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.