Farewell, Averyfineline

Yesterday, Doug Harrison announced that he was retiring the Averyfineline blog after a nine-year run. This doesn’t come entirely as a surprise, as his postings had become infrequent over the last year or two; this was his first post in over two months.

SouthernGospelBlog.com received more inspiration from his than most readers of either site realize. On a number of occasions, I saw something Doug was doing and decided to try the opposite, just to see what would happen. One specific example would be active participation in the comment area, something that played a huge role in defining this site’s culture.

Anyone who has read both sites over our seven-plus-year overlap might think that Doug and I did not see eye to eye on anything. Yet for all our areas of disagreement, we both want to see this genre of music be presented with integrity and artistic excellence. So I cannot let the occasion pass without a tip of the hat, as one would in respect for a valiant opponent at the conclusion of a vigorous debate.

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37 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Just a moderator’s note: Yes, I know that many disagree with some of Doug’s views and his ways of expressing those views. So do I. But please keep this comment area respectful and classy.

  2. I am sad to hear “Avery” will no longer be. I happened upon it back in 2005-06ish and found it very refreshing that someone could be so honest and critical of gospel music. We all have heard sub par SG and in my mind, Doug was one of the first to openly criticize that…,even if it was from top tier groups. My favorite review was his from GV project “My Favorite Place”. I was Classic Avery……..so long Doug. Stop by here every once in a while and share those thoughts of the best music in the world.

  3. So sad to see “Avery” go. Having he and Daniel were like having Fox News and MSNBC. Now we just have one source. Granted Daniel is GREAT, but it’s nice to read some hard-hitting reality from time to time.

    • I speak reality, too. It’s not like my coverage was fantasy. đŸ™‚

  4. I too am disappointed to see him quit. Although I did not always agree with the approach and language, I too appreciated reading a viewpoint that was frank and open. I personally feel that our industry is way to sensitive and thin skinned. Very seldom do we see true CD Reviews that offer virtually any critique. Whenever any problems, disagreements, scandals, etc happen in our industry everyone rushes to cover it up. Negative comments are deleted from threads, a convenient cover story is created using cliches like “he wanted to spend more time with family”, and so on. Sadly this makes the genre appear small, closed and even cultish. Just my opinion.

    • That’s something that, over time, I eventually learned from AVFL and Musicscribe. It’s important to state where an album could have been better, unless the album was as good as it can be.

      Granted, my way of expressing it is entirely different – thanks to my naturally diplomatic personality, you’ll often find me choosing the nicest wording possible – but I eventually learned that it was worth including (and worth doing the right way).

      • That’s why we use the “Must Buy Or Not” format for most of our product reviews at MusicScribe. There’s a section where we practically force ourselves to list some flaws, which keeps our reviews grounded in reality. (Of course, if we fall in love with a particular CD, we find some way to get around saying anything negative about it. “Perfect” CDs are rare, though.)

        Another good thing about this format is that two or three people participate. That way, the reader is able to see a couple of perspectives on the product.

        Thanks for the mention. We have learned from you as well.

      • Thanks, and you’re welcome!

  5. I loved Ave back in the day. It was the first SG blog worth reading that I happened upon. I probably wouldn’t have discovered this one or musicscribe otherwise. Doug also gave me the opportunity to co review one of the Ruppes recordings on his blog. Thanks Doug! We’ll miss you!

  6. Well said Daniel. Comparing your blog to AVFL is a little difficult. They are just two entirely different sites. Every blogger sets a line that they will not cross. I think Doug debated with himself over that line and believe or not showed some restraint on several different times (one event in particular comes to mind). I greatly enjoy your site Daniel and look at it daily, however I will miss Doug’s commentary.

    I will repeat what i posted yesterday. I did not agree with everything on the site, however i strongly believe he started a conversation that had to take place. It is often difficult to take an honest look at ourselves, and AVFL did just that. It was painful at times, but in the end I think it was beneficial.

  7. Sorry, I feel cheated đŸ™‚ I did not know about Avery. Oh well, I do love this blog!

  8. I stopped reading AVFL when Doug more or less admitted that he didn’t really know if he was a Christian anymore, and when he started voicing support for Obama.

    • But do any of those factors make his commentary on the music less valid? If we were talking theology, I get it. I thought some of the biting disrespect was undeserved – his continued hammering at the Goodmans comes to mind – but as Daniel pointed out he was an articulate and vocal fan of the genre.

      With the avalanche of information available to us these days, it’s gotten so much easier to dial into what we agree with and shut off what we don’t. I think we do ourselves a disservice by doing that. And if we have concerns about Doug’s belief, should we not be praying for him, indeed letting him know we’re praying for him, rather than just pressing the “off” button?

      • I would advise both… and it’s not just shutting down stuff we disagree with or stuff that makes us uncomfortable, he wrote some objectively weird and wrong stuff, and the comments, well…

    • Admitted… anymore…!?
      You mean “realised” and “never was”.

      • This isn’t the best place for a “once saved, always saved” discussion. It would be off-topic in this context.

  9. I too hate to see Avery leaving, I enjoyed reading his blog, and reading all the comments made. Some of those true,
    some not so true. But, it was good to have a place that was NOT edited down to make everything Happy, Happy
    Feel Good. RIP Avery. You will be missed!

    • “But, it was good to have a place that was NOT edited down to make everything Happy, Happy
      Feel Good”

      There is that. I do enjoy being able to have an honest discussion that might not stay 100% positive. I visit message boards on other topics, and while they do rule against personal attacks, mere trash talk that is not constructive, etc., they don’t force everyone to stay positive all the time.

      If I think if I have a problem with an SG singer or performer or personality, I should be able to voice that, as long as my comments remain constructive and Christ-like and are not just “I love to hate this person” type comments.

    • You enjoyed reading the comments?

      Well, no accounting for taste… I couldn’t get past all the smut.

      • I started reading his blog early on, and it seemed that “all the smut” wasn’t present in the beginning. In recent months, the comments section seemed to take a different direction. I enjoyed reading most of the earlier comments as well, and the blog certainly had it’s place and purpose. His early posts from NQC were some of the most descriptive and entertaining I have ever read.

  10. Daniel, could you maybe expand on what you mean by “integrity?” Maybe you meant it really specific, like just the technical music part, but I felt like Harrison was always bringing in his own agenda and interpreting SG through that filter… so “integrity” wouldn’t be my first thought.

    • Sure, no problem! Neither of us wanted to see charlatans on stage, or people ripping other people off financially, or people who were dishonest in their financial or business conduct – that sort of thing.

  11. I started reading Avery very recently. I actually enjoyed his blog. To use a quote from one of my college professors, Doug:
    “Poked beehives with a stick”

    I like when people are blunt and bold. Doug was that from what I can tell. I understand it rubs people the wrong way sometimes when he wasn’t always pleasant but I don’t mind people having an opinion no matter how wrong or right I think they are.

    Honestly, I sometimes read comments on here and try to not be blunt about my feelings on certain artists. But I think we have to allow for people to be themselves. Our recognition of people’s views in any case gives them worth, and I can’t think of anybody that isn’t worth something.

    I enjoyed the blog Doug. Please stop by here every once and a while.

  12. I enjoyed his blog due to the fact he could find something that would get conversations going. He’d pick a topic, and other bloggers would then give their input. Or it would cause a spark in other’s blogs. It was a great way to get others talking about SG.

    By getting on his soap box, everyone had to get on their own as well. Sure made for great reads and conversations! Bad press would be press none-the-less.

    Let’s just keep the conversations going, and see how much more SG can be effective!

  13. It’s a notable mention done with the class we have all come to expect from Daniel Mount. Please stay the course, Daniel!

    • Thank you! That’s certainly my plan!

  14. I followed Doug’s blog from the beginning and enjoyed many of his posts. Although he was sometimes verbose, he had a clever way of turning a phrase. I think one of his most touching articles was his post on the passing of Shannon Childress, “RIP, Shannon Childress” – a moving piece described with passion that one doesn’t normally find.

    • Dean, I enjoyed Doug’s post on Shannon’s passing, too. It was a very nice tribute.

      • “Sometimes verbose”?! LOL. The guy is a wordsmith, but he used 30 words when everyone else could say their piece with five. His best moments were his tributes; the one for Shannon and especially, his tribute to Doug Riley, imo. AVFL started off well, but denigrated hugely over time, especially in those who commented and often, what they said. But on occasion, he could be a superlative writer.

  15. I for one am glad he is no longer blogging. I read his posts with anticipation when he started his blog. It was interesting and something no one had ever commented on prior. But his posts became so wordy and self indulgent. It was like wanted to prove to everyone he was the smartest man in the room. And once his identity was revealed, it was like watching the unknown comic without the bag over his head. He just wasn’t funny anymore. I have not read his posts for over two years. Once he came out, his commentaries took a much more cynical turn. I despise his book on Southern Gospel. Yes, Southern Gospel has many black eyes, but please do not exploit it and make everyone think it is a total hedonistic society.

    • This…

  16. I think Doug publicly expressed a lot of what the rest of us were thinking in regards to the areas of gospel music that need improving, but we either didn’t know how to say it or felt it may be best to just let it alone. He was right on his assessments most of the time—frequently much like a kid announcing to the entire church that their dad said a cuss word on the way to Sunday School. Embarrassingly honest, in other words. I think his intentions of wanting to see a better industry—or perhaps his regrets at not being successful in being a more vital part of it himself–were real and honest, but it’s sad and unproductive when rants and public shreddings are at the expense of a person’s emotions–especially when the end result is no positve outcome of any significance. Perhaps it’s not worth the price one pays to get their point across when very little actually changes AND people are hurt in the process. Because for all he seemed to know was wrong with this industry, I cannot tell you one thing he ever did by way of action to try to improve or change it for the better. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and the right to express it. I do prefer the more positive and uplifiting way things are conducted on this site, even when we agree to disagree. And disagreeing is not a bad thing by any means. If we all had to agree, we’d have to call ourselves a cult, according to what my grandpa used to say! LOL That said, I won’t miss Avery or the rants which did appear to come off many times as sour grapes. I prefer to put my energy into trying to come up with solutions rather than only point out the problems. Thanks for always being classy, Daniel—your acknowledgement of Doug’s departure from the southern gospel blog world is yet another example of this.

  17. I think for the most part Avery lost his popularity several years ago, and I think that is apparent by the number of comments on his entry about retiring the blog.

    I actually enjoyed his blog at first, until he started attacking my family, particularly my mother for how she handled the message boards all those years ago. “Pit of vipers” – if I remember correctly – was one kind phrase he used to describe my family.

    I don’t take away from what he brought to the table – I just never agreed with the way he went about it. In that way – I’m not sad to see him go. I do hope we can continue to have open and honest discussion about the industry as a whole though.

    • It’s a which-came-first, chicken-or-egg sort of question, but he also stopped posting regularly several years ago.

    • Agree!

  18. At the risk of lending far more credibility to that site than what I feel it even deserves, I’ll toss my hat into the “don’t let the back door hit where the Good Lord split” ring. I was an avid reader while he was incognito, but once his identity was revealed and especially after his sexual preference was revealed, the site became irrelevant and totally void of any semblance of a product intended to promote the music which he professed to love so. Misery must truly love company, as most regular commenters only exacerbated the crass attitude and negative vitriol that the site and its host seemed to relish in so.

  19. Count me in as one who read it for about 6 months, until the venom and vitriol finally made me sick. His intense jealousy of groups, singers, and songwriters who had success became so apparent after reading his stuff for a while. But he had lots of readers, to prove true the song by Don Henley, “Dirty Laundry”. “We all know that c*** is king…” the song went, and that site proved that slinging it attracts people.