Youtube Find: Out-of-Print Gaither Vocal Band Music in HQ

While perusing Youtube last night, I hit upon a little goldmine of old Gaither Vocal Band music. Special thanks to user Diego James Christian for uploading quite a bit of stuff that’s out of print, much of it in near-mp3 quality (though some is obviously taken from a cassette). I have no idea how he got the high quality ones sounding this good, but it’s fantastic.  I put together two playlists for their debut and sophomore efforts. Click here for The New Gaither Vocal Band and here for Passin’ the Faith Along. Both of these albums hold up pretty well, for late 70s/early 80s type music. Sure, “Don’t Play With the Devil” and “Into the Word” are suspiciously reminiscent of the BeeGees, “Not By Might” is a shameless rip-off of Billy Joel’s “My Life,” etc., etc.  But blah-blah-blah. Who cares? Enjoy the music. I’d also like to give a hat tip to Dustin Allman, Chris’s son, for reviewing the debut. I never would have discovered it otherwise.

Below the fold are some favorite selections from each album. Continue reading “Youtube Find: Out-of-Print Gaither Vocal Band Music in HQ”


NQC 2013: Schedule, Preliminary Thoughts and Poll

[This is an argument against preparing blog posts in the wee hours of the morning. A kind commentator has noted that we are currently in the year 2013, not 2014. Apologies for this error, which has now been corrected!]

This year I plan to offer the same running commentary format on the NQC webcast that I’ve offered in years past. I won’t catch every showcase or even every evening set, but I will watch and comment on as much as I can that I find to be interesting. Here is the schedule without exact times. Afternoon showcases here. Not much has changed from last year (no surprise!) Here are a few quick thoughts I had:

1. I’m glad to see that Signature Sound is back for one night. It may be only a night, but it will be great fun to see Paul Harkey on mainstage singing their new material.

2. Wilburn & Wilburn should totally have gotten more than one set. My review copy of their latest is on its way, and I should have a review up soon. I’ve been a big fan since I reviewed their official debut two years ago. They offer something different to the genre and bring great father/son chemistry to the live stage.

3. I was disappointed to see that High Road III has been relegated to an afternoon showcase. Their appearance as a showcase artist on NQC mainstage in 2011 was one of the highlights of the year for many of us who were there or watching. They just came out with a new project which I also need to review.

4. Also conspicuously absent from the mainstage schedule: Both Ryan Seaton’s new group Union Street and Canton Junction. Union Street had a brief appearance last year and chose a song with a more progressive edge to it. Perhaps the organizers were a little turned off? I personally enjoy their sound a lot and would love to see them get a whole set. The absence of Canton Junction is even more surprising since Tim Duncan is so popular and the quartet has always had a very rooted style. New member Shane McConnell has appeared on any number of Gaither videos.

5. Sisters, sisters… where are the Sisters? Ah well, at least we have the Nelons.

6. I see Penny Loafers in a showcase slot but not on mainstage. We need these guys doing the acapella moments! [EDIT: Apparently somebody else had the same idea and unbeknownst to me the Penny Loafers actually have been scheduled for the acapella moments. Great minds, etc.]

7. Very cool to see Declaration and the Revelation boys from Ireland getting slots in the afternoon showcases.

8. Showcases I’m hoping to catch or catch up on include: Song of a Lifetime, Ken Davis & Friends, Bluegrass Picking Jamboree, the Gaither, Gatlin & Booth Brothers Harmony Showcase (really looking forward to that one!) Bill Gaither’s Homecoming Singalong, Redback Hymnal Sing, and Parade of Pianos with Gordon Mote and Gerald Wolfe.

Let’s do a little poll here while we’re at it. I’m curious to see how many of my readers are a) going to NQC, b) watching via webcast, c) relying solely on blog commentary, or d) have no clue what I’m talking about? (I expect the last category to be small, but I know a few of you are out there!)

Country Singing Coal-Miner/Military Vet on America’s Got Talent

I think the pickings are pretty slim for America’s Got Talent this year, but there are a few acts  I’ve enjoyed. There’s a popera trio named Forte who’s easy on the eyes and reminds me of Il Divo. There’s a teenage magician who’s as good a showman as he is a magician. Perhaps most impressive is Anna Christine, a 10-year-old girl with an old soul who sang and played “House of the Rising Sun.” Let’s also not forget the black guy who came out and sang like… well I won’t spoil the surprise, but watch his audition here, and stick around after the performance for a great extra “Awwwww” moment.

However, as soon as I saw the audition I’m sharing with you today, I knew I’d instantly found a new favorite. The singer is Jimmy Rose. This video gives you some background about his life as a coal miner in Kentucky, then choosing to serve in the Marine Corps for four years. He is now 32, pursuing his dream of becoming a country singer. But he’s not just another country singer. He’s a singer/songwriter, and for this audition, he made the daring choice of performing an original song dedicated to the coal miners of his hometown. Continue reading “Country Singing Coal-Miner/Military Vet on America’s Got Talent”

Monday Morning Humor/Mini-Sermon: Alistair Begg on Contemporary Worship

Alistair Begg gets on a rrrrroll with an excellent rrrrrant about the state of today’s worship music. Introduced by Todd Friel, singing an ode to his favorite restaurant to make a point about the substance (or lack thereof) in the songs we sing to praise God.

Amongst the humor, there is also a good deal of wisdom packed into this about the need to look beyond ourselves and get past how we feel to what we know is the truth about our Lord Jesus and his Word. Don’t miss it while you’re laughing.

Movie Review: The Last Ride

The Last Ride is the debut of Bill Gaither’s son Benjy as a film producer. Though he neither directed the movie nor wrote the script for it, he is credited as “executive producer, producer” on IMDB and wrote all the original music for the film, including several new songs. The movie is a fictionalized look at the last days of country music superstar Hank Williams, who died tragically at age 29 from substance abuse and health issues related to the birth defect of spina bifida. After becoming a country music legend in an amazingly short time, Williams let both his personal life and his career disintegrate. In 1952, he attempted to stage two back-to-back comeback shows scheduled over New Years’ in West Virginia and Ohio. A heavy ice storm ruled out flight, so Williams hired a college student to drive him. This also failed because of the ice storm. While some details of Williams’ road trip remain a mystery, we know that he died some time on News Years’ Day, 1953.

This film imaginatively fleshes out those details, but viewers should be aware that much of it is simply made up, and unfortunately some of the fiction collides with the fact we do know. Nevertheless, I was moved by this film and would recommend it to viewers looking for a compelling human story. Here is my full review. Continue reading “Movie Review: The Last Ride”

In Defense of VeggieTales

If you were alive and went to church in the 90s, there is no way you can’t be acquainted with Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber. Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, but only a slight one.

When the computer-animated children’s series known as VeggieTales made its debut in 1993, it took the evangelical world by storm. The humble brainchild of a few creative, driven young Bible college grads bloomed into a hit franchise practically overnight. After the success of Where’s God When I’m S-Scared? there was no looking back for Big Idea Productions. At least, not for ten years. Some of you might know the heartbreaking story of how Big Idea eventually went bankrupt after accumulating a crushing debt-load for their first and only feature-length movie, Jonah. Not content with continuing to produce shorts indefinitely, founder Phil Vischer dreamed of expanding the company into something that could rival Pixar or Disney. Sadly, the money simply wasn’t there. He was left with no choice but to sell Bob and Larry to the highest bidder. The story of the company and its ultimate demise is chronicled in Phil’s memoir Me, Myself and Bob: A True Story About God, Dreams and Talking Vegetables.

However, if you hang out in certain sub-circles of evangelicalism, you might have noticed a certain irritation towards VeggieTales. Here I’m actually not talking about the liberal strand of evangelicalism, but a specific strand of conservative evangelicalism. Continue reading “In Defense of VeggieTales”

Another Group Change Done Right

Some of you might remember when a trio named Freedom got started, with tenor John Rulapaugh at the helm. I remember being very, very impressed with their sound even though I don’t think I listened to an album of theirs straight through. I don’t remember which NQC it was, but their showcase appearance was a bright spot in what was, as I recall, a middling to mediocre night of music otherwise.

So it’s a bit sad to see that their lineup is going through a change with the departure of lead singer Josh Garner for an open position with the Dixie Melody Boys. However, I was impressed with the classiness of this particular group change. Below is an open letter from Josh that very candidly lays out the thought process that went into this shift. There’s a lot of mutual respect that comes through in this letter. Thanks to everyone involved for leaving no room for spiteful rumors with this one. Continue reading “Another Group Change Done Right”