(Mostly) real music caught on tape
Regular readers no doubt know of my longstanding impatience with plastic, overproduced karaoke passed off as “live” music, and these days that means I’m more likely to find something compelling on a rehearsal video than in concert. Which explains my attraction to the two clips below that have been making the rounds lately.
First up, via Daniel Mount and several of the handful of blogs that orbit Daniel’s site and pin-ball a lot of the same content among themselves, the original members of Greater Vision rehearsing “Sailing Away”:
There’s another clip along these lines here.
A cynic might wonder if this type of “raw” behind-the-scenes video - a staple of tribe cultivation in other sectors of the entertainment world for some time now - isn’t starting to catch on in southern gospel, and if so, whether Pat Barker maybe isn’t trying a beeeet too hard to be caught on tape gobsmacked and awestruck by all this - thus reinforcing the clip’s “authenticity” (that pinging sound you hear is my inbox filling up with comments attesting to the completely unplanned nature of everything you see here). But as one who has been known to laugh out loud at musical moments that catch me unaware, I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt and not scrutinize these moments too closely so long as they produce some decent music.
Meanwhile, the cultural anthropologists in the room will no doubt enjoy watching how the southern gospel sausage is made … the way a mix of chord calls and hand gestures and arched eyebrows and cocked heads and one’s native musical intuitions combine to constitute the typical sg rehearsal.
More substantively, the most striking thing here is how lovely it is to hear Mark Trammell not oversinging. I don’t think I had realized until listening to this how accustomed Trammell has become to using that quasi-throat-singing thing he does so well with so many of his phrases, and then building toward some long high suspension of a note at the top of his range in the second verse or bridge to put his music over. To some extent, I think this has to do with Trammell’s preoccupation for some time now with monstrously over-orchestrated tracks that essentially create a musical arms race on stage for vocalists to match the outsized proportions of the track. Mercifully, none of that here. Instead, just easy, lovely acoustical phrasing, unforced and tastefully ornamented. More of this please.
Next up is one of the ephemeral groups of formerly employed quartet men and their friends who appear to have discovered iPhones and youtube as a cheap way to keep their names and faces and voices out there while they figure out if there’s a bankable future for them in gospel music. Here the group is built around former Signature Sound lead Ryan Seaton singing “Champion of Love.” Joining him are Aaron McCune, and according to southerngospelblog, Toby Hitchcock and Andrew Goldman.
I hardly recognized McCune under the hat and all the weight he’s added since I last saw him on stage (perhaps having left southern gospel he’s now earning enough money to eat properly?), and even allowing for this being a rehearsal, there’s not a lot of charisma or personality here - certainly none of the kind of subdued showmanship that builds up around a critical mass of musical talent in an almost unbeckoned way even when it’s just three guys and a piano in someone’s living room.
But this group sounds consistently, unhistrionically good (save for that extended air drum nonsense), holding my attention on a far-too-overdone song that I normally lose interest in. It doesn’t hurt that they’re (mostly) singing Wayne Haun’s tastefully understated new arrangement. I say mostly because the biggest drawback of the clip is that parade of parallel movements bootstrapped onto the end, which is not in the chord structure of the instrumental track, at least not to my ear. Chalk this up, I suppose, to kids showing off their ranges by retooling the arrangement, but without the arranger’s music-theory chops.
One would like to hear more of them, but it’s hard to imagine there’s an economically sustainable demand out there for yet another GQ quartet covering old southern gospel warhorses and throwing in a few CCM emo-ballads from the 90s for the “younger” crowd. And for that reason, let’s all give youtube and cheap videography a big handclap of praise here in this place tonight!Email this Post