Concert Review: The Dills

Last night, my church hosted the Dills in concert.  We actually only had about 2 weeks to promote the concert, but still had a pretty decent turnout.  My guess would be 100-150 people in attendance.    Our church quartet opened the concert with a song, and then turned the service over to The Dills.  Here is their setlist:

  • He Promised Me
  • Lord I Lift Your Name on High
  • Days of Elijah
  • The Lord’s Prayer (acappella)
  • Holy of Holies
  • I Quit
  • I See A Mountain
  • End of the Beginning
  • It Is Well
  • Oh I Want To See Him
  • Tired of Running
  • I Am Redeemed

Intermission

  • Oh What A Beautiful City
  • I’m On Tour
  • Worth It
  • Sheltered In The Arms Of God
  • Shout To The Lord
  • Uncommon
  • Jesus Never Fails

The Dills were in fine form last night, and I’ll give them kudos for varying their song set, as there are several differences in the song list here, versus when I saw them back in April or so.  One really nice thing they’ve added is an acappella rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer” that was very well done by the group.  One of the strengths of this group is their musical versatility.  They can flow from straight ahead Southern Gospel straight into Praise & Worship and back again almost seamlessly.  “Holy of Holies” is a great song, and Shawn did a tremendous job on it last night.  I’ve always thought “I Quit” was a great song for LeeAnn, and she proved me to be correct last night.  That song just fits her voice very well.  Musically there are no complaints from me, they did a great job.

Tim continues to improve as an MC, and his flexibility and ability to change their song selection based on the overall atmosphere and flow of the concert setting were on full display last night.  Partially due to the personal connection that I have with the group, and partially due to the fact that several family members were in attendance, the concert felt very loose and informal, which simply enhanced the experience for all in attendance.  There were actually a pretty fair number of people who had never seen the group at the concert, and I can’t help but think they came away with a very positive impression of The Dills.

Tim had asked me before the concert if I had anything I wanted to hear them sing, and I joked around about picking out the most obscure songs from their earliest albums I could, but at intermission I went to him seriously and requested a couple of songs, one of which was “Worth It.”  It’s a beautiful song, and one of my wife’s favorites.  He said they hadn’t done it in a long time, but that they’d do it for me.  As he called the song, he mentioned from the stage that this was one that they “never really do.”  After their performance last night, guys, you need to be staging that song every night.  Bridget’s interpretation is wonderful, and it really ushered in a sweet, genuinely emotional time that lasted from that point until the end of the concert.  LeeAnn sang a verse and chorus of “Sheltered In The Arms Of God” for her parents that was overflowing with emotion, and they immediately went into a strong rendition of “Shout To The Lord.”  It’s amazing to me how well a SG standard fits with the more recent P&W hit, but the arrangement of those two flow really well together from the group.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll take this opportunity to say it again.  “Uncommon” and “Jesus Never Fails” back to back make the single most powerful invitation/altar call that I’ve ever witnessed.  Tim mentioned last night that they’ve closed with those two songs for several years now.  Unless they come across a “Midnight Cry” or the like, they don’t need to change it.

Again last night’s concert, up until “Worth It”, was very informal, relaxed, and almost had a “jam session” like feel to it.  Once the Spirit took over at “Worth It”, I have to commend the group for their sensitivity to the overall spirit of the moment.  It was one of the sweetest and most touching concert times that I’ve  experienced.  We laughed a lot, and we cried some when things got serious.  If you have a chance to see The Dills in concert, please take the opportunity.  You won’t regret taking the time to do so.

Photos:

Upcoming Concert: The Dills

Earlier this week, my church booked The Dills for Sunday Night, Oct. 3.  Yes, I know, it’s a week and a half away, but they will be singing at 6:00 PM at Faith Baptist in Atoka, TN.  As always, there is no admission charge, and a love offering will be taken.  If you are in the Memphis area, come out and enjoy a great night of Gospel music!

Dove Brothers Slash CD/DVD Prices

In the latest email from the Dove Brothers, they have announced that due to the sluggish economy, they are slashing their CD and DVD prices in their online store to $10 each, plus shipping and handling.  Unless I’m mistaken, didn’t the Dove Brothers raise their CD prices to $18 or $20 a couple of years ago?  On the whole, it’s probably a smart decision to cut them now.  Regardless of what data you may see on the news, the prevailing perception of the average person is that the US economy is still struggling, and we all know that perception is reality.  What will really be interesting will be in we see any other groups following the DBQ’s lead.

I do know that the Dills have recently been offering to give a CD to concert goers who really want one, but truly can’t afford to purchase one, so this is actually just another ripple effect of the economic woes in the SG industry.

Concert Review: The Dills

I had the opportunity last Friday night to attend a concert by The Dills at another church in the Memphis area.  The crowd was pretty sparse until right at concert time, and then quite a throng all came in at once, to fill the church to about 1/2 -2/3 capacity.  My guess is around 100.  The concert started at 7:00, but it was nearly 8 before The Dills hit the stage.  More on that later.  Here is their setlist:

  1. He Promised Me
  2. Lord I Lift Your Name On High
  3. Days Of Elijah
  4. Holy Of Holies
  5. I Quit
  6. I See A Mountain
  7. I Love To Tell The Story
  8. It Is Well
  9. I Feel Like Traveling On
  10. Haven Of Rest
  11. Tired Of Running
  12. Keep On Praying
  13. Oh I Want To See Him
  14. The Prayer
  15. Lord I Only Want To Worship You
  16. Leaving On My Mind
  17. Shout To The Lord
  18. Uncommon
  19. Jesus Never Fails
  20. Oh What A Beautiful City

The Dills continue to improve on their sound and stage presence.  This was the best I’ve heard them sound, and their work is being rewarded.  One thing that immediately jumped out from the first chorus of “He Promised Me” is that Tim now spends a lot of their concerts actually singing bass.  On pretty much every song that he wasn’t featured on, he sang the bass part, which really helps fill out their sound.  Granted, Tim Dill is not Tim Riley in range, but he does fine at putting a foundation to their harmony, and while it surprised me, it was pleasantly surprising.  They also keep the right balance between their singing and talking, as evidenced by the fact that they actually performed 20 songs(!) without an intermission.  Their current single “Holy of Holies”, featuring Shawn, is incredibly powerful live, and LeeAnn did a fantastic job on “I Quit.”  Tim has a very self-deprecating style of MCing that is quite funny, but he does a great job on his features too.  “I See A Mountain” didn’t really jump out at me on CD, but Tim’s performance live was very good, and made the song much more enjoyable.

They performed several songs from their new disc, Hymns, and all were done very well.  As on the CD, “It Is Well” is a big time standout, and “Oh I Want To See Him” is a great concert number.  The story was told about a man named Alonzo trying to teach Shawn to dance, which led to some funny moments during “Tired Of Running.”  My 5 year old thought Shawn was hilarious.  They also did several requests, with Bridget singing a very pretty tune entitle “Keep On Praying.”  A surprise was also in store with Shawn moving to the piano for the group to tackle the Rusty Goodman classic “Leaving On My Mind”, which was dedicated to a good friend of the group’s who had recently passed away, and it was a very touching moment.  The group then moved to a great version of “Shout To The Lord” with piano only accompaniment from Shawn again.  These two songs back to back really brought the concert to a reflective mood, and set up their wonderful invitation of “Uncommon” and “Jesus Never Fails.”  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again….this may be the best 1-2 punch for an invitation I’ve ever seen.  The message in the songs, and the video to “Uncommon”, make for a perfect invitation.  The group then closed with “Oh What A Beautiful City”, another of my favorites from them.

The Dills continue to make improvements by leaps and bounds.  They were most definitely “on” Friday night and did a marvelous job.  They are a great group of folks, and if you get a chance to see them in concert, by all means go!  You’ll really miss an enjoyable experience if you miss them.

As I mentioned earlier, the only drawback to the concert was that The Dills didn’t start singing till nearly 8:00.  The church group sang for 45 minutes at the start of the concert, which I feel was way too long.  Other than that, it was a great night!

SGN Scoops Announcement

SGN Scoops, if you’ve never read it, is an all-digital format SG magazine.  It’s owned by Rob Patz of SGM Radio and is published by Kelly Capriotti Burton.  A little over a month ago, Rob sent me a message over Facebook and asked me if I would consider writing an article for the magazine, and put me in touch with Kelly.  So, when the April issue is released, most likely tomorrow morning on Monday, 4/5, you will find an article on the Dills from yours truly.  I will continue to be blogging, nothing will change there, but in addition I will be contributing articles to SGN Scoops as well.  You can check out the e-zine here.

Review: The Dills – Hymns

Hymns is the latest release from The Dills.  It is a table project that was produced by Matthew Holt, who also contributed his piano playing talents to the project.

Tracks:

  1. When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder – The tracks starts of with some audio effects to make the song sound like it was pulled off an old album with the group accompanied solely by Holt’s piano.  After the first verse and chorus, you hear the sound of a needle being drug across the record, and the full track enters with some nice banjo licks.  Shawn Dill then sings the last verse as a solo and is rejoined by the group for the chorus with some nice background harmonies and some non-traditional chords.  The key changes and they repeat the chorus twice and then tag the ending.  Solid version of the classic.  8/10
  2. It Is Well – This is a great cut that has a bit of a neo-classical feel to it.  The verses are done in a minor key with LeeAnn Dill singing the first two lines of the verse, and Bridget Dill taking the last two lines.  This pattern is repeated for the second verse, and it’s very effective.  The chorus keeps the minor feel with some smooth group harmonies.  Shawn Dill then takes the third verse and does a fantastic job on it, showing some nice upper range.  The group then does the first two lines of the last verse unison then split into three part harmony for the last two lines.  The chorus is then repeated with some two part counterpoint before splitting again for the last line.  Then they repeat the chorus with some nice round-like harmonies.  The tag then takes them up into a nice suspended chord.  I really like this arrangement, it’s unique.  9.5/10
  3. I Love To Tell The Story – Bridget Dill steps up to sing the verses on this hymn.  They’ve given it a soft swing treatment with some great piano playing from Matthew Holt.  The chorus is sung by the group very smoothly.  This is a solid, enjoyable version of the hymn, there isn’t anything flashy here, just good singing.  7/10
  4. Haven Of Rest – This song enjoyed a comeback in popularity due to the version done by Glen Payne and Guy Penrod on the Gaither video Joy In The Camp.  It then tended to be redone several times, with everyone trying to recapture the Payne/Penrod magic.  Thankfully, this isn’t one of those copycat versions.  It’s still done in a ballad style, but Shawn Dill doesn’t try to sing it like Penrod, which is refreshing.  There’s some very nice harmony on the chorus.  After the first chorus, the key goes up a half step, and Shawn sings the second verse and takes the key up another half step on the last line.  The chorus is then done in the new key.  Shawn’s range is high enough that with LeeAnn and Bridget stacked above him, they can really push the harmony way up, which is exactly what they do on the tag, and they nail it.  Another great, and different, version of this song.  8.5/10
  5. I Feel Like Traveling On – Tim Dill gets his first feature on this song, taking the melody with Shawn and Bridget above him.  Tim sings the first couple lines of the second verse as a solo, then they add an additional vocalist on each of the last two lines.  After the chorus, they change keys and Shawn takes the lead, with Tim dropping to a baritone part and Bridget above Shawn.  It’s a solid rendition.  7.5/10
  6. Before The Throne Of God Above – This is another neo-classical tinged song that I was not familiar with before hearing their version.  Bridget Dill is featured and she does a marvelous job on a song that really stretches both ends of her range.  This song sounds a bit like what you’d hear on a Celtic Woman CD.  Bridget sings the first two verses as a solo, then the changes and the rest join in, with the melody flipping back and forth between Bridget, LeeAnn, and Shawn.  This is a great song and is my pick of the CD.  10/10
  7. Blessed Assurance – LeeAnn steps up to sing a fairly straight ahead version of this hymn.  LeeAnn handles the verses solo and then the rest of the vocalists come in on the chorus.  I really like the ensemble sound with LeeAnn singing the melody, Bridget above her, and Tim and/or Shawn below.  That particular configuration gives them a nice full sound.  Again, there’s nothing too flashy here, just some solid singing.  7/10
  8. My Jesus I Love Thee – Tim takes the lead on this song.  The first features some nice duet lines with Shawn, and ends with Bridget joining.  It’s a great sound.  Those three then take the second verse.  Tim keeps the melody throughout with the other two stacked above him.  Tim really does a great job on this song, it’s done very softly, with just a slight build after the key change to the last verse.  It really is a beautiful rendition of a great song.  8.5/10
  9. Oh I Want To See Him – Shawn takes the lead on this song with Tim below him and Bridget above.  It’s a fairly straight ahead, fast paced version of this classic.  The third verse is done solo by Shawn immediately following the second verse and a key change.  They repeat the chorus twice and put in a nice high tag.  Solid version of the song, but I’d have liked to have heard them change keys again and give Bridget the lead, I kept expecting it.  8/10
  10. Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior – Bridget takes the lead on this song, and sings it beautifully.  They use a nice chord on the end of the first chorus, sounds like a major second.  It’s a nice touch.  Bridget then sings two verses solo before the others come back in a bit stronger for the next chorus, that ends in a key change, and they do a really neat “stair step” ascension to keep the vocals building into a repeat of the chorus.  LeeAnn has some nice passing tones in the tag, where the intesity is brought back down and they end the song with some very pretty “oohs.”  It’s a great way to close the CD.  8.5/10

Overall:  8 While this CD isn’t quite as strong as Story Of A Lifetime, it isn’t meant to be.  It’s primary focus is to be an easy, enjoyable listen of a collection of hymns, and in that it is very successful.  The arrangements of “It Is Well” and “Before The Throne”, however, are incredibly strong and could easily be placed on a mainline release.  This project features the typical smooth blend of the Dills, and the fact that 6 or 7 of the songs came from fan suggestions on their blog makes for another unique piece to this project.  The key change on “Pass Me Not” is vocally one of the highlights of the album.  They didn’t just sustain the key change chords, but that ascension together is superb.  This is a very well done CD that producer Holt and the Dills can be very proud of, and one that is definitely worth seeking out, as it will provide a lot of enjoyable listening.  Great job by all involved!

The Artist Websites Of The Future

As Doug at AVFL mentions in his latest post, a lot of what he and Mickey Gamble, on his Gospeleer blog, have been talking about  with regard to the dramatic shift in the music industry and the idea of “tribal” marketing coming to the forefront.  There are two sites that I believe are early examples and prototypes of what will become of artist websites.  One is The Dills, and the other (and just released to the world) is Lauren Talley’s site.

There is a basic, fundamental difference between these two sites and most other artist websites.  This difference is in the personal connection with the audience.  Most artist sites are somewhat distanced from the viewer, here is Group X, here are their tour dates, here is a short bio on the members, and oh yeah, buy their stuff in the store.  If you look at the Dills site and Lauren Talley’s site, you will see that the approach is much more personal with the fans.  The main page of the site is the artist blog where the artist posts thoughts, announcements, whatever they feel like sharing, and the viewer has the opportunity, and is in fact encouraged, to leave comments or questions for the artist.  The artist can and will occasionally then respond to the comments or questions left by the fans.  The Dills, instead of just putting a link to their twitter pages somewhere on the site, actually have their latest twitter posts showing up on the main page.  Yes, the signup for the newsletters are there, but in Talley’s case, the standard offer (as opposed to a special, limited time offer seen elsewhere) is made of a free mp3 download for signing up.  The standard website fare is there, tour dates, store, etc., but it all feels like it is coming straight from the artist, not from an impersonal webmaster.

It’s taking what was begun with the Talley Tree-o site that Crossroads did, with the site having great success, and instead of making that an afterthought community site, it’s now the main place to go for all things by the artist.  It’s their main web presence…more communication, less presentation.  I think these two sites are a great window into what is coming down the road from the industry as a whole.

%d bloggers like this: