Youtube Find: Vintage Ernie Haase & Signature Sound

The other day, I discovered that someone has put all of EHSS’s vintage albums with Shane Dunlap and Ryan Seaton on Youtube. I’m very happy about this, because I think they made some fine music in this era, even though I can understand the economics of letting old material go out of print. These albums include Stand By MeStand By Me LiveGlory to His Name, Building a Bridge, The Ground is Level, and Great Love. Ernie Haase’s OOP solo albums AmenJourney On, and Celebration Time have also been made available by this uploader. You can click here to browse through each album in its own playlist. Below is a collection of some of my personal favorite “forgotten tracks.” Enjoy them while you can—I notice this same uploader has put pretty much his entire Christian library on Youtube, including very much in-print work from mainstream CCM artists (*cringe*), so he’s probably due for a visit from the copyright police any time.

“I Can’t Wait for Heaven” (Stand By Me): This toe-tapper features Shane Dunlap. Like much of the group’s debut project, which was produced by Garry Jones, it has a very Gold City feel.

“There is a Savior” (Glory to His Name): Pure perfection. Ernie kills me every time with that falsetto… thing he does at the end:

“The Other Side of the Cross” (The Ground is Level): I know this is the Statlers’ signature tune, but in my opinion this version is much better sung. Continue reading “Youtube Find: Vintage Ernie Haase & Signature Sound”

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CD Review: Measure of Grace, by The Taylors

Measure of Grace

Measure of Grace is young family group The Taylors’ debut release on Ernie Haase and Wayne Haun’s label Stowtown Records. The fresh-faced foursome is continuing Stowtown’s recent trend of putting family groups on their roster. From left to right, they are Suzanne, Christopher, Leslie and Jonathan. Stylistically, they can evoke the Collingsworth Family, the Easters, or the Hoppers while still retaining their own identity. Now they’ve enlisted the talents of some of the best songwriters in the business (Haun, Lindsey, Jim & Melissa Brady and more) for an all-new collection of songs. Without further ado, here are my thoughts on this upcoming offering:

Likes

*Opening track “I’m Committed to You Lord” is a highlight right out of the gate from Wayne Haun and Jeff Bumgardner. Very classy but kind of kickin’ inspo in the vein of the Collingsworths’ “I Could Never Praise Him Enough.”

*Leslie Taylor is featured on highlight “I Tremble.” Wayne Haun and Joel Lindsey once again deliver a blissfully melodic, B-3 Hammond drizzled, richly theological meditation on worship and the cross. (And I just realized that I kind of made it sound like an ice cream sundae. Oh well, food analogies have always been my thing.) With the exception of one cringey line, which I’ve marched out and shot under “Dislikes,” this is the best song on the album.

Let me not forget this temple

It’s transformed into a throne room

And through your name, my soul is ushered in

So let me come to you in wonder

Let my heart still pound like thunder

At the way your grace has found me once again

*Speaking of Leslie, she’s the glue that holds the group together vocally. Her rich country tone compares favorably with Sheri Easter. Continue reading “CD Review: Measure of Grace, by The Taylors”

Weekend Roundup (05/23): AGM Award Winners, New Booth Brothers, and More…

*The Absolutely Gospel Music Award winners have been announced, and the full list is here. Of particular note is Amber Nelon Thompson’s first win for female vocalist of the year. Congratulations to Amber! You can watch the whole 3-hour ceremony here.

*The Booth Brothers’ latest has dropped: Pick up your copy of Isaiah 12:2 at their website. Expect a review soon.

*If you’re interested in hearing Ernie Haase & Signature Sound’s latest live CD, you can tune in to StowTown Radio at 7 o’clock each day this week for the whole thing streaming free, plus an interview with Ernie! (That’s 7 PM Eastern Time by the way, and you can thank me for noticing that it was initially streaming at Central Time and bringing the team’s attention to it so they could fix it!)

*Check out Lauren’s Views From the Pew reviewing a concert by the up and coming group 11th Hour here.

*Here’s an audio interview with Todd Suttles, newest member of the Gaither Vocal Band:

*To celebrate Amber Nelon’s win, here’s a clip of her singing her latest sugar stick, “More Than Wonderful”:

CD Review: Angel at the Crossroads, by High Road III

Angel At the Crossroads

Sara Davison, Kiley Phillips, and Anna Grace Kimbrough, the ladies of High Road III, burst on my radar when they performed their original song “High Road” at NQC the other year. I thought to myself at the time, “These ladies are going places!”  Angel at the Crossroads is their sophomore release, and judging by the heavyweights involved in the production (Ben Isaacs, Bill Gaither), it looks like the rest of the industry is sitting up and taking notice too. The album was recorded at Ricky Skaggs’ studio in Hendersonville, TN, with all the instruments played by the ladies except drums (Greg Ritchie) and banjo/mandolin (Andy Leftwich).

Continue reading “CD Review: Angel at the Crossroads, by High Road III”

Christians In Entertainment: Eduardo Verastegui

Eduardo Verastegui

To the right is a face many of my readers might not recognize, but you’re probably familiar with his work in Christian film-making. Remember the pro-life film Bella? This is Eduardo Verastegui, the guy who produced and starred in it. Verastegui has been on the front lines of Catholic anti-abortion activism for years, regularly speaking out against the Obama administration and founding his own LA-based outreach organization “Manto de Guadalupe” (Mantle of Faith). Meanwhile, he’s continued to work in faith-based shorts and feature-length films. Most recently, he holds an executive producer credit on the Spanish version of Son of God, a theatrical adaptation of The Bible mini-series.

But the story of the winding road that led him to this place is fascinating. His testimony provides a perfect spotlight for the purposes of this series. Continue reading “Christians In Entertainment: Eduardo Verastegui”

Weekend Roundup (5/16/14): Jeff Stice Leaves Triumphant, Brooke Collingsworth Expecting, MTQ with fill-in, and more…

Here’s a roundup of goings on from the week in southern gospel!

*Triumphant Quartet announced that pianist Jeff Stice is leaving the group to help his sisters care for their parents. This ends a stretch of 12 years for the group with no turnover since their inception, something unheard of in our industry. I hope Triumphant hires a replacement, but this “remains uncertain.” Farewell to Jeff, whose classic touch on the keys and fun spirit will be missed!

*Hat tip to my reader John for noticing that Brooklyn Collingsworth is expecting her first child! Congrats to Brooklyn and her husband William! Of course this immediately raises the question of whether she’ll continue to be with the group, perhaps simply bringing the baby along with her. However, we learned a little while ago that Phil’s fiancee is going to join the group, so it could be that she’ll take on Brooklyn’s role.

*Read Lauren’s View From the Pew on the Mark Trammell Quartet’s latest bass fill-in and his incredible dedication to helping out the group even after a tornado destroyed his home here.

Continue reading “Weekend Roundup (5/16/14): Jeff Stice Leaves Triumphant, Brooke Collingsworth Expecting, MTQ with fill-in, and more…”

International Songwriting Contest, 2013: My Picks

I enjoy browsing the winners of large songwriting contests. It’s always fun to discover  brand new talent, and it reveals something about my own musical tastes when a large selection of completely new music is put in front of me. Most recently, I took a listen to some of the musicians who placed in the 2013 International Songwriting Contest. There are certain genres I just avoid altogether (electronica, hip-hop, etc.) and others where the genre isn’t what it used to be (Top 40, adult contemporary). And then, happily, there are the genres where good music is still being made. This year, I kept coming back to the Americana, folk/singer-songwriter, blues and country selections. I guess I prefer music that says something to “music” that exists merely to put a worm in your ear.

The wealth of untapped talent out there is incredible. I laughed and cried over several of the songs that placed in these categories. In several cases, I actually preferred the 2nd or 3rd place finishers to the category winner. Below are some of my favorites. Think of this sampler as a little slice of “coffeehouse cake,” or alternatively, “songs that are too good for radio.”

Continue reading “International Songwriting Contest, 2013: My Picks”

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.

Continue reading “Concert Review: Mark Trammell Quartet (April 17th 2014), Kalamazoo, MI”