Tuesday, April 24, 2007


By the way, classes are going great. I'm just snowed under. I have to clear off some of the extra stuff that clutters my life. But, not the blog.

Fresno Fan Fest

Another Southern Gospel Fan Fest is behind us. A great time was had by all. While I'll leave the commenting on Liberty's performance to other SG bloggers, I would like to hand out a few roses:

First of all, the Booth Brothers have to now be considered as one of the premier Southern Gospel groups in the country. Notice that I said groups. I'm talking quartets, trios, mixed groups, whatever. I've heard most of the SG "front-line" groups in the last year or two, and these guys are quickly becoming some of my favorites. They present such a diverse set; everything from classic Mosie Lister to contemporary to country. Then, when you mix in Michael's unscripted, spontaneous comedy with their smooth harmonies you have a winning combination. Michael is heir to Roger Bennett as the king of quick wit. One of the great running gags throughout the convention was Michael's war with the light guys. It was hilarious. But in addition to the never-ending laughs, the Booths can also instantly switch to a sensitive mood and deliver the most beautiful of ballads. They were incredible every night.

Secondly, the Isaacs wowed me with their musical talent and ministry. I loved their performances. In addition to Lily, Sonja, Becky, and Ben they have added a fiddle player (who is the best I have ever heard live), a guitar/banjo player, and a drummer. It's nice to hear a live band who can stand on the merits of their own music. The Isaacs will be able to go places most SG groups will never go based on their excellent musicianship. Regardless of genre, the Isaacs can stand on stage with anyone, Christian or secular. Becky and Sonja participated in Rodney Griffin's Songwriters Showcase. What I appreciated most was that they didn't try to gloss over all that their family has been through across the years. They acknowledged failures and disappointments but also shared the incredible moments of grace that have brought victory out pain. I am officially an Isaacs fan. Everyone should go out and purchase their new album, Big Sky. And, incidentally, Lily is one of the sweetest people you could ever talk to.

Thirdly, Legacy Five is here to stay. For all of those who have feared the worst since Roger's passing, I assure you to "be anxious for nothing". Tim Parton is one of the most gifted accompanists in SG today and perfectly complements the rest of the guys. They brought the house down on "Truth Is Marching On". The L5 guys are some of our best friends. They are performing better than they ever have.

I also enjoyed the Hoppers and the Greenes. Taranda Greene is one of the most gifted female vocalists I've heard for a while. Now, of course, her sister-in-law, Kim, is as powerful as ever. Both groups are incredible in a live setting. Greater Vision, the Florida Boys, and the Beene Family also turned in stellar sets. Oh, yes, I forgot: The Johnson Family. If you haven't heard these girls sing, you need to. They get better every time I hear them.

Some CDs that I picked up at convention and must recommend are:

The Isaacs: Big Sky
A new sound for the group, but awesome! Great lyrics.

The Hoppers: The Ride
The best album that the Hoppers have put out since the '90s. The biggest mistake that the Hoppers ever made was to sign with Spring Hill records. Their self-produced projects in the 1980s and early 1990s were much better than what they have suffered with for the past decade. The Ride is produced by the group and Lari Goss. It should be nominated for album of the year. Not only do they have great songs (which we've come to expect from them), but the mix and sound is incredible.

The Beene Family: Something to Talk About
This is the best album that the Beenes have ever put out. It features a mix of familiar songs with some great original material. However, the classics have such fresh arrangements that they sound new. A very impressive production.

H.I.M. Mass Choir: 3 CDs (There Is a Cause, Preach the Word, and I Choose the Cross)
I have really enjoyed getting to know Jim Davis. For those of you who don't know Jim, he penned the new Gold City song, "Preach the Word" on their Revival album. He is a wonderful man of God. He is an associate pastor at an Assembly of God church near Fresno. He is also a music teacher for their Christian school. They have a choir that tours every year, and I'm here to tell you they are one of the best choirs I've ever listened to. I have been listening to their CDs all day. All church choirs (and Bible college choirs) could pick up a few tips from their performances. Great stuff!

All in all it was a fantastic week. It was cool to see so many of you who read my blog regularly. Well, I guess semi-regularly due to my sporadic posting. I also need to shout out to our friends Eternal Praise, Inheritance, the California Melody Boys, Golden State Quartet, the Herb Henry Family, Master's Voice, and the River Boys. We had a great weekend together!

Can't wait 'til next year: May 1-3.