Concert Review: The Debut of Legacy 5’s New Lineup

Change, they say, is inevitable. Few genres of music experience the turnover in personnel that we see in Southern Gospel. But sometimes, change is a good thing. Sometimes it can bring a new direction, a new energy, and a breath of fresh air. This is what we experienced tonight with the debut of Legacy 5’s new lineup. Lee Black is the new tenor, Scott Fowler remains on lead duties, Bryan Walker is the new baritone, Matt Fouch continues to hold down the bass part, and Josh Townsend on piano rounds out the new lineup of the group.

Set List:

  • Who Is This Man?
  • A Comfort to Know
  • I Found Grace
  • I Stand Redeemed
  • Getting Ready to Leave This World – piano solo
  • Love Pure Love
  • The Book
  • Great Is Thy Faithfulness – Bryan Walker solo
  • God’s Been Good
  • Champion of Love

Intermission

  • Well Done My Child
  • God Bless the USA
  • I Made It To Arlington
  • Hallelujah Chorus
  • In the Hands of a Carpenter
  • When the Saints Go Marching In

First of all, though I REALLY wanted to do it, it was requested that no video be taken. So pictures are all I have. I talked with Scott before the concert, and he told me the record labels are going to try and crack down on videos and especially Facebook Live during concerts due to copyright laws. In this YouTube world, I’m pretty skeptical, but we’ll see how this goes.Legacy 5 took the stage tonight with a lot of energy. The excitement of finally getting on stage with the new guys was palpable. “A Comfort to Know” really set the tone for the night, as they inverted the last vocal chord up from the album cut, which helped the energy of the song immensely. This is as good a spot as any to brag on Lee Black. We already know he’s a fantastic writer, but he’s got a nice clear tenor voice and is likely their highest tenor since Frank Seamans. Just his range and clarity alone being a fresh sound to the group, and he did a masterful job on “I Stand Redeemed” and his own penned “In the Hands of a Carpenter”, which featured him moving to the keyboard and singing it as a duet with Fowler.

Both of the new songs that the group performed on their announcement video were performed, and “Love Pure Love” is especially catchy, while “The Book” is very strong lyrically. Bryan Walker then sang a verse of “Great is Thy Faithfulness” acapella, as he used to do with The Perrys. Bryan had been off the road for a few years now, but his voice is as strong and expressive as ever. His voice is so vastly different than Scott Howard’s, but with the brighter tenor tones of Lee Black, Walker fits like a glove. That combination has a world of potential. If you’ve never heard Josh Townsend’s testimony and heard him sing “God’s Been Good”, you need to do so as soon as possible. What a touching an encouraging message. The first half closed with a good rendition of “Champion of Love”.

After intermission, the group hit the stage with the old convention classic “Well Done My Child”. After a comedy bit, Josh Townsend took over the lead from Scott Fowler, but featured some of the highest harmony I’ve heard out of Legacy 5 in years while Matt Fouch rattled the walls with his bass note on the end and the crowd absolutely loved it! The concert ended with a rousing, New Orleans jazz inspired take on “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

For a debut of a new lineup, with 50% of the vocalists changing, the concert could only have been considered a rousing success. It sounds cliche to be sure, but the really was a renewed sense of energy and an enthusiasm in both the crowd and group that was easily felt. Vocally, these guys have a great blend and it will only get better with time to really gel. I’ve not said much about Matt Fouch yet, but this was my first opportunity to hear him and I came away incredibly impressed. He really kicked in the subs several times last night, but did so seemingly effortlessly and without even a hint of vocal fry. He’s got a really full, resonant bass voice that is very pleasing to the ear. Scott Fowler did a great job as lead singer and emcee. It was very obvious that he was excited to kick off this new era of Legacy 5, and mentioned several times that it was a historic night.

Replacing a founding member, especially after a long tenure, is always a challenge. Bryan Walker is definitely up to the challenge. He is so much opposite of Scott Howard vocally that I think it will work in his favor. There’s really no way to compare them as their voices are so different. Lee Black is a very big change at tenor, and it’s definitely a good change, especially with Bryan Walker’s lighter tones at the baritone spot. Having a songwriter of Black’s caliber in the group is also something to watch for, as I expect their material to take a huge leap as well, even as strong as it already was. The future for Legacy 5 looks extremely bright, and I’m excited to see how their sound evolves in the future. This was a great start.

Concert Review: Greater Vision

Greater Vision was in concert last night at my church, East Memorial Baptist in Prattville, AL. Turnout was pretty good, my guess is about 500 or so in attendance, maybe more. Heaven’s Harmony, a mixed quartet based in our church, opened the concert with two songs before Greater Vision hit the stage.

Set List:

  • Search Me Lord (Heaven’s Harmony)
  • Happy Rhythm (Heaven’s Harmony)
  • You Were Faithful Yesterday
  • Walls Come Down
  • Paid In Full Through Jesus Amen
  • For All He’s Done
  • Why Me Lord
  • He’d Still Been God
  • I Know A Man Who Can
  • God Doesn’t Care
  • My Name Is Lazarus
  • Still

Intermission

  • Put Out The Fire
  • Rolled Back Stone
  • The Lighthouse
  • I Know He Heard My Prayer
  • God Is So Good
  • God Wants To Hear You Sing

It had been quite a while since I had seen Greater Vision in concert, and this was my first time to see Jon Epley along with Gerald Wolfe, Rodney Griffin, and Chris Allman. They sang for about an hour and a half, and focused on well known songs from the group’s long history. GV has long been one of Southern Gospel’s top trios, and last night’s concert was a prime example. Their vocals are superb, the concert was paced very well, and Gerald had a great rapport with the audience as an emcee. It’s very obvious the influence of George Younce on Gerald’s emcee style, but to his credit Gerald does not attempt to imitate his former boss, but rather has his own style.

Jon Epley was featured on two songs, Why Me Lord and The Lighthouse. He did a great job on both songs, and really brings a fresh sound to the group’s blend. Especially in his mid and lower register, he has a sound reminiscent of Mark Lanier, the former baritone for Perfect Heart. Jon is a true baritone, much like Mark, and adds a fullness and depth to the sound of the group that it had never had before. He really fits in well with the group.

Chris Allman continues to shine in his role as the group’s tenor. He has such a smooth and clear voice, and provided a couple of highlights of the concert on For All He’s Done and I Know A Man. He has continued to bring an added dimension to GV with his songwriting, as his material has a different feel than Rodney’s. I really enjoy Chris being back with Greater Vision.

Speaking of Rodney Griffin, he is a model of consistency, both with his songwriting and his vocal abilities. Vocally he sounds the same now as he did 20 years ago. While he is frequently the target of Gerald’s jokes and plays the role of goof very well, he also shared a very touching testimony about his father in law and God’s faithfulness.

Gerald played piano and served as the emcee for the evening. He only sang on one song, a great arrangement of I Know He Heard My Prayer that is more of a traditional power ballad as opposed to the oft imitated Statesmen arrangement. I Know was definitely the biggest highlight of the night. I definitely miss hearing Gerald sing, especially on the big ballads like There Is A River or Till The Storm Passes By.

Greater Vision has really been a consistent group since Griffin joined 25 years ago, and even with Wolfe stepping away from vocal duties and Epley coming on board to handle the baritone spot that consistency is still present. Their blend is very smooth, and has seemingly gotten more so with Epley. Their material is top notch, though I will say I was a bit surprised at how much the set list was weighted toward their older material. Epley really seems to have found a nice niche and home with GV, and as he continues to grow into his role, I’ll be interested to see how their sound and arrangements evolve. If they are in your area, do yourself a favor and go see them. Tonight was a great night of worship and singing with a top tier group. Thanks guys for a very enjoyable night!

Concert Reminder: Greater Vision

Just a quick reminder for any readers in the Birmingham or Montgomery area that Greater Vision is singing at my church, East Memorial Baptist in Prattville, AL tomorrow evening. Concert starts at 5:30. No admission, a love offering will be taken.

Everything Changes, and an Upcoming Concert

Greetings from the great state of Alabama! It’s been quite a while since I posted anything here, so let’s catch up!

You will of course notice I said the state of Alabama, and you may recall from previous concert reviews that I lived in the Memphis area. That all changed late last year as I took a new job and moved my family from the Memphis, TN area to the Montgomery, AL area.

New job, new house, new church, but through it all God has been faithful and blessed us beyond what we deserve. We miss family and friends in TN, but we are very happy in our new home.

As a means of getting back into this thing called blogging, any of my readers in the Montgomery or Birmingham areas, let me invite you to a concert this Sunday night at our new church. Greater Vision is in concert at East Memorial Baptist Church in Prattville, AL at 5:30 PM this Sunday evening, August 5. A concert review will follow on the blog for the first time in quite a while. Come out and enjoy a night of gospel music!

A Day of Changes

Today has certainly not been without its share of news, and in fact marks a surprising end of a couple of eras. 

Several years ago, Bill Gaither made waves by forming an all star version of the GVB when Guy Penrod and Marshall Hall departed by convincing Mark Lowry, David Phelps, and Michael English to return and join with Wes Hampton and Bill. Today, the last of those all star returnees left when David Phelps announced his departure effective April 1. Taking his place is Reggie Smith, who has been around the GVB for quite a few years now and is a fine tenor in his own right. 

The most surprising change today doesn’t originate in Alexandria, Indiana, but rather in Bryson City, NC. The Inspirations have announced that Martin Cook, long time owner, manager, and pianist of the group, has resigned all of those responsibilities and that long time and beloved tenor, Archie Watkins, has returned to manage the group. This weekend, Watkins announced, the current members of the group will be joined by several past members. Cook’s departure is most certainly the end of an era in SG,as he has been a fixture since day one of the group’s history. 

Both of these groups certainly will bear watching in the weeks and months to come, as especially with The Inspirations the changes are probably not over. 

The Old Paths Return

News broke today that The Old Paths are returning to the road, albeit with a much reduced schedule. The press release reads they are appearing on “select dates.” Since Jeremy Peace is now singing with The Lefevre Quartet, and doing very well there I might add, the group needed another tenor. They found a good one in Steve Ladd. I am really excited to see Steve back in a quartet setting. I honestly don’t know I can name a person that has grown as much as a singer over the course of his career as Ladd. If you listen to his early Anchormen albums and then to his solo material, he almost seems like a completely different singer. The group will be releasing a project with Crossroads later this summer. I for one will be looking forward to hearing it! 

Mark Bishop and Forget the Sea

One of the projects that really caught my attention during my extended hiatus was this project with Mark Bishop and his kids/in-laws. I may go back and do a more formal review of this album sometime, but I was extremely impressed with it. Mark brought a truly new and fresh sound to SG with this effort. I remarked to a friend that it was “hipster gospel”, a sound that you would expect to hear at a small coffeehouse somewhere. 

However, things just have never seemed to take off with the group. A quick glance at the website shows one date scheduled in August. It looked with product bundles and their website in general that they were really trying to make a splash. 

This saddens me. Maybe other things have unavoidably gotten in the way, but I was excited to see something truly new and unique in SG. Either way, it’s a sad comment on our industry that innovation so rarely seems to be encouraged and pushed to the top. I hope that they haven’t given up and will keep trying. I for one appreciate the creativity and willingness to try something new. 

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