The Ball Brothers
I had opportunity to see the Ball Brothers for the second time on Sunday evening. This was the first full concert I’d seen by the group; I’d seen them on Signature Sound’s 2006 Summer Spectacular tour, but they only did four songs then.
The concert was hosted at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Springfield, Ohio. The church had brought in several soloists before for their yearly concert–Jonathan Martin and a former female member of Avalon whose name escapes my mind–but this was the first group they had brought in.
The Ball Brothers started with an acapella rendition of “I Sing the Mighty Power of God.” Other groups have done this arrangement before–the Couriers and, I think, Greater Vision come to mind–but I’m not sure that it has been as much a defining tune for either group to the extent it has been for the Ball Brothers.
The next three songs all came from their debut CD: “Peace of God,” “A Blessing Burden-Bearing God” (featuring tenor Andrew Ball), and their first single, “I’m Already Living Forever” (featuring lead singer Daniel Ball).
They sang “Home,” using the Gaither Vocal Band soundtrack. Stephen Ball (baritone) sang the first verse and Daniel sang the second.
Daniel Ball is the group’s emcee and sets a general tone of high-spirited repartee. After a few of his jokes, he said that he thought he’d gone too far, and I tended to agree when he said that, but most of his jokes and emcee work fit the group’s style and energy well.
That said, his finest emcee work of the night came when he transitioned from “Home” into “Sweet Beulah Land.” He talked about how he could not understand how people longed for Heaven, to see their loved ones again, until his grandfather passed away recently. He transitioned into introducing “Beulah Land” by saying that the last time he saw his grandfather alive, his grandfather was uncommunicative and did not recognize them or understand anything they said. But, he said, when they sang “Sweet Beulah Land” for him, they saw a spark of recognition in his face as they communicated with him for the last time.
They sang the first verse acapella. Then Daniel paused and introduced the second verse by saying that this was the part where their grandfather perked up and recognized the song. Then they stopped using the microphones and sang the last part acapella, without any microphones. It was touching and moving, the sort of moment that deserved a standing ovation.
(No, I did not start one, because I’m a little hesitant to start one since I tend to be more enthusiastic than most concert goers to start with, and I don’t want others to feel they have to join just because I thought it was a great moment.)
They sang two classic songs, “He Set Me Free” (featuring Stephen) and “Somebody Loves Me” (featuring Andrew) with piano-only soundtracks before the break.
There was no real intermission. The church choir sang one song before the Ball Brothers came back on stage. The choir joined the trio in singing “Mercy Said No.” The Ball Brothers’ rendition of the song is inspiring to start with, but the choir gave it a special quality that set it apart and made it another of the evening’s highlights.
They called their fourth brother Josh Ball, who runs the sound, to the stage fo sing “A Comfort to Know.” A friend, Andy Tharp, also came up on stage for a completely unrehearsed version of “When He Calls Me I’ll Fly Away” (with Daniel Ball doing a more than competent job of holding down Jonathan Wilburn’s part.)
They sang two more songs from their CD, “Alright” (featuring Andrew) and “I Wonder” (featuring Daniel and Andrew). They featured Stephen and Andrew on the only song I was completely unfamiliar with in their program, “His Blood was Precious Blood.”
They closed their program with Andrew singing “Oh What a Savior.” This was keyed in either D or E-flat. (I don’t have perfect pitch, so that’s as close as I’m comfortable saying. I did ask afterwards, and Stephen Ball agreed that it was either in D or E-flat, but he wasn’t sure which, either.) At any rate, the somewhat lower range allowed him to not only do the high part with confidence, but also to end the second verse by going to the octave interval (D/E-flat above high C), something that I have heard no other tenor do.
It was an enjoyable evening. It’s always nice to see the established groups, but there is something refreshing about watching a new group that has started on its way. Their program and vocals are of the quality that a few more years on the road and a few more good songs will put them in the top tier…where, I believe, they will belong.