Concert Review: Dixie Echoes (Shelby, OH)

Last night, I went to see the Dixie Echoes at First Lutheran Church in Shelby, Ohio. This was my first time to see them with new bass singer Trent Adams. The set list was similar to previous times I’ve seen them in concert, with a few notable exceptions (detailed below)

  • On the Other Side of Jordan
  • Until Then – featuring baritone Scoot Shelnut (Randy Shelnut Jr.)
  • Up to the House of Prayer
  • Close to the Master – featuring lead singer Randy Shelnut Sr. – power delivery that got a strong response
  • Group Intros
  • Sing Your Blues Away – piano solo featuring Stewart Varnado
  • I’ll Be Ready – featuring Randy Shelnut Sr.
  • Walk With Me – Wesley Smith
  • Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho – Randy Shelnut Sr. on lead guitar, Wesley Smith on rhythm guitar, Scoot Shelnut on bass guitar
  • Goodbye, World, Goodbye – again an instrumental, same three musicians
  • I Am a Pilgrim – Randy Shelnut Sr. on lead guitar, Scoot on bass guitar, and the quartet members singing; notably, Stewart Varnado stepped up to the microphone to sing several bass lines twice in the song. It was the first time I’d heard his singing voice.
  • Now I Have Everything – featuring Scoot Shelnut
  • Offertory: When They Ring Those Golden Bells – piano solo featuring Stewart Varnado
  • Welcome Home My Child – featuring Wesley Smith
  • On the Wings of a Dove – featuring Randy Shelnut Sr.
  • Just a Little Talk With Jesus – featuring Wesley Smith on a solo (with bass singer Trent Adams singing several bass lines)
  • How Great Thou Art – featuring Randy Shelnut Sr.

Though most of the program was unchanged from the last time I saw them, there were several notable changes. First off, though Randy Shelnut Sr. has been quite an accomplished musician for years, it has been quite some time since he really was let loose on an instrument on the live stage. He’s easily one of the best guitarists on the road in Southern Gospel – not that there’s much competition right now, but he is good either way.

Second, after having heard for years that Stewart Varnado has wanted to sing bass very badly, it was neat to hear him actually do it. But actually, he didn’t sing bass very badly; perhaps it would have been had he gone lower, but in the range he sang his voice sounded great.

One final observation. Despite the fact that bass singer Trent Adams is nineteen, he left no question that he was worthy of holding down the bass spot in a professional quartet. Most of the time, he stayed within a low baritone range, presumably for more volume in the Dixie Echoes’ trademark two-microphone setup. But he was able to drop lower when the occasion called for it. He knows his limits and stays within them.

While he had a few step-out lines, such as on “I’ll Be Ready” and, of course, “Just a Little Talk With Jesus,” he did not actually have a solo all evening. It is completely understandable that he wouldn’t sing “How Big is God”; Pat Barker’s rendition of the song has taken off to the point that it’s more a Pat Barker song than a Dixie Echoes song. But other songs in the recent Dixie Echoes repertoire, such as “I’d Rather Have Jesus” or “Not in a Million Years,” could have fit Adams’ voice well.

Even if you saw the Dixie Echoes as recently as a few months ago, it’s worth going to see them again. Even with much of the program unchanged from a year ago, there is enough new material to make it worth your time and an enjoyable evening.

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12 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Great review Daniel! I am hoping to catch the Dixie Echoes sometime soon…

    They have a new album coming out in August… It will have what I think will be Trent’s big feature for them… The song is “Child Of The King” that was his signature song during his Blackwood days… Here is a link where you can pre-order the CD and see the song-list album art etc…

    • Come to think of it, they ran through the song at soundcheck, but didn’t stage it.

  2. Trust me when I say that Trent can hit the LOW notes. I heard him when he was 15 and he was lower than me then. He will do a fantastic job for the Echoes. I get to hear them at Brumley for the first time. Can’t wait!

    • Wow! That’s amazing. Was that when you were a minister of music and had focused on shifting your range upward for a while?

  3. Good Review Daniel. Having hearing Trent with three differect groups I think he fits in with the DE the best. He just blends with them better than anyother group he has sang with. I’ve got the DE booked in October along with The Melody Boys and we are looking forward to a great evening with the traditional type music. It’s going to be good to have a very young bass singer and a very old (did I say that) bass singer at the same concert.

  4. I was minister of music and was doing a reunion type concert with a quartet from my church that I had sang with a few years before. Hopes Journey was there for the benefit as well. I was so impressed with Trent and we became friends quickly. I really hope him all the best

    • Neat! Well, he certainly seems to be off to a great start.

  5. I’m surprised that Trent wasn’t featured on at least one song. Was he having vocal issues?? Regardless, he does a fantastic job!

    15 different songs (not including the offertory), three of which were instrumentals… I’m sort of wondering why the tenor and bass weren’t featured more??

    And while I know that Stewart’s singing on one song is for a crowd reaction, he actually does sing bass well. And I’m not just saying that! 🙂

    • No, he wasn’t having any vocal issues, at least that I could tell. You could say he was featured on Just a Little Talk with Jesus, but Wesley Smith had the solo. So maybe I’m just splitting hairs when I say he didn’t have a solo.

      I thought Wesley was featured a decent number of times – at any rate, it was comparable to what I’ve seen in the past, a big feature or two and a number of choruses and step-out lines.

  6. I was at the DE concert in Grand Haven MI on Sat, july 17. Trent did sing “Child of the King” that night and [minor edit]. I also commented to my wife that I didn’t think Wesley was featured much. I heard the DE’s last fall and thought Wesley was featured much more. I personally was impressed with the guitar playing but I would prefer hearing the boys sing. It was a good concert but I have heard them on better nights.

  7. I heard DE in Owensboro, KY Friday night. They were on the show with two local other local folks who sang WAY too much. When the DE hit the stage [edit] They sand for 24 minutes, including the three instrumentals! Now Wesley solo or Trent solo. I wondered if one or both were sick, or if they were just mad about going on so late.

    • Chances are the concert promoter told them they only had 25 minutes.

      Major groups will sometimes find themselves put in that pickle, given only a brief time after extended slots by local acts. Let’s just hope that was a concert where they got a flat, not dependent on a love offering.