On the Journey Home

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Ronnie D. Lankford
It will probably not be too surprising to discover that a group named the Churchmen has a gospel grounding. The journey referred to On the Journey Home, then, is the passage to heaven for Christians who have been forgiven for their sins. Bassist Keith Clark, mandolinist Gerald Harbour, guitarist Steven Lyle Martin, vocalist Freddy Rakes, and fiddler Shannon Wheeler make a finely tuned quintet, perfectly suited for the material at hand. Each of the 12 songs covers an aspect of preparing for, and traveling to, the next world. The singer of "In His Arms I'm Not Afraid" states that he isn't afraid to die, while "He Will Forgive You" tells the story of the thief who was ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Ronnie D. Lankford
It will probably not be too surprising to discover that a group named the Churchmen has a gospel grounding. The journey referred to On the Journey Home, then, is the passage to heaven for Christians who have been forgiven for their sins. Bassist Keith Clark, mandolinist Gerald Harbour, guitarist Steven Lyle Martin, vocalist Freddy Rakes, and fiddler Shannon Wheeler make a finely tuned quintet, perfectly suited for the material at hand. Each of the 12 songs covers an aspect of preparing for, and traveling to, the next world. The singer of "In His Arms I'm Not Afraid" states that he isn't afraid to die, while "He Will Forgive You" tells the story of the thief who was crucified on the cross next to Jesus. While this material may sound "heavy" for anyone unaccustomed to Southern gospel singing, the Churchmen combine well-blended harmony, instrumental skill, and a buoyant attitude to give their material a positive spin. The group sings "We'll Still Sing On" a cappella, offering a solemn closer. Gospel and bluegrass fans will enjoy the Churchmen, and will find On the Journey Home the next best thing to seeing the group perform live in a country church somewhere in the sleepy South.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/19/2003
  • Label: Pinecastle
  • UPC: 755757113229
  • Catalog Number: 1132

Album Credits

Performance Credits
The Churchmen Primary Artist
Dale Perry Banjo
Hunter Berry Fiddle
Shannon Wheeler Fiddle, Group Member
Freddy Rakes Vocals, Tenor (Vocal), High Tenor Vocal, Group Member
Gerald Harbour Mandolin, Bass (Vocal)
Steven Martin Guitar, Vocals, Choir, Chorus, Group Member
Keith Clark Bass, Vocals, Choir, Chorus, Baritone (Vocal), Tenor (Vocal), Bass Fiddle, Group Member
Technical Credits
Lester Flatt Composer
Doyle Lawson Composer
Vern Gosdin Composer
Don Reno Composer
Rex Gosdin Composer
Dale Perry Producer, Engineer, Mastering
Tom Riggs Executive Producer
A.L. Phipps Arranger
Bob Murray Art Direction, Cover Photo
Charles Waller Composer
The Churchmen Producer
Shannon Wheeler Producer
Freddy Rakes Producer
Gerald Harbour Producer
Steven Martin Producer
Keith Clark Producer
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Good traditional sounding bluegrass gospel music; Simply what many people want

    The Churchmen, an exciting Virginia-based bluegrass gospel group, are getting some long overdue attention in the national spotlight. With their traditional sound, good drive behind it, strong harmonies, and a variety of material (covers and originals) ranging from fast numbers to slower ballads, the band is poised to turn some heads. The Churchmen are Shannon Wheeler (fiddler), Keith Clark (bass), Steve Martin (guitar), Gerald Harbour (mandolin), and Freddy Rakes (banjo). This project was recorded and co-produced by Dale Perry, who also handles the banjo playing duties. Guest fiddler Hunter Berry appears on over half of the tracks. Formed in 1989, The Churchmen began singing together in local churches when God personally called them into their music ministry. The band has released six albums prior to "On The Journey Home," their first on the Pinecastle label and certainly their best project thus far. Steve Martin is the songwriter of the bunch, and he contributes the catchy, upbeat opener "Get Onboard," and three other numbers. The album also includes some hard-driving traditional bluegrass, and standards like Lester Flatt's "Bouquet in Heaven," and Don Reno's "Springtime in Heaven." The classic Homer Eanes, Jr. song, "In His Arms (I'm Not Afraid)" clearly shows that The Churchmen strive for material where the message is paramount. A Reno and Smiley cover, "He Will Forgive You," features a nice blend of lead vocals by Martin, accompanied by Rakes' tenor. "On The Journey Home" is a credit to the songwriting and song selection abilities of Steven Martin, who does a commendable job of expressing his attitudes and views. An excellent day and good feelings resulted in the songsmith penning "Get Onboard." The slow ?-time ballad, "He Paid It All," presents a heartfelt message for a world full of sinners. With "When He Calls Your Name," Martin emphasizes a traditional sound, something that would capture the spirit of the fifties at a Stanley Brothers show, by also using a triple time accenting the first beats. The song, "Keep Me Free From Every Sin," gave Martin considerable difficulty during its composition, but an additional verse and having Keith Clark sing it brought it all together. The Churchmen have a repertoire that allows them to be well received at both churches and festivals. In churches, they can focus on the message and meaning of their material. At festivals, they can also compete for the audience's attention by emphasizing adroit picking and vocal harmonies, entertainment and drive. This album will allow them to influence many by "sharing the good news of Christ through music." Their energy and enthusiasm are infectious, and The Churchmen show people that gospel music and being a Christian are fun and exciting. As a result, they're building a considerable fan base - primarily because they play good traditional sounding bluegrass gospel music, and that's simply what many people want. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)

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