Snow, Snow, Snow

It snowed yesterday. In fact, the weather was a bizarre alternating mix of snowy/cloudy and non-snowy/sunny. Fortunately I didn’t have to be out in it—much. Regrettably not all my classes are in the same building on campus.

Anyway, I’ve heard that other yankees happened to get their first snow yesterday too, including our friends the Garms Family.

I also hear it should be beautiful in Vermont this time of year. Enjoy:

I’d vote for them in a mixed group category. How about you?


Favorite Gold City Tenors and Leads: The Poll

Well, with the popularity of my Gold City post today, I decided to turn it into an official poll. Here are two polls for you guys to cast your votes in. Go for it:

Your Favorite Gold City Lead Singer… or Tenor?

With the recent flurry of lead singers and tenors Gold City has had, it prompted me to think about all the various talented singers who have filled those two spots over the years. One thing’s for sure, there haven’t been any slouches among them. For me, it’s definitely harder to pick favorites than for some other groups.

Among the lead singers, I’m very partial to Jonathan Wilburn, but more recently I was captivated by Craig West along with many others, and like many others I was sorely disappointed to see him go.

Among the tenors, I could easily go for Brian Free, except that his sound was really nasal in the early years. As many others have noticed, he improved dramatically in the 90s. People will often say they first noticed a change with Assurance, but I could already hear a huge difference on Pillars of Faith. So I might choose him on the strength of some of that later material with Gold City. But Josh Cobb also brought a lot to the table for the short time he was with the group. I was very disappointed that circumstances worked against him and would have liked to hear a project with his vocals on it. He seemed to have matured greatly since his Legacy Five years.

So, what say ye? Am I going to get lambasted for not picking Ivan? Or Jay? For the record, both talented guys too, just not my first choices.

Is A Live Band Necessary For a Good SG Concert?

A while back, I read a comment Michael Booth left on a thread about live bands versus tracks that got me thinking about the whole debate over which is preferable.  I can’t recall exactly what he said at the moment, but basically he was pointing out the fact that a live band isn’t really necessary to put on a good show.

I kind of agree. Yes, a live band brings an extra quality that can’t be matched by tracks, but I don’t think it’s better by definition. For one thing, I’ve been to concerts where the live drums were sometimes over-powering, and it distracted from the singing. Ultimately, it’s the singing that I’m coming to hear, not the band. I’ve heard people who will say that without a band, there’s little motivation for them to attend a concert since they might as well just stay home and listen to the CD. But that doesn’t seem convincing to me. Yes, the songs may sound essentially the same live as they do on a CD, but if a group isn’t using stacks, there can be differences and spontaneous embellishments, e.g. when Signature Sound recently sang a bit of “Walk With Me” without a microphone. I love those kind of moments in a concert. To be fair, there is more room for spontaneity when you’re not tied to a track, but even if we set spontaneity aside, there’s still a skill to getting up and delivering a song on stage with or without tracks. If you possess that skill, it will impress people even if you don’t have a band. I think the Booth Brothers are an excellent example of this. I don’t think they need a live band to improve their show. It’s already a good show. Ultimately it comes down to picking good songs and delivering them well.

On the topic of reasons for going to a concert, I’m motivated to go by reasons that go beyond even the singing. You get to watch how the emcee handles a show and what he does in between songs. You might have the opportunity to watch how professionals deal with bumps in the road like illness or unexpected electricity outages. And you can connect with the singers off-stage. Unless you’re one of those people with so many connections that you’re on a first name basis with everyone in the industry already, that’s a valuable opportunity. And none of that has anything to do with whether or not the group is using a band or tracks.

So why do you go to a concert? Do you think it really matters whether groups have all-live music? Are you significantly more motivated to see a group that does?

Saturday Survey #5

*At long last, Gold City has released Somebody’s Coming with Dan Keeton and Jerry Pelfrey. From various reviews that have been circulating, and from sound clips, it actually doesn’t sound too bad.

*Burke has spotted a reunion of the Gold City 80s supergroup in Florida. He’s calling for a full-fledged reunion video.

*Check out Phil on Southern Gospel’s review of Signature Sound in England. Here’s my favorite of the video clips he posted. “Walk With Me” with a no-microphones encore. To all those who claim EHSS can’t sing… take that.

*Speaking of Signature Sound, I found a really nice Romanian interview with Ernie and the guys. It’s about 15 minutes long, and you’ll hear some things Ernie’s discussed in other interviews before, but there’s more to it than that. (For one thing, they share stories from the current European tour.) Plus it’s especially charming because the interviewer speaks English as a second language. It’s fun and instructive to watch how Ernie crafts his answers in a way that will be clear and understandable for her. I especially liked his answer to her question about how they muster the energy to perform on nights when they don’t feel like performing. Here’s a good quote from an answer to a different question: “I think our style of music is as worthy as any style of music to be polished, for His glory. So all we do when we’re singing for Him is reflecting Him. And it’s not our talent that brings Him glory, it’s our very best effort that gives Him glory.”

*Finally, the world apparently hit a population of 7 billion the other day. Here’s a moving letter to the 7 billionth baby from the Pyromaniacs’ “centurion,” Frank Turk.

Folk Rhyme Meets Southern Gospel: He Saw it All

The Booth Brothers’ “He Saw It All” was probably embraced largely by virtue of its uniqueness. Everyone knows the picture the lyrics paint—a mute man talking, a deaf girl listening, a crippled man running, and a blind man who saw it all. It’s clever and fresh-sounding.

What some people might not know (and what I didn’t know until very recently), is that this concept isn’t new at all. In fact, it’s very old. If you don’t believe me, here is a folk poem, variations of which have been passed around among children  since the 19th century. (Hat tip to this website, which contains even more information.)

  1. One fine day in the middle of the night,
  2. Two dead boys* got up to fight, [*or men]
  3. Back to back they faced each other,
  4. Drew their swords and shot each other.
  5. One was blind and the other couldn’t see
  6. So they chose a dummy for a referee,
  7. A blind man went to see fair play,
  8. A dumb man went to shout “hooray!”
  9. A paralyzed donkey passing by,
  10. Kicked the blind man in the eye,
  11. Knocked him through a nine inch wall,
  12. Into a dry ditch and drowned them all,
  13. A deaf policeman heard the noise,
  14. And came to arrest the two dead boys,
  15. If you don’t believe this story’s true,
  16. Ask the blind man he saw it too!

What’s interesting is that whoever originally conceived it, it was for a completely nonsensical purpose, as a joke. With “He Saw It All,” of course, it’s not nonsensical at all. The blind man really did see it all.

What I Discovered On My Hiatus, and Belated Happy Reformation Day/Halloween

I’m baaaaaaack! Before setting my nose to ye olde grindstone again, I shall present some random things I learned on my hiatus from blog-dom. They may be of some use to my readers. Or not. But for what it’s worth, here are my random discoveries…

*As an actress, Carrie Underwood makes a great country singer.

*Speaking of Soul Surfer, it’s not quite as bad as I’d feared. I mean it is lame, hackneyed, shallow, etc., just not a total disaster.

*Speaking of water, I had a chance to hang out in a pool for the first time in years, and I can still swim. Only problem is I’m about the size of a minnow (but that’s not a new discovery).

*Alec Baldwin was really handsome thirty years ago.

*Collin Raye

*chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream

*Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles. (Actually, that’s not strictly accurate. I’d already discovered all that the first time I read The Princess Bride. I merely refreshed my memory. By the way, you absolutely must read the book even if you have already seen the movie.)

Good week. Good to be back. Oh by the way, I had been planning to post this video in honor of Reformation Day before deciding to take a hiatus, but as things fell out the day happened to slip by during my silent period. So here, a little belated, is my favorite singer singing a great hymn. Though to be perfectly honest, even though this is a great hymn, I personally don’t enjoy it as much as I enjoy some others, simply because it can get a little heavy and tiresome if sung over and over, particularly at a methodically leaden pace. But in Steve’s hands, it is pure gold:

And now, moving from the sublime to the ridiculous… in honor of Halloween, here’s a great spoof of the interrogation scene from The Dark Knight. Note: You should ONLY watch this if you’ve already seen The Dark Knight. It won’t be funny at all unless you’ve seen the movie. You won’t get it. Trust me. But if you have seen the movie, it will be hilarious.

One more thing… I was (almost) successful in my goal to avoid checking any of my regular blogs for updates! I once unthinkingly went to southerngospelblog, then couldn’t resist reading the interview with Tim Duncan. But that was it. I also glanced very briefly at a blog I hardly ever read anyway, and since there wasn’t actually anything new, I spent all of two seconds there. As you can tell, I’m very proud of myself. Pathetic, huh?