Dave Emery leaves Chuck Wagon Gang; Jeremy Stephens joins

The Chuck Wagon Gang announced in their email newsletter last night that bass singer / guitarist Dave Emery will be leaving the group on May 31. He has dreamed of moving to Florida with his wife, Phyllis, and this was a stated factor in the decision. He said: “To have been a member of The Chuck Wagon Gang has been a great honor, and to have sung their songs has been a real thrill. I have had a wonderful time and great experience with The Chuck Wagon Gang, and wish the group well as they continue a 75-year legacy, but I can’t wait to move back to Florida!”

Besides singing bass, Dave also emcees concerts, handles booking, and shares group management with alto singer Shaye Smith. When Smith was off of the road for a couple of years and was replaced by Penny Greene, Emery handled all road management. Former CWG member and current office staffer Harold Timmons will handle booking.

Jeremy Stephens, who filled in during tenor Stan Hill’s recent leave of absence for his wife’s surgeries, will be joining as bass singer and guitarist. He has been involved in bluegrass music for years; he started playing fiddle and banjo at age five. Since banjo is his primary instrument, he has played it with several bluegrass groups over the last seventeen years. He has collected Chuck Wagon Gang records for years and particularly loves the original group (Rose, Anna, Dad, and Jim).

Emery appeared at Tuesday’s Gaither Homecoming taping, in one of his final appearances with the group.

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17 Letters to the Editor

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  1. What am I missing here…the bass singer is leaving and he is being replaced with a tenor….I don’t know anything about the Chuck Wagon Gang but that seems odd.

    • Actually, he’s a bluegrass musician by background, and bluegrass musicians generally aren’t too particular about which part they sing – unless, perhaps, it’s the high tenor part.

      The CWG tenor part, though, is the hymnal tenor part – which baritones sing. And it’s not as big a deal to go from baritone to bass!

  2. It’s not the first time the bass and tenor have switched around in the Chuck Wagon Gang.

    Roy Carter and Ron Page have sung both tenor and bass parts with the Chuck Wagon Gang.

    • In all male quartets, the tenor has to go very high, and the bass very low to create the right spread of the 4 parts. But in a half-and-half mixed quartet, that’s not the case. The tenor singer doesn’t have to go very high nor the bass singer very low. So it’s not at all surprising that Stan or Jeremy could sing either male part — nor that Julie and Shaye could sing either female part. Incidentally, I always thought Dave Emery sang too low for a two-women, two men quartet. He often sang a not an octave lower than where it would sound the best. Dave would be much better in an all male quartet. He’s a J.D. Sumner type bass singer.

      • Honestly, though, I loved the sound Dave brought to the CWG.

      • there will never be a nother bass like dave i herd jd and big cheif dave sings a perfect bass for the gang and i will miss him i hope he comes back i have seen the gang 12 times and go when the are around they put on the best concert in gospel i go to albert brumley sing and they out do all groups

  3. Thanks for clarification. Like I previously stated, my CWG knowledge is nill. I was just thinking that replacing a SG bass with a SG tenor would be a good sign that a group had fallen on desperately hard times. Just can’t picture it going over to well if EHSS had brought in Wes Hampton to replace Tim Duncan instead of Ian Owens :-).

    • JSR – understood. 🙂 That just would not have looked good!

      SG baritone to SG bass, though, is much more easily understood. 🙂

    • listen to the gang and you will see it takes a differnt style of bass to do what dave does i had gospel groups in atlanta for 14 years and before that in st louis for 20 years dave is the best

  4. I seem to remember the “patriarch” of the CWG being quoted in ?? Goff’s history of SG music. He said that they wanted the listeners to feel that they could do anything that the group did. (Sorry for the rough paraphrase; it’s been a long time since I read it!) It seemed he felt that the listeners would connect better with the group that way. So they’re presumably not after any “freak of nature” stuff. Personally I’d rather hear Brian Free sing “Take Another Look,” although I can’t come close to doing it, but obviously there are a lot of people that disagree with me! I like a little CWG music once in a while. 🙂

    • The quote was closer to that they wanted to sing songs that were easy enough that someone from the audience could step up and fill in on a part. That is still a very rough paraphrase, but I think closer. The gist was that the songs and parts were easy enough for people in the audience to sing.

      • Yeah, something like that. 🙂 Thanks.

  5. As Daniel mentioned, the Chuck Wagon Gang are unique in their sound and how they perform the songs: usually straight-ahead four-part as you’d find in the hymnal. Songs in hymnals and songbooks are written in keys so that the ranges are usually comfortable for the singers (not requiring a lot of low or high from any part). This leads to much more flexibility when filling the voice parts.

  6. The gang also had another gentleman, Roger Aligood, filling in with them from time to time in Stan’s abscence. He has written a couple of songs that the gang has recorded over the past few years. He also has a long history in bluegrass.

  7. Hate to hear this news! Dave is an old friend from college days. I doubt we’ll be coming to hear the group any more.

  8. Thanks to hear Ms. Marsh’s response., Although Dave Emery is not a close friend, I have grown to greatly respect him and his religious beliefs and his wonderful music. I’ve been to every concert close enough to home (within about 150-200 miles)
    and have had opportunities to speak with him. I also doubt that my family will be coming to hear the gang any more either.
    And I have tickets for the Homecoming Concert in Pigeon Forge next year. Don’t know what I’ll do with those.

    • go and hear the gang then decide