Category Archives: Concerts

Concert Review with video: Buddy Greene and Ron Block in Shipshewana, IN (10-18-15)


Well, hello there! To the both of you who are still checking this humble corner of the web with any regularity, thanks for your patience. I’m pleased to bring you a somewhat delayed review of a thoroughly enjoyable concert I attended last month with Buddy Greene and special guest Ron Block (banjoist of Alison Krauss and Union Station). The venue was the Blue Gate Dinner Theater in Shipshewana, Indiana. This was a different building from the one where I’ve attended every other Shipshewana concert, but I vastly preferred it and the casual, stripped-down nature of this show as a whole. This venue was smaller, there were no endless opening acts, and the emcee was actually funny. Buddy himself, of course, put on a wonderful performance, and the addition of Ron Block was a complete and awesome surprise. If you haven’t picked up his latest instrumental album Hogan’s House of Music, do yourself a favor and put it on the Christmas list. It’s one of the best records of the year, featuring lots of other bluegrass all-stars like Alison Krauss, Stuart Duncan and Sierra Hull.

Buddy and Ron were very down-to-earth and self-deprecating throughout the night, frequently pausing to tune up their instruments. (This caused Buddy to joke that Ron shouldn’t tune up his banjo too well, or Buddy would sound bad. I especially liked it when Buddy declared after one session “That’s close enough for bluegrass.”) Buddy often paused to issue disclaimers that they were playing off the cuff, or only roughly rehearsed tunes. (Really, like anyone could tell?) The setlist was an eclectic mix of bluegrass classics, gospel songs, hymns, and Buddy’s folksy originals. Buddy tried valiantly to inject some soul into the proceedings on the bluesier numbers, informing the all-white audience that they did not have to hold back on singalongs, and asking could somebody please sing some flat 5ths or flat somethings to spice it up. (I obliged him.) Woven throughout were a number of stories I hadn’t heard before about various colorful characters Buddy had met in his career, as well as some of his personal testimony. Here’s the setlist with some comments. I also took a few decent hand-held videos and uploaded “Darlin’ Corey” and “Orange Blossom Special” to my channel (the latter played by our request!) If I had more time, I would have replaced the audio with cleaner audio from a different device I had, but this will do. They’re both embedded in the setlist below.


Headed For the Promised Land

Minstrel of the Lord

(banter about fiddle players and harmonica players)

Sally Good’n

“Well, I nearly passed out, but it was fun!”

More tuning. “Are we anywhere close to each other? Isn’t this fun?”

How Can I Keep From Singing?

Rock in a Weary Land

“Well now just wait a minute… when you do a song like this, you’re just kinda hoping a little church will break out. And I know there’s some folks out there kinda identifying with the sentiments of this song. And I just wanna tell you tonight that you do not have to hold back. You do not have to wait for an overhead to come down and show you the words. All you have to do is sing.”

A gentleman behind me was eventually moved to exclaim “HalleLUUUUUjah. Praise the Lord. PRAISE the Lord.”

Testimony and Keep Your Head in the Word

I never knew that Buddy was a back-slider in his younger days!

The Jolly Beggar Man (“We’ll do an Irish pub song, because that’s obviously what the people of Shipshewana need.”) Here Buddy told a story about playing an instrumental of this tune at an Irish festival in Savannah, Georgia, except back then they called the melody by the name “The Red-Haired Boy.” A very inebriated Irishman later came up and set them straight. This song marked the debut of Buddy’s shaker, which he sometimes shook with one hand while playing harmonica with the other. Ron threw in some especially sweet banjo licks.

Talk About Suffering Here Below A beautiful minor-key folk ballad I was unfamiliar with.

Revive Us Again

This is My Father’s World Instrumental by Ron


Rise From the Ruins (Mark Heard cover)

Jesus I Am Resting, Resting The poetry of the lyrics prompted Buddy to remark that people don’t use language like this to express their love for Jesus anymore. Poking fun: “Like I’m, uh, going whoa.” Ron chimed in: “Jesus is, like, wow,” then added he could do this since he grew up in California.

Guest appearance, Damon (?) Harvey “When the Saints” An old gentleman whose first name I didn’t quite catch joined Buddy on stage for a little harmonica duet. He whipped out a mini harmonica (which I didn’t know existed, until then), and solemnly informed the audience that this is what happens when you send your harmonica through the wash. Apparently, he’s a regular at Buddy’s concerts and had some charming stories of his own. I especially liked the impression he did of his dog Skeeter, who always tried to match whatever tune he was playing.

Darlin’ Corey Buddy sums this dark standard up perfectly: “It’s the perfect country song. It’s got bootlegging in it. It’s got illicit love.” (Ron chimes in to add “killin.'”)  “It’s got killin’. It’s got just about all the seedy elements that you can expect in a country song.” This was definitely a musical highlight and featured more awesome shaker shakin’. Buddy and Ron were very in tune with each other throughout the night, but they meshed with special tightness here. Video:

Bubba the Wandering Gypsy I learned that “Bubba” was actually a character Buddy used to know who worked flea markets. He scavenged a harmonica in a minor key for Buddy, so Buddy dedicated this fake gypsy tune to Bubba’s memory.

Orange Blossom Special: “If you really want to show off, you play this tune,” and that Buddy did, with some fantastic backing support from Ron.

I Don’t Belong: A little tune co-written with Gloria Gaither. Alas, not one of her better lyrics, but a very pretty little tune by Buddy.

Twelve Gates to the City: This is the one where Buddy solicited some flat notes from the audience.

Denomination Blues: Buddy credits this tune to an “obscure blues singer” named Washington Phillips, but I must say, after looking up the original, I prefer Buddy’s version. He improvised yet more lyrics that I didn’t recall hearing in other versions of his. He left off with “If you’re fishing with a Baptist, one thing is clear: If it’s just you and him he’s gonna drink all your beer.”

Mary, Did You Know?: I’m not sure I’d heard that Mark Lowry introduced the lyrics to Buddy late one night as he was heading back to the Gaither bus by handing him a note that said, “Dear Buddy. Below are some incredible words I penned some years ago. Please write some God-inspired music to match and make for us a very profitable hit.” Buddy said he didn’t even look at the lyrics until he got home, because he just assumed Mark was kidding and it was a goofy novelty idea. Of course, it wasn’t. It was also neat to get a window into Buddy’s musical inspiration as he played a few of the tunes that were bouncing in his head the day he wrote the melody for “Mary Did You Know,” including “What Wondrous Love is This.” Buddy mused that it’s rare for a song that shouts the gospel as loudly as this one to become a mainstream standard. He told the audience to lower expectations in case some of us had a favorite version, but I’ve always liked Buddy’s “folky little version,” and I overheard Ron also say, “I love this version!” so I’m not alone.

Uneducated Fool: Buddy concluded with this story about a preacher friend of his who was put off when he visited a Pentecostal service but was softened after repeatedly coming across biblical passages about uninhibited worship. So, one day, he closed his study door and did a little shuffle before the Lord. A very fun guitar/banjo collaboration.

To sum up, if you get a chance to see Buddy Greene in concert, do so. And you never know, Ron Block might tag along too.


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Guest Concert Review: The Whisnants in Pottsville, AR

Lauren's Whisnants Concert Shot #1

[Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Lauren of Lauren’s Southern Gospel Views From the Pew.]

Saturday night I made my way north to a small church on top of a hill where the Whisnants were singing that night. They were scheduled to be in Pottsville, Ark. at Pottsville Freewill Baptist Church that night. Pottsville is a small town of about 3,000, so as you can imagine, the nightlife leaves something to be desired. And for a small town and a smaller church, thankfully many of the people of Pottsville chose to attend a gospel concert on Saturday night. Continue reading

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Guest Concert Review: Brian Free & Assurance in Wynne, AR

[Editor’s Note: This concert review is a guest post by Lauren of Lauren’s Southern Gospel Views From the Pew. It’s shorter than she had planned it to be, but thereby hangs a tale…]

Sometimes things just don’t go as planned. We serve a God of all possibilities, but sometimes He chooses not to allow things to go the way you want them to. This was the case Saturday night. Brian Free and Assurance was in Wynne, Ark. I knew there was some construction on the interstate between there and where I live, so I wanted to leave early to ensure I would make it. I didn’t leave quite as early as I planned, but still I didn’t think I would have any problem making the concert.

I was only three miles from my exit off the interstate and about 15 miles from the church. I began to see the warning signs of possible delays, but it was only two more miles of interstate. Why take the detour and add five more miles when I was so close? Traffic showed no signs of stopping until I passed that last detour exit. That’s when I saw brake lights in front of me. Continue reading

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Concert Review: Mark Trammell Quartet (April 17th 2014), Kalamazoo, MI

I apologize for the lateness of this concert review, but so many other things conspired to keep me from actually sitting down and WRITING it. Now I offer it as a parting gift to Pat Barker, whom I now feel more fortunate than ever to have caught before his retirement! I wish I could provide pictures as well, but alas, all picture-taking was strictly verboten at the start of the event.

The Mark Trammell Quartet guys are arguably the best representatives of good old-fashioned traditional quartet singing on the road today, and this concert finally allowed me to see in person what “all the fuss is about” (and walk away with some merchandise, including all four signatures on their latest album, and no I don’t intend to sell!) Here is my attempt to capture some highlights of the experience. It will double as something of a review of Your Walk Talks, which I haven’t officially reviewed, but which I love, and many of whose songs they staged that night.

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Concert Review: Jubilee Christmas Tour (Booth Brothers, Greater Vision, Legacy Five)

I recently caught the Jubilee gang on their Christmas tour and wanted to share some highlights of the concert with you all. I did bring a camera, though the lighting wasn’t optimal. I put some snapshots, a few with clever captions, in the slideshow below. Click on for a full review. This is the first of several juicy posts I have in the can for you this week while I recuperate from a quadruple tooth extraction. (Christmas break, don’t you know?) Comment as the spirit leads and I will reply to the best of my cognitive abilities at the moment. Beware though—the next post is a wee bit controversial, so who knows what I might come out with in the comment thread!

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Concert Review: Christian Classic Tour (Steve Green, Twila Paris, Larnelle Harris, Wayne Watson), 9/29/13

The other Friday I had the wonderful opportunity to catch the Christian Classic (or God of All Glory) tour in Shipshewana, IN, with my dad. The only thing that made the evening less than perfect for us was some confusion caused by the fact that we arrived a quarter of an hour before showtime to find Twila Paris already singing! We scrambled for an explanation, even fearing for a few moments that there was some Daylight Savings Time confusion and we had missed half of the concert. (Later we figured out that didn’t make any sense, but we were a bit panicky!) After the concert, we found out that it was really the artists’ fault, because they wanted to start an hour earlier when they saw that there was already a good crowd. Fortunately the organizers got them to compromise to start only half an hour earlier, so turns out we only missed an opener and the first song or so of Twila’s set. Phew! And I DID get pictures, which are interspersed throughout the review below. I’ve broken it down into little sections by each artist’s set. Enjoy!

Twila Paris

Twila Paris singing God is In Control

Twila’s was arguably the overall strongest set of the night. Her performances were essentially flawless, and she picked several of her absolute best songs. I was impressed with how she and Dick Tunney worked together and around each other on various sets of keys. Continue reading


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Attending a Christian Classic Concert Tomorrow

Tomorrow night I’ll be catching one of the limited Christian Classic tour dates. This is a tour bringing together four legends of classic contemporary Christian music: Steve Green, Twila Paris, Larnelle Harris, and Wayne Watson. For the past couple years these and other classic Christian artists have offered a few selected dates for folks to catch them together, even though not all are currently “active” in the official sense. I’m very happy to be catching this particular lineup, especially since I’ve never seen Twila Paris in concert before. I would love to be able to meet her and thank her for all her inspiration over the years. If you have the opportunity to catch one of these dates, you should. Although the Blue Gate Theater in Shipshewana is, in my opinion, rather overpriced considering the quality of the seating, I still anticipate enjoying a great night of music. Stay tuned for a review (perhaps with pictures, perhaps not—unlike Musicscribe’s official photographer, I’m not a pro, and I’ve found out that concert photos don’t always turn out like you wish they would).

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Concert Review: Legacy Five and Greater Vision in Spring Arbor, MI

I apologize for taking so long to bring you this review! I decided to skip the pictures since I didn’t really get any good ones, and it takes time to upload them to a post, so why add more delay? This was a great concert, and it was especially interesting because Greater Vision chose to debut quite a few songs from their upcoming CD, For All He’s Done! It was awesome to hear what Rodney has been cooking up lately. I think he’s written some of his best work yet on this new CD. This was also special because it was the first time I’ve seen Legacy Five in concert. So without further ado, here’s a complete set list with comments Continue reading


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Legacy Five Concert Tonight

It’s been a long week, but I’m excited to be seeing Legacy Five in concert for the first time tonight! I will bring back the usual report. L5 boasts one of my favorite tenors (Gus Gaches) and one of my favorite personalities (Scott Fowler) in the business. Looking forward to a great show.

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(Partial) Concert LiveBlog: Tracy Stuffle Benefit

After a rocky start, the server is finally stabilizing a bit for me, but it’s still not entirely reliable.

“We Need Each Other” — entire group. Step-outs from Jim Brady, Ernie Hase, Doug Anderson, Joseph Habedank and the Isaacs.

Joseph’s pastor Dan Scott — bluegrass acapella. I don’t know this song, but I love it! It’s got an “Oh Brother Where Art Thou” feel to it. Here are some of the lyrics: “Jesus tells me not to fear. For he can see beyond the grave. And whosoever will may come. Jesus Christ refuses none.” Then it went into a piano-based number called, “Something’s Got Ahold of Me.”

The Bowlings — “I’ve Touched Calvary”. There’s another male singer with the Bowlings whom I don’t recognize. [Update: This is Troy Peach! I had a funny feeling I recognized him. It’s great to see him back on the road again.] They sound great!

Now they’re singing “Your Cries Have Awoken the Master.”

Unfortunately my stream is getting stuck at frequent intervals, so I don’t know how much more I’ll be able to report on. We’ll see if it gets unstuck.

Okay, I finally got the stream back and it’s Gold City singing “Cast My Bread On the Water.”

This is so sad… I can’t get a reliable stream going. Missed a big chunk and am back now, still with Gold City singing “I’m Not Giving Up.” Gold City is using a fill-in tenor. We’re trying to figure out who it was. Daniel Mount just said he hoped it was a fill-in giving the ending. Ouch.

I love it — Jason Crabb let out a whoop, and Joseph said, “He’s a Pentecostal, I’m a Baptist.” Now he’s recognizing all the Perrys alumni on stage with him. Classy.

Karen Peck and New River up now. Singing “Four Days Late.” Now a ballad called “My God Will Always Be Enough.” I’m remembering how pure and controlled Karen Peck’s singing is.

(Realizing that I’m not the only one having feed problems. Makes me feel better.)

Now the Hoppers are up, and Joseph just said that Kim is laid up with sinus issues! Oh no! But thankfully, we have Taranda Greene filling in for her.

“If I Can Help Somebody”

Okay, so it looks like I just missed a lot of awesome stuff, because I’m juggling this with my evening job. Whatever the Hoppers just finished, it was amazing. It caused Joseph to say, “I’m startin’ to feel Pentecostal!”

Jason Crabb just compared the Booth Brothers’ blend to milk chocolate. I couldn’t agree more! They’re up now singing “I Will Serve Thee.” No tracks, just a piano! Now “Every Cry is Heard.” Michael leading the audience in singalong.

Okay folks, big moment! Jason Crabb is welcoming LIBBI STUFFLE on stage! Standing-O! She is singing “Praise You Through the Night.” What a powerful, emotion-drenched performance.

That was the best moment of the night, and I don’t think anything that follows it is even going to come close! She just shared a beautiful update about Tracy—earlier today she asked him if he could kiss her after she kissed him, and he did!

I’m afraid I missed a lot because the stream got stuck. Now I’m back with “If You Knew Him,” and… I have to take the garbage out. BRB.

Libbi is now testifying about her declaration of war on the devil, and her experience fasting and praying for Tracy. I could listen to Libbi testify all day. She’s a little firecracker of Holy Ghost power. What a tough lady of God. Right now, she’s asking for prayer that Tracy will not need a permanent shunt in his brain. The procedure will be very risky if needed.

Phil Hoskins is down at the front with Libbi, and the congregation is stretching their hands toward her while they pray for Tracy. I encourage those of you watching via livestream to pray with them. Matthew Holt is playing “Be Still and Know That He is God” in the background—a great choice.

Now they are all singing “Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” and I seem to have something in my eye… everybody acapella, audience too, this is gorgeous.

Phil Hoskins prayed and gave an invitation. Nine or ten people stood up in a first profession of faith! Now everyone is singing “Amazing Grace.”

Jason Crabb is taking an offering now. Here is a link for fans who’d like to donate. Make checks payable to College Heights Baptist Church and write “Team Tracy” in the memo line. Matthew Holt is now playing “Great is Thy Faithfulness” while they roll a pictorial  tribute to Tracy.

Joseph is now announcing the Isaacs. Hey, I see Zak Shumate on the box! They opened with “Walk On,” and Becky shared a good word about the story of Bartimaeus to set up “Waiting in the Water.” Now a little classic acapella with “I Will Praise Him.” Standing ovation.

The Collingsworth Family is up now. Olivia is taller than both her older sisters now! The ladies are all singing “Fear Not Tomorrow,” including Olivia. Now “Just a Rainy Day.” Now they’re singing a song called “The Healer is Here.” I’m not sure if this new or from an old album of theirs, but I like it.

Joe is up now talking about how much he loves the Collingsworth kids. He then recognized Tracy’s parents and son.

Oh my gosh—it’s Dailey and Vincent AND Ricky Skaggs! Surprise! They’re singing “Noah Found Grace in the Eyes of the Lord.” I believe that’s Christian Davis on bass. There’s a gentleman with bushy beard and glasses singing tenor, and I don’t know who he is but he killed it! Now “I Believe He Gave His Life For Me.” I just love their sound, it’s so pure and simple.

Dailey and Vincent shared about Skaggs’s influence and impact on them, and now Skaggs is sharing a good word. Now he’s playing and singing “Work of Love.”

Last song, “The Fourth Man.” I read that Jeff Parker is normally their baritone, but tonight he’s the one hitting the high notes! I never would have guessed. He’s doing great.

Aaaaand… now Mark Lowry is up! With a cane. He’s joking now about his “bionic leg.”

Mark’s still on a roll, but I was kinda hoping they could bring back the music so I could go to bed… let’s hope he wraps it up soon. Ah, good, he’s singing “Mary Did You Know?” Nice performance from Mark! Except I don’t agree with Joseph’s saying he’s one of the “deepest thinkers” — still, he is entertaining and a good singer.

It’s getting very late, but Clarke Beasley is up saying a few words together with the president of the GMA (didn’t catch her name). It looks like EHSS is next group up. I’ll probably have to sign off here after their set, because it’s about 11:00 where I am!

EHSS is moving briskly through their set. I was hoping for a little new stuff, but they opened with “Someday,” now it’s “Glory to God in the Highest.” I expect they’ll probably close with “Scars in the Hands of Jesus.” We’ll see if I’m right. Memo to Ernie: I LIKE YOUR SUITS! Now if I can just persuade you to get rid of that flowered pink jacket…

Ah, I’m wrong, they’re closing with “Get Away Jordan.” They left it all on the stage with a burst of high energy, no small feat at this time of night.

Les Butler got up briefly and shared that several special guitars are going to be auctioned off by the Singing News on Thursday—signed by every artist at this concert, including Ricky Skaggs!

The Oak Ridge Boys are up now. Singing “Where the Soul of Man Never Dies.” Confession: I’m really just hanging around at this point to see if Jason Crabb is going to sing anything at the end. :D Now it’s “Farther Along.” Joe Bonsall shared a word, and now they’re leading the audience in an encore.

Oh no… we’re singing “Elvira” in church! Joe Habedank started it, and then it couldn’t be stopped. They were joined by EHSS. Now that was worth staying up for.

Joseph introduced Jason Crabb. He says, “When I grow up, I want to be like Jason Crabb!” Crabb is singing his latest single, called “That’s What the Blood is For.” Strong finish. Now Jason is sharing a testimony I’ve never heard before about his wife’s struggles with rheumatoid arthritis. He used it to set up the title track from his new album, “Love is Stronger.”

He is closing (?) with a stripped-down, piano only rendition of “Through the Fire.” I think I prefer it this way! Okay, now they’re kicking things up and everyone is coming down to join him. Awesome. Libbi came up too.

And that’s a wrap. I will definitely be looking for some of these performances on Youtube later this week. Now Libbi is sharing about the song “Through the Fire” comforted her in the hotel room while Tracy was ill. Jason closed with prayer. Goodnight folks!


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