NQC 2013, Day 3: Live Blog

Far and away, this evening’s program has been the strongest so far. In fact, this evening has had so many highlights that it will be rather hard for the days later in the week to top it.

Perhaps a much better attendance has energized the performers. @jon_leighton posted this picture on Twitter, commenting: “ironically,  a huge crowd on quartet night at quartet convention!”

I missed the first three hours; I was at my church’s Wednesday night service. My siblings, who live across the country and don’t have a midweek service, provided our coverage of the first three hours. 

Highlight of the Night

The moment of the night was the retirement performance of The Couriers. It was the final time most of the people in the audience or watching the webcast will see these legends live and in person; they have announced that their final performance is later this year.

One song into their set, the Mark Trammell Quartet sang one of The Couriers’ signature songs, “I Sing the Mighty Power of God.” Mark then talked about how he had seen the Couriers for the first time at NQC 1974, and talked about the impact they had on their fellow performers, on the fans, and on his life.

Then Mark said that the Couriers—Duane Nicholson, Neil Enloe, and Dave Kyllonen—were there, and he was going to call them up on stage. The artists in the artist circle, surrounding the stage, stood for a standing ovation.

If the audience had any clue what was coming next, the audience would have joined them.

Gerald Wolfe and Jim Brady join Mark to present The Couriers with plaques from the National Quartet Convention thanking them for their years of faithful service and integrity and commemorating their retirement, coming later this year.

Mark Trammell introduced “Statue of Liberty” with these words: “As we pay tribute to the fallen heroes tonight on 9/11, I want to pay tribute to living heroes who show us how to do what we do with grace style character, and integrity.” The Couriers sang most of the song; the Mark Trammell Quartet joined them for the dramatic final choruses.

The audience stood throughout much of the song. Based on the video feed, it looked like there wasn’t a person in Freedom Hall still in their seat by the midpoint of the song. After the song, the standing ovation was enthusiastic and prolonged. It was as if the audience didn’t want to sit down because they didn’t want that moment to end.

Mark Trammell deserves credit for giving up most of his set for this moment. The Couriers deserved this moment—their NQC retirement, and probably their final appearance at a major venue. (Their retirement concert is in two or three months.) It was the final moment most of the people in the room and watching the webcast will get to see them live, and thanks to this, they went out in grand style.

This is one of those NQC moments fans will still be talking about in ten or twenty years.

Other Highlights

My siblings noted these highlights from the first three hours.

  • The Booth Brothers Quartet (see 5:56)
  • The Quartet Choir (see 5:53)
  • The Basses Quartet (see 6:51)
  • Quartet Gilead of Rio De Verde, Brazil (7:17)

I picked up around 8:30. These are the highlights from 8:30 on:

  • The Couriers’ final NQC performance (see above).
  • Legacy Five singing “We Shall See Jesus” (10:22). Of all the times I’ve seen them stage the song, this was easily the best. They had a tough act to follow—the moment of the night, the Couriers’ retirement performance. It’s hard to turn around from that into another evening highlight, but they pulled it off. For about a dozen years after Glen Payne’s death, no major group was willing to touch the song, but, as Fowler said, “the song is too good to die.”
  • The Confused Quartet (8:35): Jeff Easter on tenor, Scott Howard on lead, Arthur Rice on baritone, Mark Trammell on bass, and Gerald Wolfe on piano. This was a highlight for comedic reasons; Easter did a brilliant Kingsmen tenor impression.
  • All-Star Quartet (8:58): On the other hand, this was a highlight for musical reasons. Riley Clark, Clayton Inman, Mark Trammell, and Jeff Chapman did an outstanding rendition of “Glory Road.”
  • The Old Paths set: They’ve had two #1 hits within the last year, and those songs carried their debut NQC appearance.
  • The Kingdom Heirs set was perfectly paced.
  • Triumphant was a great pick to close the night. Their set just kept getting better and better, and they were tearing Louisville up by the last two songs. Clayton Inman reprised his classic Singing Americans feature on “Welcome to Heaven.” And when you thought it couldn’t get any better, they pulled their best fast song—a song a few too many fans have forgotten—out of their back pocket, “I Know I’m Going Home.”

Live Play-by-Play

Click “Read More” to read the entire play-by-play; it’s hidden from the home page for space considerations.

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Saturday News Roundup #176

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Worth Knowing

  • Tribute Quartet posted on Facebook that their song “Good News From Jerusalem,” written by Dianne Wilkinson and Jerry Salley, is going to be the #1 hit on the August Singing News charts. It is the group’s first #1. Here’s a recent video of them singing the song.
  • Liberty Quartet tenor Philip Batton’s mother passed away last Saturday afternoon.
  • Inspirations bass singer Mike Holcomb’s infant granddaughter was hospitalized with breathing issues.
  • Libbi Perry Stuffle posted an update about her husband Tracy’s stroke recovery yesterday. She said: “It’s all green lights to head back to rehab today for Tracy!!! Dr feels comfortable in letting him go today! All the blood counts look good and it’s full steam ahead in Jesus’ Name!!!! God is all powerful and merciful!!!!” 
  • She added another update last night: “Well here we sit in the ER in Lebanon! Yes, I said ER!! Tracy had done great all afternoon and evening until the nurse gave him his Meds tonight. About 20 mins later his heart rate dropped to 48. So after some major issues with the Health Care / Rehab center that WILL be addressed tomorrow, they sent him to the ER. They are keeping him overnight. They will run more test in morning. Dr said he could be over medicated. One test shows he could have a little bit of heart failure. They just don’t know at this point! His heart rate is slowly coming back up. We should know more tomorrow. Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him! Job 13:15″
  • UPDATE (6/15/2013, 5:45 PM): Libbi posts: “Tracy is better today. His Heart rate is back to normal. Blood pressure is good. Dr said she thinks what happened last night was medicine related. She said his heart sounded good and strong. They put him back on antibiotics to finish clearing out the small amount of pneumonia in the lungs. They will keep him here for another day or two.”
  • UPDATE, 6/17: Tracy Stuffle is headed back from the hospital to his rehab facility.

Worth Watching

Here’s a video of the current LeFevre Quartet lineup taking on one of the group’s enduring favorites, “Jesus Saves.”

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Saturday—you decide!

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Saturday News Roundup #155

Worth Knowing

  • Mansion Records is launching a bluegrass imprint, BlueGrass Valley Records. They will be working with the bluegrass artists Brad Davis, Detour, Nightflyer, Tammy Larson, and The Wilhites.
  • On Thursday, the Crist Family announced that Breana Crist was coming off the road. Here’s an in-depth farewell open letter to her fans.
  • Lynn’s Chronicles recently reviewed Dianne Wilkinson: The Life and Times of a Gospel Songwriter. (Thanks, Lynn!) The review is here; more information on the book is here.

Worth Watching

There are too many good videos worth watching this week to only feature one! Here’s a first look at Randy Byrd with the LeFevre Quartet.

(Here’s a second video featuring new tenor Thomas Nally.)

Here’s a video of the Kingdom Heirs in the studio, working on their spring release Redeeming the Time, and having fun in between takes.

Finally, this Perfect Heart video has been making the rounds this week. Tenor Garry Sheppard sings bass, bass singer Mike Presnell sings lead, and pianist Jeff Stice singing tenor with Perfect Heart. Even though the spotlight is on Garry, since Jeff is the one on the scene today, definitely don’t miss Jeff’s high ending! Another point of interest is that Joseph Smith, who would eventually move on to the Booth Brothers and then the Mark Trammell Trio, is singing baritone. 

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Saturday—you decide!

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Randy Byrd joins LeFevre Quartet

Randy ByrdEarly this afternoon, Randy Byrd posted on Facebook that he has joined the LeFevre Quartet. He moved from Tennessee to North Carolina to join the Anchormen in August. Since he spent nearly a decade on the Blackwood Brothers’ bus, he decided to post an explanation of his reasons for the move. His children and grandchildren all live in Tennessee. He wanted to be able to sing but still live near to them. When the LeFevre Quartet position came open, he said, “after much prayer and talking with Tim Bullins, I made the decision to move back to Tennessee.”

He added: “I can’t stress enough how hard it was to leave the Anchormen. Tim, Terry, Karl and Chip, I love you with all my heart!”

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3:1 CD Review: But For the Cross (LeFevre Quartet)

But For The Cross (LeFevre Quartet)3:1 Reviews offer three highlights of an album and one area that could have been improved.

1: But For the Cross: This 6/8 song is bursting with power and energy. It’s one of those rare songs that combines the better elements of an anthem and an uptempo toe-tapper. Though “I’m So Saved” (see below) was the album’s lead-off single, this is likely the album’s big hit.

2: Come and See: Speaking of hits, this song’s writer, Rodney Birch is on a winning streak. He earned his first #1 recently, with Old Paths’ “Battle Stand” on the December 2012 charting song. Though an entirely different sort of song—this one’s a tenderly touching story-song—it’s  another hit waiting to happen.

3: I’m So Saved: Mere weeks after the album released, Paul Harkey left to join Ernie Haase & Signature Sound. This song shows the potential he could have had with the group if he’d stayed. The song requires a bass comfortable with incredibly low notes; here’s hoping the LeFevre Quartet can find replacement who can pull off this challenging arrangement with aplomb.

:1: More strong songs: If the Mike LeFevre Quartet had been able to pack an album full of songs as strong as their opening three, the album would easily have been a 4.5-star album, perhaps even a five-star album. Now granted, if you’re not the Booth Brothers, you may have a hard time finding songs as incredible as the Booth Brothers find in their inboxes. The song selection for this album is actually pretty strong for a group that’s up-and-coming. If they can kick it up a gear in the future, they aren’t far from being able to pull off a top-tier quartet album.

Traditional or Progressive: Middle-of-the-road, with progressive moments.

Group members: Harold Reed (tenor), Jordan LeFevre (lead), Mike LeFevre (baritone), Paul Harkey (bass).

Credits: Producers: Paul Corley, Tre’ Corley, Rick Sandige. Recorded at: Oak Tree Studio. Arranged, Mixed, and Mastered by Tre’ Corley. Engineered by Paul Corley. Musicians: Tre’ Corley (Drums, Orchestration, Programming, Synths, Keyboards), Jonny Brown (Piano, Keyboards, Organ), Duncan Mullins (Bass), Kelly Back (Electric Guitar), Joel Key (Acoustic Guitar, Banjo). Released by: Activate Records.

Song List: But For the Cross (written by Marty Funderburk and Caleb Collins); Come and See (written by Rodney Birch); I’m So Saved (written by Dianne Wilkinson); The Wedding Song (written by Glen A. Bates); Put it Right There (written by Gerald Crabb); We Are The Church (written by Gerald Crabb); Saved By the Blood (written by Brandon Barry and Douglas Roark); The Blessed Hope (written by Rebecca Peck); Someday Soon (written by Glen Bates); I’ll Let You Lead Me (written by Marty Funderburk and Daryl Williams); Standing on the Daily Promises (written by Daryl Williams).

Five-star songs: But For the Blood, Come and See, I’m So Saved.

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Paul Harkey replaces Ian Owens with Ernie Haase & Signature Sound

Ernie Haase & Signature Sound just announced that bass singer Ian Owens will be leaving to pursue other musical and personal interests. He will be replaced by Paul Harkey.

The group commented that Owens will be with them for the next two weekends, through October 13th, adding: “We will miss Ian dearly. He is a funny, FUNNY man who has become a great friend and that will never change.”‘

Owens will be replaced by Paul Harkey. Harkey, who got his start in Southern Gospel with Crystal River, performed with the Anchormen until recently. About six weeks ago, the LeFevre Quartet announced that Harkey was leaving the Anchormen to join them. Even though he was only with the group for about six weeks, he was on their  new CD But For the Cross, delivering performances that already won critical acclaim.

Here’s a video of Harkey performing with the Anchormen:

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Paul Harkey joins LeFevre Quartet

The LeFevre Quartet announced on the bios page of their website (hat tip, Aaron) that their new bass singer is Paul Harkey:

Paul Harkey grew up in Petersburg, TX. He later went to high school and college in Plainview, TX. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Church Music from Wayland Baptist University in December of 2003. Paul started his full singing career in 2007 with Crystal River and later joined the Anchormen until his call to The LeFevre Quartet. His early influences were Tim Riley, George Younce, and J. D. Sumner. Paul enjoys hunting, fishing, and riding his dirt bike in his free time. He, his wife Jennifer, and his daughter Cameron reside in Randleman, NC.

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Harold Reed leaves Kingsmen, joins LeFevre Quartet

The LeFevre Quartet - Jordan LeFevre, Harold Reed, Mike LeFevre, Brandon Barry

The LeFevre Quartet - Jordan LeFevre, Harold Reed, Mike LeFevre, Brandon Barry

The LeFevre Quartet announced (very) early this morning that they are hiring current Kingsmen tenor Harold Reed as their new tenor. A brief, one-paragraph statement given to the Singing News quoted group manager Mike LeFevre as stating, “His experience, talent, love for Gospel music and his heart for God will be a great asset to our group. We are excited to have Harold joining us in ministry.”

Other than owner/manager Mike LeFevre, the LeFevre Quartet has had a completely new lineup since September; Jordan LeFevre (lead) and Brandon Barry (bass) were announced as new members in early October.

Harold Reed’s first job, directly out of high school, was working for Squire Parsons. He then sang for the Dixie Melody Boys for over a decade, from about 1993 through 2004. He sang with the Florida Boys from 2004 until shortly before they disbanded in 2007, and with the Kingsmen from 2007-2011. 

UPDATE: Here’s a press release from Brandon Reese:

The Kingsmen announce the departure of tenor Harold Reed.

“I have been blessed to sing with one of my favorite Quartets for the past 4 1/2 years and now I feel it is time for me to start the next chapter in my singing career and join The Lafever Quartet,” says Harold. “Sometimes the Lord tells you it is just time and I will truly miss Ray and the rest of the guys but I am comfortable knowing we will remain in contact.”

“The Kingsmen will be celebrating 55 years of music ministry in 2012. Through those years we have had the most talented and enjoyable team members but more importantly good Christians work with our organization,” says Brandon Reese. “Harold is no exception. I know God is in control and has a plan for The Kingsmen. We are more committed than ever to spread the gospel in song all throughout 2012 and beyond.”

For consideration of the tenor position please send all info and demos to: ray@kingsmenquartet.com or brandon@kingsmenquartet.com

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National Quartet Convention 2011, Day 1

This live blog will be updated throughout the evening.

Moment of the Night

The Perrys’ “Plan of Salvation.” It would have been one of the evening’s strongest moments with no introduction, but with Tracy Stuffle’s introduction (see below) tying it to the one-year mark of his return to the stage, it was an incredibly emotional moment.

Runner-up: Collingsworth Family, “At Calvary.”

Brian Free & Assurance (10:38)

Set list: What a Beautiful Day, Anything is Possible; I Believe; God Will Close the Door; Long as I Got King Jesus.

Highlights: “Long as I Got King Jesus,” of course. The Collingsworth Family came back up for the encore, and the groups left the audience on their feet.

Collingsworth Family (10:18)

Set list: I Feel Like Traveling On (with Brian Free & Assurance), Part of the Family; Joshua Fit De Battle of Jericho; I Found It All (When I Lost Everything);  At Calvary.

Highlights: Kim’s piano solo on “Joshua Fit De Battle of Jericho” got a standing ovation—despite the late hour.

“At Calvary” was utter magnificence. The hymn has quite possibly never been done better. It, too, got a standing ovation.

Click “more” for the rest of the coverage: 

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David Staton, Mike Allen leave LeFevre Quartet; Jordan LeFevre, Brandon Barry join

Jordan LeFevre

Jordan LeFevre

Founding LeFevre Quartet lead singer David Staton announced Tuesday afternoon that, after six years with the group, he is leaving to launch a solo career. Mike LeFevre’s son Jordan will step into the lead role.

Staton and Mike LeFevre have been friends for over twenty years, and offer high praise for each other. Mike stated: “We will certainly miss David on stage and off. He is not only one of the best singers I’ve ever sung with, but he truly has an anointing and gift that I’ve witnessed every time we sang. We are like brothers and I’ve enjoyed our time singing together.”

Staton, meanwhile, said, “I can’t believe that I have been singing with Mike for as long as he sang with Gold City,” adding that their long friendship remains strong. But, he added, he has watched Jordan play drums and bass and run sound for the group, all the while dreaming of singing. “I believe the time has come for Jordan to sing,” he said, “and it just makes sense that he should sing next to his dad.”

Jordan got some singing experience under his belt earlier this year, filling in as lead singer for the legendary Kingsmen while Randy Crawford was temporarily sidelined with heart problems.

Meanwhile, Old Paths bass singer Brandon Barry will also be replacing Mike Allen at the bass position. Allen had been with the group on a long-term fill-in position, until they could find a long-term replacement.

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