Concert Review: Greater Vision (Columbus, OH)

Last night, I saw Greater Vision in Columbus, Ohio. Since I hadn’t seen that date the last time I checked their schedule, a month or two before, I actually found out about it from their newsletter that afternoon and made a last-minute decision to go.

Song list:

  • He’d Still Been God – featuring baritone Rodney Griffin
  • You Were Faithful Yesterday – featuring tenor Chris Allman
  • There’s Never Been – Griffin
  • Better Hurry Up – no solo
  • Hallelujah Square – Allman
  • My Name is Lazarus – all solos
  • It Pays to Pray – Griffin
  • A Mighty Fortress – no solo; interestingly, I noted that lead singer Gerald Wolfe doubled the melody in the bass octave at points; either that’s new to their arrangement, or I hadn’t noticed it before
  • At this point Gerald Wolfe called up a lady from the audience who had showed him a 1983 Dumplin Valley Boys poster prior to the concert. He showed it to the audience, and pointed out a member of the group at the time with whom he still had lunch most weeks. That member, whose name is presently escaping me, recently had someone bring to him the same picture (though on an album, not a concert poster). After signing the picture, that member looked at the suit he was wearing in that picture, twenty-seven years ago, and realized that he was wearing that very suit!
  • He Pilots my Ship – Wolfe
  • It is Well – Wolfe – incredibly powerful performance, to which the CD version (on Faces) seems almost sterile. Standing ovation (first of the night, though Allman received prolonged applause after “Hallelujah Square.”)

During intermission, as Wolfe played the offertory, I noticed that he was using both the grand piano’s sustain pedals and organ-style foot pedals. His feet have to be about the busiest in Southern Gospel, with how many times he taps his feet while singing, and evidently they work even harder when he’s at the keys.

Second set:

  • I Want to Know that You Know – Wolfe
  • Source of My Song – Allman
  • Blessed Assurance – Allman – enthusiastic response
  • Far Above the Starry Sky. Wolfe introduced the song by saying that a big ole guy had asked for it, and they didn’t dare not do it, even though they had not sung it for years. He asked the person who had requested it to stand so everyone could see who had asked. Then, after another couple of sentences, Wolfe asked him if he had the group’s original rendition. He said that not only did he have it, he had sung their arrangement. At this point Wolfe – perhaps not entirely serious – said that he ought to come up to sing it with them. He did, and delivered a pretty good performance of the song. The song received a standing ovation; I suspect this was partly due to the Susan Boyle effect, the effect of the completely unexpected being at least decent, particularly with a person who doesn’t look the part (in this case, look like a tenor). Wolfe helped set it up for a big response by commenting that it would either be really bad or really, really good, and by that point, even decent would have gotten a fairly strong response.
  • A Pile of Crowns – Griffin. After “Far Above the Starry Sky,” Wolfe actually seemed unsure where to go next, pondering aloud how they could follow that. He ended up going with a slow message song, and the transition worked well.
  • Without Jesus – Wolfe
  • Without Him – Griffin, setting up the altar call
  • Champion of Love – Wolfe. Standing ovation.

I had already heard nearly the entire program live a month or two ago, so I primarily went to hear for myself what Chris Allman would sound like back with the group. (He was the group’s original tenor, and as regular readers here know, he recently returned to the group after a fifteen-year hiatus.) The observation I’ve seen elsewhere that Allman seems as though he’s stepped out of a time warp seems apt; unlike most tenors in their later thirties or forties, he seems to have not lost any of his range or voice quality, hitting even the highest notes with ease and confidence.

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52 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 believe the name you’re looking for from the Dumplin Valley Boys is Kyle Underwood. That’s too funny about the suit!

    • That sounds right.

      It was funny! Fortunately, even though most of the jokes were jokes I’ve heard before, there were a few things – that and the setup to “Far Above the Starry Sky” that were new material for the repeat fans. 🙂

  2. “The Susan Boyle effect.” I like it. 😉 In all fairness though, I think Susan Boyle was a little underrated (which doesn’t make any sense I know). But I meant critically underrated. She really has a great talent.

    Hmmm, sounds like I should go find some vids with Chris Allman. Very impressive for him not to have visibly aged as a tenor. Much easier if you’re a bass.

  3. “Without Jesus” – is that the Duane Allen one “…you won’t make Heaven”? Or is something slipping my mind?

    I’m really excited about this new group.

    • No, the Rodney Griffin one (surprise! 🙂 ), from the 20th Anniversary project.

      • 😯 I don’t have that!!!! I have to get some stuff off that project!! I did see it on iTunes a while back; let’s see if we can take care of that this afternoon.

      • I was more than a little surprised by your question, to say the least!

      • I am going to get married this fall, and it weighs heavily on my mind how two people living on one income will maintain a comprehensive SG selection.

        Perhaps I will start a blog on living economically and buying SG.

        That was news that I meant to introduce into the online world a little differently, but I guess this is as good a time as any!

      • Congrats Amy! Here’s hoping you’ll be able to maintain a creditable collection of good music with your budget. Oh yes, and methinks you’ve got an idea for wedding gifts there…unless people feel like they just have to give you crockery instead. 😉

      • But the problem is when you need the crockery. :sigh:


      • Thanks! 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Well yes, there is that little distinction between “wants” and “needs.” Ah well, presumably you have more than one friend/family member who could give you something…? There may be hope yet!

      • Yeah, come to think of it he (with the best of intentions) picked up the crockery for $10 at a garage sale (without asking me) (in a very out-of-date pattern). (He still thinks it was a good idea because I reminded myself that it’s the thought that counts.) So maybe I could find some garage sale SG!

        (Apologies to Daniel for taking this thread off-topic again. I really do want to hear the new Greater Vision, and I hope they put out some new stuff soon. Really, really soon. And I love “Far Beyond the Starry Skies.” I don’t remember knowing that they’d recorded it, but it’s just the right sort of song for Greater Vision.)

      • Amy, no problem! For something that momentous in the life of one of our most active commenters, you’re more than welcome to take this thread off-topic. 🙂

      • We’re going to do engagement pics next week, probably. If I can convince him that it won’t attract axe-murderers our direction, I’ll try to post one or two on my personal blog.

      • Great!

      • Congrats Amy!

        I hope the intended is a SG fan of long standing…

        “How can two walk together unless they be agreed”,

        though in all sobriety that covers a lot more momentous ground than SGM.

        Still, it is nice to agree easily on the CD’s or mp3’s to play on a long journey –

        we been truckin 26 years and we agree on most things, still!

        God bless!

  4. I don’t know if it’s in the original recording of “A Mighty Fortress”, but Gerald has put that in their arrangements of other songs before. Example: “I Sing The Mighty Power of God”.

  5. Haha. Where in the world is your blog pulling my picture from?

    • You must have an account with Gravatar. Virtually any WordPress-enabled site that has avatars would be pulling images from there.

  6. Daniel, how are you posting one-word comments?

    Do you remember trying to convince L5 to record “The sands have been washed in the footsteps of the Stranger …” and they didn’t bite? I still mean to email Gerald and suggest Greater Vision do it.

  7. I’ve noticed that Rodney’s been playing the bass again at their concerts when Gerald is on the piano.

    • Yes, he played bass on a number of songs.

  8. Kyle Underwood is who you are speaking about, Daniel.

  9. I, too, have seen them since Chris Allman re-joined the group and have been amazed that Chris’ voice has held up so well. His range and vocal tone still impressed me.

    I’m so pleased that they have re-introduced Pile of Crowns and It Is Well With My Soul back into the lineup. Pile of Crowns is one of my all-time favorites of theirs and I could sit and listen to Gerald sing his arrangement of It is Well With My Soul all day!

  10. Daniel…you didn’t really say in your “review” what you thought about their sound, other than chris holding up well. I think they sound they best they have since he left. What did you think? I also like (as a long time gv fan) that they have returned some to the piano/bass stuff that set them apart in the early days. What do you think?

    • I liked the sound.

      • Hmmmmmm… 😉

        (filler, filler, filler)

      • No need to read anything into that . . . just a straightforward answer to the question. 🙂

      • I thought sure that MTT – I mean MTQ had spoiled you and we’d lost you for GV! (Not really quite, but probably pretty close!)

      • I’m not sure I understand – are you saying you think MTT/MTQ was my favorite and isn’t now, or wasn’t and now is?

      • Just a joke I didn’t take time to word clearly. That after hearing MTQ you’d completely lost interest in GV.

        In which case we would have to part ways, my friend! 😀

      • Actually, we can stay friends. 🙂

        You see, ever since I discovered Southern Gospel, the MTT was always my favorite trio. But now they have a bass, so they’re not my favorite trio anymore!

  11. Pardon, pardon si vous plais…just wondering for a moment… 🙂

    • Sorry, no hablo francais . . . and now I’ve proved that I don’t know either French or Spanish.

      • LOL!

        (filler, filler, filler)

      • I think it should “s’il vous plait” but I’m not sure about that either. (Just being obnoxious here.)

      • So I would mess up my grammar correcting someone’s French. “I think it should BE … “

      • So I would mess up my grammar correcting someone’s French. – Sorry, but that’s just funny! 😀

      • Parlez vous anglais sur cette blog, mon freres?

        Votre anglais, C’est tres horrible, sacre bleu, comme la soccer de la France, je pense!

      • Díky bohu za počítač přeložit nástroje!

        Nid oes unrhyw ffordd y byddwn yn gallu cadw i fyny gyda’r hyn yr ydych anhygoel o bobl dalentog yn dweud fel arall, kể từ khi tôi không nói bất kỳ ngôn ngữ khác ngoài tiếng Anh!

      • Ek is dof. ek kan nie verstan nie hierdie blog vandag!

        Waar is die engels blog vir die Suide Evangelie?

      • 我怎么知道你会张贴在南非荷兰语吗?

      • Okay, I have no clue what just happened… 😯

      • Especially since I only speak one language!

      • Seems the Franglish, French, Polish and Afrikaaner bloggers didn’t stick around long.

        Maybe all gone to a very far away blog, where they speak Greek!

      • Ήταν ότι μια τολμούσε;

  12. I can’t wait for their next album.

  13. Does anyone know the link to hear Greater Vision sing “Far Above The Starry Sky?”