Open thread

I’ll be traveling the next few days for work, so consider this the place to entertain yourself if none of the other recent threads are doing it for you.

I’ll kick things off: Southern gospel managed to avoid getting cut from the lineup of the Sirius-XM sat rad merger. Discuss. Or not.

See you soon.

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  1. Gayla wrote:

    I simply know that my elderly parents are thrilled that they can receive EnLighten on their Dish Network! They paid the “lifetime subscription” for Sky Angel years ago. In my opinion that was a huge “rip off” of elderly people. Now they must have Internet access to obtain a Sky Angel signal! They have no computer and never plan to have one! We argued with Sky Angel until we were “blue in the face”. However, since they still offer a signal there is no refund for all these senior citizens who bought lifetime subscriptions and can not even receive it anymore! Mother has not had it off EnLighten since I told her about last night…except to watch RFD!! !

  2. Wade wrote:

    Gayla… come on share some stories you said the promoter told ya… It’s time…don’t be such a tease like many who poast here are!!! Thanks…

  3. RF wrote:

    Interesting that EHSSQ are number 3 on the DVD charts of all genres just behind AC/DC and Elton John and just ahead of the Beatles’ “All Together Now.” Not bad.

    About the XM-Sirius merger…interesting that Enlighten survived, but I’m happy it did. I leased a new Ford last year with Sirius and had to stick my plug and play XM on the A/C vent. I removed it today. The XM, not the vent :-).

  4. Old Gator wrote:

    I was doing some consulting for Sky Angel when they were making the decision to cease broadcasting via satellite. I provided them with a multi-page report explaining the pitfalls of changing from satellite to internet for their broadcasts. At the top of my list was the amount of their subscriber base that were elderly, had no internet and would never have internet. They responded basically by saying “everyone has internet these days.” I would venture to say their subscriber base in the 50+ market is now only a fraction of what it was before. The only thing worse than being out of touch with your market, is not caring that you are out of touch with your market.

  5. Norm Graham wrote:

    New Topic: I watched the CMA awards last night. Some of it was awful and other parts pretty good.

    As I listened to Brad Paisley and Keith Urban trade guitar licks, I got to thinking about Southern Gospel which can’t afford musicians.

    Why are there are not SGM artists who can play instruments well and also sing decently? Paisley and Urban are two country artists who sing, play lead guitar tremendously and write much of their material.

    Why can’t there be a gospel group with a tenor playing bass guitar, a lead singer playing lead guitar, a baritone singer playing piano and a drummer singing bass?

    That would eliminate the cost issue of having a band. If the drummer can’t sing bass, hire one and the group is still paying only five people for a quartet and a full band.

  6. Grave Digger wrote:

    I don’t know if you can sing, play the guitar, and be anointed all at the same time. Too many varibles.

  7. quartet-man wrote:


    Good question. I would think it would be easier with solo acts, but one problem might be those who can do both go where there is more money. :) Of course the Cathedrals had some of this. Baritones who played piano or bass guitar. I would think tenors and basses are hard enough to find quality in that they don’t have to.

    You reminded me that back in the Stamps after J.D. took over, I understand there was enough talent in the group that the singers and band could trade places. In other words J.D going from bass vocalist to guitar, maybe Donnie Sumner from lead to piano, etc.

    Wally Fowler and the Georgia Clodhoppers (eventually the Oak Ridge Quartet and then Boys) played instruments and sang. The Statlers did some too I think.

    Today I suspect more people focus on one or the other and there hasn’t been enough pay or demand for a lot to inspire people to take it on. It is easier and cheaper to use tracks instead of playing an instrument. Tracks are already made, so using them to perform with is cheaper than buying an expensive instrument etc. and tracks take up less room on the bus. :)

  8. NS wrote:

    What!!!!!!!! Then Ernie and the gang would not be able to dance around!!!!!!!!! :)

  9. Kyle wrote:

    The Florida Boys all played an instrument. Les on Bass Guitar, Glen on electric guitar, and usually a couple others playing acoustic guitar, accordian, or fiddle. Ideally, you could travel with a 5-6 piece group and still have a full band. Think of it as a gospel version of Alabama or Diamond Rio.

    The problem is, however, that people see a quartet, and they do NOT wanna see them play instruments. They wanna see them sing. Period. If one can play piano, great, but we want our front line-up (even Gerald Wolfe and Garry Jones abandoned their piano playing except for certain songs on stage).

    I personally would LOVE to see a gospel BAND, but after years of tracks, I have a feeling that a quartet that also plays their own music would be slightly taboo….

  10. SG-Yesteryear wrote:

    Norm Graham, $$$ is the answer to your

    As a former SG musician, you better have
    a darn good day job!

    Back in the late ’90’s, I was offered a “paid” position with two different
    country artists. Both offers were within
    dollars of each other.
    $30K per year ($600/week) plus
    expenses. A bonus could be achieved
    based upon album and concert sales

    Take away Trump, sorry I meant Gaither, I don’t know of a SG musician
    that makes $30K annually.
    Very few on the front line, much less
    sitting at an instrument make that much!

    Bust your hump and you can make $30K at your local McDonalds and sleep in your own bed each night!

    Also, for those SG musicians who do studio work, things are a little different
    on the secular side. Used to be, studio
    musicians, at the least the good ones,
    were unionized.
    Even though most artists treated you as
    a sub-contractor (you handle your own
    payroll tax with a 1099 from that particular artist), there were “rules” on
    doing studio work with a different record
    label other than the artists you were
    working for.
    Especially if the artist owned his/her label.
    At that time, country artists were
    “catching on” to the idea of, I will do it
    my way.
    So today, there are tons of secular artists who own their own record label.

    If it weren’t for the $$$, SG artists would
    have done the same.
    With the “Crook’s” of the world
    (the name says it all) and a few others,
    if I were a SG artist today, I would rather do my recording from a Wal-Mart
    karaoke machine than to have their name
    on it!


  11. Grave Digger wrote:

    Several groups have done this through the years with success. As Kyle stated, the Florida Boys did it. One of the most successful groups to do so was the LeFevres. The Speer Family, Thrasher Brothers, and I’m sure I’ll think of others also used their vocalists as instrumentalists.

    Some of the top groups from the early years had at least one member play the guitar for their accompaniment.

    I know several groups have had a member play the bass guitar and sing, but I have never been able to accomplish that task. I can play the guitar or piano and sing, but if I’m playing the bass, it just doesn’t translate!

  12. nashville ear wrote:

    If the fans would get up off the couch and go out and support local concerts by buying a ticket or making a respectable donation to an offering the groups could afford to pay more and hire a band.

    When your average fan will only put $2 or $3 in the offering plate - and God forbid you ask them to buy a ticket - it is no wonder the groups struggle just to stay on the road.

    The “gaither revolution” of the genre back in the early 90’s was good in many respects and brought a lot of the older artists back into the limelight. Who can forget watching that first video and seeing all those people together for the first time. It was magical. But, the proliferation of videos that followed - and the endless infomercials pitching them - allowed people who liked the music to sit home in the recliner and scratch where they wanted to scratch while getting all the Sg music they wanted. No need to leave the house. No need to go out to the local church or high school auditorium for a concert. Just stay home and watch the Gaither videos.

  13. apathetic wrote:

    It definitely comes down to money. The SG artists these days are having top notch studio musicians play on their CD’s (Brent Mason, Paul Franklin, Eddie Bayers, etc.) To hire a band that can recreate those tracks live and play as well as those Master Series session players it would cost a pretty penny. If the players were good enough to recreate those session players, they would not be in SG. They would be making more money in country music.

  14. Mike McIlwain wrote:

    I have wondered about singers not playing instruments as well. The Florida Boys have been mentioned. If one goes back to the late 60s and early 70s when Tommy Atwood and Billy Todd were with the group you had Tommy playing fiddle and guitar, Les playing bass, Glen playing lead guitar, and even Billy playing flatop guitar from time to time.

    Due to a lack of being able to find a full-time pianist at our church, we have resorted to using me playing rhythm guitar, the pastor playing lead guitar (and occasionally playing harmonica and banjo) and one church member playing bass. We had tried tracks for congregational worship and that didn’t work, but this arrangement is giving us a lot of flexibility. I would rather not have to play the guitar on a regular basis, but you have to do what you have to do.

    I think the SG needs to start thinking outside of the box more often.

  15. Irishlad wrote:

    #9. I believe FB’s tenor Tommy Attwood was their fiddlist. Personally i’d rather a quartet just kept to the singing,except for bluegrass groups like DL&QS.

  16. Aaron Swain wrote:

    #7: Actually, the tenor (Lew Dewitt or Jimmy Fortune) played guitar. To the best of my knowledge, those are the only two Statlers to play an instrument and sing.

  17. Old Gator wrote:

    The problem with quartets playing their own instruments is simple. Being a musician myself, I speak from experience when I say it’s almost impossible to play and stand still while you do it. If the quartet starts “moving with the music” then they get compared to EH&SS for dancing on the stage. God forbid that happens.

  18. John wrote:

    Actually, Aaron(#16), on their huge hit “Flowers On The Wall”, Harold Reid(the Statlers’ bass singer)played the ukelele.

  19. MrMusicFan wrote:

    So what do people think of the Paynes? I noticed they’re sorta making a comeback…

  20. wanderer wrote:

    The Rambos played instruments as well.

  21. 1 old fan wrote:

    Crabb Family play(ed) live instruments, too, but they really aren’t/weren’t s/g. More country gospel.

  22. Ole Gator wrote:

    MrMusic, I traded emails with Mike Payne last week and while they are appearing at the Branson Gospel Music Convention in July I don’t think he is ready to “hit the concert circuit” yet. He seems very content, at least for now, to sing in local/semi local churches where he also preaches.

  23. quartet-man wrote:

    #16, yeah I knew that not all members played and at least some. You may be right that the tenor at the time may have been the only one. I never watched much Statlers stuff. I am an Oaks fan. :-)

  24. Tori Taff wrote:


    OK, I do realize that attempting to address the vitriolic Gaither-hating on this site is an exercise in futility, but you know… sometimes the wife of a “histrionic, emotionalistic, over-singing, Gaither-light waving, badly dressed, prematurely atrophied career” singer just needs to get a couple of things off her (smoking hot) chest!

    I am not a delicate little flower with no discernible sense of humor who’s never said a bad word about anybody. I am also not a hard-core SG music lover. I did not grow up listening to the singers and groups that so many of your readers (and my husband) have loved for years. I cannot debate the comparative vocal merits of Big Chief or Hovie or Rosie or, um, other old quartet guys with weird names. And frankly, I still get some of the family groups mixed up. Also who they used to be married to. So the fact that I have been so disturbed and offended by the relentless disrespect and downright pissiness aimed at certain SG performers on this site is surprising even to me.

    But here’s the thing: those Gaither Homecoming artists? I actually KNOW THEM. They are not just faces on videos or figures on the stage to me, they are human beings. I have traveled and vacationed with them, my children have grown up with their children, I have been at their weddings and I have been to waaaaay too many of their funerals. Mock if you will (and I know many of you will!) that whole “Homecoming Family” thing—I have lived it. My opinion of these people is not based on hearsay, rumors, wishful thinking or hype. I don’t have them on pedestals, I am not crazy in love with all of them, I am closer to some than others, and a few can get on my last nerve. But dare I say, that though of course each and every person is entitled to their opinion AND is also entitled to vomit that opinion all over the blogosphere, may I humbly submit that my opinion on this particular subject may be just a squidge more informed than some.

    I honestly don’t think that just because this is ‘gospel music’ people will never have a negative word to say about performances, new releases or certain artists. It’s a free country, blah blah blah. What I fundamentally don’t get though, is the gleefully mean-spirited tone behind some of the things said here. It is hard to make a case for this site being dedicated to ‘criticism, commentary and observation’ when very personally pejorative adjectives like “schlocky, arrogant, ridiculous, nauseating, midlife crisis on stage” are flying around. And let’s not forget the GVB post below—it’s a veritable cornucopia of insults: “advanced stage of self-induced mania, vocal afterthought, pure schtick, overweight, out of shape middle-aged amateur.” Yep folks, that’s pretty much the same kind of insightful, constructive ‘criticism/commentary/observation’ that Jesus used to take those high and mighty disciples down a peg or two, I bet!

    When this site has come up in conversations I have had with artist friends of mine, the main reaction is not anger or disgust, although those feelings are certainly present. The universal response is always that they are just baffled by the haters. They honestly don’t understand what it is about them that would cause people who do not even know them to attack their character, their appearance, their talent… even their children. And let’s talk about the children a minute.
    On that much-maligned video clip above, at around the 2:00 mark, you will see my sweet daughter Madi. Surprisingly, she wasn’t there to try to weasel her way onto stage, or jockey for camera-time or advance a career. She was there because she loves those people. They have been a steady source of great fun and unconditional love throughout her young life. She isn’t a SG fan, she just likes being around her friends, and appreciates their talent. Her iPod has the Isaacs and Lynda Randle on it (right alongside M.I.A and the Fleet Foxes) which is a little unusual for a 16 year old girl! See, Madi doesn’t know that Ernie Haase is ‘narcissistic’ and ‘opportunistic’—he’s the guy that teases her and treats her like a big brother and sends her funny, encouraging text messages. And she’s blissfully unaware that Sheri Easter is a coldhearted dragon lady and Jeff is a buffoon—she knows them as the family that bought her dad a beat-up, 20 year-old blue pick-up truck and drove it from Georgia all the way to Nashville to give it to him, because Russ was going through a hard time and Jeff thought he needed “something to tinker with” to make him feel better. And Gloria doesn’t strike her as a sappy sentimentalist. Gloria rocked her to sleep when she was a baby, taught her how to make seashell collages, and rode paddleboats in their pond with her. She quite looks up to her. Madi doesn’t realize Bill is a megalomaniacal despot– he’s just the sweet old guy that cracks corny jokes and tries to make her promise she’ll never grow up or start dating. Thanks to your website, maybe Madi can finally wise up.

    I guess, Doug, what I’m trying to say to you and your negative commenters is that it is disingenuous and dishonest to pretend that you are unaware of the hurt that is caused by your very personal diatribes against artists. If someone used a public forum to make disparaging comments about your wife’s weight, or comment on the fact that she didn’t appear to be aging very well and was actually kind of crappy at her chosen profession—would you be OK with that?

    Does it somehow please you that your dismissive, insulting remarks about Wes Hampton were upsetting to him? Is there some secret pleasure when artists’ kids show up here and leave comments trying to defend their families? And exactly what, if anything, IS off-limits to the armchair musical quarterbacks and music biz ‘pundits’ on your site? Let’s see… Sheri Easter and Janet Paschal have both had mastectomies, how about uni-boob jokes? No? Well, Anthony Burger dropped dead on a Homecoming cruise, that’s gotta be good fodder for some anti-Bill material, right?

    I know this little epistle of mine isn’t going to really change anything. You guys are not going to clutch your pearls and say, “Oh dear Lord, she’s so right, I’ll never do that again!” But maybe, just maybe the next time you use your time, energy and education to take a cheap shot at another human being, one that you don’t really even know except through their talent? Maybe it won’t be quite as much fun.

  25. GospelMusicFan wrote:

    Dale Evans did even better.

  26. onemadeup mind wrote:

    Smokin’ Hot Tori, Really get’s some stuff off of her Smokin’ Hot Chest! Way to Go Mrs. Taff!

  27. Grigs wrote:

    I like Doritos.

  28. Ronnie Lee Booth III wrote:

    Miss tory its Ronnie Booths son Ronnie Lee! After reading your post i think im in love with you hahaha! Stick it to the man girl!!!

  29. quartet-man wrote:

    I just had some Doritos dipped in cheese sauce!

  30. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    I buy cheap, no-name tortilla chips and use Frito’s cheese dip. 45 seconds in the microwave, and it’s a smokin’ hot treat!


    I’ll be back in 45 seconds

  31. Irishlad wrote:

    26Phew….wouldn’t like to hand you my paypacket with a few dollars short…lol

  32. quartet-man wrote:

    Frito’s Cheddar Cheese dip is what I used. 30 seconds in the microwave and Nacho Cheese Dorito’s yum. You can also get Nacho Cheese Dorito’s tear off Kraft American Cheese and place on top. Microwave for 30 seconds to melt the cheese on top and yummy again.

  33. Jeff wrote:

    Does anyone know of another website that carries SG concerts similar to SInging NEws where you can search concerts by state. The SN is up and down on their website. Thanks

  34. Grigs wrote:

    Anybody remember a song Russ did called “Farther On”? Did you co-write that, Tori? The lyrics are all really excellent, but I love the first line most: “I hear You have a soft spot for fools and little children”.

    Dunno what Russ had in mind when he wrote it, but I imagined it as the Prodigal Son rehearsing what he would say to his dad as he was on the road home.

  35. quartet-man wrote:

    #34, not only am I familiar with it, I have the accompaniment track (and songbook) and have sung it a few times back in the day. “I hear you have a soft spot for fools and little children, and I’m glad ’cause I’ve been both of those.” (From memory. It has been years ago so I might not have every word exactly right.)

    i think Farther On was the first Russ song I heard. If I am right, it was on a cassette compilation promoting Amiga computers. It also had a great song by Randy Stonehill called “Old Clothes”

  36. quartet-man wrote:

    I just remembered some more of the lyrics I really like “a frightened angry boy in grown up clothes.”

  37. Tori Taff wrote:

    Quartetman and Grigs- Thanks, you guys! I wrote that lyric while driving back and forth from the recording studio to the house when Russ was making that record- lots of good ideas happen in the car! That one means a lot to me, I truly appreciate your kind words about it.

  38. Grigs wrote:

    It was a great record. I kept borrowing it from my little brother. The next one Russ did, “Under Their Influence” was another one I liked.

    And I’m somebody who has a music collection that’s well over 95% Southern Gospel.

  39. Charles Brady wrote:

    Anyone watching the bloodbath on wallstreet today? Sirius-XM is now trading at .16 (cents) a share… man I hope they pull it together but I’m wondering if SG will in fact become part of the “pay for radio” history of idea’s that just didn’t make it.

  40. wackythinker wrote:

    Whatever happed to Leebob? I miss his comments.

    Did we say something to make him mad and go away? If we thought that would work on other posters, we might try it on purpose.

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