Max Jackson, story
Our editor makes a conscious effort to keep himself out of the news, although difficult sometimes in a small community like Edmonson County. And while it's true that no one really cares who edits or owns a news company, it's pretty out of the ordinary when a news editor can say he's performed on the world famous Grand Ol' Opry. It then becomes ridiculous when you realize his younger brother just experienced the same thing 22 years later.
Edmonson County native Dustin Doyle, a member of the award-winning southern gospel group "Ernie Haase and Signature Sound" marked another line off his bucket list as he performed on the Opry on October 15, 2016, becoming the second member of his family to do so, as his older brother, Darren did the same thing numerous times back in the 1990's.
"Not many families can sit at the dinner table and compare individual experiences on the Grand Ol' Opry," Dustin said, laughing. "We weren't trying to be funny or anything, but Darren was talking about hanging out with Charlie Pride and Grandpa Jones and I was talking about spending some time with Trace Adkins and Exile. Somebody at the table said, "this is a ridiculous conversation that I can't believe we're hearing."
Dustin is the son of Steve and Debbie Doyle of Chalybeate and is a 2003 graduate of Edmonson County High School. He's traveled around the globe touring with the top-rated quartet and he says the Opry experience ranks among the highest.
"I mean, it's the Grand Ol' Opry. Are you serious? How many people get to say they've performed there?" he asked, rhetorically.
He said he was excited about the opportunity from the moment the group discovered they'd been invited, however when he walked into the building, he began to experience a little bit of fright.
"You know, I just thought, man, I really shouldn't be here. I really shouldn't have this opportunity...is this real life?" He eventually began to settle down when he spoke with the night's host, Grammy Award winner Ricky Skaggs.
"I'd met Ricky before through my best friend Ben Helson (another EC graduate) when Ben played for him and he remembered me. He was really nice and I calmed down and was able to enjoy the moment."
Dustin also said it was amazing standing backstage watching the iconic group "Exile" perform their smash hit "Kiss You All Over," with Platinum selling artist Trace Adkins joining in. "Everybody in the place knew every word to the song and we were all singing along. Those guys were really nice and genuine and it was an incredible moment to see them perform that song."
He also said meeting Adkins was memorable, too. "I've never really been a Trace Adkins fan, but the guy was so nice and he's a giant! He stopped for a second and we grabbed a photo together. Guys like that don't have to do those kinds of things but he did and it was great."
Dustin recently appeared on Bill Gaither's final Homecoming video with Signature Sound, which will be available soon.
He currently lives in Mackenzie, TN with his wife Aubrey, his son Dawson, and daughter Lana.
Author Max Jackson is a native of Austin, TX and currently lives in Nashville, TN. He is a freelance entertainment reporter and is also a studio musician that works in Edmonson County and various areas of south central Kentucky.
Max Jackson, story
The Crossmen, a popular regional male gospel quartet, is closing the book on their successful career as they plan to perform their final two concerts this weekend.
The Morgantown group lost lead singer Boyce Flener to cancer in February, 2016. Flener served not only as lead singer but handled much of the arrangement, production, sound engineering, and emcee work for the group.
The Crossmen Quartet was founded in April of 1993 and has performed in 30 different states, Mexico, and the Bahamas. They appeared on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN 20 different times and made multiple appearances at the National Quartet Convention.
They had a dozen top 80 charting songs, were nominated for New Artist of the Year in 1996, as well as a host of other awards over the years.
They are scheduled to perform at Cannon Hall at the Owensboro River Park Center Friday, August 26, 2016 at 7PM and at the Capitol Arts Theater in Bowling Green the following night, Saturday, August 27th, also at 7PM. Both events are free to the public.
"On behalf of Boyce, myself, and all the current and past member of the Crossmen Quartet, I would like to thank you for your support over the past 23 plus years," said Scott Flener, tenor singer and brother of Boyce. "After Boyce passed in February we were left with a decision of what to do with the group. After much prayer, we have decided to close the door on an amazing journey that the Crossmen have had."
Filling the lead spot for the final two concerts will be local resident and Edmonson Voice Editor Darren Doyle, a former member of the group.
"These guys have been my friends for over 20 years and I consider it a great honor to be able to do this with them," Doyle said. "They helped shape my entire career as a singer and musician. I was able to experience the Grand Ol' Opry with this group. Someone asked me how I was going to fill Boyce's shoes...I told them I couldn't, no one could. I'll just fill in the best I can to honor my friend and this amazing group of guys."
Scott added that these particular venues were the last two full concerts that Boyce was able to perform with the group a year ago.
"We appreciate your support and prayers and may God Bless all of you," he said.
Former EC Man Ben Helson Now Touring With Dierks Bentley, Recently Appears On Jimmy Fallon, TODAY Show
Darren Doyle, story
It should come as no surprise that the amazingly talented guitarist Ben Helson, a 2004 graduate of Edmonson County High School has moved up the ladder in the entertainment industry once again. Helson is currently touring with platinum country artist Dierks Bentley as lead guitarist and back up vocalist.
He appeared Thursday night on "The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon," and also NBC's "The TODAY Show" the next morning.
Ben had been on tour with pop country artist "Maddie and Tae" and was told about the job opening with Dierks Bentley's band from Bentley's lead guitarist who was in the process of leaving. Ben said the band offered him an audition which he said was an amazing experience within itself.
"So a couple weeks after my audition, I'm in Italy with Maddie and Tay and I'm at my hotel," Helson said. "I don't have an international phone plan so I don't get any calls or texts unless I'm on wifi. After my phone connected to wi-fi, I got a voicemail from Dierks that he wanted me to call him. I thought that I'd either gotten the job, or he was being really nice by taking the time to call me to let me know he'd hired someone else."
Ben finally returned Bentley's call and got the news that he had been hired as the new lead guitarist. He joked about not remembering anything else about the rest of the conversation. "I think I blacked out."
He said the experience with Bentley has been all he imagined plus more. "He's just the coolest guy ever. He's surrounded himself with a great team and he goes above and beyond what it takes to make everyone happy. It's like we're all adopted into this big family."
Ben said the experience on The Tonight Show was something that was so high up on his bucket list, that it didn't seem real at the time. "I'm a huge (Jimmy) Fallon fan anyway, so when we played this show, of course it was awesome, but if felt like I was pretending like I was on the show and not actually on it. Jimmy talked to all of us before the show, and afterwards, he was saying stuff like, man, you guys are awesome, or dude, I loved that guitar riff, it was crazy! He was a great guy."
Ben said this is the type of gig that a traveling musician dreams about and he couldn't be happier. "The great thing about touring with a country artist is that you're not gone months at a time. It's still mostly weekends and we get to stay home during the week."
Dierks Bentley just released a brand new album, "Black." He currently holds the number 3 spot on Country Billboard's Top Forty with his hit single "Somewhere On a Beach" that hit number one just a few weeks ago.
Ben and his wife Danielle currently live the Nashville, TN area.
Darren Doyle, story and photos
The next time you stop in at the Mammoth Cave Camp Store just before you get to the visitor's center, you'll notice some beautiful hand-painted murals. These murals weren't painted by some outsider for big money, but rather, a petite, soft-spoken local girl who loves her pet chameleon.
ECHS Senior Kelsey Janes, who lives near Mammoth Cave National Park, has been creating art since her 2003 kindergarten days with Mrs. Lesley Spainhoward at South Edmonson Elementary. Her parents didn't realize it at the time, but her pictures were way ahead of everyone else in class.
"We always liked Kelsey's drawings, but we thought all kids did that," said Kelsey's mother, Felicia Janes. "Mrs. Lesley called us and told us that her work was exceptional and had us come in to take a look."
Mrs. Janes said it wasn't until the teacher showed a comparison of Kelsey's art to the other students that they realized Kelsey had an amazing gift. "Mrs. Lesley told us that Kelsey was very gifted and we should encourage her art. We just didn't know how special it was because we saw it everyday. Thanks to Mrs. Lesley, we really got behind her then."
Although it's been several years since kindergarten, Kelsey's love for art has only grown since then as she now draws, paints, uses colored pencils, and also sculpts a little, too. Most of her work focuses on animals, nature, and music, which is to be expected since she talked about her love for those things, all while holding her pet chameleon, Pascal.
Kelsey learned about an art contest held by Congressman Brett Guthrie's office where students in each of Guthrie's districts could submit their original art for a chance to be displayed at the U.S. Capitol. Kelsey didn't place, but her piece, a pencil drawing of rock musician Gerard Way, received an Honorable Mention, and was the winner from Edmonson County.
Guthrie extended the contest to each county winner on Facebook, where he is currently allowing folks to vote for their favorite piece by clicking "like," and "share." The winner will have their artwork displayed in Guthrie's office in Washington D.C. Each like earns one point, and each share earns two. Currenty, Kelsey's piece is leading, thanks to a boost from local Edmonson Voice readers after we tried our own Facebook promotion yesterday to try to help Kelsey's numbers. The contest is scheduled to end Friday, April 29, at 5pm. You can vote for Kelsey by clicking here and then selecting her piece "Gerard Way."
While she was excited for the opportunity to have her art displayed in a U.S. Congressman's office, she seemed just as excited as she showed me pictures of deer, cats, a beach scene, a sea turtle, and a colored photo of Simba, from the Lion King.
"Things just come to mind, and I'll start another piece," she said. "I like creating new things...I like to challenge myself," she said as she pointed to a picture of a long-haired girl with no face. She had several pieces from her portfolio spread out on a picnic table.
"I did this one to work on drawing hair," she said. "That's why there's no face. I used a paint brush for shading, that's a new trick I learned. Shading is so important; it gives you the depth needed that make things look real."
She says Mrs. Lesley wasn't the only teacher that has positively influenced her art. Her eyes lit up when she talked about her high school art teacher, Edd Williams. "Mr. Williams is awesome," she said. "He's been a really big influence on me."
Although art is clearly one of her passions, she also is realistic when it comes to deciding where her career paths may take her after high school. She plans on pursuing a marine biology degree with a minor in art. "I know I'll probably have to move, but there's a possiblilty that I could also work with wildlife here at the lake, so that's something I'd be very interested in."
She said winning the contest to have her art displayed at Congressman Guthrie's office would be nice, but it's obvious that her art drives her in becoming successful in whatever she does. "Mr. Williams would never let me say I can't," she said sternly. "He seriously will put you out in the hall if you say that. And it's a good thing."
Her mother Felicia, chimed in. "He's not the only one, either, she said. "There have been so many good influences on Kelsey..so many teachers, and so many good people in Edmonson County."
I started to leave, still amazed by the incredible work that was spread out across the table. I asked her if there was anything else she wanted to add, or if there was any advice she could give to aspiring artists.
"Don't let people tell you that you can't do something," she said as she let Pascal go from her arm to her shoulder.
Kelsey is available for commissioned pieces if you'd like to give her some work. You can email her mother, Felicia Janes at email@example.com.
by Max Jackson,
Edmonson Voice Arts and Entertainment
photos courtesy of Facebook
If you know anything about today's current popular southern gospel music artists, then you know all about the chart-smashing Ernie Haase and Signature Sound. If you're not familiar with the genre or the group, well, they're a really big deal. Haase was the final tenor singer for The Cathedrals, one of the most popular groups in the history of gospel music, then founded his new group, Signature Sound, as The Cathedrals retired. Signature Sound recently went on the search for a new lead/baritone vocalist, one that ended with naming Dustin Doyle, 30, a former Chalybeate resident, the man for the job.
We sat down with Dustin, now a resident of McKenzie, TN, and asked him about his new job. "Being that I've been around southern gospel music my entire life, and with my older brother having done it professionally, it's obviously always been important," he said as he fiddled with the shoe strings of his tightly-laced Chuck Taylors. "Being able to have that first real opportunity in college, and then getting the gig with Beyond The Ashes (the group he's just moved on from) it always seemed like an awesome hobby that I got paid for, but it's never really felt like work. Being with a group of the caliber of Signature Sound, I feel like this job is finally more than a hobby, it's a serious career."
click the video above to watch the founder of Signature Sound, Ernie Haase, make the official announcement
Dustin said that even as a little kid, he knew he wanted to be a professional musician when he grew up. Whether that was as a guitarist, vocalist, in a band, or a song writer, he knew that music was the part of his life he wanted to share with everyone. When he got the opportunity to go to Bethel University in Mckenzie, TN to be part of their accredited music program, he began to meet the right people, one being Matthew Holt, who is the current pianist for The Gaither Vocal Band, the most successful southern gospel group in the world.
At the time, Holt, who worked in Bethel's music program, was trying to incorporate the school's first southern gospel branch and put together a traveling group. Dustin was one of the first recruits into the newly formed group. "He (Holt) was so good, so respected, and so sought after as a pianist, I knew that if we could become friends, I could prove to him that I could do this. If I could do that, I felt like I'd be able to have access to opportunities through him that I wouldn't have otherwise," Dustin said.
He was indeed correct. Holt became a mentor to Doyle, teaching him about the ins and outs of professional music, and Doyle soon blossomed into his own. "Every opportunity I had always seemed to come through Matthew," he said.
Dustin, who graduated from ECHS in 2003, said that even though some of his teachers remained frustrated throughout some of his school troubles, there where a couple that never gave up on him. "There was one person who always continued to encourage me throughout my troubles, knowing I had a vested interest in music, and that was Mrs. Stacy Raymer." He said he's not sure that he'd have gotten through high school without Raymer, who was the guidance counselor at the time. "Also my English teacher, Mrs. Corentha Whittinghill...both of them just saw more out of me than I was putting down on paper. They worked really hard to give me second, third, and fourth chances. They just saw more in me than I saw in myself."
Doyle lives with his wife, Aubrey, and 1 year old son, Dawson. The couple has a girl on the way (Lana Lynn Doyle, pronounced 'Lonna') who is scheduled to make her arrival in October.
His first official date with Signature Sound is set for July 15th in Jackson, TN at the Carl Perkins Civic Center. A larger group such as SS, also requires less touring than most professional gospel acts. This, he says, takes a little of the stress away from being separated from his family while on the road. He said his family has fully supported him throughout all his music and continues to do so today.
"I'm very grateful to my family and the people back home in Edmonson County who have supported me over the years," he said as he chomped on another handful of Sweetarts. "So many have supported my decision to pursue this career, even at times when it didn't feel like a sure thing. My family has supported me in these decisions 100%, and I will always be thankful for where I came from, how I was brought up, and the way I was brought up. I was taught to fear and depend on the Lord, and I'm going to continue to do that."