NQC 2009: Five [Ten] groups that should be on the mainstage
This is about the time of year when the directors of the National Quartet Convention start putting together the following year’s mainstage lineup.
They had a great lineup last year. Virtually every group I heard on mainstage belonged there (and I’ll keep my thoughts on the few exceptions to myself).
But there are a couple of groups that I think they would be wise to add this year that weren’t on last year’s lineup. Here’s my top 5 [edit: 10]:
- The Collingsworth Family. Each year it gets a little harder to believe that they’re still not on mainstage. Though they did leave a day early for a concert this year, they have been faithful to the fans and the convention, manning a booth for at least the last several years and doing those little two-song sets in the regional artist showcases.
- The Chuck Wagon Gang. The rationale is simple. They’ve been there for years, there’s a good chunk of fans that love ’em, and their sound is unique. They don’t sound like anyone else on the program, and some variety is nice.
- N’Harmony. I’ve heard rumors about a one-year-rule, that groups have to be going for at least a year before they’ll get an invitation to the mainstage. The group had formed several months before NQC, though their first concert wasn’t until a little while afterwards. This group’s sound is solid and they are worthy of a mainstage spot.
- The Blackwood Brothers. Even if you set aside the fact that this is the group that started the convention, this group is worth giving at least one slot on their own merits. Jimmy Blackwood has built a group with the classic Blackwoods sound, anchored around a voice which sounds so much like his father James Blackwood’s voice that hearing them is almost like stepping back in time. Plus, they are one of a very few groups to do the two-microphone gig (the Dixie Echoes being the only other major group that comes to mind). It’s rare enough that it sets them apart.
- Liberty Quartet. They did so well in the showcases this past year that they got an invitation to do a song on the mainstage Saturday night before the Fan Awards. This year, I’d love to see them get a direct invitation.
- The Ball Brothers. I simply can’t believe that I forgot the Ball Brothers and the rest of these five.
- Old Paths Quartet. They stand a serious chance of being one of the new hottest groups around. Especially with their live band.
- Weatherfords. Even if their past wasn’t enough, they are good enough now that they’re worthy of mainstage on their own merits.
- The Melody Boys Quartet.
The danger of listing only 5 is that there a number of other worthy groups that I didn’t name. I would agree that many of them are deserving of getting at least one set in the mainstage. So…who are your top 5?