Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Jesus House Harmonies

Recently heard from an old friend, Ron Houtz, who was part of a band called The Wild Olive Branch Band. They played often at the Jesus House. Being reminded of them, I began to think of the groups who played the JH who had incredible vocal harmony. I’m a horrible harmony singer, but I love it. This can be explained by growing up on The Beatles, loving the Birds, Crosby, Stills & Nash, but also the Doo Wop groups of the late 50’s early 60’s. Many groups, like Prodigal, Willoughby-Wilson and Rising Hope had good harmonies but the harmonies were not the driving force of their sound. So, my personal favorite harmony groups, in alphabetical order: Odor, Clark & Burns: Not together very long, but these three could fill a room with more harmony than any three voices should be able to produce. I was especially pleased because it gave my long time friend and musical partner, Kent Odor, the opportunity to get out of his system all the harmony that he heard in his brain that adamsfishyodor was not able to produce. Rough Draft: a.k.a. Forerunner. The only Jesus House Band I ever re-named! These guys, sometimes three, sometimes four, had some of the most interesting and unique harmonies. Not all of them had strong solo voices, but their blend was always incredible. Stephens-Brigance: Steve & Barb Stephens with Deny Brigance not only presented great vocal arrangements but interesting acoustic guitar work. Three voices, three guitars with the songs mostly written by Barb or Deny and the occasional secular song thrown in. One year they came at Christmas time and led us in a variety of Christmas carols made even more beautiful by their harmonies. At the infamous concert in Williamsburg, Ohio, where the number of musicians equaled or perhaps eclipsed the audience attendance, Rich Mullins and I sat beside the stage and listened to Stephens-Brigance’s set. When they finished Rich turned to me and said, “They are my favorite group.” Wild Olive Branch Band: a.k.a. Latter Reign. These three had simple, three-part harmony. Each were able to sing lead on songs with the other two singing harmonies. One of the few groups that had three lead singers & three song writers. Zion: It would be easy to assume that Zion was simply a back-up band for Rich Mullins. Even though Rich wrote the bulk of the songs, listening to their one album or live performances found online, quickly dispels one of this notion. They had strong, four-part harmonies that drove their sound. Vocally, Beth, Jen, & Tom were equal partners with Rich. Of course, when you have a voice in your group as rich and strong as Beth’s you’d better do something with it! In this article, I’ve identified two groups who changed their names during their Jesus House career. What other prominent group, also mentioned in this article, changed their name?

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