Higher Rock Music

"THE PILGRIMAGE" Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers

CD review by John DeGroff

Google the name "Johnny Cash" and you'll get 22,300,000 results. That's not a typo-22,300,000 results. What other kind of proof would be necessary to say that Johnny Cash has assumed the same iconic status as Hank Williams, Sr. in the genre' of country music?

Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers newest album, "Pilgrimage", is not just another tribute to Cash; rather, it's a detailed story of the long friendship Larry Gatlin had with Cash. The album's title comes from Cash's nickname for Gatlin-pilgrim. Cash's son, John Carter Cash, produced "Pilgrimage" for the Gatlin's CURB Records debut.

“The Pilgrim: I Never Had A Big Brother" is the introduction to "Sweet Becky Walker", and "Penny Annie", (Both writtem by Larry Gatlin) that meant a lot to Gatlin.

"The Pilgrim: My Own Personal Pilgrimage" contains the songs "Black Gold"; "Come Back To Texas"; (Both written by Larry Gatlin & Leslie Satcher) and "Handsome Young Gringo" (Written by Larry Gatlin) . Gatlin is from Texas and these songs reflect what getting back to ones roots mean to him. The Gatlins have some of the best harmony on the album on "Gringo".

"The Pilgrim: Country Music Will Never Be The Same" introduces "Johnny Cash Is Dead (And His House Burned Down)" (Written by Larry Gatlin/Music by Johnny Cash); "I've Done Enough Dyin' Today" (Duet with Lari White & Written by Larry Gatlin); and "He Bought Her Back" w/The Gaither Vocal Band (Written by Larry Gatlin/Jon Randall). These clearly are songs about change, redemption, and the ability to come home again.

"Johnny Cash Is Dead (And His House Burned Down)" is an amazing song. It's a well crafted tribute by any standard, especially since it's played in Cash's musical style, but more so because of the sentiment. It was while Larry Gatlin was having dinner with his son Joshua Cash Gatlin (named after Johnny, obviously...), and discussing changes in the music business, that Gatlin said that phrase. He immediately flipped the restaurant table's place mat over and started writing. And now we have the result of that one, casual remark.

"The Pilgrim: Now It's Our Turn", prefaces "Nashville, Whadda Ya Say"; "Americans, That's Who"; and "Fill Me" (All written by Larry Gatlin).

"Americans, That's Who" is probably the next top song on the album after "Johnny Cash Is Dead...". Granted, it's a patriotic song, but not in the cheesy, overwrought style of so many such tunes. The song catalogs a list of our country's achievements, and quite plainly says a lot that needs to be said, especially now with all the anti-American rhetoric coming from people within our own government. Thank you, Gatlins, for recording this. Let's pray radio makes a big deal out of it.

"Fill Me" is great Christian gospel. Lines such as "Come Holy Spirit, and fill every vessel/I am but one vessel/Here I am...fill me", pretty much let's you know where the Gatlin's stand. If this country music thing doesn't work out, I'm sure Bill Gaither could get 'em a gig.

"The Pilgrim: He Was There" introduces "If I Ever See Utah Again" (Written by Larry Gatlin & Roger Miller). The final two cuts, "The Pilgrim: Little Tin Cup" and "A Man Can't Live With A Broken Heart" round out the album.

It's the rare artist who can influence an entire generation, and continue to influence subsequent generations after they're gone. Elvis and The Beatles come to mind instantly. Johnny Cash's influence as a singer, songwriter, and musician is safely secured, well beyond his contemporaries. The fact that he was also a friend and mentor to other artists such as Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers is evident in the entirety of "The Pilgrimage". And having someone truly call you "friend" is the most fitting tribute ever.

Ohio's Allen County Fair with the BarlowGirl's & Many Others...

by Tina Leonard

You could see the grease hovering off of the funnel cakes in Lima, Ohio on August 24 as young and old alike waited to get into the grandstand at the Allen County Fair. It was a beautiful day to hear testimonies of great faith and melodies to change your heart and electrify your spirit. But then again, when it is not a good day for that kind of a celebration?

Although funnel cakes do tend to warm your belly, Ben Olin had a different hunger. The lead singer for This Beautiful Republic out of Toledo, Ohio was filled with the eagerness of the crowd to hear one more song, or to shout one more praise. For this band, they have heard the same shouts not only touring here in the states, but in several other countries as well. They released their latest album last year called "Perceptions" and have opened the eyes of thousands of youth along with similar genre’s of worship. Though some may not capture the message in fist pumping and guitar riffs, many are ministered to and challenged by the gospel message released. As Ben said himself, "Each person experiences things differently and from a different point of view when we understand this we can arrive where grace and love prevail."

Trevor McNevan, from Thousand-Foot Krutch is still recovering from an appendectomy he had last month, so House of Heroes stepped in at the last minute and saved the day. Fulfilling the very essence of their name. This Columbus based band is full of artsy guitar riffs and capturing melodies that leave you smiling and tapping your foot. Originally formed as a trio, they are now a quad unit but were absent one from another as they celebrated the marriage of Jared to his wife that previous Saturday. They have a slight similarity to a punk/rock version of the Beatles and in closing sealed the deal by performing "Can’t buy me love".

Personally, the highlight of my evening came when I was able to meet Barlow Girl. This exquisitely dainty trio of sisters can weave lyrics that will challenge you spiritually and produce musical harmonies that make you push yourself to accomplish all that God has purposed for you in life regardless of what circumstance you are facing. Born in Elgin Illinois, Becca, Alyssa and Lauren became the best selling new Christian Artist in 2004 and have continued to prosper in their calling to music ministry. They set and example to young female Christians who face many challenging factors growing up surrounded by the pressures of the world. The girls will be releasing a new album on September 8, 2009 titled "Love and War".

Though the evening had to come to an end for me due to pre-existing conditions of a work schedule, you know the thing many pray they actually HAD to worry about, I was unable to see the last band RED. I did however get to hear the testimony of OSU former defensive tackle for the Ohio State football team. Joel Penton, who graduated from Ohio State University, turned down an opportunity to play in the NFL to pursue a calling to be a motivational speaker and to share his testimony with others. The staff from YES FM out of Lima, Ohio introduced him. They along with the staff covering the groups merchandise tables made for a quite enjoyable evening full of hope, courage, dedication and best of all "higher" rock music.

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