GloryWay Quartet, Mountain State Quartet, Dixie Melody Boys

Last Saturday, I went to a concert put on by J & J promotions. Local group GloryWay Quartet was the host group; the Mountain State Quartet came up from West Virginia, and the Dixie Melody Boys from North Carolina headlined the event.

The concert started out with a 45-minute set by the GloryWay Quartet.

  • I’m Winging My Way Back Home
  • By and By (featuring their lead)
  • Jesus Will Outshine Them All (featuring their lead)
  • Glory Road (featuring their alto, Mary St. Clair)
  • Someone to Care (featuring their baritone)
  • Tears Will Never Stain the Streets of that City (featuring Mary St. Clair)
  • Living in Canaan Now

The set was entirely live, with a pianist and bass guitarist. The bass guitarist was the father of the lead singer, while the pianist had been playing piano for over 50 years. The baritone and bass had both been singing for decades and were in their sixties or seventies, while the lead singer and alto were somewhat younger. There were a few minor issues with microphone feedback, but with that brief exception the set was quite enjoyable.

The Mountain State Quartet from Nitro, West Virginia was up next. I was especially looking forward to this because my friend Levi Johnston, who comments on this blog from time to time, sings baritone with the group. I’m not entirely certain about the titles of some of the songs they sang, but here are my best guesses:

  • When I Dip my Feet in the Crystal River
  • I Believe He Died for Me, For You (lead)
  • I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary (lead, tenor)
  • Home (featuring baritone Levi Johnston)
  • I’m Not What I Wanna Be (bass, then baritone)
  • Jesus Knows
  • I’ll Put on a Crown (lead)

During the first few songs, there were a few feedback issues and the soundtracks/microphone balance was weighted a little too much toward the soundtracks. However, both problems were corrected quickly. In my opinion, the highlights of their set came about 2/3 of the way through, when they featured Levi on two songs, “Home” and “I’m Not What I Wanna Be.” Part of the way through the second song, he took the bass singer’s microphone and sang the bass part through the end of the song. He sang the part well (especially for a baritone), but the best part of the skit was his acting. He did a great job of playing the “I can’t believe I’m getting away with this” part.

An hour and a half into the evening, the Dixie Melody Boys came onto the stage.

  • Far Above the Starry Sky (featuring tenor Dan Keeton)
  • I’m Gonna Stand and Lift My Hands (featuring baritone Andrew King)
  • I’ll Meet You in the Sweet By and By
  • A Seat in the Heavenly Choir
  • My Anchor of Hope (featuring Andrew). I was slightly surprised to hear the Dixie Melody Boys do this song, since it’s a current radio hit for the Kingdom Heirs. I assume that the song, which I understand was originally written by current KH tenor Billy Hodges, was recorded by the Dixie Melody Boys a few years back and brought back when Hodges joined the Kingdom Heirs.
  • I’m Gonna Lift my Praise to the Giver of Amazing Grace (featuring lead singer Bryan Walker)
  • I Love this Man from Galilee (featuring Dan Keeton)
  • Give the World a Smile (featuring bass Ed O’Neal). This one was a lot of fun. Ed talked about how (back when he was “young and debonair”) he always listened to the Blackwood Brothers’ radio program, which would start with this song as their theme song. He then had his group do it acapella. It was easily the best live version I’d heard of the song, and possibly the best I have ever heard.
  • Roll on Jordan (featuring). The Dixie Melody Boys are at their best when they do this sort of song.
  • First Day in Heaven (featuring Bryan and Andrew on the talking parts)
  • Beautiful Isle of Somewhere (featuring Andrew). Andrew King hit the ball out of the park on this one. Later, during the product pitch, they referred to a CD as worth the cover price simply for Andrew’s rendition of the song, and I have a feeling they sold quite a few of that CD.
  • Peace in the Valley (featuring Ed)
  • Oh What a Savior (featuring Dan)

After intermission, each of the groups came back for a few songs:

  • Glory Way Quartet: Piano solo
  • Glory Way Quartet: When I Wake Up to Sleep No More (lead)
  • Glory Way Quartet: That I Could Still Go Free (also lead)
  • Glory Way Quartet: Shoutin’ Time
  • Mountain State: Holy Holy
  • Mountain State: I’ll Live Again
  • Mountain State: Well Done, Faithful Servant (lead)
  • Mountain State: Forever and a Day
  • Dixie Melody Boys: Victory Road (Ed)
  • Dixie Melody Boys: Over the Moon (Dan)
  • Dixie Melody Boys: Happy Rhythm (Ed)
  • Dixie Melody Boys: A Soul Such as I (Andrew)
  • Dixie Melody Boys: In the Garden (Bryan)

Before “In the Garden,” Ed O’Neal said that it would be the last song. But after the song, he changed his mind and invited the other two groups back on stage for a group sing on “I’ll Fly Away.”

Dixie Melody Boys tenor Dan Keeton closed the concert with an audience sing-along on “It is Well with my Soul.”

Beyond any question, the biggest surprise of the night (for me) was Andrew King’s performance at baritone for the Dixie Melody Boys. He had more charisma and stage presence than any other performer I have seen in person (something comparable to what I’ve seen of Gerald Wolfe on video, though Andrew smiles even more). He had a great voice, too. If he decides to stay in Southern Gospel, he will be able to write his own ticket in a few years.

Lead singer Bryan Walker, the newest member of the group, provides the group’s comedic relief, with facial expressions, comments, and even hand gestures during lines that have to do with “the prophets of old.”

Dan Keeton, tenor, hit some very high notes. But his voice is most powerful and expressive in the lower tenor range. If he ever tires of singing tenor, he could be a top-notch lead singer along the lines of Guy Penrod and Arthur Rice, though with a voice quality all his own.

Ed O’Neal turned in a great performance as well. When someone introduced me to him as someone who posted things on a blog and on the Singing News forums, he asked me to say something nice about him. So I will: Though he might primarily be known in some circles as one of the best columnists out there, he is a great singer, too.

All in all, it was quite an enjoyable evening.

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13 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. Nice review…..

  2. Thank you for posting this concert review on your site. My husband, Jon St.Clair, part of J&J Promotions, also appreciates this. We hope to do more of these concerts in the future, hopefully as soon as this fall.
    P.S. If you want to update your blog with this info,GloryWay’s other members are Justin Crank(lead), Bob Hodges(piano),Bob Legge(baritone),Jim Buckner(bass).
    Mountain State consist of Denzill Harper(tenor), Randy Pierson(lead), and JT Withrow (bass)
    PPS: I heard the Dixie Melody Boys singing ‘Anchor of Hope’ last July at a concert. So they did not start doing it after the Kingdom Heirs popularized it.

  3. I saw the Dixie Melody Boys a couple of weeks ago & Iagree with your critique of Andrew King’s performance. He keeps improving and has added a lot of maturity to his voice.
    In the concert I saw, the host group also sang for 45-50 minutes…perhaps the host group you heard was better than at the concert I attended. My take (after about 50 years of concert attendance) is that 15-20 minutes works best for the host group — unless they’re outstanding — most folks pay their money to see the major group and are worn out by the time they hit the stage — especially if the host group sings on and on and on and on…

  4. Good review Daniel. I agree with Dean in that a local group should sing enough to give a good sample of what they are capable of doing and move on with the concert. I sing in one of those groups and realize, more so, as a SG fan, most folks paid to hear the pro group, not someone they can hear just down the road on any given Sunday night. It’s a good opportunity to showcase your group and I would never turn the opportunity to open a concert like this, but I would feel uneasy about a promoter who gave us equal time with a quality pro group. I saw DMB a few weeks ago and they were impressive. I believe Mr. O’neal will have a hard time holding on to these guys as well. New baritone and lead are good and if you like good old high as the sky quartet tenor endings you’ll love Mr. Keeton

  5. IN response to Dean and Gradie’s comments, I will point out some things.
    1) Count the songs. In the 1st round, GloryWay sang 7 songs, and Mountain State sang 7 also. Assuming all those are 4 minute songs (which they were not), then each group sang 28 minutes. We’ll guess half an hour as a total ,including group introductions.
    The Dixie Melody Boys did 13 songs that first set. Assume these songs were all 3 minutes long. Then they had 39 minutes of singing.
    In the 2nd round, GloryWay and Mountain State sang 4 each, and the DMB sang 5 .
    2)As part of J&J Promotions, I can say that we gave Ed full reign to sing however long he wanted. If they sang an amount of time similar in legnth to the others groups, it was his choice.

  6. Now I remember why I don’t post much. I apologize. My remarks were in no way directed toward J&J Promotions. The last thing on earth I would do is try to offend anyone that is willing to put in the work and effort to promote southern gospel. They were general comments so please take them the wrong way. I was going by Daniel’s time estimates not the number of songs. According to what he wrote it was an hour and a half. Which to me, as a fan, would be too long. On the other hand, on a few occasions, I enjoyed a lesser-known opening group more than someone who is headlining (maybe twice). As a promoter you have to do whatever your attendees want. Again, I wasn’t there so my opinion is worth even less than normal.

  7. Perhaps DMB was able toget in more songs because they didn’t encore every other one and beat the audience to death with feeble attempts at humor and/or innane stories. I’m not sayingthis is the case here but I’ve seen it too many times.

  8. I am not saying the following to contradict or oppose anyone. I just wanted to comment that the concert started roughly promptly. It was 6:45 on my watch when the Mountain State Quartet came on stage, and the Dixie Melody Boys came on stage at 7:30 (give or take maybe two minutes either way).

  9. Actaully,the night started off with J&J introducing who they were, and how J&J started. They also took time to personally thank the sponsors who were in attendance. Then the night opened with prayer. Daniel’s time estimate (when the DMB’s started singing)was correct, but the other groups were not on stage that whole time.
    I totally agree with Dean about groups abusing their time, and I appreciate Gradie’s concerns. Fortunatelly, the groups sang most of their time on stage and didn’t stray from that with ‘chit-chat’.

  10. Mary, I would add to that that your group (the GloryWay Quartet) did an exceptionally good job of just singing.

    I love the all-live music, and while the Dixie Melody Boys are great at it, too, they couldn’t do much since they have no pianist right now. So except for one acapella song they did, your group provided the only all-live music of the night, and that was especially nice.

  11. Daniel, thank you for the compiment.
    Many groups have a hard time keeping live accompanyment for a multitude of reasons. But when a group can present it, it’s always a breath of fresh air, especially in this age of stacked background vocals on the overbearing, loud soundtracks groups today use. I too, have always been a fan of live accompanyment.

  12. I’m Not What I Want To Be is actually titled “I’m Not What I Was”- Gold City recorded it on the “Pressed Down, Shaken Together, Running Over” release.