I’m clearly not alone in this. The schedule was backloaded so all the A-list talent was at the end. Legacy 5, Greenes, Talleys, Booths, and Greater Vision, in that order. The place retained about 75% of the audience from its peak (though the hall was never more than ¾ full all night) up until the Booths finished. At which point the place emptied out … while Greater Vision was coming on. Three years ago this would have been unheard of. Walking out on Gerald Wolfe? No way. Tonight, GV’s set, which was also turgidly paced and full of flaccid tunes, sounded like a benediction or maybe a postlude for all the folks heading for the exits (except for the ending of “I Know he Heard My Prayer,” which had an especially emotional hook after Wolfe dedicated it to Lari Goss in testament to Goss’s fight with cancer, but there was too much movement in the hall for the moment to take hold the way it might otherwise have, though just now I see an email from a friend of mine who called it “one of those magic nqc moments” so there you go). Anyway, methinks I  know who should be favored to win favorite trio.

Event mojo: most of the insider types I talked to were still buzzing about the Bill Gaither/EHSSQ showcase in Freedom Hall earlier this afternoon. Guesstimates put attendance ca. 5,000-6,000. A couple of people thought the collective energy went down hill from there, and that the afternoon explosion of sg fame and star gazing may have sucked the wind out of the evening a little, as though after Gaither, everyone else is an also-ran (one person referred to a two-mile long line at Gaither’s booth, and I suspect he was only half-joking; another referred to BG holding court for several hours after). Still, the mood felt less jaundiced than last year, judging by the folks I talked to, and the feedback from my unscientific gut. Weekend ticket sales are up, possibly due to Gaither, possibly due to the Fan Awards’ moving to Saturday night, possibly due to the renovated exposition wing, where a lot of people seem to enjoy spending a lot of time (which might account for why, though I had to wait a long time to get in the door at 6 p.m.– and that never happens – the hall itself felt less full than the lines at the door suggested). Maybe I’m full of crap, and this is no different than any other year, but I do remember leaving Thursday night last year decidedly more downbeat. Mostly that’s probably owing to the lineup. There was less garbage in the mix tonight compared to last year, as I recall, and the talent was clustered so that you didn’t have unendurable stretches of mediocrity. A vast, vast improvement.

The Sound: no, not the group from Texas that launched a thousand careers. The sound sound. I spent most of the night in rafters and the sound was on balance pretty good – far better, at least than I expected after hearing the feed on Solid Gospel. I made a visit to the pit (that area around the stage) for a few sets this evening, and the sound is MUCH worse down there, for what that’s worth. I also saw several artists yank their ear monitors out half-way through their sets. I don’t know exactly what that means, but I suspect they couldn’t hear enough or accurately. So while the sound was better in the nosebleeds than I thought it’d be, there were still substantial problems. For instance, why were the mikes for the Saddler women not turned on when they started to sing … not once, not twice, but THREE times the women started singing in the same song, at the same place in the song structurally, and each time … no mike. Honestly. This happened repeatedly tonight, and as ever, it’s hard to overstate how frustrating this is for audiences. We want to hear the people sing, from the beginning. Are there no rehearsals? Do sound guys not have presets, or at least make notes about entrances and solos and openings etc? And even if they don’t, after the FIRST time you miss a vocalist’s entrance, don’t you think you’d get it right the second time or third time? Hmmm, every time a verse comes round in this song, the women on stage seem to start singing. Maybe I should turn their mikes on! And too, the tracks often come in muffled or imbalanced, the bass and lows roaring, the mids and uppers nonexistent, or else it’s just so loud that the vocals get amped to ear-splitting levels to be heard (as opposed to turning the tracks down and finding some balance). It’s like this is the first time the sound engineers have encountered these tracks with these voices in this space. I just don’t get it. Fifteen years I’ve been coming to this event and for 15 years the sound has been shitty more often than not. Not crummy, not bad. Shitty. Fix the sound already.

BONUS STANDOUTS AND OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING

Mark Trammell Trio: I almost wrote, “They had the unenviable job of following the Dixie Echoes,” but the crowd sat on their hands for most of the DEs set, then lavished love on MTT, for no musical reason that was apparent until the last song. Steve Hurst was at the piano, though that shouldn’t be mistaken for my having any more clue than I ever have what his role is in the group. A great deal of time in the set was devoted to a predictable and barely amusing set-up for what Trammell, in the role of the cantankerous old man who doesn’t get this new fangled music, called a “dumb song,” sung by tenor Eric Philips, who played the role of the rascally whippersnapper. The song was not dumb, but it wasn’t that special either. Just an off-the-rack uptempo tune that was notable mostly for how much Philips barks his lines and oversings his big notes. Hard to tell if he’s unsure of himself or in less control than he’d like to be of the higher power notes, but for whatever reasons he tends to aim sharp for full-voice notes in his upper register, and then settle down on the tone, which gives the impression he’s both going flat (though he often isn’t) and biting his notes unpleasantly. Or maybe he just compared poorly to W/Lesley Smith. At any rate, it was hard to believe that jokes about old white Baptist men (Trammell in this case) trying to learn to do dance (with the help, in this instance, of the Booths, who joined MTT and half the other groups on stage at some point in their set) are still so prevalent. I guess everybody wants to be EHSSQ now. Still, MTT should find a new schtick. I liked this one better when Gerald Wolfe and Jason Waldroup did their version of it. Indeed, though MTT got a big rise out of the crowd with their final anthem (strackstatic!), they still felt like a poor man’s Greater Vision.

Whisnants: You know, they don’t do much for me musically, but I find them charmingly tenacious for no other reason than they keep coming back. With most similar b-list groups who don’t go away but never really find a brand of their own, it’s annoying. With the Whisnants, I dunno … it’s like they’re that loveable scamp cousin who broke your toys and got you in trouble but you still looked forward to seeing. It’s not just that they try very hard, but that they do it in a way that’s mildly endearing. The biggest problem is, as it has always been for the Ws, their song selection. Their set tonight was built around “The Past is Promise,” a lyrically listless, melodically meandering song with a serious stylistic identity crisis. It clearly wants to be an anthem, but just as clearly never rises above a muddle between balladeering and inspo. This might not have been a dealbreaker if their voices worked better together. But as it is, Susan Whisnant’s voice is very sharp-edged, so it needs richer, warmer, softer voices to complement it. Instead, the other two vocalists also have sharp sounding voices, and so the group ends up sounding like a drawer full of knives jangling and jostling around in the back of a moving truck.

Arthur Rice: while he was knocking the top off “Forever Changed,” I scrawled in the margin, he really, really deserves a quartet of his caliber.

Talley Trio: I wish I could have promoted the Talleys to the Big Stuff, but it just wasn’t justified. I went down into the pit to hear them, in part because I continue to be baffled about the cold shoulder they consistently get from the audience. Yeah, they’re regularly pitchy, but when has that stopped a NQC crowd from lovin’ on an artist or group? I thought maybe if I got up close, I’d get a better angle on the question. They selected a strong slate of songs, but they were not in top form. From the pit, the crowd’s silence and unresponsiveness seemed far more devastating to me than similar responses have struck me from up in the nosebleeds, where the sheer enormity of the space tends to override finer shifts in mood during a song. What was clear tonight was the crowd was having none of it with the Talleys. They simply don’t connect. They closed their set with “Hallelujah, Praise the Lamb,” from the Talley Trio 1.0 days, with Lauren taking Kirk’s part. I suspect LT would say she didn’t have her best night vocally. She has a habit of holding out big notes in straight tones that go flat really easily, as straight tones are want to do. It also gives her voice a more calcified and strident feel than is actually the case (listen to her verses on “Broken Ones” or “That Name” … there’s the real Lauren Talley, vocally). Still, the song is a nostalgic hit whose memorable and evocative opening lines are exactly of the sort that usually meet with an eruption of applause (gospel audiences love to congratulate themselves for continuing to like certain songs). Not so, in this case. It was like the Talleys were calling bingo up there. What gives? Part of it may be cultural. Lauren Talley is decidedly not the kind of artist sg fans are used to seeing in the front-man position (the absence of a gender-neutral term here hints at the problem). And as she ages into her own, she’s pushing her audiences even further out of their comfort zone: tonight she was in a dazzling form-fitted sleeveless gown with perfectly blingy diamond costume jewelry (it was a fabulous ensemble). This sort of couture only highlights the fact that she carries herself without the demurrals and self-abasements that most sg females foreground in their public personae. I don’t think sg audiences  necessarily dislike her (and btw, I should say I think she should continue to be whatever being herself means, audience discomfort be damned), but they may not know what to make of her, or the Talleys generally, and vocally the Talleys never seem quite to nail their sets in ways that would break audience’s ambivalent silence in the group’s favor. Then of course there’s the Kirk factor. Perhaps the group simply reminds audiences of an unpleasant sore spot in sg’s collective mind and imagination that most folks are unable or unwilling to gloss or get over. I may be wrong, or I may be right and still not have accounted for the coldness with which the Talleys are reliably met. But something is going on here.

THE GRAB BAG

Shameless line of the night: “I don’t care if I wrote it or not, but that’s a great song.” McCray Dove, offering an on-the-spot critique of himself as a songwriter. I would tell you the title of the song, but like everything else about it, the name is quite forgettable. Points for chutzpah though.

Time delay: I noted that it was 620 p.m. before we heard an upbeat song from the first act. Is it ever a good idea to open the first set of the night in a cavernous hall, where people are still filtering in, with a slow tune? “Bringing in the Sheaves” is uptempo for a reason.

Sister Tenor lives: Scott Fowler introduced Frank Seamans as the guy with the toughest job in the group, because  (say it along with me now, if you can keep from puking) he has to look like a man and sing like a woman. I am not joking, but Fowler seemed to think he was. Otherwise L5’s set was serviceable but subdued. Glen Dustin completely blew his ending on “Going Home Day,” another little ditty that L5 can add to their collection, but Dustin looks quite studious in those wire-framed specs he’s sporting. I assume they’re holding back on the big stuff for their last appearance later in the weekend?

Primitives: evidently, in “primitive” music, no one ever sings songs paced above a slow walk.

Channeling BG: one of the oddities innovations this year is to let some kind of (pseudo-)prominent figure have a mini-set in between big acts. These aren’t always or exactly soloists, though those are in the schedule too. For instance: John Pfieffer, separate from the Pfieffers, has a slot tomorrow night (joy!). Tonight, Ben Speer had a micro-set of his own and spent the entire time singing Bill Gaither songs. Not weird precisely, but it’s not like there aren’t a lot of … oh, I dunno. .. SPEER FAMILY songs he could have sung. At one point, he forced us to stand up so we could hear Dean Hopper sing “Family of God.” And MNP suspects that Jeff Stice, who played piano for this flash round, may not actually know “Something Beautiful.” Which makes me giggle.

Air bubbles: the mat covering the stage is a giant NQC logo, and the stage lights glare unflatteringly off it. Not a big deal, but the glare makes visible all these air bubbles under the plastic appliqué, and I imagine them making little flatulence noises every time someone walks on them … and that reminds me of working at Burger King in high school and having to force all those air bubbles out of the Whopper and BK Broiler promotional signs we’d affix to the glass. Thhppttthhht.

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Comments

  1. irishlad wrote:

    Ave,Lesley for girl Leslie for boy.You don’t want to start the whole sister tenor thing off again now.lol

  2. GospelMusicFan wrote:

    Like it or not, Gaither and Friends sell tickets.
    A “two mile” line tells you something.

  3. gc wrote:

    Great rundown of the night. I thought you might have a little favortism going for a few groups but some of the groups you loved last year have not recieved the same love this year. I like fairness! Glad to hear the Dixie Echoes are getting some love, Randy is a top notch person and vocalist.

    Roy Pauley has already claimed Mccray Dove as the greatest songwriter of our era. Mccray is just repeating it..

  4. quartet-man wrote:

    I enjoyed reading this.

  5. FirstNighter wrote:

    While not surprised at your take on Taranada Greene (she is amazing), the group killed “Miracle in Me” last night. They were consistently behind the track, holding notes in places for too long and then trying to catch up in a very awkward way. It was definitely on purpose, but killed what is one of the best songs in gospel music from the 80’s, possibly ever. That being said, Taranda is an incredible singer…and her version of OHN last night was better than the night before.

    I agree with your assertion about the Talleys getting a cool response, UNTIL Hallelujah Praise the Lamb. That was the most movement and response I’ve seen during a Talleys set, and interestingly, when the encore started, they had the camera panning down the audience and caught Lari Goss standing there, totally caught up with his hands in the air thanking and praising God for healing him. It was powerful.

    Regarding the Booths….Jim Brady is an amazing talent vocally. And nostalgic, cheesy or whatever, Michael had that crowd in the palm of his hand for “Look For Me at Jesus’ Feet”. As the track started…literally, 5 notes in, a guy down from me said “Oh good gracious” (in a good way!) and another guy behind me was shouting through the entire song. He has the ability to bring you right into what he’s doing for those sweet songs this sg crowd love.

    Ben’s set was embarassing. Do we not have any uptempo songs to choose from besides “Get All Excited”…and goodness, we didn’t know the words for it. As much as I love Jeff Stice, he doesn’t know anything that’s not a Downings’ song. Make sure your piano player knows what you’re doing. It was awkward to me to have Kim and Dean singing harmony and Ben singing loudly in the mic if the point was to get the people to sing. My opinion…Ben should have pulled out of the mic and had no other singers but the people…if that was the point.

    The GVB/EHSS afternoon event yesterday was interesting. You see a lot of people/groups try to get on stage at NQC and get the audience to clap along. Like Bill or not, he walks out on stage and starts clapping and literally, the whole place was clapping with him. He has a magic about his ability to get an audience involved and yesterday afternoon was no exception.

    The GVB is still in a class by themselves and continues to bring great music in a superb fashion.

    The only memorable thing from EHSS’s set was Wayne Haun’s piano stylings.

  6. CVH wrote:

    Great commentary. The only two thoughts I have are, why is sound for an event of that magnitude always a problem? I don’t know anything about the pre-production or if the sound guys have detailed set lists and rehearsals but how could it be that bad that long?

    The other thing is The Talleys. I’m not at NQC or listening online so I didn’t hear the set but I’d make the same criticism of them from having heard them in concert in other venues several times. Not to be unkind, but I think the biggest thing holding them back (not challenging themselves vocally, stylistically or even in material) is that they self-produce so much of their stuff. And hasn’t Roger produced almost everything Lauren has done? I’ve suggested here before that, while her voice needs additional coaching, she has a unique instrument that, in the hands of the right producer, could really move her into a front-and-center place in the business…SG’s answer to Natalie Grant perhaps. And yeah, she’s hot, but she knows it which detracts from her attractiveness just a bit.

  7. HP wrote:

    Just read the review of Thursday night. Taranda’s performance is a good(or bad) example of the difference between the live performance and radio mix. On the radio she sounded like she was shouting and missing tempo.

    Sound, well I already sent an email about that.

    The logo on stage. I work with these type of logos every year on basketball courts. The bubbles are a result of laziness. It is completely possible to get almost all of the bubbles out if time is taken, and proper man power, to put it down. And of course it costs money to have someone put it down. At the very least, when bubbles are left in it after laid down and sharp xacto knife will release the air and a credit card will smooth it out. A logo that big requires about 1.5 hours of attention, minimum. Wish I was on production planning committee.

  8. Elisabeth wrote:

    ahh…what i’ve been waiting for all week: for you to get to nqc. i’ll be the first to admit i don’t agree w/ you a lot of the time, but i do love your nqc reports. and i TOTALLY agree about taranda. i love her!!

  9. HP wrote:

    Okay after looking a better picture of the stage “sticker.” That one would take a while to put on, but there is no excuse for bubbles that large to be left in it.

  10. FW wrote:

    Yeah, Roy would know. Ugh, I feel like barfing.

  11. Brandon Coomer wrote:

    Gold City’s set was planned. Gold City’s and the NQC’s websites listed Gold City has being on the main stage Thursday. If the schedule that is given out in Louisville matches the online schedule available to webcast viewers, you’ll see that the Dove Brothers was listed as having a 36 minute set. I think Gold City’s slot was just left off by mistake.

  12. Larry S wrote:

    That may contain some of the greatest (and most accurate) commentary EVER on NQC… the sound stuff made me laugh out loud… kind of awkward at work!

  13. Kathy wrote:

    Definitely concur with you about the sound issues, Monday night was terrible!
    In My humble opinion The Dove Brothers are the greatest male quartet singing now! McCray is a great songwriter! Keep it up Bro! God bless!

  14. JD wrote:

    I’ve been listening online through Solid Gospel this week (couldn’t bring myself to drop the $60 for the NQC video). Your review confirms what I heard online, minus the annoying DJ that keeps talking. Now, I realize they have to take certain breaks for commercials and FCC required station identification times, but that should be the ONLY breaks! Someone needs to put some duct tape over that DJ’s mouth, shut up and let the singers sing! And…get a DJ that’s at least up to date on his SG music, performers and the like.

    I agree, Taranda is awesome, though she is in better form than I’ve heard her at times in the past. For a while it seemed she was getting worse instead of better, glad to hear the improvements.

    Finally, the Dixie Echoes are getting the praise they so greatly deserve. These guys work very hard at what they do. I’ve heard Randy Shelnut himself say that it took him 30 years to learn that you don’t have to put your tonsils on the 16th row for the people to hear you or get the song. Just step up to the mic and sing…let the microphone do the work. There is NO other group on the road today that can do this style better than the Dixie Echoes. As far as the applause, or lack thereof, I think the sg crowd has become ingorant to the quality and style of gospel music that made this genre popular to start with. They just don’t recognize it when they see it. They’ve become so expectant of stacks, big orchestrations, veins popping out of necks, etc…(you get the idea) that when a good group truly singing comes along they’re dumbfounded and don’t know how to react. IMHO

    As far as Gold City, they’re alright, I’m still stuck in the Tim Riley days and haven’t gotten past it yet.

    Mark Trammell Trio needs to become a quartet. Some groups are meant to be trios, not this one I think they would really hit their stride with a great quality bass singer.

    Booth Brothers…what else can be said, these guys are on top of their game and on top of the industry right now. None finer!

    Now I know I’ll get crucified by the faithful few, but is anyone else think Peg McKamey is sounding more like a bass and that Rueben Bean doesn’t seem to know the words to his groups songs, and am I the only one looking forward to Eli’s voice changing? While he’s stuck with the accent he still sounds like he should be auditioning for the boys choir.(OK let the cruicifixion begin…)

    All-in-all a pretty fair line-up for Thursday night. I’ll be looking forward to your review of Gaither and the crowd reaction tonight!

  15. Brett wrote:

    People miss the Talleys as Kirk,ROger, & Debra. I don’t understand the appeal of Lauren. I just don’t like her voice. It overpowers Debra or something.

  16. Jim2 wrote:

    Avery,
    Thank you for your insight - I look forward to it every year, and you did not disappoint.

  17. Angie M wrote:

    I could listen to the Booths sing the phonebook. Also, I continue to be glad I stumbled upon this site.

  18. JT wrote:

    Taranda is a diva, plain and simple!! I really like the Whisnants and thought they had a good set. The Talley Trio did nothing for me.

  19. ngraham wrote:

    Enjoyed the detailed review very much. Glad to see someone recognizing the quality of what the Dixie Echoes do.

  20. Leebob wrote:

    Has the torch for favorite trio been officially passed now? Both groups, BB and GV, are great but are almost in different genres when it comes to style but the song that everybody talks about is “Look For Me”. Michael definitely knows how to read a crowd as well he should.

    Does this not tell us something about the crowd that flocks to NQC every year? Our music is not growing but stagnating. That is a great song but primarily a song for the aged nonetheless.

    If the average age was 10 years younger would it not make a difference from an energy and song selection standpoint? We have sung for extremely “mature” crowds before and there isn’t much energy to draw from so you create what energy you can by performing songs to the crowd’s viewpoint of life. This may explain what Doug and others are seeing on the platform from song selection.

  21. not a grammarian wrote:

    Booth Brothers song (as stated by FirstNighter) is “Look for Me at Jesus’ Feet” - “Look for Me” I believe is a Goodman’s song. Picky? yes, but that’s what us non-grammarians do.
    Doug, great work! for all your critics who question whether or not you enjoy SG - this is all the evidence they should need - it’s about making it better, commend the “magisterial, magnificent, electrifying and palpably humane” while also pointing out the bad and absurd.

  22. notaboothbrotherfan wrote:

    geez…..another booth brother love fest.

  23. Leebob wrote:

    #21 not a grammarian - I stand corrected and I should have known better because we sing the same song. BUT not in front of the BB, that would be foolish on our part.

    Here’s hoping others reading will read and learn.

  24. Chris wrote:

    You actually LIKED Patrick Henry Hughes? I actually tuned into SolidGospel just as he was starting and I thought I had clicked on the wrong link. I thought “Surely someone who sings this bad is not on the NQC mainstage.” It was absolutely dreadful. Especially the Brooks and Dunn song. TERRIBLE! If you thought that was good and the sets by L5 and the Booths were poor, I have no choice but to make this observation - you have no credibility for judging sg music ever again. Sorry.

  25. not a grammarian wrote:

    Leebob,
    Please correct me on this - after I posted I realized that I should have said Squire Parsons, Booths did it on a Gaither South Africa DVD, thus the exposure and subsequent popularity. Does that sound right?
    NBBF,
    I’m not saying that the crowd is always right, but have you considered that there are thousands of people who you call brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with your assessment of the Booth Brothers? Try this, get alone and talk to your Creator about them, listen to the Holy Spirit’s leading and see if you are still able to harbor resentment against them. Transparency may not be the most macho thing in the world, but it works wonders on the old blood pressure.

  26. Brandon Coomer wrote:

    BTW, the Patrick Henry Hughes video was a segment from ESPN. I don’t remember if it was for Sportscenter or Outside The Lines. The voice over was Jeremy Schaap.

    After my issues with the webcast, I’d hate for someone to accidentally think the NQC put together an actual, real-life, professional quality video.

  27. SGfan wrote:

    I have been listening on Solid Gospel from home this year. I am unable to attend NQC due to work to be done, but I will say that I believe that Taranda Greene is by far the most awesome voice in SG today especially among the female vocals we have to choose from. Even in the bad mix of the feed that you hear on Solid Gospel, you could tell that she was solid on pitch and her song delivery was second to none. We need more like her in the industry.

  28. notaboothbrotherfan wrote:

    n.a.g.

    I have no resentment or bitterness toward the booth brothers. I just have been around them enough to see right through their phony act.

    Lots of people believing in something hardly makes it true, right or holy….geez….did you think about that statement before you said it?

    My blood pressure is perfect. Eating right and working out 6 days a week does that for you. A rare thing in SG I know….

  29. SGfan wrote:

    #28 notaboothbrotherfan

    Did you pay those royalties you owe Jim Brady yet or are you still stealing from his ministry?

  30. notaboothbrotherfan wrote:

    I am thinking about it. I need to know if Jim Brady is a sold out christian or if he is just trying to make a living off the gospel.

    I don;t want to send God’s money to someone who is a fake. I will be watching him to see if he bears fruit.

  31. JEB wrote:

    Great to read the good words about the Dixie Echoes Quartet. I’ve been to see them twice this year - with no other group. What an absolute treat. Wonderful music… Wonderful singing… Wonderful worship…

    Solid in every position. I think the bass may be one of the best ever. What a pleasant solo bass voice. Great quality! Superb range!

    No TRACKS! No STACKS!

    Novel idea…

    JEB

  32. jgurnett wrote:

    #29 - You’ll be watching with your “spiritual eyes,” right? Ridiculous…

  33. Realistic wrote:

    You’re changing your tune now, Notaboothbrotherfan, by saying you’ll consider paying — but that you’ll be the one to decide if Jim Brady is a “sold out Christian” and actually deserves to be paid as the writer of that song.

    First, you are not the Judge of all the earth, and you cannot see someone’s heart or evaluate his impact on the kingdom.

    Second, there are TWO OTHER WRITERS on “Truth Is Marching On” song who also deserve to be paid. You put effort into your physical workout routine, but are slovenly in your thinking. Get your facts straight.

    Third, do you decide whether your mechanic is a good guy before you pay him for keeping your car running? Do you decide whether your grocer is worthy to be paid for the food that sustains you? Those songs you record and perform are the only things that keep your musical hobby running, and they sustain both you and your audience.

    Finally, you said (on another thread):
    “I choose not to pay for the use of singing God’s word. I think that any song writer worth his salt would not accept money for the word of God.”

    So I guess that means you also routinely walk into a Christian bookstore, help yourself to a Bible, book, hymnal, songbook or CD off the shelf, and walk out without paying for it?

  34. notaboothbrotherfan wrote:

    You all love to dump on me for my stand on not paying for the Gospel. You have taken a terrible approach, hoever I am thinking about what you have said. I have even researched copyrights and sent an email to some company called The Harry Fox agency about this issue. I want to do the right thing.

    I am very tired of everyone glossing over the issue that I raised and that is that I am tired of the superficial, non ministry minded groups that are choking out the very life of SG music. I think The Booth Brothers are king of this very problem.

    I am sure you all will cheer this week at nqc when they win awards. I will sit in my seat and pray for God to get ahold of the hearts and minds of the fans that would vote for a group that is so focused on fleshly things.

  35. Tracy Crouch wrote:

    While I usually stay out of conversations such as this I must through my 2 cents in. I’ve known the Booth Brothers for many, many years now. I’ve spent time with them at concerts, on the bus, and just great fellowship. I know for a fact these guys are the real deal. They love God with all their hearts, they love their families, and they love their music. While there are members of our industry that have alterior motives, the Booth Brothers are not among them.

    As far as paying for royalties, this seems to be a no brainer for me. You pay them because its the right thing to do. This is the way these guys and so many others make their living. “We”, “You”, help to provide for their living through buying their cd’s, love offerings, paying royalties, etc… When we go to see them in concert we are entering their “office”, they are at work. Just as you should pay your tithe to help continue the work of the church, so should you help those that are willing to sacraficially leave their families each week to carry the gospel in a unique way. The Bible says a workman is worthy of his hire, surely to have recorded a song co-written by Jim Brady, you thought enough of his work to use the end result of that effort. Simply, pay the man for his work.

  36. JustaFan wrote:

    If we are talking about great harmony and flawless delivery, that nod would certainly go to Southern Sound. I was there on Monday night when they sang and they were as perfect as a group can be. Their blend was awesome and the bass singer was by far the best of the week. Aern’t they from Nashville?

  37. quartet-man wrote:

    So, NotABoothBrothersFan, it appears the song Truth Is Marching On has ministered to, you like it and it ministers to others since you have chosen to sing it and keep singing it. So, do you think that would be true if he had ulterior motives? Maybe so, maybe not, but it is not free to use. By using it, you are agreeing to pay for it.

    This is an honest question, too. Who in SG do you think are doing it right, doing it well, and doing it for the right reasons? We know who you don’t like, tell us who you like.

  38. quartet-man wrote:

    Sorry, I left of a “you” above after “ministered to”

  39. SGfan wrote:

    notaboothbrotherfan,

    The Harry Fox Agency is a good place to start. They can answer your questions, yet I suspect you will not like their answers. As far as the idea of watching Jim Brady to see “if he bears fruit”, I think that song you recorded is part of that fruit. So I guess that question of yours is answered.

    No one is dumping on you for not paying for the Gospel. The Gospel is free, but those songs you are referring to are based on the Gospel. They are also works of art and you have to pay for them. That is how you give credit where credit is due. Again, I think you need to focus more on yourself and less on others. Your dialogue has showed that you need to take another look at yourself and make sure you are doing what is right before you start trying to point fingers and “expose” others.

  40. Dean Adkins wrote:

    Any of you old-timers remember the Bugs Bunny cartoons? If so, you recall that when Elmer, Daffy or some other character did or said something idiotic, that Bugs would say, “What a maroon!” I think that could describe NBBF.

  41. notaboothbrotherfan wrote:

    Hey dean…..just because you are some kind of distant relation of the booth brothers…….I guess you can mouth off to me!

  42. Trent wrote:

    Avery, your reporting from NQC is about the most enjoyable thing I can find to read anywhere. I really mean that. Your analysis puts into words what a lot of us feel from the music. I really appreciate your thoughtful word painting.

    I will respectfully disagree with you on the Whisnants. Southern Gospel radio loves them, which isn’t necessarily a barometer for great songs, I know. But songs like “Light Of The Lamb”, “Nail It To The Cross”, and others they’ve singled are really strong IMO. I wouldn’t call them a B-List group at all. I will agree, however, that “The Past Is A Promise” is a weak song when compared to some of their hits from the past.

    Regarding the Talleys, I don’t think the Kirk thing has anything to do with the iceberg emanating from the stands. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the SG crowd has or ever will welcome Kirk back with open arms, and that’s a whole other topic. Somehow the Talleys come off on stage as snobbish, and that’s the disconnect with the listener. Partially, it’s Lauren’s high-brow clothing selection and bleached-blond hair. She’s young, she’s pretty and she knows it. The traditional SG crowd is used to a more modest approach to the stage. And then there is an air about Roger that is really hard to put your finger on, but it’s there. Mind you, I have nothing against these folks, and I betcha they are really nice. It’s just the stage persona they have, and fans don’t particularly like it.

  43. irishlad wrote:

    An Irishlad in Louisville.I arrive on a massive high.Check into the Gault or Brown’s.Lovely.Eat a great American breakfast.Gorgeous.Go to the Freedom Hall still high as a kite on adrenaline and expectancy.Then it goes pear-shaped. I get depressed.It’s all the booths fault(not the bros God forbid.)The A listers are bunged, the Z’s and gimcrack peddlers standing dead-eyed and listless.I pass them by trying not to catch their eye but it happens and they stare back eyes as empty and confused as my one. I return to Gault or Brown’s dejected.

  44. irishlad wrote:

    sorry. My one should have read my own.

  45. quartet-man wrote:

    I’m waiting for an answer, NotABoothBrothersFan, isn’t there anyone besides your group who you think are doing it right and for the right reasons?

  46. SamH wrote:

    #24 Chris, Since I doubt you are a “local” I thought I’d fill you in on Patrick Henry Hughes. He is a real inspiration to us in the metro Louisville and southern Indiana areas and is somewhat of a hero to us. He was born blind (no eyes) and is confined to a wheel chair. He is a member of the Uof L marching band. His dad works nights to be available during the day to push his wheel chair for band routines and for classes. Here is a link for more;

    http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/Story?id=2643340&page=1

    Aaron Swain also had some information posted;

    http://swainsmusings.blogspot.com/2008/05/patrick-henry-hughes-to-appear-at-nqc.html

    I was honored that the NQC allowed him to be on.

  47. ABK wrote:

    I’ve been a witness to the Booth Brothers’ talent and overall attitudes for around 15 or so years now. While I do not know them all that well personally, I believe I can honestly say that they are tops in both departments. Jim Brady deserves to be paid for his songs. I have been impressed by his general demeanor from day one and he is certainly one of our top songwriters today.

    NBBF, the fact that you are not totally willing to pay royalties to a songwriter places you among the artists who put a black eye on gospel music. Artists and producers who do not give the songwriter his or her due should not be allowed to open studio doors. Not paying royalties is simply stealing money that is not yours. The excuse you have presented for not paying Jim Brady for his work has little to no merit whatsoever.

    I don’t care what anybody’s “motives” may be, it is the right thing to pay someone the money that they earned, for the song that you so evidently placed your personal confidence in. If you think its a sin to pay someone whose motives you question for their song, then it was a sin for you to perform it in the first place.

    If you have a shred of decency about you, you will send Jim Brady his check and trust that God will use both the song and the money in the manner that will glorify His kingdom, regardless of what your own personal thoughts or opinions may be.

  48. Samuel Richards wrote:

    Avery…
    While I agree with your great comments about the Dixie Echoes, I only have one question. You rave about their new tenor, saying he has warm pleasing tones, and he does not scream. then you say he does screech. was that a typo or what do you mean by that?

  49. BryanC wrote:

    It was a great read about the NQC. I was there in the flesh too and had a great time. I thought Taranda blew the roof off of “O Holy Night”….they had to patch a hole in the roof the next morning.

    I thought the Dixie Echoes were really good 2 years ago at my first NQC. They have by far stepped up their game. The latest project is by far their best, and I have all of their albums(cds, records, etc.)

    I wanted to make a correction though to youre lineup on the Dixie Echoes Stage performance on Thursday…They ended with “Not in a million years” and their bass singer Pat (can’t remember last name) nailed it. They also had a 5 piece accompaniement with Stewart at the Piano, two guys from Primitive on strings, Scoot at the bass guitar, and at last song Michael Booth at the drums. You had to be there to feel the rush through that auditorium when they sang that song. I was hoping for an encore but their time ran out and as you know, they get fined.

    BTW: It was good to see Tracy Crouch’s name in the comments section. Hope you are doing well.

  50. BryanC wrote:

    by the way…you talked about ‘air bubbles’ in the main stage floormat.

    It looks to me that it might have been stored improperly and thats what was causing it. It was a very obvious eye-sore and I know it wasn’t like that last year…I was there!

    Did it also look like the ends/points were torn and there was yellow tape holding the pieces together?

  51. bassmann wrote:

    I just wanted to say, about the comment concerning Arthur Rice, thank you to AVFL for recognizing the talent in a great man.

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