Photo Gallery: Mark Trammell Quartet in concert

Editor’s note: My family saw the Mark Trammell Quartet in concert last weekend. Here are photos and a video from the event.

Video Greeting from Pat Barker

(Footnote for those who have no sense of humor or don’t understand his: This was tongue-in-cheek, and in light-hearted fun!)

Photo Gallery

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Concert Review: The Ball Brothers with Chad McCloskey (Buffalo, MN)

Despite a bus tire exploding, a car not starting, and a “late” leave time, our family was able to attend a Ball Brothers’ concert this past Sunday evening (May 6th, 2012) in Buffalo, Minnesota during Chad McCloskey’s second full weekend with the group.

When the Ball Brothers ran up on stage, immediately, the crowd was interested in this exciting group of five young men. As they opened with their signature “do-dos” on “Happy Am I”, we were instantly impressed with their cohesive blend. With each note precise and solid, the Ball Brothers have probably the strongest group blend we have heard live. And with their new vocalists, Andy Tharp and Chad McCloskey, they are on top of their game. They easily master intricate harmonies and send them hurling into the audience as a unifed wall.

Daniel Ball’s robust lead vocals provide a rich, full sound to the group, and Andrew Ball’s clear, silky tenor fuses their distinctive blend. Both of the brothers’ voices have matured since we first heard them on tour with Ernie Haase and Signature Sound in 2006, and they are some of the most polished vocalists in our genre.

Andy Tharp, who recently replaced Stephen Ball as baritone, has a very reliable, resonant voice and unassumingly adds greatly to their harmonies. The Ball Brothers made a fine choice for a new baritone!  Andy does well adding a country twang to his voice, as on “Walking in Jerusalem” and “I’ve Been Redeemed”.  

At 22 years old, the newest member, Chad McCloskey, has an exceptional voice and range. He sang “Beulah Land” with his own creative improvisations, and held down the low parts of the rest of the songs well.  He is a great addition to the group!  

Cody McVey, formerly of the Kingsmen Quartet, is a talented piano player and it was fun to observe his technique.

Enthusiastically diverse, the group offers a broad selection of music, covering their style of Southern Gospel, contemporary, jazz, country, bluegrass, and even a touch of classical. But each song was refreshing and filled with the message of Jesus Christ.  Their ending song of the concert, “It’s About the Cross”, defines their ministry and message, and they passionately deliver their now popular song with power.  (See below for a video.)

A particular highlight was listening to the story of their beginnings, which they shared candidly while sitting on the church’s stools (theirs weren’t as nice, supposedly). They also paid tribute to the Cathedral Quartet by singing “Plan of Salvation”, which was neat for our family to experience, as we were never privileged to hear the famous quartet share this touching song live. Daniel Ball carried the solo well and Cody McVey’s piano playing recalled Roger Bennett’s familar piano arrangement.  Also, they made a familiar Cathedrals’ song “Glory Train” their own, adding a humorous twist.  (See video below.) 

In 2006, when we first saw the Ball Brothers, Ben told one of the brothers that when they had their first stand-alone concert in Minnesota, we would be there. Amazingly, God graciously allowed this to happen, and are we glad to have been able to attend! The promoter told us that many people wanted the Ball Brothers back, and we’d encourage any promoter to have this 2011 Horizon Group of the Year at their church or venue.

Here’s a video of assorted song clips from the night:



“It’s About the Cross”



“Ride that Glory Train”




To read a list of songs from the concert, click “More”.  

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Booth Brothers Pictorial Concert Review and Caption Contest

On March 17th, 2012, the Booth Brothers, with the Declaration Trio, returned to Maplewood, MN for their annual concert at Lakewood Worship Center.  Below is a pictorial review of the blessed night with captions created by Sam, Jayme, and Caleb (with help from older siblings!).  Also, scroll down for details about a chance to win the Booth Brothers’ latest CD: “Let It Be Known”!


Give This Picture a Caption and Win!

We need a caption for this picture!  The person with the winning caption will receive a brand new copy of “Let It Be Known”, the Booth Brothers’ latest CD.   Leave your caption in the comments by 9:00 a.m. EST, Friday, March 30th!

UPDATE: We have a winner! Daniel’s Siblings, also known as the Once Quaking Judges Who Are Now Powerful and Loving and Of A Sound Mind, selected this comment from Joy (March 29, 2012 at 10:36 pm):

Ronnie: “Wow, you have a lot of flies buzzing round your horses and cows. Do you ever shoo them?”
Michael: “No we just let them go barefoot.”

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“Silhouette” is Still Rolling!

Those who had the opportunity to see the legendary Cathedral Quartet in the 1990s will remember the quartet’s famous black Silver Eagle bus. Many were privileged to see this special coach sitting outside churches and auditoriums when the quartet toured across the nation, but not as many were able to view the inside. Recently, Sam, Jayme, and Caleb Garms (along with big sisters Taylor and Leesha and a few other little friends) had the memorable opportunity to tour the grand old “Silhouette”.

The original owner of the bus was Bill Gaither and he sold it to the Cathedrals in 1991. After the Cathedrals retired in 1999, the bus eventually came under the ownership of Ernie Haase and Signature Sound when the group formed in 2003. When Signature Sound upgraded their transportation, they sold the bus to the Forgiven Quartet from Oklahoma.

The Garms family met up with Forgiven Quartet at the Floyd Gospel Sing in Floyd, Iowa, September 2011. Stanley Johnson of Forgiven offered to give the Garms kids a tour of the inside of the Cathedrals’ former bus and we eagerly accepted. Not only was it a tour of the Cathedrals’ bus, it was also our first tour of any entertainer bus!

Caleb describes the bus tour this way:

“Well, the bus was black and it had swirls on the sides. First we went up the steps – the door was really heavy. Then we came into the living area with a kitchen, a couple couches, and chairs. Then we went to the bunk place; you go into this tiny hallway and there were bunks on each side and red curtains on all the bunks. There was a tiny, itsy-bisty bathroom. Then he showed us where all the clothes were stored; it was a big bus actually! It was really exciting being in that bus because it was the Cathedrals’, Signature Sound’s, and Bill Gaither’s bus! I can’t believe George, Glen, Roger, Scott, and Ernie had actually been in there. It’s something I’ll treasure for the rest of my life!”

Jayme’s thoughts:

“It was cool, but a little cramped. I felt a little nervous because I didn’t know what it was going to be like. My favorite part of the bus was probably the back lounge; it looked comfy. 🙂 It was weird to be in the bus the Cathedrals had traveled in.”

Leesha commented on the experience,

“It was pretty amazing. I had always wondered what the Cathedrals’ bus actually looked like and I finally got to see it. I kept expecting Glen and George to appear around a corner!”

The funniest part of the whole tour was when a man’s face suddenly popped out of one of the bunks. One of the group members had retired to the bus to rest and he was just about as surprised to see us, as we him!

Sam summed up the experience this way: “It’s not the bus which makes the bus special; it’s the persons who lived in it.”

Here are exterior photos of “Silhouette” by the Garms Family:

And here is a video tour of the bus’s interior hosted by Ryan Bilby of the Forgiven Quartet (aka The Man We Woke Up On the Bus):


The Garms Family thanks Stanley and the Forgiven Quartet for the chance of a lifetime. It was an honor and special memory we treasure!

Have any of you been on the Cathedrals’ bus or a different Southern Gospel group’s bus? What was your experience?

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National Quartet Convention 2011: Photo Gallery

The 2011 National Quartet Convention has concluded. We survived the crazy hours and are gearing up to plunge into a busy week of regular life. But first, here are a few photo highlights:

(click on any photo to enlarge; then use left and right arrows on keyboard to flip through gallery)


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Creative Ways to Get to NQC: Part Three


Third “Creative Way to Get to NQC”:


Length of Trip: 191 hours at 4 miles per hour – an estimated nonstop gallop of 7 days

Jayme Garms (age 9) enlisted her stick-horse, Thunderbolt, to be her means of transportation for the trip of 766 miles from Braham, Minnesota to Louisville, Kentucky.  

Jayme’s packing list:

  • I should bring an extra cowboy hat just in case I’d go so fast I’d lose my first one;
  • and I wouldn’t bring much.

Jayme’s food for the trip:

  • Reese’s Pieces (but those might melt);
  • and five apples, because they have some water in them and they’re something to eat (and my horse would like apples).

The people Jayme is most looking forward to seeing:

  • First of all, Daniel J. Mount…if I get there.
  • Once all my family gets there, I’d want to set up a booth by the Booth Brothers.

Jayme’s message to all 2011 NQC attendees:

“If I make it, I’ll see y’all at NQC.”


For a gallery of more “Creative Ways to Get to NQC”, click more. 

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Creative Ways to Get to NQC: Part Two

Dad and Mom Garms - Tractor

Second “Creative Way to Get to NQC”:


Length of Trip: 85 hours at 9 miles per hour – an estimated nonstop drive of 3.5 days

Dad and Mom Garms chose the family’s lawn tractor and trailer to be their means of transportation for the trip of 766 miles from Braham, Minnesota to Louisville, Kentucky.  

Dad and Mom’s packing list:

  • a suitcase full of shoes for Mom;
  • a suitcase full of hats for Dad;
  • Good Sam Roadside Assistance Membership card; 
  • a road map;
  • “Deep Woods Off” bug spray;
  • two toothbrushes and one tube of toothpaste;
  • 14 gallons of water (one a day for each Dad and Mom; the rest to barter with Caleb for gas);  

Dad and Mom’s food for the trip:

  • plain M&Ms for Dad;
  • peanut M&Ms for Mom;
  • trail mix;
  • and carrots.

The people Dad and Mom are most looking forward to seeing:

  • The kids, if they make it.
  • All the Cathedral Quartet alumni and their groups.

Dad and Mom’s message to all 2011 NQC attendees:

“If we don’t make it, we either took a wrong turn, got stuck behind an Amish buggy, or were waylaid mowing lawns to fund our trip (i.e. buying gas from Caleb).”


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Creative Ways to Get to NQC: Part One


First “Creative Way to Get to NQC”:


Length of Trip: 383 hours at 2 miles per hour – an estimated nonstop walk of 15 days

Caleb Garms (age 8 ) selected a wheelbarrow to be his means of transportation for the trip of 766 miles from Braham, Minnesota to Louisville, Kentucky.  

Caleb’s packing list:

  • a couple books;
  • extra clothes (like my suit); 
  • four pairs of shoes; 
  • some money to buy CDs and just to get there, like for gas; 
  • some pictures of my family;
  • and some magazines like the Singing News.  

Caleb’s food for the trip:

  • beef sandwiches;
  • carrots;
  • and apples.

The people Caleb is most looking forward to seeing:

  • The Mark Trammell Quartet
  • The Booth Brothers
  • Legacy Five
  • The Ball Brothers
  • Triumphant Quartet
  • The Blackwood Brothers Quartet

Caleb’s message to all 2011 NQC attendees:

“If you see me, you’ll know I made it.  If you don’t see me, you don’t want to know what happened.”

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Concert Review: Ball Brothers (Asheville, NC)

Last night, the Ball Brothers appeared at Trinity Baptist Church’s Land of the Sky Jubilee event. (Despite the name “Jubilee,” it wasn’t actually the fiftieth year; it was the forty-second!)

The biggest change from the last time I caught them in a full concert was that youngest brother Josh has grown noticeably more confident in holding down his fourth part. It was less a doubling of the baritone part and more of a bass part (though keyed in a low baritone / high bass range). Also notable was Daniel’s continued growth as a lead singer. He has gotten better every time I’ve seen the group, and this was no exception; he should now be numbered among Southern Gospel’s ten best lead singers. 

New pianist Cody McVey has been with the group a little over a week, but already knows the material well. Not only was he playing the right chords and fills—he was playing them at the right openings in the soundtracks. One thing the Ball Brothers’ music is not is simple, and he is already admirably up to speed.

The group opened with the energetic acapella number “There is a Mountain.” While a fair number of the songs they sang came from their latest major-label release, Breakthrough, and their just-released table project Recharged, they reached as far back to their debut project at several points, notably “Peace of God.” (It was intriguing since it appears they no longer carry it on their table.) They got their strongest response of the night with their final song, “It’s About the Cross.”

Here are several pictures:


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New Photo Gallery: Perrys, Dove Brothers, Inspirations

Two months ago, I attended the Inspirations’ Fall Colors Sing, featuring the Perrys, Dove Brothers, Inspirations, and Balsam Range, and blogged about it here. I secured a front-row seat, so I took quite a few pictures there; from the “I hope this is better late than never” department, here’s a photo gallery. Enjoy!

Update, 5/19/11: The link has been updated to reflect the new gallery location.

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