Concert Review: Blackwood Brothers (Sugarcreek, OH, 8/13/09)

I had the opportunity to see the Blackwood Brothers in Sugarcreek, Ohio on Thursday. The group is led by Jimmy Blackwood, who sings lead, and also features Wayne Little on tenor, Randy Byrd on bass, and Brad White on baritone/piano.

First half:

  • How About Your Heart (Jimmy/Brad/Randy/Wayne)
  • He Touched Me (Jimmy)
  • Old Country Church—This song got a particularly strong response.
  • Introductions
  • Jesus is Coming Soon
  • Feelin’ Fine—Brad White’s piano playing wasn’t quite as audible as it typically is, since the piano in question was an upright (3/4 height?) and its sound didn’t carry all that well in the venue.  Even so, he was so good that I heard individuals walking away after the concert remarking that they’d never heard a better pianist, even though they’d heard [and here they named a list of familiar names].
  • This Old House (Randy)
  • The Lighthouse (Wayne)
  • Since Jesus Came Into My Heart—This song probably would have received a standing ovation if the audience hadn’t been too full from the preceding dinner to stand up.
  • How Great Thou Art (Randy, Jimmy)—Another strong response. Randy Byrd is the John Rulapaugh of tenor bass singers; John wasn’t the highest tenor ever and wasn’t always going for the highest note in his range, but he was every inch a tenor. No matter what note he sang, how low or high, one knew he was a tenor. And no matter how low or high Randy Byrd sings, his voices has an equally pleasant bass tone.

Second half:

  • The Man Upstairs
  • I’ll Fly Away
  • Just a Little Talk (Randy, Wayne)
  • I Wanna Be More Like Jesus (Jimmy)
  • Requests:
    • In the Garden
    • Victory in Jesus
    • Amazing Grace
    • Beulah Land (Wayne)
    • Room at the Cross (Randy)
  • It is Well—This song closed the concert and received a standing ovation.

The Blackwood Brothers are known for remarkable consistency. Wayne, Randy, and Brad have all been with Jimmy since the Blackwood Brothers name was brought back four or five years ago. They also have remarkable consistency in their song selection; most of the songs in the concert were the same as the last time I saw them, and probably 2/3 are the same as the first time I saw them several years ago. (And yet they do those songs well enough that I still drive across the state to hear them. Sugarcreek was a two hour drive.)

That said, this is probably about to change; the group signed with Daywind a couple of weeks ago and is working on a recording due out this fall that will include new songs from a number of Southern Gospel’s best known songwriters. It has been over twenty years since the Blackwood Brothers released a recording of new songs. (The name was retired when Cecil Blackwood died and stayed so until Jimmy brought it back in 2004.) But word is the project might just be worth the wait.

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16 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Hi Daniel, Do you mean the Blackwood Bros. name was retired in the mid 80’s? Actually Cecil Blackwood kept the name going until his death in 2000. Then it was retired by James.

    • You got me there. I knew that but had forgotten!

      • I figured so.

  2. Great review Daniel, I am looking forward to their “Daywind” release. I hope to catch one of their concerts soon.

    • I can hardly wait to hear some new songs from the BBQ.

    • Me either!

  3. I think you mean Randy is the J.R. of bass singers – you said “tenor” which actually had me confused for a minute. (And the song title of that paragraph is misspelled.)

    I always felt that George Younce had that “bass singer in every register” feeling. Maybe not so pronounced in the higher parts, I don’t know.

    • Wow, I’m doubly embarrassed. I just fixed both mistakes.

      There are a number of bass singers who can maintain the “bass singer in every register” feeling; I just think Randy Byrd does that more than anyone else I’ve ever heard. His medium-high G is equally bass and equally pleasant as his low G. He’s so consistent up and down his register that it can be quite hard to tell how high/low he is at any given point.

  4. “How Great Thou Part”?

    Unless this is just a typo(and I’m sure it is), I have to think that either the group put the extra letter on in the choruses, or it may have been a brand new song altogether, giving homage to God for how well He was able to separate the Red Sea during the Exodus.:-)

    • Maybe it’s a stirring tribute to the great hair styles of SG music history. 😉

      • I like that! 😆

        Mistake fixed. 😳

  5. Great review Daniel as the Blackwood Brothers have always been my favorite S.G.Quartet of all-time when James, Cecil, Bill, and of course J.D. rounded out the group in the 50’s and into the 60’s… My mother & father-in-law were both there that night with you also and sat through the whole concert which takes much courage as she (mother-in-law) has been fighting cancer for a couple years now, but she loves the Old Time Gospel Quartets… Heard that they used the 2 microphone set-up which would really make for the former RCA 1950’s sound… Keep-up the good work Daniel for you’re about the only source I go to for Southern Gospel information anymore….

    • Yes, they use 2 microphones, and it makes for a great sound.

      Great to hear from you – it’s been a while!

  6. I see the Blackwood Brothers are opening up the NQC on Monday night, the 1st group on the lineup. I wish i could be there!

    • I am excited that they BBQ finally will be back on stage at the quartet convention…where they belong!

    • The groups don’t actually appear in alphabetical order. NQC just lists them that way on the site.