May 3, 2013

Divine bluegrass shines

PLATTSBURGH — Triple nickels — 555 — are the date and time of the highly anticipated Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir GospelFEST. 

At 5 p.m. Sunday in the E. Glenn Giltz Auditorium, expect a bluegrass/gospel mix at the Americana concert featuring special guests the Bluegrass Gospel Project. There will be performances by the Praise Team, Praise Dance Team and Step Team. Emcee is Anthony English. 

“We’re always trying to find something different than before to keep it fresh,” said Dr. Dexter Criss, artistic director of the choir. “Last year in December, we had the more choral concert with Champlain Valley Voices. Now, we want to do a concert with a grassroots theme.”

The Vermont-based Bluegrass Gospel Project members are Gene White (fiddle, guitar, vocals), Colby Crehan (vocals), Paul Miller (guitar and vocals), Taylor Armerding (mandolin and vocals), Kirk Lord (upright bass) and Dr. Steve Light (banjo, dobro, guitar and vocals). Light is the associate vice president for academic affairs at the college.

“He and I have talked awhile about doing something together,” Criss said. “They have never performed in Giltz. We said, ‘Hey, now’s the time. It makes sense.’”

The Bluegrass Gospel Project will perform its set the first half of the evening.

Then, the Gospel Choir takes it back to gospel music’s heyday in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s during the eras of Edwin Hawkins and James Cleveland. 

“It’s more of a soulful experience,” Criss said. “The songs we’re doing are more solo driven, which is the way gospel really grew. Our soloists will be the best soloists we have. When we open, the audience will really get to hear them show their talents as gospel singers. We’re doing ‘Peace Be Still.’ It’s not a song everyone can pull off, but we’re trying to pull it off.”

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