News and Notes For 8/13/2013

Yes, I’m still here, though life is insanely busy these days with an 8 year old starting soccer next week and a 6 year old that has started competitive cheerleading.  🙂  There have been several stories that have made the rounds lately that I really shouldn’t, and cannot, ignore.

  • Tracy Stuffle is back in ICU.  He has several challenges ahead of him, not the least of which is a so-far completely drug-resistant infection.  None of the antibiotics they have tried have worked.  There is an infectious disease doctor coming in to advise on how to treat further.  The infection has greatly reduced Tracy’s kidney function as well.  PLEASE be in fervent prayer for Tracy, Libbi, and Jared Stuffle, and for the rest of the Perrys.  Libbi has shown incredible strength throughout this entire ordeal, pray that God will continute to grant her that strength.
  • Josh Garner has departed Freedom and joined the Dixie Melody Boys as their new lead singer.  Garner has an incredible lead voice, and gives the DMB what is sure to be a fantastic vocal lineup.  I’ll be interested in hearing their first CD together, as it should be very, very good.  John Rulapaugh has every intention of keeping Freedom going, though as has been the case until now, on a very limited travel schedule.  Pray for John as he searches for a new lead singer.
  • Burman Porter announced last night that he was leaving the Dove Brothers due to health issues (hat tip, DJM).  Burman indicated that McCray has a replacement lined up already, so be watching for that announcement soon.

I’ve got several things coming up for the blog, including a review of the latest CD from the Old Paths, These Truths and I’ll revisit those Blackwood Brothers 78s I told you about a couple of months ago with a Classics Corner post. Finding blogging time has become challenging, but maybe the posts will be worth the wait!

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Mike Rogers Joins Brian Free & Assurance

Brian Free & Assurance announced tonight on their Facebook page that Mike Rogers will be joining the group as baritone starting at the Memphis Quartet Show on June 20.  Rogers had been singing lead for the Dixie Melody Boys for just short of a year.  Consequently, the Dixie Melody Boys are now searching for a new lead singer.  Here is the text of the press release:

Brian Free announced today a decision has been made in filling the baritone position. Joining the BFA family will be Mike Rogers of Kinston, NC who fans will recognize from his recent position as lead singer for the Dixie Melody Boys. Mike will join the group on June 20th at the Memphis Quartet Show.

Twenty-four year old Mike shares, “The warmth and humility from Brian and the guys when I auditioned made me feel this was truly a God-thing, and confirmed for me that I wanted to be a part of their ministry. BFA is very family-oriented, which means a lot to me. Ministry is important, but after God, family is top priority. Quartet music doesn’t get any better than BFA. They are top notch, and I am honored to join them.”

Brian states, “When I received the audition info for Mike I was very impressed with his vocal ability and the gift to deliver a song. After spending some time with him, his wife Bekki and daughter Coraline at my home, I knew he was the one God had sent to be a member of our family. I love his heart and the love he has for people. He will be a wonderful addition to BFA.

Having over 300 people apply for the job, it was a hard decision due to all the talent I heard. I want to thank each person who took their time and effort to apply for the position. I am truly honored that so many wanted to be a part of our ministry. I know God has a place and time for you to use your talent for him.”

Brian Free & Assurance’s first single I Want To Be That Man off their current project, Nothing But Love, went to number one the month of February on the Singing News Charts. Their follow up single, Calvary’s Cry has quickly climbed the charts and currently holds number six for the month of May.

To keep up to date with Brian Free & Assurance visit their website at: http://www.brianfreeandassurance.com/

Congratulations to Mike and the rest of BFA, and best wishes to the Dixie Melody Boys as they search for a replacement.

NQC Announces Evening Concert Schedule

The NQC just sent out a press release with the evening concert schedule for this year.  The King’s Heralds are no longer given the acappella breaks, having been replaced by Sisters.  Ernie Haase & Signature Sound is also nowhere to be found on the schedule.  It is good to see the Dixie Melody Boys back on the main stage after their controversial absence last year.  Also Soul’d Out and the Down East Boys are making appearances as well.  I really don’t have many qualms with the presence and absences after giving them a slightly more than a casual glance, and I’m pleased to see the return of Quartet Night.  The NQC hasn’t been all about quartets in many years, but I think reserving one night for the heritage of the event is fitting and proper.  You can find the schedule here, what are your thoughts?

NQC Schedule And Controversy

In recent news, the NQC has announced their main stage schedule here.  This has sparked some pretty heated discussion, as the Board cut down the number of artists on each night, and in doing so, eliminated some artists from the main stage altogether.  By far, the elimination causing the most controversy has been the Dixie Melody Boys.  Complicating matters is the fact that this year is the 50th anniversary of the Dixie Melody Boys, and the group had hoped to stage a “mini-reunion” with their set.

A few of the other omissions are notable to me as well: Soul’d Out, Liberty Quartet and the Ball Brothers.  I really feel like the Ball Brothers represent the future of SG music, so it’s a shame that they won’t be appearing this year, Liberty is the best quartet the average SG fan has never heard, and Soul’d Out is the reigning Horizon Group of the Year.  The 50th Anniversary of the DMB is the most unfortunate situation though, and I hope that the NQC Board will find some way to get them a slot to allow them to celebrate such a milestone.

That being said, look, the NQC Board is also really in a no-win situation here.  Every year we hear complaints about how attendance is dwindling, and how the evening concerts continually run into the wee hours and are way over the scheduled time.  The “stop light” and fines have helped some, but the concerts still seem to run long.  Credit the NQC for trying to address the situation.  The only real way to do so is to cut back the number of artists on the main stage each night.  In doing so, someone is by necessity going to have to be left out, and the artists and fans be upset by their omission.  If it’s the DMB, their fans would be upset, if it’s the Pfeifers, their fans would be upset, or the Primitives, or whoever it is.

My suggestion somewhat dovetails with Kyle’s above, but I’d suggest setting aside 2-3 slots that are reserved for a single slot for the “second-tier” artists, and let them rotate years.  Maybe one year you have the DMB, Primitives, and Chuck Wagon Gang, then the next year you have Liberty, Ball Brothers, and HisSong.  You could even merge the two suggestions and allow the groups without a prime time slot to have the “opening” slots that year.

Either way, the NQC Board is at least trying something, and there’s something to be said for that.  I’d rather see them trying new ideas than to be content to turn a blind eye and let the status-quo continue.

Ed O’Neal’s Food For Thought

I was listening to the Dixie Melody Boys’ project from 1997, 100% Pure Southern Gospel yesterday, and I guess I’d always skipped the last track, which is a recitation entitled “I Love To Tell The Story”.  The recitation is Ed’s response to a letter that was sent to a gospel music publication (Singing News, I’m sure) that criticized groups for selling tapes, T-shirts, and the like.  Ed’s response is very well articulated and thought out, and details some of what all goes in to traveling and recording SG music.  It seems that every few weeks or so, another entertainment/ministry or financial debate rages on various blogs and message boards.  Take some time and seek out this track, I think Ed gives a much needed dose of perspective.

SG And Fuel Costs: Part 6,472

In what is seeming to be all too common, with gas still being $1 more expensive per gallon than this time last year, groups are cutting expenses the best they can.  Some have lost bands (Kingsmen, BFA), some are restricting their schedule (Beene Family), some have come off the road completely.  The Dixie Melody Boys are selling their bus and purchasing a Dodge Sprinter van.  They are also very honest that the decision is due to rising fuel costs.  I’m really surprised that we haven’t seen more groups take this approach, though when you spend 200 days or so a year on the road, the relative comfort factor a bus gives makes it a tough thing to do without.

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