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.