NQC 2012, Day 6: Live Blog
This post will be updated through the evening.
The Perrys started their set with “Everywhere I Go.” Yes, Joseph made it this time (he missed the first song on a set earlier in the week). Libbi Perry Stuffle wasn’t singing in the first two choruses, but was there by the third. They transitioned immediately to “One Of These Mornings.”
Tracy introduced the third song, “Whosoever Will,” by talking about Joseph Habedank’s and Bryan Walker’s dedication to the Gospel. Joseph Habedank, who was featured on the song, co-wrote it with Wayne Haun and Joel Lindsey. It’s a strong song, and Habedank turned in a strong performance on it.
When Tracy says “Well, it wouldn’t be the National Quartet Convention without this song, now would it?” you know it’s time for “I Wish I Could Have Been There”! On the encore, Mark Trammell came up on stage (apparently doubling Libbi’s part!), Michael Booth played drums, and Gerald Wolfe played piano.
They transitioned into the finale—a parade of #1 hits—with “Celebrate Me Home.”
Booth Brothers. Michael Booth began the set with a clear Gospel presentation, seguing into an introduction of “Tell Me.” Jim Brady’s wife Melissa came on stage for a guest vocal. The harmonies were exquisite!
As that song wrapped up, Michael said, “I bet you the blind man knows all about the Gospel!” Not surprisingly, the second song was “The Blind Man Saw it All.”
In the encore of their third song, “Still Feelin’ Fine,” Rodney Griffin provided one of the funniest moments of the week. He ran up on stage, acting disoriented. He ran a loop around the stage, stumbling all over the place; it was such a funny moment that the Booth Brothers completely lost their composure and broke down laughing mid-chorus.
Somehow Michael managed to turn the set around, closing with an emotional rendition of “Look For Me at Jesus’ Feet.”
Hoppers. Song 1: Count Me In. Dean called TaRanda Greene up to join them on stage; he said, as he was inviting her up, that he wasn’t sure where his mother was. Connie made it up by the end of the first verse; Claude made it up by the end of the first chorus.
After a political message from Claude, Connie introduced the second song of the set, “Grace Will Always Be Greater Than Sin.” She called TaRanda Greene back on stage to sing the first verse. Kim Hopper sang the second verse, then TaRanda sang the tag. This was one of the strongest vocal performances of the week. (So was the closing number of the preceding set, Greater Vision’s “Till the Storm Passes By,” so it might not be possible to select a single moment of the night.)
After a rousing version of “Shoutin’ Time,” they walked off stage. The remainder of the Hopper’s set was taken with playing a new concept video of their cover of the Larry Norman song “I Wish We’d All Been Ready.”
Greater Vision. Greater Vision started with “It Means Just What it Says.” It’s been a while since I heard that one; this reminds me just how good a song it is! Gerald introduced their second song, “A Pile of Crowns,” by recounting a conversation he had with a music minister who said he didn’t like Southern Gospel because he didn’t like that many songs about Heaven. Wolfe replied: “If you don’t like songs about Heaven, you probably won’t like being there”! (This may be the single best song Greater Vision ever recorded.)
As the last notes of “A Pile of Crowns” echoed up into the Freedom Hall nosebleeds, they kicked off their third song, “He’d Still Been God.” It looks like the set tonight is classics and hits, and the audience is loving every minute of it.
Wolfe introduced the final song of the set by saying that he featured Chris Allman and Rodney Griffin all week, and likes featuring them, but that meant that he waited till he was “wore slap out” to sing a solo! He introduced his final song by describing the health challenges he had last year, with sinus surgery and needing to re-learn how to sing. But, he said, God was with him every step of the way, and kept him “Till the Storm Passes By.” The standing ovation that followed was one of the longest of the week—perhaps the longest.
After a rousing rendition of “Shoutin’ Time,” a concept video of Connie Hopper singing “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” played on the projection screens.
Collingsworth Family. Song 1: “Part of the Family.” Phil Collingsworth Sr. introduces song two, “He Already Sees,” by recognizing Dianne Wilkinson, and telling a touching story of how a young pastor heard it on the radio, and how it gave him the strength to carry on amidst a tragic situation. Tonight’s set must have been the night for classics, since song 3 was Brooklyn’s and Courtney’s fiddle duet on “Power in the Blood.” The fourth song, “I Can Trust Jesus,” is also several years old.
After the set, Gerald Wolfe came up on stage and said that he thinks the Collingsworths should record a CD and video with nothing more than Kim’s piano playing and the family members’ singing. He asked the audience how many would purchase a copy; there was enough of a response that he said, “Phil, I think I just sold you enough copies right there to recoup your budget!”
Chuck Wagon Gang. Song 1: “I’m Gonna Rise Up and Shine.” All four singers are gathered around one microphone; the bass singer also plays guitar and emcees, and they also have a second guitarist. Song 2: Medley of “Echoes from the Burning Bush,” “Church in the Wildwood,” and “I’ll Fly Away.” Song 3: “What a Day That Will Be.” Song 4: “Hard Trials.” Delightful set; this is exactly what a Chuck Wagon Gang set should be!
Lari Goss: The Man Behind the Music Showcase. You can count on NQC having at least one showcase each year that is so good that it just knocks your socks off. This year, it was the showcase honoring Lari Goss. There were a half-dozen moments that, had they appeared in individual evening sets, would each merit indivual mention in the evening’s highlights:
- The Hoppers delivered magnificent renditions of two Lari Goss-produced songs, but the highlight of their segment was Dean and Connie Hopper’s perfectly timed dead-pan humor.
- TaRanda Greene sang “I Walked Today where Jesus Walked,” the closing song from the final Greenes recording, released just prior to her husband Tony’s death.
- Cathedrals alumni Gerald Wolfe, Scott Fowler, and Mark Trammell were joined by Chris Allman and Pat Barker for an amazing rendition of “Champion of Love.”
- Jim Brady sang a song, “My All in All”; Lari Goss wrote the music and he wrote the lyrics.
- Two Nelons classics—”We Shall Wear a Robe and Crown” and “Oh For a Thousand Tongues”—were performed by a specially assembled lineup of Karen Peck Gooch, Kelly Nelon Clark, Jim Brady, Pat Barker, and Stan Whitmire. Both songs would have to be among the ten strongest vocal performances of the week.
- The closing song, “Statement of Faith,” featured the original four groups (Booth Brothers, Greater Vision, Legacy Five, and the Hoppers) that recorded it—along with the other groups that performed at the showcase as a choir. It was a showstopper in the literal and figurative sense of the word.
11:18: And that’s a wrap! NQC 2012 has concluded.
10:45: The Grand Finale—a parade of #1 hits—started with the Perrys singing “Celebrate Me Home.” For Greater Vision’s #1 hit, producer Phil Brower requested that they sing an old #1 hit, “My Name is Lazarus,” which was #1 for three months in 1999. The Talleys sang “The Healer.” The Hoppers sang “Yes, I Am.” (TaRanda Greene joined them again.) The Booth Brothers kept the energy high with “Welcome to the Family.” Karen Peck & New River sang “Four Days Late.”
Gerald Wolfe calls for “Statement of Faith” to end the evening. He calls all the artists sitting in the artist’s circle to come on stage. Naturally, the five groups scheduled for the finale were there, but it’s also cool to see who else hung out till the end, to cheer on their friends: Mark Trammell, Pat Barker, Michaela Brown(?), Adam Brown, Riley Clark, the Hoppers, and TaRanda Greene.
10:01: The Talleys start their set with a medley of “Gentle Shepherd” and “I Will Serve Thee.” Roger played piano; it was an exquisite, piano-and-vocals-only arrangement. They picked up the pace with their second song, “Talk to the Lord About It.”
Lauren introduced their third song, “The Broken Ones,” by saying that it is their all-time most-requested song. She introduced “Make Way for the Master” as being, in her opinion, the strongest song on their new CD.
9:39: Voices of Lee sang an acapella set.
8:38: TaRanda Greene. Gerald Wolfe, the evening’s emcee, said that they were running ahead of schedule, and he wanted to use emcee’s prerogative and revisit a special moment from the Lari Goss showcase this afternoon. He introduced Greene singing “I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked” by discussing how much the song had impacted him when he first heard her rendition, several years ago, and how the song’s appearance on the recording was actually just a one-take scratch vocal of TaRanda singing, with Lari at the piano; it turned out so well that they orchestrated it and put it on the CD.
7:59: Ivan Parker. Song 1: “Big Change.” After he talks about how much he loves the songs he grew up on, he sings “Haven of Rest.” Song 3: “Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone).” Song 4: “When I Get Carried Away.”
7:38: Legacy Five. They started with a piano-and-vocal-only rendition of “There’s Something About That Name.” Song two: “Strike Up the Band.” Nothing has been announced, but—whether coordinated or not—most groups this evening seem to be honoring Dianne Wilkinson in one way or another. Every group so far, except the Chuck Wagon Gang, has sung at least one Dianne song. Song 3: “Destination Known,” a solid Scott Howard feature from the group’s latest album. He introduced their final song, “Truth is Marching On,” by talking about politically incorrect and the necessity of talking about Jesus, and talking about the blood. The audience rose to their feet on the hymn bridge, the chorus to “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” (Parenthetically, I’m perennially astonished at how popular that song is among Southern Gospel audiences. Within the memories of many people in Freedom Hall now, it would have been as unthinkable for a Southern Gospel group to cut that song as it would have been for the Couriers to record “Dixie”!)
6:52: Kingdom Heirs. Steve French introduced his own group by mentioning that producer Phil Brower recently calculated that the Kingdom Heirs had performed over 20,000 shows in their 32 years at Silver Dollar City / Dollywood, with over 180,000 songs! He said that he didn’t start the week feeling old, but he does now! Song 1: “I’m Not Worried About Forever.” Song 2: “No Bones About It.” This set is starting off with energy! The energy continues with song 3, “Just Preach Jesus.” Arthur Rice’s microphone keeps fading in and out of the mix. Song 4: “We Will Stand Our Ground.” There hasn’t been much talking so far; perhaps they’re going to fit in five songs.
6:33: Gold City. Song 1: “Where is God?” Song 2: “Peter, James and John.” Song 3: “Lord of Life.” Song 4: “When He Blessed My Soul.” The song was largely a repeat of their sets from earlier in the week until song 5, “Preach the Word.”
5:58: The Kingsmen. Song 1: “Traveling Home.” Ray Dean Reese is almost nonexistent in the mix for the first verse and chorus, and only about 25% of where he should be until the final chorus (where it reaches about 60%). Song 2: “That’s All I Need,” featuring Bob Sellers. Reese’s microphone is still buried in the mix. Song 3: “Loving Shepherd, Gracious God.” Don’t think I will ever get tired of hearing Ray Dean sing this one. Song 4: “Justified,” featuring Randy Crawford. Song 5: A patriotic song, “We Stand For the Land of the Free” (? on title).
5:55: Greater Vision offers a single song to kick off the program in style—”My Name is Lazarus”!
5:23: Showcase winners. Song 1: Providence Quartet, “Step a Little Higher.” Emcee Tim Lovelace played piano. Song 2: Wilburn & Wilburn. It’s hardly surprising that, if they were in a regional or featured artist showcase, that they would be one of the best on that stage; the surprising thing is that they’re not on mainstage yet in their own right. If they keep up like they’ve started, expect to see them as mainstage artists before too many more years have passed. Song 3: Debra Perry & Jaidyn’s Call. Song 4: The Littles.