Still Together Again for the First Time

So you’ve no doubt seen that the Crabb Family is back together again, sort of (h/t, DY). A reader writes of this latest reunion gambit, “I can’t get excited about them getting back together cause seems like every year they are at it again. It’s really like they never went away.” Precisely. How can we miss them, I wrote after one of their first post-breakup reunions, if they never go away?

But then again, when the Crabb Family is/was good, they are/were really good. In fact, I’d say that the Crabb Family in its heyday was responsible for one of my most memorable gospel music experiences ever:

Looking around me at the hair buns and make-up-less faces, the long skirts, the almost-missionary zeal in the eyes of the younger guys (not the typical sullenness and punkish bravado of most young, rural males these days), I realize that this is a perfect storm of an sg moment: here’s the one segment of evangelical Christianity - Pentecostalism - that’s growing, excited and enthusiastic about the future of the Christian enterprise, in contrast to the stagnant attendance in most denominations and the political toxicity contaminating so much of the rest of evangelicalism today. And these Christians are here for the most exciting gospel act around right now. I have a tingly moment of my own in which I gloat a little to myself (no chuckling though … that little girl is still hawk-eyeing me, unsure if I may be trusted even yet), because I feel like this auditorium, this evening is confirmation of my hypothesis a few weeks back about the direction of sg’s newest generation of fans. I said they tend to be Pentecostal (as opposed to previous generations of stalwart sg fans who were largely Baptists), and here was a room full of hundreds of Pentecostals, many of them teens, twentysomethings and young couples with kids trying to raise the roof when they weren’t out buying Crabb product all night long (it didn’t hurt the Crabbs were selling any three cd/dvd combination you want for $30). So under these wildfire conditions, “Dontcha Wanna Go” just set the place ablaze straight through to the end of the evening, two songs later. By that time, my ears are aching, literally, but I don’t much care and neither does anyone around me as far as I can tell (and this includes people my grandparents’ age as well as my little girl chaperone). I sneak out before the press of bodies at the doors becomes too much. As I leave, I see the Crabb caravan idling contentedly off in one corner of the lot (facing the highway, not coincidentally) … waiting patiently to carry these gospel itinerants to the next stand, the next night, to the next musical bonfire. Dontcha wanna go .. go .. yes I wanna go .. go .. go …

The full thing’s here.

Usually I’d say this kind of wistful hope about recapturing some grandeur fixed in the amber of memory sounds like so much wasteful go0d-old-daysism, but the fact of the matter is the Crabbs in all their many perpetually reuniting variations have been making music that is often not bad and not infrequently some of the most invigorating stuff out there (see here, for instance). The same reason the Crabb Family couldn’t stay together is the same reason they can’t manage to ever really break things off, which is another way of saying that good gospel music, like pretty much any other kind, requires a certain amount of dysfunction. I’m still ready to go … go …

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  1. CVH wrote:

    They remind me of Cher’s never-ending farewell tour. How long has that been going on? Since ‘92?

    I’ve never been a fan so I don’t give a rip what they do. With a new record and some dates, they’ll make a few bucks but this whole back and forth thing makes them look like guests at a party who just don’t know when to go home. And stay there.

  2. Brett wrote:

    who cares. History is Jason goes solo, Terah and Adam form a group. Terah leaves to join sister Kelly’s group. Aaron & wife form group, then Aaron goes solo, then he joins Hagee’s church. Adam continues group as a trio then goes solo. The only continuity is Jason as a soloist.

  3. Brett wrote:

    of forgot Aaron then joins Hagee’s son group canton junction and back & forth. it’s really tiresome to keep up.

  4. cynical one wrote:

    As long as Daddy Crabb keeps writing songs like “If There Ever Was A Time”, the kids can sang together anytime, imo.

  5. Janet B wrote:

    Not to put too simplistic a spin on this but…they’re siblings. They love each other. So, it’s only natural that they’d want to sing together again once in awhile. Is there some law that says they can only do that every 10 years or something?

  6. Andrew wrote:

    #4- Gerald didn’t write “If There Ever Was a Time.” Sue C. Smith & possibly other writers penned the tune.

    I attended a Crabb Family reunion concert nearly 2 weeks ago, and it beat the currently travelling groups’ appearances I have seen. Surprisingly, THE (not meant for shouting, but strong emphasis) moment of the evening was “God on the Mountain.” They did perform quite a few of the new tunes including a very, very rocky tune, “This Is You and Me.” However, they added in the standards, too.

    And, 75% or more of the music was live. 500 or more for sure packed out for $20 or $25 a head (including from ages 0-100).

    And, yes, they still have the 3 for $30 deal. One sale rack was half empty (pardon the pessimism) at the end of intermission. Definitely worth the $$ to go.

  7. Soli Deo Gloria wrote:

    Who do those Crabbs think they are? Don’t they know that the southern gospel way of doing things is to keep the group name going, but replace the members over and over and over again for 40 years until the group is a shell/caricature of its former self?

  8. 2miles wrote:

    Andrew, not sure if we were at the same concert but “God on the Mountain” was a definite highlight in Fitzgerald, Ga that night.

    Best concert I have been to in years. Last best concert I went to was probably a concert of no one but the Booth Brothers for two hours. Loved both concerts for different reasons.

    I will gladly pay $20-$25 for anyone in Southern Gospel music that will put on a “show” with the passion and talent that the Crabb Family put on a few weeks ago. The crowd ate it up, the Crabb Family loved it and Bill probably made a little money so he can continue holding concerts when he loses money…been to a bunch of those as well.

    My advice to Southern Gospel is to look at EHSS and Crabb family. That is what people will pay to see and hear. And far the record I don’t really like EHSS but appreciate their on stage “professionalism” and the fact that it seems like they care about the quality of show they put on…

  9. Braxton Cameron wrote:

    I guess this fits the thread to some degree…Phil Cross bringing Poet Voices back…sounds like the Rocky saga…..too many projects never being finished. I received 6 emails request funds to “help relaunch the group”. By the way, their new sound is like the preschool version of the three tenors.

  10. Donny Henderson wrote:


  11. Dontkikamoocow wrote:

    Crabb family name is owned by Jason Crabb. HE IS THE CRABB FAMILY. I think it is smart business for him to bring them back for tours etc. they are the real deal and Jason has a good head for business as well as employing sharp people to help him in the business.

    I think poet voices rock…best sound in years.

  12. Wade wrote:

    Anybody wonder why Phil has so much trouble keeping folks??? THINK!!!!

  13. Wade wrote:

    The Crabbs KILL IT!!! Who does not like them would be easier to ferret out!!

  14. James wrote:

    Wade - I’ve heard Phil can be a bit on the difficult side to work for.

  15. Wade wrote:

    James… Thanks I have always wondered!!! :-) ;-)

    When is the last time he had a Hit song???

    If he never writes another one he will have had more than most anybody else!!

    Braxton — Ha Ha…3 Tenors!!!

  16. James wrote:

    I agree about the hit songs Wade, for a few years he was really on his game but that was a long time ago. I have always wondered what happened. The last time he actually had something half way decent was when he was with Mark Lanier.

  17. PV Fan wrote:

    I agree Wade, Phil used to have a ton of hits when he was on his game but that was a long time ago. I loved Poet Voices and even stuck by them when they came back with Mark Lanier but never again. The way former members of the group have been treated is anything but Christian and I don’t care if it is a business or not. Braxton-I received some of the emails also begging for $$$.

  18. Wade wrote:

    James, Braxton & PV Fan etc et al… what makes me shake my head is people who are often said to be not EASY to work for often do it to cover DEMONS in THEIR own LIFE!!!…and I call it a demon only because of the extent they cover it up and project one image but are not what they seem!!!…. and it really sucks when they condemn others for the same behavior!!!

  19. Braxton Cameron wrote:

    Wade - and he was married how many times?

  20. Wade wrote:

    At least 2 that I know of Braxton… probably more!!

    Some would say his best songs came from when he was married to Carolyn!!! But do not know if I have heard of any Carolyn written songs herself… maybe I am wrong and some of our experts will tell us.

    I guess because Phil is from here in Chattanooga and Kirk Talley lives up I-75 above Knoxville they have worked together in writing secessions. At least according to Phil’s dad whom I used to do some biz with back in the day!!

    Phil is definitely a GREAT writer and maybe even a better sales person!!!

  21. Shorty Bradford wrote:

    You guys are too tough sometimes. :)
    My take on Phil and PV is this. The rumor is probably right. He has been difficult to work with and he is flawed. I resemble that rumor myself. So do tons of Gospel stars recent and past. A lot of times it takes us getting older to realize our blind spots and fix them. I do not know Phil at all but I would imagine he knows his shortcomings and is grateful for God’s grace every day of his life - like we all should be.
    I do know this, God has gifted him to write some of the best songs of the last 20 years. He also has put a few really special groups on the road that were not on the Cathedrals or Gold City level but they were the next tier down and they were quite good.
    As for the money emails, I have felt worse pressure at gospel concerts from groups who needed a great offering for a new bus, sick brother, new album, etc… Groups try different things. If I don’t want to give, I don’t give. But I don’t mind them asking.
    What I would bet about Phil, Donny Henderson and the new tenor is this. When they perform their concerts will be classy and encouraging and a lot of fun. They will feature the great hits Phil has written like Champion of Love, Carried Away, Wedding Music, Welcome to Heaven, One Hoy Lamb, and I Am Redeemed. I for one am excited about this new group and will get to hear them this next weekend in one of their first concerts.
    I like good singers and have always thought Henderson was an upper echelon baritone. I am looking forward to hearing him in the new group.
    As for the Mark Lanier era, I like Mark’s voice a lot. I was never a big fan of Phil singing the tenor part though. This current combination sounds like it will be a really good group and I hope they stay together for a long time.
    Thanks for letting me ramble.

  22. Wade wrote:

    Any time Shorty… sorry I never got to meet ya but I did play many years with your wife Jean!!! Jean’s Grandson almost went with Phil back in the late 90’s - early 2000’s.

    I wasn’t hatin’ on Phil I promise, everything you rambled was true!!!

    I do think MOST of not all the songs you mentioned were written while he was married to Carolyn!!

    Hope he does good but bet it is more like a Buddy Mullins sighting… Great while it last but not too LONG!!

  23. Jackson wrote:

    Phil was married to Carolyn when many of his “best” songs were written and Carolyn had a major part in it. That was before he had his ducks all over the pond. I check his website from time to time and there is always something new and yet it never seems to amount to much. It just seems to me that after so much great things from those wonderful songs, that he would stick to writing songs which he seems to do best. Write them and let the guys and gals with the talent record them.

  24. yankeegospelgirl wrote:

    Carolyn co-wrote “Death Has Died” with Ernie Haase for the Cathedrals.

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