Crabbfest Live 2004 Review

Featured Review: Various Artists – Crabbfest Live 2004
Rating: 4 STARS

Label: Daywind Records
Crabbfest 2005 Info:
Producers: Ed Leonard, Norman Holland, and Kathy Crabb
Participating Artists: Crabb Family, Mike Bowling, Hoskins Family, Gerald Crabb, McCraes, Karen Harding, Hope, Mercy’s Mark, LordSong, and the Freemans
Songs: “Greater Is He,” “Promised Land,” “Heat Of The Battle,” “Places To Go, People To See,” “Lamb, Lion, and King,” “If It Had Not Been The Lord,” “Holdin’ On To Faith,” “Movin’ On,” “Sacrifice Of Praise,” “His Response,” “Lord Of The Dance,” “He Came Looking For Me,” “Sea Walker,” “Forever,” “Call Me Gone,” and “The Reason That I’m Standing”

Crabbfest Live 2004 is essentially a showcase project for the Daywind family of recording artists with their number one artist front and center. This review is based on the CD version. DVD and VHS versions are also available.

As the title implies, the Crabb Family is the host group for this event, performing seven of the 16 tracks on the CD. Gerald Crabb also sings on two of those songs. Mike Bowling is featured on three tunes with some help from his daughter, Hope on one. Bowling’s wife Kelly and Jason Crabb join him for a shortened version of “Call Me Gone.” The other artists each sing one song. I enjoyed Chris Freeman‘s freestyle vocal introduction to “Sea Walker.” Mercy’s Mark also has a good turn with “His Response.” LordSong‘s intricate a cappella rendition of “Lord Of The Dance” is outstanding. They do a great job with that song in a live setting.

The diversity of musical styles is pretty broad which makes for a few unusual transitions on this collection. For example, the McCraes‘ decidely country tune “If It Had Not Been The Lord” is followed by the R&B influenced gospel diva stylings of Karen Harding‘s “Holding On To Faith.” It’s like switching from Reba McEntire to Whitney Houston. That just comes with the territory when you have various artists and no particular creative concept to connect the songs. (For a contrasting example of a live various artists project from Daywind that has a great conceptual theme, see: Remembering The Greats).

The Crabb Family’s “He Came Looking For Me” is the highlight of Crabbfest Live 2004, because it’s the one cut on this CD that displays any significant interaction between the performers and the audience. For a minute or two, they have some church. A live CD ought to show that the audience was acknowledged from the stage more frequently. (In fact, just wait . . . the Crabbs are releasing Live At Brooklyn Tabernacle in April. It feature a lot of great live elements. I believe Crabb Family fans will ultimately look back and rank it a couple of notches higher than Crabbfest Live 2004. You heard it here first.)

That aside, Crabbfest Live 2004 gives you a good idea of what to expect at the annual event in Kentucky . . . several great artists with a broad background of musical styles. I admire the Crabbs for putting together a program that attracts a nice range of gospel music fan types. Although this CD doesn’t always have the best flow in terms of musical pacing, it demonstrates how our common belief in the lyrics of these songs should unify us regardless of style. The Crabbs will do it all again this coming July 6-9, 2005, with the artist roster more diverse than ever before. Michael English, the Jody Brown Indian Family, the Dove Brothers, the Gospel Enforcers, and Avalon are just a few of the groups currently scheduled to appear.

While you wait for the Live At Brooklyn Tabernacle release in April and the Crabbfest 2005 event in July, give Crabbfest Live 2004 a listen and see if you agree with my rating.

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Category CD Reviews

David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. He is the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music and the owner of both and David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

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