Return of the Live Band

A couple of years ago, live bands hit an all-time low in Southern Gospel music. Except for those groups fortunate enough to have multiple vocalists as instrumentalistsโ€”largely bluegrass groups like the Isaacs and the Primitive Quartetโ€”the live band had virtually disappeared. The Kingdom Heirs had one and the Gaither Vocal Band had one, and that was about it.

Things seem to be turning around. Signature Sound has a three-piece band (four the night I saw them). Word on the street is that the Booth Brothers have a live three-piece band going now, too.

Add one more to that list: I noticed an announcement on the Dove Brothers’ website that they’ve just added a three-piece band to their concerts. Pianist Adam Harmon fronts a lineup that also includes bass guitarist Marc Peele, and drummer Devin Dove. Devin is Eric’s son, which means the long-time Southern Gospel tradition of a drummer being one of the principal group members’ sons is still going strong!


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57 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. I’m not much of a “band” person unless the band greatly improves the sound from the group and doesn’t over-power or distract from the singers. I also don’t see much point in a band if they just play along with the tracks anyway!

    The Booth Brothers band is just all of the singers playing either drums or guitars and adding Christian Booth and Jake Sammons on guitars and/or keyboard, and it’s only for a few songs during their set.

  2. Jason Crabb’s band is pretty good too…they don’t use any tracks except for one or two songs a night…if you want to see a band that plays with excellence, that’s who you want to see. It truly does add to the experience. I saw him in March, and sometimes he would just start a song that he didn’t normally sing (i.e., a worship chorus, a hymn), and the band would just jump in…can’t do that with tracks.

    • Hmm. I love live bands, so maybe I need to go see him!

      • Daniel,

        Jason will be in Jackson, Ohio on June 19th. That’s only a couple of hours drive, right? Maybe we’ll see you there!

      • Yes, but 3 hours is farther than I can go to a concert and reasonably drive back same day – 2 hours is about my max without saying overnight.

        I see you said “we” – are you with his band? If so, congratulations!

      • No, not with the band, just a likely concert attendee. That is unless he is looking for a high-priced tamborine player! LOL.

      • Ah!

  3. I’ve heard the Dove Brothers & The Booth Brothers with their band. Makes the groups sound a lot better. Booth Brothers are only using their band of 5 – 6 songs, while the Dove Bros. uses their band all the time. Maybe when the economy picks back up more groups will start bringing bands back.

    • I would say that you would see more live bands if more groups could afford to pay more people. Until the economy of SG music changes, tracks are the economical way to stay on the road.

  4. Diana – You and I didn’t have the advantage of following Southern Gospel during the years when everyone had a live band.

    Some groups are just as good with tracks, but some groups can use a live band so well that they just don’t need tracks, and it’s 100% live. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • You’re right, Daniel. I do like the flexibility of being able to vary from the recorded tracks when necessary or appropriate. I just don’t want to see groups try to have a band just so they can say they have a band.

      • Well, yes, there are some so closely identified with the highly orchestrated sound that it just wouldn’t fit.

  5. What happened to the Band of Gold? They were going real strong through ’08-’09, and now I don’t see much of them in videos.

    • They were doing selected dates. Don’t know if they’re doing any dates right now.

  6. The Booth Brothers mentioned (in the May issue of Singing News Mag.) that they will be featuring their Live Band on their Declaration 2010 Tour. I heard a few of their “band” songs when we saw them last August, but they’ve hired another Jake Sammons since then(I saw a picture of him playing an acoustic guitar with the BBs), so I imagine they’re going to have a good full sound. I won’t see them again until August, so I don’t know if I’ll end up hearing the band again. We shall see!

    I like the versatility of having live musicians… it makes for a lot of great improv. numbers ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • “but theyโ€™ve hired another Jake Sammons since then”

      How many Jake Sammonses have they hired? ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Whoops! You can always count on me for a confusing typo!! lol. I was going to say “they hired another guy called Jake Sammons”, but then I changed it to “they’ve hired Jake Sammons” and plumb forgot to take out “another”. Oh well! lol.

      • Not to worry! I knew what you meant!

  7. I heard L5 singing “I Am Redeemed” with just Tim Parton on the piano a couple of weeks ago in Lancaster, SC… They got great applause all night – but the biggest was this song. Though Gus Gaches nailed it and the group was equally good, I think it had more to do with Tim Parton on the piano. He may be in the top two or three out there right now!

    I am so ready for less tracks and more live music. That is what make the Dixie Echoes such a joy to hear.

    As for L5 or any other group – I can always listen to their CD for the orchestration… But when live – give me live!

    JEB

    • I agree, Tim makes the songs “happen”. Tim is truly a genius (and I’m not just sayin’ that because I like him! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). Take a look at this video… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_VHxptRXCA . Again, Tim is a genius!

      If you like that, I’m sure you will like L5’s next project then!! Old classics with Piano, Bass, Drums, maybe a little Acoustic Guitar. I think they could easily do a lot of the songs from this album onstage without a soundtrack (since Fowler plays the bass!!). I am REALLY excited about the project!! Supposed to be out around Memorial Day, I think.

    • I agree. Tim makes the song “happen” ๐Ÿ˜€ He truly is a genius (and I’m not just sayin’ that ’cause I like him! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). If you liked that, you’ll probably like this too… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_VHxptRXCA

      You’ll probably like L5’s upcoming project with mainly piano and bass and drums! I think they could do a lot of these songs live without a soundtrack!! I am REALLY excited about it ๐Ÿ˜€ !! Supposed to be out around Memorial Day, I think.

    • “I can always listen to their CD for the orchestrationโ€ฆ But when live โ€“ give me live!”

      Great line!

      I love orchestration on CDs, and live music live. I don’t mind a few tracks thrown in – like the Cathedrals would do on Champion of Love, for example – but I love mostly or entirely live shows. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I agree! Tim really makes the song “happen” ๐Ÿ™‚ He truly is a genius(and I’m not just sayin’ that ’cause he’s my favorite pianist!!). Take a look at this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_VHxptRXCA … did I mention that Tim is a genius?? ๐Ÿ˜€

        I’m excited about L5’s upcoming project! The tracks are going to be mainly piano, bass and drums ๐Ÿ˜€ GONNA BE GOOD!! I think it’s set to release around Memorial Day ๐Ÿ˜€ .

  8. @ JEB I agree with you about Tim! His playing really makes that song “happen”. He’s a genius!! I’m not just sayin’ that ’cause he’s my favorite pianist, either! lol ๐Ÿ˜€ . Take a look at this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_VHxptRXCA … Yup, Tim is as genius!!

    Can’t wait for L5’s new project with mostly piano, bass and drums ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Testing testing…

  10. Now why did it do that?! I’ve been trying to write a reply all day and when I hit the “submit” button, nothing happened!! Good grief.

    • The spam filter ate it.

      It’s been hungry lately, so it’s been eating legitimate comments it shouldn’t eat. I reprimanded it and retrieved the comments. ๐Ÿ˜›

      • Ooooh. Could ya… delete the extras?? LOL.

      • Well . . . yes, I am able to, if you really want me to, but I must confess to really, really liking having lots of comments on a thread!

      • In that case, Naomi C agrees. She says “Tim makes the song โ€œhappenโ€ ๐Ÿ˜€ He truly is a genius (and Iโ€™m not just sayinโ€™ that โ€™cause I like him! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). If you liked that, youโ€™ll probably like this tooโ€ฆ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_VHxptRXCA

        ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. Ok! Let me try this again! I was going to say:

    I completely agree with JEB about Tim’s contribution to “I Stand Redeemed”. He really makes takes the song to a whole new level ๐Ÿ™‚ Hey, if y’all like that one, watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_VHxptRXCA … Yup, Tim is the best!
    I’m also VERY excited about their upcoming project with mainly piano, bass and drums ๐Ÿ˜‰ Supposed to be coming out around Memorial Day, I think.

  12. Oh goodness. I guess all of my posts finally came through! Sorry, Daniel!! “Cleanup on aisle 5”!

    • No problem – it wasn’t your fault! Reference my comment about the starving spam filter. ๐Ÿ˜›

  13. ๐Ÿ˜Ž HAHA!! I was doing a community service and didn’t know it! LOL. ๐Ÿ˜›

    • Precisely.

      Still, if you really, really want me to delete them, I will. It’s just that 34 comments for the current post is sheer beauty to a blogger . . . ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Weeellll… I guess it’s ok. A little cyber-embarassment can be a good thing every now and then ๐Ÿ˜‰ . LOL

      • I’ll have to try that!

  14. I love the mix of band and tracks. I was around for the late 60’s early 70’s band era and I’m glad to see it making a come back. However, some songs just lend themselves to a “larger” sound than what you can get with a small band.

  15. Oh yeah, this is Jake Sammons… for anyone who doesn’t already know him! [EDIT, 6/18/12: Broken link removed.]

  16. It did it again! Just ate my comment! lol. Anyways, I was gonna say, it’s ok… I guess a little “cyber” embarrassment can be a good thing from time to time ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. That spam filter must be REALLY hungry!!

  18. Hey… just out of curiousty… why did the page title change a few minutes ago? I had to step away from the computer to speak with a customer, so naturally, I forgot what the title was ๐Ÿ˜›

    • Which page title? Is it still different?

      • Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back over here. It changed back after a couple minutes, but for a second, the main site title (SouthernGOSPELBlog.com) changed to something else… I can’t remember for the life of me what it was. “Blue” something.. I thought. It’s also highly possible that I’ve completely lost my mind! Is there any reason why the title would have changed?

      • No, you still have your mind.

        It briefly displayed the default logo, “StudioBlue,” during an upgrade that day.

      • Ohh, I see. I confess, I was beginning to worry about myself :-S

      • Nah, not to worry, you’re too young for your mind to go bad. Me, on the other hand . . .

  19. I would love to see more groups start traveling more with a live band… But when it comes down to the brass tax it is all about money… Now if we as fans were a little more willing to pay a little more to attend a concert maybe more groups can afford to hire a band… I will be attending a Gaither Homecoming in a few weeks… My first one actually! I have to say that I am excited… I will give a full report on everything including the live band… ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. I grew up in the era of live bands, especially Kingsmen, Gold City, McGruders, Nelons, Hemphills, Mid South Boys (Bowen/McGee era) and several more. These bands knew how to play and their concerts were so exciting. I agree, if the band is too loud, or not good or a distraction to the vocals, then give me tracks. But when you get quality players who know how and when to play and a sound man who knows how to mix a live band, the result is out of this world. I love the energy and off-the-cuff spontaneous element a good live band brings to the mix. I can’t wait to see some of these groups who are bringing back a band, and I hope they have the guts to turn off the tracks and just go for it live. I also think that’s one reason people may want to keep their eye and ear on the Akins. Totally live music played well along with great vocals. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m really excited for the future of southern gospel!

  21. I’m excited that EHSS is using a live band—not that that’ll ease the criticism any, people will just find something else to complain about, but it’s just a cool thing. I will say this though—I think they need to control the drummer a little bit. Found a video of “It’s My Desire,” very nice performance, but the drums were LOUD! Somebody should tell him to scale back there. But that is one of the problems with live music—the instruments just are more noticeable because they’re *right there*. Myself, I think you can dispense with the drums more often than some people might admit. A really talented accompanist like Wayne could do a lot with just piano.

    • I can almost guarantee it was the acoustics of that room (and the mix) that particular night. I heard them live a few months back, and the mix was great that night.

  22. Interesting! You’re sure we’re talking about the same one? Here’s the one I was referring to:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7-XKjXg-fg

    I’m going to see them in a couple weeks myself. Very excited. The little one literally began rolling around on the floor in hysterics when we broke the news to her. Easily her favorite group. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Question for you: they’re sharing the stage with a couple of supporting artists that night. How much of their set list from the concert you attended do you think they’ll be able to incorporate? I doubt they’ll get to all the songs they’d do for a night with just them. What do you think they’ll drop and what do you think they’ll prioritize?

    • NSF – Sorry, I have no idea what they’d prioritize, except that you can probably count on Reason Enough and The Old Landmark.

      • And “Oh What a Savior!” Whatever else they do or don’t do, I think I’m safe counting on that one…

      • That’s true!

  23. I really do not care if it is a band or sound tracks, BUT….Keep the volume of the music DOWN to a rational level. So many times the singer is trying to outdo themselves to get above the music. It is NOT for anyones benefit.It hurts our ears and strains their voices.

  24. I remember when quartets traveled and had only a piano player. I remember when Tommy Fairchild was the only musician with his quartet.