NQC 2010: Day 5
EDIT: I forgot to mention that today completes the fourth year of daily updates on this blog. Happy birthday, SGB, and thank you for your support these last four years!
Before starting today’s post about last night’s concert, I made the (probably unwise) move of reading the other posts that have gone up so far. I don’t have the time for a point-by-point rebuttal, but permit me to make one general observation: If you look for and focus on what went wrong, you will find it. There were sound glitches and a few weak sets. But even if my highlights list will be a little shorter than yesterday, there were numerous moments of great singing.
My day started with going to a featured artist showcase. After singing their recent single, “It’s a God Thing,” the Browns brought the house down with a violin instrumental rendition of Canon in D / I Sing the Mighty Power of God. It went over so well that they were invited to perform on main stage for the first time, opening for the evening concert, and (wisely) chose that song.
I was prepared to not even mention the Proclaimers Quartet, but their rendition of “Bells of Joy Keep Ringing,” with just a piano and the four quartet members, was surprisingly well-executed.
The Nelons sang a song off of their recent project, “The Love of God,” and closed their two-song set by giving “My Tribute” a big ballad treatment. The latter song falls on a (very) short list of songs I particularly dislike,* so I was prepared to give it a lukewarm response, but it was so well executed that I joined in the rousing standing ovation afterward. (*Footnote: I did love Kim Collingsworth’s piano solo arrangement of the song that I saw earlier in the week. I actually had “How Great Thou Art” on that short list until her piano solo arrangement knocked it off, so perhaps by this time next year I will actually like the song.)
One particular highlight was an Ernie Haase and Signature Sound press conference. I captured much of the event on video, so I’ll hold off on a verbal description since I have that to post later today.
Evening mainstage highlights:
- Ernie Haase and Signature Sound. They did six Cathedrals songs (and yes, the Cathedrals did record “His Name is Wonderful,” on Plain Ole Gospel in the mid-1970s, even if EHSS has that song on an Influenced project instead of the tribute project). Between the song selection, the energy of a full live band, enthusiastic crowd response (at least where I was sitting—I do notice Nate Stainbrook may have been sitting in a less enthusiastic portion of the crowd), and a special reunion moment at the end, their time goes down as the evening’s strongest set. They built the pace with “Wedding Music” and “Step Into the Water,” before going into an uptempo, creative version of “Boundless Love.” They sang two slow songs, “Yesterday” and “His Name is Wonderful” (the later acapella, with Wayne Haun joining the mix), before closing with “We Shall See Jesus.” On the chorus of WSSJ, Scott Fowler, Gerald Wolfe, Mark Trammell, and Danny Funderburk all came on stage. It was my first time to see Haase and Funderburk sharing the same stage; the vocal power for the big ending was incredible. The set’s significance beyond last night? It wasn’t an EHSS-returns moment, because as they have been steadily returning to a more traditional appearance, the NQC audience has already (by and large) gotten to appreciate their sound and consistently welcomes their sets. But the set does mark another return—of the song “We Shall See Jesus.” Both EHSS and Legacy Five have cut it this year, and the audience response with both groups’ front men on stage last night leaves no question that the song still deserves to be sung, and that the Southern Gospel audience is ready to hear it again. Glen Payne will always define the song, but the song is too good to die with him.
- Legacy Five. The set featured great singing throughout, but it makes this list due to one of the two funniest comedy moments of the week (the other being Michael Booth playing dead). Tim, the roving cameraman, has lugged his 50-pound camera around for six hours or more each night of Convention for fifteen years. (Just for perspective, he was there for Glen Payne’s 1999 call-in performance, and for Rex Nelon’s, the Speers’, and J.D. Sumner’s final appearances on main stage.) Scott Fowler told him they wanted to honor him, and he asked to sing “Just a Little Talk with Jesus.” Glenn Dustin went down to hold the camera—and given its weight and his lack of experience, surprised me by actually pulling it off for several shots. Tim the cameraman cannot hold a tune and knows it, but he provided a great comedy moment with choreography that included a McCray Dove raindance.
- Talley Trio / Gaither Vocal Band. The Gaither Vocal Band sang “He’s Alive” in their showcase appearance earlier this week. They have typically repeated the same songs in their mainstage appearance later in the week, but since Lauren Talley delivered a solid rendition of “He’s Alive” that was the musical highlight of the first third of the evening, they pulled David Phelps’ rendition from their set and substituted in “Let Freedom Ring.” That worked for the best for everyone, since Phelps knocked his solo lines out of the park and Wes Hampton provided remarkably able tenor features in other portions of the song.
- Janet Paschal brought a female quartet on stage for her set. Sound issues—more specifically, Paschal’s vocal being too far down in the mix—were a little too noticeable, but the singers carried on quite well anyhow and offered a fantastic performance.
- The evening closed with two family groups, the Easters and the Perrys. The highlight of the Easters’ set was Jeff’s commentary before their final song, recognizing his wife Sheri and their bass guitarist for the night, Scoot Shelnut, as cancer survivors, and thanking Scoot for his quiet, behind-the-scenes support during Sheri’s battle with cancer. He then transitioned to talking about Tracy Stuffle’s recent health issues, recognizing Tracy and Libbi for all they have gone through in the past few weeks. It was around 1 A.M. by the time the Perrys got on stage, so Tracy did not join them. Troy Peach and Libbi Stuffle shared emcee duties. They sang two new songs, “Every Time I Need Him,” and “The End of the Aisle,” and two favorites from previous projects, “Did I Mention” and “Calvary Answers For Me.” Libbi set up “Did I Mention” with sharing the trials and blessings of the recent weeks. Joseph took the lyric on “Calvary Answer for Me” and made it his own, earning a well-deserved standing ovation. The Kingsmen, Triumphant Quartet and the Easters joined the Perrys for the finale, “I Wish I Coulda Been There.”
The most anticipated moment of the week, the 100th Anniversary Celebration with the Gold City reunion, is almost upon us, so I’ll wrap up coverage there for now. Be watching for videos later today, if time permits.