Concert Review: Dixie Echoes (Shelby, OH)
Last Saturday, I caught one of the Dixie Echoes’ all-too-rare Ohio concerts. They were at First Lutheran Church of Shelby, at a concert promoted by their music minister (who comments here from time to time as Paul the Concert Guy).
Though I didn’t do a head count this time, the concert hall was packed and extra chairs were set up; I’d say a solid 300 people were there, possibly 400.
- I’ll Be Ready (featuring lead singer Randy Shelnut)
- Miracles Will Happen on that Day (featuring Randy)
- Come On to the House of the Lord
- How Big is God (featuring bass Pat Barker) – This song had one of the most enthusiastic responses of the night. If it had been a standing ovation crowd, it would have been a standing ovation.
- Just a Little While (piano solo, Stewart Varnado)
- Until You Find the Lord (featuring baritone Scoot Shelnut)
- On the Other Side of Jordan (featuring Scoot)
- Peace In the Valley (featuring Randy) — I hadn’t heard them do this song before. It got a strong response, enough so that after a minute or two of comments about the song, Randy encored it.
- River of Jordan (featuring Pat Barker)
- Walk With Me (featuring tenor Wes Smith)
- Gonna Move to the Sky (featuring Randy Shelnut)
- Little is Much
- When They Ring those Golden Bells (intermission piano solo, Stewart Varnado)
- Ole Brother Noah (featuring Pat Barker)
- Plan of Salvation (featuring Pat Barker)
- How Great Thou Art (featuring Randy Shelnut)
They mentioned that they were all coming off a round of being under the weather. But it was completely unnoticable. Randy Shelnut’s legendary vocal abilities were as strong as always, and I’m convinced Pat Barker is a legend in the making. Wesley Smith has settled into his role as a Dixie Echoes-style tenor, doing well at matching Randy Shelnut’s inflections and placement, a third interval above Shelnut’s part. Baritone/bass guitarist Scoot Shelnut and pianist Stewart Varnado laid a strong musical foundation.
A personal highlight was their rendition of the Cathedrals classic “Plan of Salvation.” Knowing that I would be there, and how much I love Cathedrals music, they worked up the arrangement that afternoon. It was the first time they had ever sung the song on stage; I found out after the fact that Stewart Varnado pulled up the song on YouTube a few minutes before the concert to learn the Cathedrals’ piano licks.
Nobody portrays the golden era of Southern Gospel better than the Dixie Echoes. A few groups come close—particularly the Chuck Wagon Gang and Jimmy Blackwood’s Blackwood Brothers,both singing the songs they were known for in yesteryear—but the Dixie Echoes’ performance of the classics and forgotten gems of the 50s, 60s, and 70s brings that era to life.