National Quartet Convention 2011, Day 2
This live blog will be updated through the night.
Moment of the Night
Jeff & Sheri Easter, “Thank You Lord for Your Blessings on Me.” Jeff Easter’s mother passed away five weeks ago; it was already a special moment when Jeff dedicated the song to his father, but when his father came on stage to sing the second verse . . . there aren’t quite words to capture the moment. It takes a deep faith to sing those words in public just a month after losing a wife of more than fifty years.
Runner-up: Mark Trammell Quartet, whole set. A delightful and perfectly paced tribute to the Cathedral Quartet. Mark didn’t say it was a tribute, but he didn’t need to—it stood on its own.
Second runner-up: Chris Allman’s unflappability (see Christmas segment).
Christmas Segment (10:22)
Set List: Love Me Some Snow (Crist Family); It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Greater Vision); I Wonder as I Wander (Matthew Holt); Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child (Triumphant Quartet); Away in a Manger (Talleys); I Wanna Hear the Angels (Hoppers); Joy to the World (Legacy Five); Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel (Greater Vision); Hallelujah Chorus (Jeff Stice piano solo); Silent Night (audience)
Highlights: The gigantic red Santa Claus hat which one of Gerald Wolfe’s sons slipped onto his head mid-song! It was also amazing to see Chris Allman sing a pitch-perfect performance of his song despite holding a stack of brightly presents stacked so far above his head that one slipped off and hit his head toward the end. That’s how good he is.
The acapella rendition of “Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel,” also by Greater Vision, was perfect.
Booth Brothers (10:02)
Set List: Look For Me at Jesus’ Feet; Welcome to the Family; She Still Remembers; Since Jesus Came; Trading This Old Cross for a Crown
Highlights: An all-live rendition of “Look for Me at Jesus’ Feet” with Whisnants pianist Eric Ollis on piano.
Set List: King Jesus is Coming; Be Not Afraid; Ready to Leave; All is Well; New Day Dawning.
Highlights: Consistently strong throughout; it’s hard to pick a moment that stood head and shoulders above the others.
Showcase Spotlight (9:37)
Voices Won sang “I Was There When it Happened.” They haven’t had a breakthrough hit to move them into the top tier, but they have the tight sibling harmonies to stand out if they get that big song.
Mark Trammell Quartet (9:09)
Set List: Wedding Music; Old Convention Song; Gentle Shepherd; It’s Almost Over.
Highlights: They walk on stage to the strains of “Wedding Music,” and the audience goes crazy. Well, okay, this is NQC, and given the average age, they don’t go crazy, but they definitely welcome it appreciatively! Gerald Wolfe joins on piano for the set.
It was a brilliantly paced and delivered set of Cathedrals songs. Much like a Cathedrals set, almost all the songs were completely live; the closing song had a track. It left the audience on their feet.
(Pat Barker: As to your looks, you look better than I do, but you sing better than you look!)
Click “more” for the rest of the coverage:
Set List: Soul Fillin’ Station; He Can; With Him; I Never Shall Forget the Day; The Lighthouse
Highlights: Chris Freeman.
Showcase Spotlight (8:40)
A black man, whose name I missed, opened with a song before sharing his testimony. His mother was sixteen when she found out he was on the way. She resisted family pressure to abort him. He closed with an acapella chorus of “He Looked Beyond My Fault.”
Set List: I Have a Great Savior; God on the Mountain; The Shepherd’s Point of View; When Faith Steps In; I Made It By Grace.
Highlights: Ever since the McKameys’ latest album came out, I have thought that “I Have a Great Savior” would make an excellent opener. It does. Intriguingly, Roger and Eli Fortner both moved from the instruments to the microphones for this song. It added a nice boost to the lower end.
Did Peg launch into “God on the Mountain” with no musical cue whatsoever? (From the comments: She got a quick guitar strum. Thanks, Jordan!)
Set List: God Makes No Mistakes; Why We Came Here Today; I Have Not Forgotten; If You Only Knew
Highlights: Acapella encore to “I Have Not Forgotten.”
Oddly, the piano couldn’t really be heard in the Internet mix until after the first verse—and even then, it was buried in the mix. A new acoustic guitarist and utility vocalist Luke Vaughan were the two primarily audible instruments—making for a decidedly different Inspirations sound than most may be accustomed to.
Showcase Spotlight (7:50)
Eighth Day sang their current Singing News #1 hit “May I Never Get Over the Cross.” (It’s intriguing when, depending on how you put it, the holder of the current #1 hit is on a showcase, or a showcase performer has a #1 hit.)
Jason Crabb (7:30)
Set List: I Saw the Light; Beulah Land; Who Am I; Midnight Cry; Through the Fire.
Highlights: Through the Fire, of course. The Bowlings (with Jason’s siblings Kelly and Terah) and Adam Crabb came up for the big finale.
The Bowlings (7:05)
Set List: What a Friend We Have in Jesus (instrumental); Tears Will Never Stain the Streets of that City; Leavin’ on My Mind; Unclouded Day; Your Cries Have Awoken the Master; I Still Glory in the Cross
Highlights: Jason Crabb and the Bowlings shared the stage for the first few songs, including a solid rendition of “Leavin’ on My Mind.” Kelly Bowling’s testimony recalling the one year anniversary of their return to the stage, following their July 1, 2010 bus crash, was heart-felt and another highlight.
Legacy Five (6:46)
Set List: I Want to Say it Again; A Wonderful Life; Leaning on the Everlasting Arms; God Had a Hand In It; For What Earthly Reason.
Highlights: Trey Ivey’s piano solo of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” was perfectly executed and well-received. While nobody will surpass Danny Funderburk’s original and defining rendition of “For What Earthly Reason,” Gus Gaches’ new cover version does do the song justice.
Jeff & Sheri Easter (6:25)
Set List: God Knows What He’s Doing; Praise His Name; I Get To; Thank You, Lord, For Your Blessings On Me.
Highlights: Jeff & Sheri assembled a live band for the occasion, with Les Butler on piano, regular band members Madison Easter on bass guitar and Kyle Calloway on drums (hat tip, Andrew), and Crabb Family guitarist Lori Sykes. Jeff’s mother passed away five weeks ago; his father, who co-wrote “Thank You, Lord, For Your Blessings on Me,” was present, and Jeff dedicated the song to him. Jeff’s father even came up and joined him for the final verse; it takes an incredible faith to stand on stage and sing those words.
Past Poet Voices / Gold City pianist Channing Eleton offered a brilliantly executed piano solo, “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee”—a true piano solo, with no track. Former Gold City band-mate Adam Borden joined on bass guitar.
Dove Brothers (6:00)
Set List: One Day at a Time; I Recall; Life Will Have New Meaning, Operator; Get Away Jordan.
Highlights: Burman Porter is back! Make that: Burman Porter is BACK! And the energy he brought to the group in his first stint is back; he got such an enthusiastic round of applause when McCray introduced him that McCray switched up the set to feature Burman’s signature song, “Operator.” And when one might think things couldn’t get bigger, they closed the set with “Get Away Jordan.” They got at least a partial standing ovation, which is quite a feat for the first set.
And there’s nothing like kicking off the night with a four-piece live band! Past Dixie Melody Boys pianist Joe Lane (thanks, Brandon!) is filling in on piano.
The opening showcase spotlight was from the Harper Family; their eleven-year-old daughter offered a strong lead vocal on “He Ain’t Never Done Me Nothing But Good.” The Booth Brothers did “He’s So Good to Me,” accompanied by Gerald Wolfe on piano. Then Dean and Kim Hopper, the evening’s emcees, led the audience in a few sing-a-longs. (I was on the phone, but it looked like they were “Love Lifted Me” and “He Lives.”)
If you’re watching tonight, feel free to join the conversation in the comments! And if you catch this after the fact, jump right in and share thoughts on highlights.
For more about Jason Crabb and Legacy Five and the Booth Brothers and the Bowlings and the Dove Brothers and the Inspirations and the Mark Trammell Quartet and the McKameys and the National Quartet Convention and the Whisnants—and other Southern Gospel news and commentary—follow our RSS feed or sign up for our email updates!