I Couldn't Believe My Eyes
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Recently I worked a table for the Singing News at a Paul Belcher concert event in Chattanooga. It was a wonderful evening on many levels.
First, and most importantly, there was a wonderful spirit in the building that night. 3000 Southern Gospel fans gathered to do more than tap their toes , clap their hands and sing along with their favorite artists. Most showed up ready to worship. Good, old fashioned, amen shoutin, hanky wavin worship!
The one thing that made me do a double take was when I walked toward the stage to do my Singing News Magazine pitch prior to the start of the concert. As I approached the stage, I saw some things that looked vaguely familiar.
The first thing I saw looked like nice buckets with some clear looking plastic stretched over the top of the cans. I think they used to call them drums. Sure 'nuff, when the Greesons took the stage a young man assumed his position on the stool and played along as his family sung.
The McKameys showcased the talents of super lead guitarist, Roger Fortner. Of course, Roger's son Eli has been playing rhythm guitar with the family for a few years now. As I stood at the side of the stage, I just kept staring at two guitars racked side by side. What a wonderful sight!
Then it really got good! The Inspirations took me back to my childhood when my parents would take me to hear them and their band. The aforementioned Roger Fortner played acoustic and lead guitar, Dale Jones played steel and anything else that was handy. Martin and Myron Cook assumed their usual spots on the piano and upright bass respectively. Fast forward to 2011 and there is Myron and Martin still "gettin after it," plus new band member, Luke Vaught. Luke plays everything with strings. This night he played lead guitar, acoustic guitar, steel guitar and piano.
Shucks, even soloist Michael Combs grabbed a guitar and played along with his tracks. He even played guitar solos and did so quite well.
Everywhere I looked, I saw real musicians with real instruments in their hands playing "real" music. Boy, was I a happy camper!
I have been burdened about the lack of musicians and real-live music in Southern Gospel. in recent years As a matter of fact, I consider it a problem that could lead to the near extinction of Southern Gospel Music if we don't make an effort to include stage musicians in our programs. Call me sometime and I'll fully state my case.
I understand the economic impact of adding extra people to the payroll. There's no easy answer to this problem. That doesn't change the fact that it IS a problem.
That said, we may be seeing the pendulum swing the other way. Just like my Chattanooga experience, I am seeing more and more musicians and bands pop up throughout Southern Gospel Music.
So to those in our industry who are employing musicians, or play an instrument themselves, let me say a hearty thank you! I make this promise to you; Singing News will support you any way we can. Over the past several months, Corey Pearson (yet another musician) has been writing a column titled, "And The Band Played On." This monthly column will continue for a long time as long as we continue to field top-notch professional musicians. Also, we have recently reinstated the Favorite Band category for the 2011 Singing News Fan Awards.
So I say, tune 'em up and turn 'em up as the band plays on....