Old Time. Clappin’ time. Gospel time!

The Old Time Preachers Quartet at Sand Spring Baptist Church. From left are substitute bass Mike Keller, baritone Les Butler, tenor Tim Owens and lead Adam Borden.

Old Time Preachers Quartet lives its mission of preaching the timeless message of God’s Word

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. – It was about halfway through a concert at Sand Spring Baptist Church on April 28 when the Old Time Preachers Quartet truly lived up to its name.

The group’s co-founder, Les Butler, took his place at the church’s grand piano. The rest of the quartet, tenor Tim Owens, lead Adam Borden and fill-in bass Mike Keller joined in on an impromptu trip back in time, belting out some of the great gospel classics of the last 75-80 years.

Continue reading “Old Time. Clappin’ time. Gospel time!”

Just picking for Jesus

The Ol’ Elkhorn Pickers Club performs at Sand Spring Baptist Church on March 31, 2022. From left are bassist Gary Mitchell, Jeff Brewer, rhythm guitarist David Rayborn, drummer Ken King and guitarist Joel Miller. Behind Miller is keyboardist Rodney Smith.

Ol’ Elkhorn Pickers Club delivers joy wherever it goes

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. – They might have an unconventional name, an unconventional history and even a mission that’s a bit different.

But when the Ol’ Elkhorn Pickers Club took the stage at Sand Spring Baptist Church last Thursday, the music was about as traditional as it could be as they sang the unchanging message found in the Bible.

And in their first appearance at Sand Spring, the Pickers brought the house down with several standing ovations from one of the largest post-covid crowds in the popular gospel concert series. 

Not bad for a group of guys who simply got together to have some fun playing music at Midway, Kentucky.

Continue reading “Just picking for Jesus”

Common Bond’s journey anything but common

Common Bond Quartet sings at Sand Spring Baptist Church on Dec. 31, 2021. From left are Rick Towe, Bob Melford, Lee McCarren and Rick Melton.

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

There was nothing extraordinary about Common Bond’s beginnings but over 12 years, the popular quartet has enjoyed a right that has been quite uncommon.

There were few big dreams 12 years ago when members of a worship team serving a church in Mt. Sterling, Ky., decided they were going to have a little fun with the music they love.

“The praise band decided it would sing some southern gospel. That was 12 years ago,” remembers Rick Melton, who put the quartet together.

Continue reading “Common Bond’s journey anything but common”

Pointing people to the Cross

Greater Vision sings at Sand Spring Baptist Church on November 18. From left are Gerald Wolfe, Jon Epley, Rodney Griffin and Chris Allman.

Greater Vision’s Jon Epley talks about legendary trio’s mission in its music

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. — Jon Epley could only break into his Kentucky country boy smile as he described the schedule he’d been keeping with Greater Vision in 2021.

“We have been so busy,” the Ohio County native said. “In the last two months, we have done 42 concerts. We had ninety concerts canceled last year so this year we are making up for it.”

It’s another way of saying COVID might take the acclaimed trio off the road for a while but it will not silence its message.

Continue reading “Pointing people to the Cross”

Living the music

Triumphant Quartet’s Clayton Inman sings “Eye of the Storm” during the group’s concert at Sand Spring Baptist Church on June 17, 2021.

Triumphant Quartet’s Clayton Inman reflects on The Goodness of God seen in The Eye of the Storm. He really is Bigger than Sunday.

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. — Only a few moments before, Clayton Inman had a near-capacity crowd at Sand Spring Baptist Church howling with laughter. 

He’d danced and gyrated while waving a handkerchief in what every fan of Triumphant Quartet knows as one of his signature concert moments, his performance of “White Flag.”1 It’s one of those moments that prompts Triumphant bass singer and program emcee, Eric Bennett, to make some jokes about people not judging the rest of the group by Inman’s hilarious performance.

Continue reading “Living the music”

Bringing joy, receiving joy

Bryan Elliott, a favorite of gospel music fans, performs with The LeFevre Quartet at Sand Spring Baptist Church in Lawrenceburg, Ky., on May 13, 2021.

LeFevre Quartet pianist Bryan Elliott reflects on lessons learned and lived through pandemic. And he’s mighty happy to be back on the road

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. — When he sat down at his keyboard Thursday night, Bryan Elliott showed that nearly a year off the road had not affected his very talented hands.

He can still make his keyboard talk.

OK, not quite, but it just seemed that way at times as he accented The LeFevre Quartet or brought the house down with rousing solo work. Elliott played everything from old-fashioned Southern Gospel to classical Christian and a lot in between. And his demeanor ranged from laser-like focus to hamming it up for a camera — mine!

It was more than 90 minutes of joy as The LeFevre Quartet opened the Sand Spring Baptist Church gospel concert series. 

Continue reading “Bringing joy, receiving joy”

A nice problem to have

From left, Greater Vision’s Chris Allman, Jim Brady and the Mark Trammell Quartet’s Nick Trammell and Randy Byrd form a makeshift quartet in the Gerald Wolfe Hymn Sing at First Baptist Church of Cold Spring in October. The concert was a huge blessing during a year marked by chaos. (Photo by John Herndon)

After 14 months of a nearly blank calendar, things are changing. And it’s for the good!

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

I have a little problem.

Actually, it’s a nice problem and one that’s been too long coming, so I’ll certainly not complain! I’m just itching to get to a few gospel concerts.

I don’t know about you, but being able to hear people sing about the Lord, His goodness and being inspired to serve Him better is a big part of my life. And it seems that with all that has happened since March 5, 2020, a major part of my life was taken from me.

The Old Time Preachers Quartet performs in concert at Sand Spring Baptist Church on March 5, 2020. A week later, the music industry came screeching to a halt. (Photo by John Herndon)

Now, I don’t really know what to do.

You see, when I look at the KentuckySings concert calendar, I see many more concerts than I can possibly attend. 

And that’s a good thing!

Last March 5, I was blessed to attend a concert by the Old Time Preachers Quartet and Beyond Grace at Sand Spring Baptist Church.  That night, I talked with OTPQ members Les Butler and Mike Holcomb about the concert, their ministry and plans.

Little did any of us know what the next 14 months would bring.

Continue reading “A nice problem to have”

‘Praise Him anyway!’

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Deanna Boone and her son, Matthew Armstrong, came together to form Beyond Grace last year. The duo is turning heads in Kentucky gospel concerts. (Photo furnished)

Beyond Grace turning heads with simple message of victory through Christ

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

Deanna Boone’s formula for a happy life is very simple: Praise God in everything and have fun doing so.

And when Boone and her son, Matthew Armstrong, take the stage as Beyond Grace, it’s obvious that the duo is having a ball while praising God.

“As my mamaw always said, ‘Praise Him anyway!” Boone says with an enthusiasm that girds every song Beyond Grace sings. “Regardless of what you are going through, praise Him!” Continue reading “‘Praise Him anyway!’”

Staying true to their calling

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The Old Time Preachers Quartet sings at Sand Spring Baptist Church on March 5, 2020.

Old Time Preachers Quartet focused on ministry, regardless of  the situation

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

When we sat down to talk that night in early March, it’s doubtful that Les Butler, Mike Holcomb or I had any inkling of the significance of what was intended to be an interview about the ministry of the Old Time Preachers Quartet.

We met at the group’s product table about 30 minutes before the group was to take the stage at Sand Spring Baptist Church near Lawrenceburg, Ky. A big crowd would be on hand as the Old Time Preachers were opening the 2020 season of the church’s popular concert series.

As we brought the discussion to a close, I mentioned to both that due to some personal business and the fact that I anticipated being quite busy working quite a bit of high school basketball tournament action in the coming days and weeks, it might be a couple of weeks before I posted the interview. Life quickly changed and the interview was a piece that was never published.

A few minutes after we ended the chat, the Old Time Preachers Quartet brought the house down with a concert that included a mix of familiar old songs and new tunes. And true to the group’s name, there was a challenge to make Christ the Lord of one’s life.

Life has sure changed since March 5. The COVID-19 crisis has sent just about everyone home, including the Old Time Preachers Quartet and this writer. In a follow-up, I asked Butler when the quartet’s last performance as a group had been.

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Les Butler sings during a concert at Sand Spring Baptist Church in 2019. (All photos by John Herndon)

“Well, actually, it was at Sand Spring, the night we did your initial interview,” Butler wrote in an email.

But the ministry has not stopped as Butler, Holcomb, Tim Owens and Adam Borden have continued to uplift in any way possible, including social media.

It’s just in the DNA of the Old Time Preachers Quartet. “All four of us preach. All four of us sing,” Butler said when we first talked. “We travel together as a quartet then all four of us have our own evangelistic efforts.”

The group does not have a bus, opting to converge on venues like Sand Spring directly from preaching opportunities and then scattering to spread the gospel again. Butler had been in West Virginia the day before at a church he says was “literally five miles up a little one lane road in a holler….It was full every night. A hundred people every night. They came and wanted to worship.”

Owens and Borden had come from Tennessee while Holcomb had been in Georgia, then drove to central Kentucky and was planning to head south to Florida and Georgia the following week. “It’s just us. It’s what we do and our calling in life,” he said.

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Bass singer Mike Holcomb makes a point during a song in the Old Time Preachers Quartet concert at Sand Spring Baptist Church on March 5.

Holcomb did quite a bit of preaching during his 41 years with The Inspirations, a tenure that saw him become one of gospel music’s most beloved bass singers.

“I was 24 years old,” he says of the time he answered a call to preach. “We are called to preach first. We are given an opportunity to sing. The gospel with music added to it puts wheels on it and puts us in places where people would never listen to a preacher but will come to a concert or a place where a group is singing. If you get the opportunity for them to listen to you live, then you’ve got their attention. So this is ministry for us, trying to reach hearts and lives for Him.”

The quartet relishes opportunities to combine music and preaching. “What we really like to do is a church will book us to hold a revival and sing,” Butler said. “I might preach one night and the quartet sings. Then Mike Holcomb might preach the next night and the quartet sings. The next night, Tim might preach and the quartet sings. And the next night, Adam preaches and the quartet sings. It just depends on the situation.”

Butler says that of the group, only Owens, who sings tenor, has any seminary training but, “I think I can speak for the other guys that we wish we had more, but when God called us, we just started hitting it right there.”

Holcomb smiled, saying his training was from “the school of hard knocks” and that most of what he knows has come from “listening and letting God speak to my heart.”
Sharing the gospel from the heart is the group’s mission and has endeared the Old Time Preachers Quartet to gospel fans across the nation. An evening or a week with the OTPQ offers a respite from the pressures of the world and brings one to face the reality of Jesus and salvation through him.

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Tim Owens (left) and Adam Borden put their emotions into a song during the Old Time Preachers Quartet concert at Sand Spring Baptist Church on March 5.

“We hope that when they come to us, we give them some refreshment, that we give them some water,” Butler said. “That is one of our goals. Our main goal, of course, is to go into the highways and byways and compel them to come in, sinners and saints alike. When they get there, give them Jesus and then Jesus will take care of the rest. If they need saving, he can save them. If they need uplifting, then He can uplift them.”

When the world started shutting down the following week, the Old Time Preachers Quartet’s mission might have become greater.

“I believe I am speaking for every member of the quartet when I say we are excited to see how God is going to take care of his children,” Butler said in the followup on March 31. “And, based on the authority of God’s Word, He IS going to take care of his children. So we feel strongly that we are going to have a testimony unlike any testimony we’ve had in times past. This is a serious and disconcerting time for sure, but it’s time we put into practice what we sing and preach about every week. Psalm 37:25, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread (KJV).”

Like every other musical artist, regardless of genre, the life the OTPQ knew has come to a halt. There are no concerts. There are no preaching engagements. There is nothing happening and that also means little to no income.

“I don’t say this flippantly, but all we can do is pray,” Butler said in his email. “All of our concerts and services have been shut down for the past three weeks and for the next two months or more. Singing and preaching makes up the overwhelming majority of the income for our four group members. Adam has some side things, as do I. However, speaking for myself, 90 percent of my businesses (Butler Music Group and Family Music Group) are shut down. All of the artists I work with are in the same boat as us: Out of business, for now. So I’ve come full circle. I go back to my first comment: We are praying.”

Like many other artists, Butler is also finding out that venues are often hesitant to reschedule, opting for a “wait-and-see” approach to the coronavirus crisis.
But even with no public appearances, the ministry opportunities abound.

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Les Butler on the keyboard at Sand Spring Baptist on March 5. He says all anyone can do during the COVID-19 crisis is pray. 

“We have never seen businesses and churches shut down on a national and international level like this before,” Butler said. “We’ve never been ordered to not leave our homes. This is uncharted territory for sure. However, I see the hand of God at work here on many levels. Ministry continues. I know my home church, Middle Tennessee Baptist, has been doing Facebook Live services with our pastor and a small group of preachers and singers (less than 10). And, there has been great liberty in every single service. We have preached and sung like there’s a thousand people in attendance. This virus hasn’t stopped the hand of God moving on His people! So until we get back together in service again, let’s continue to push social media, using it for good, getting the message of the gospel to a lost and dying world!”

Butler has begun hosting a Facebook Live show from his home on an almost nightly basis, drawing on his 42 years in the gospel music business to share humor, interesting stories, interviews and more. “I have enough Southern Gospel memorabilia to start my own museum,” Butler said. “Sometime during the day or night, I go live with a piece of memorabilia and talk about it. I also play a song from my vast vinyl collection that ties into that piece.

“This has been a ton of fun. I always end each segment by tying in the Word of God with the song I play or the piece of memorabilia. I am trying hard to turn it into a ministry tool. It’s a different bent, but I believe God is going to use it.”

It’s what the Old Time Preachers Quartet is about.

And that connection to what Butler had said as we wrapped up our interview on March 5 can only be described as God at work. “In today’s world, with what we see in the news and what we experience ourselves, it’s easy to get beaten down badly,” Butler had said. “We have to get ourselves up out of the ashes and follow the Lord.”

Life is good for Steve Ladd

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Steve Ladd is all smiles as he sings with The Old Paths Quartet at Sand Spring Baptist Church on Dec. 31.

First year with The Old Paths Quartet has been a time of recharging

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

When we last talked with Steve Ladd, he was taking a definitive step in his career path. It was back on Dec. 31, 2018, following what had become somewhat of a traditional solo concert at Sand Spring Baptist Church, near Lawrenceburg, Ky. He’d appeared at Sand Spring several times for the church’s New Year’s Eve celebration of bringing in the new year with gospel music.

In 2018, Ladd had shared the stage with Jim and Melissa Brady, but that night marked a major shift for Ladd. After 10 years as a traveling soloist, Ladd was shifting to full-time travel with The Old Paths quartet.

We caught up with Ladd again on New Year’s Eve for the same event a year later. Continue reading “Life is good for Steve Ladd”