Well folks, here we gooooooo! Last night! Enjoy my hasty notes…
They are repeating a couple of showcase groups at the beginning. I walked in to catch the last part of Omega’s song. The group as a whole doesn’t impress me so much, but the lead singer has a strikingly powerful and mature voice! Others have made a comparison to David Phelps, and he’s definitely been influenced by David. Keep your eye on that fellow… then the Irwin brothers came up and sang again. For such a young group, they have a nice sound. Still green of course, but promising.
Now Michael Booth and Susan Whisnant are doing congregational singing. Michael took the drums for “Victory In Jesus.” I am prepared for a wonderful and wild night of Michael Booth emceeing!
He just set up the Dixie Echoes by saying “If any one has preserved the heart of southern gospel quartet singing, it’s these guys.” (Of course, then he leans over and asks Randy Jr., “Uh, what’s your name?”) They opened with “I’ll Shake the Hand of the Lord Some Day.” Michael Helwig did some great singing, even though he faltered a bit at the end. Now Randy Jr. is singing “Crumbs From the Table.” A truly beautiful song I hadn’t heard before. Stewart Varnado is playing a fast one now per Randy Sr.’s command. Oh Hallelujah, Michael is launching into “Hide Thou Me” now! This is going to be goooood. He sang terrific, but again, kind of holding on for dear life on his last note. Could be he’s having allergies like everybody else. Same deal on “Miracles Will Happen.” I feel kind of bad for him, but it is punishing to sing at NQC. Then Randy Sr. did a big vocal on “How Great Thou Art.” We were praying in the chat for Michael to hit his note on there, and he decided to go falsetto… hey, you do what have to! You know what I really appreciate is that this group is doing all of this 100% real. No stacks, no tracks, no security blankets whatsoever. Yet they still have a quality sound, even with the fatigue or pitchiness that creeps in on them like it can for any group.
The Kingsmen opened with a fast one, now Ray Dean Reese is singing “Loving Shepherd, Gracious God.” This is a great new lyric by Dianne Wilkinson. Ray Dean and Bryan Hutson stood out. Now Harold is singing “God Saw a Cross.” I’d forgotten how good this song is. Harold seems to do better with this style than the very high stuff. He really has a nice voice.
Next they did their latest single “That’s All I Need,” which is a solid song. Always draws a response. They just drew another good response with “Stand Up.” DBM just cracked me up telling me what this song’s lyrics originally were when it was a country song. LOL.
[Insert pointless video here. This one is downright blasphemous. I'm not kidding.]
Now the Primitives are out! Hot pickin’! All instrumental for the moment. But we’ve noticed one chap is standing back and just watching. DBM just said you’d think someone would at least give him a cowbell… Next, “He’s the Same God,” now “I Don’t Have to See the Tomb.”
I think I may have missed a song in there, but now they’re singing “You’ve Been Gracious To Me.” It was set up with a great story about how a disabled kid wanted to sing it with them in concert one night. Then they closed with “Walking On the Highway,” before which one of the singers shared an emotional testimony.
The King’s Heralds did yet another stunning a capella number. Then Susan Whisnant just said they had another quartet coming up, and Michael started going, “Quartet, quartet, quartet this, quartet that… it’s not that I’m bitter, I’m just SICK OF IT!” And it’s the Dove Brothers, and they’re opening with “King Jesus.” Did I mention that Burman Porter is the cat’s meow? Tremendous bass voice. The tenor is kind of shrieky on this one though. They’re encoring it. And encoring it. And encoring it. Okay, finally done now. Now McCray is singing a new one called “He Made a Change In Me.” This is very sweet and country—I like it. McCray just made it more powerful by saying it’s his father’s life story. He was an alcoholic, and he actually pleaded with his wife to leave him and take the kids with her. She stood with him and kept praying, and God turned his life completely around. Closed with “Get Away Jordan,” and this time McCray’s coat flew off. Unfortunately I missed the actual moment of the coat shed (I’ll catch it later though).
Now this is a surprise… Gerald Wolfe is up saying he’s written a song! And he’s going to pass out the lyrics to an impromptu quartet… John Rulapaugh on tenor, Arthur Rice on lead, Mark Trammell on baritone, and Gerald on bass. He’s campaigning to be songwriter of the year for this. We’ll see. He says it might be song of the year too. Oh how funny, it’s a take-off on “Looking For a City” called “Looking For a Tenor.” I’ll post the lyrics later. Let’s just say it went over well.
The Rambos are up next and we all just remembered that we have some very important things to do. Be back in a bit.
Okay, now Michael Booth is leading the crowd in different kinds of applause: “This is your opportunity to make things look better than they really were.” HA! It’s so true though, this is exactly what video producers do. First, polite applause. Now, more enthusiastic (“This is gonna be good for the Baptists here.”) Okay, now “Stay seated, but love it a little more.” Some whistles and cheering now. This is getting good. Finally, a popcorn standing-ovation. “Okay, um, everybody 40 and younger start first, and then if you’re over 50 you start after them…” How funny. This beats the socks off of filler video. Funniest moment of the night so far.
Now Triumphant is up with “Saved By Grace.” Still a solid tune. Then David did “Mercy, Forgiveness and Grace,” very pretty new one. Ha, “Old White Flag” up next! Jeff Stice just banged on the piano and started texting. As we know, he hates this song. I grabbed a tissue and waved it… close enough. Live mandolin, sweet—added a LOT. Now “Almost Home.” I’ve heard this three times now this week, and I still think it’s cool.
Talleys are up now. Brian just sang Stephen Hill’s “Jesus Saves,” which is a beautiful song. They had a very smooth blend on that one. However, there was a brief track goof towards the end… it skipped ahead for a moment to their next song, “That’s Enough.” That was fun, and now Lauren is singing an acoustic version of “The Broken Ones.” She sings this beautifully. Roger is playing and not singing—like the trio sound with Lauren, Debra and Brian. Now that same lineup is singing “His Life For Mine.” Another strong number. Lauren got the audience on their feet by the end. She has a very present voice, and there’s just something special about the the way she delivers a song. Leaving on a bang with “Testify.” Wow, Debra just sang some HIGH harmony on top of Lauren’s melody! That was a great set.
And now, the Mark Trammell Quartet is up. Mark is opening with “God Knows How Much Mercy I Need.” Then they did “Boundless Love.” Honestly, this is one of the weaker versions of this song that I’ve heard. Dustin and Joel are decent vocalists, but just a little weak on this one. Mark and Pat are obviously the stand-out half of the group. Now it’s a “Calvary Medley.” Mark did a great take on “I Believe In a Hill Called Mount Calvary,” now they’re ending with “The Old Rugged Cross Made the Difference.” No wait, I think that was just a pause, now “At Calvary.” I heart Pat Barker… he just did a tremendous solo! Oh man, now he’s singing “That’s Enough For Me to Know.” Yes, finally, a whole song featuring Pat! He is my favorite bass singer right now, hands down.
I stepped out during Jeff Stice’s piano solo, now this a capella college group called Voices of Lee is up singing an arrangement of “Amazing Love.” Very different sound—bit of an acquired taste, but they’re obviously talented. Great vocal percussion! Unfortunately, the girls’ slacks are kind of tight. Would look classier if they wore skirts or something, just saying… Now they’re doing “Just a Little Talk.” Somebody is one HECK of a bass singer! Black guy, wow, rich. They cut over to “When God Dips His Love” then back to “A Little Talk.” Wow, that was stunning. Popcorn standing-O for that. We’re wondering how many groups are going to approach him after tonight. Now “How Great Thou Art.” I’m in awe of the blend these thirteen kids have. With all the sloppy singing we’ve had this week, from groups of three, four or five, this is impressive to say the least. Only thing is, I’m not a huge fan of the SUPER high female parts. But that’s okay. They got a huge response tonight.
For an in-between vid, they played Steve Amerson’s version of “Blades of Grass and Pure White Stones.” Never heard of the song or the singer before. Quite nice!
Mark Bishop is up now. I like Mark’s stuff. Singing the Bishops’ oldie “You Can’t Ask Too Much of My God.” Great song. Now singing “Listening For the Call.” New song, enjoying it. Nice production! Then he did another old Bishops’ one, “Each Voice Another Chance to Reach the World.” “My Name is Jesus” now. Lauren’s mike wasn’t on for a moment, whoops. It’s on now, good. Ack, same deal for Bill Shivers. Whole group singing by the end. One of the worst mixes I’ve heard all week. No excuse. Somebody’s not doing their job.
Okay, now Brian Free & Assurance came up, and ALL their mikes were off. Ridiculous. Jeremy’s mike still wasn’t on last we checked. They’re singing “First Day in Heaven.” Okay, now they’ve finally got them all on. It only took a whole verse and chorus. Sheeeesh. And I’ve just confirmed that BFA doesn’t have a sound man, so now I’m wondering if it is the NQC team after all. Now Brian is singing “I Believe.” Sounding much better than the last time he performed this one. Excellent song. Oh sweet, Bill’s going to cut loose on “Prayin’ Man” now. Power singing. And Brian always slays me with that high harmony. Okay, now this is awesome, they’re going to do “For God So Loved.” Instant applause. Classic Terry Franklin-penned song. Brian is doing great. So, so classy. Whoops, my sound and video went out of sync at the end so I missed part of the finish, but needless to say it was HUGE and people were on their feet. Now they started up “Looking For a City.” Brian pretended he didn’t know and said, “Hey! No! Who told you…??” HA! This will be good if he gets someone up to duel with him… Nobody yet. They’re telling him to go higher. “You gotta go higher Brian. Higher!” This is hilarious…. Okay, so Bill kept pushing him higher and higher (“How bout it guys, you think he can do one more?”) and Brian was getting so mad there at the end (“And theeeere the sainted millions, never SING THIS HIGH!”) When he’d gone to the point where he had had absolutely enough (“Aaaaand, that’s ALL I’m doing!”), the crowd and the guys were screaming for just ONE final one. Brian growled “It’s Saturday night!” and then obliged them all. I love it! Supreme showmanship! And the icing on the cake was when Michael Booth came up and said, “Oh, I am so proud of him, because that is EXACTLY the way I taught him to do that.” (Before their set, Michael was saying that Brian had been his finest student.) Then there was still some residual cheering when Michael was trying to read announcements, and he snapped, “Hey that’s enough for Brian okay? Brian, get out of here! Well, I guess I know who’s winning Tenor of the Year.” What a hoot. Biggest crowd response of the night.
Okay, so after THAT, the Kingdom Heirs seem a little forgettable at the moment. Their opening song was pretty bad, now they’re singing “Heaven Is My Goal.” Now “It’s Real.” No wow moments yet. But Steve and Kreis French are making me laugh now with some great marriage humor. Now “We Will Stand Our Ground” again. I have to say, this is the third time I’ve seen them do it this week, counting the afternoon showcase, but it’s still one great song. It never fails to deliver. But Jerry is STILL getting drowned out by Arthur. I believe Jerry’s been having allergies this week—poor guy.
Then for an in-between video, they rolled a little highlight reel of NQC moments and behind the scenes stuff. Well edited. Song clips featured, in order, were “Beulah Land” (Squire Parsons and friends), “Welcome to the Family” (Michael’s botched lyrics moment) “Mama’s Teaching Angels” (Rambos) “Wish I Could Have Been There” (Perrys, the one last night in honor of Andrew’s birthday), Michael Booth’s four great cathedrals story (from the funniest stories showcase, some of you caught that—hilarious), “Love You Through It,” the Isaacs, moment when cancer survivors brought posters on stage, and finally the McCray shuffle and the Dove Brothers tearing it up on the end of “Get Away Jordan.” Those were all good highlights, but they missed quite a few, most notably Kim Hopper’s tribute to her brother and the two soldiers who made it.
The Whisnants up now. Sang a heaven medley, then a different song whose title has slipped my mind, then “A Greater Yes,” now “I’ll Pray For You (You Pray For Me).” This is a nice trio. Closing with “I Can’t Wait to Be There,” which is a great barn burner. Swell, the Booth Brothers are up for the encore! This is WAY fun! Okay, so they just kept it going and going, and Michael jumped over to drums, Gerald came up and started doing dueling piano with their pianist, and it’s STILL going. Susan is so hoarse, she just said “I need a girl up here!” and Karen Peck came up with her.
Susan just gave the Brothers a sweet introduction by saying she’s so proud her 17-year-old son looks up to them. Then Michael remained seated by his drums and started singing “Look For Me At Jesus’ Feet.” Just singing very slowly, very tenderly, with the pianist accompanying him slowly and tenderly. Michael remained seated until the line “for saving a wretch…” He sang it, “A wretch… just a wretch… like me.” Then he stood, and he and the brothers slowly began moving together around the piano. It was the most moving performance of the song I had ever heard. I have never heard Michael sing this song like he did just now. I worshiped like I haven’t worshiped all week long. A small taste of heaven, right there. Just hard to put into words.
Then they did “He Saw It All,” which is a good song but just didn’t seem to rise to the same heights. Now they’re doing “Still Feelin’ Fine!” Hey, Tribute’s bass Anthony Davis is up with them. Pretty neat. Eric Ollis is playing piano for them and he just killed it. Then Michael pretended that Anthony was his son, funny. Apparently he has been mistaken for Michael’s son before. Then Ronnie and Jim teased him about his tie, trying to get him to loosen it or take it off. He said “No,” and when they asked why, he drew himself up and said, “Because I’m BAPTIST.” Huge laugh. Then he began talking and paused to turn over their timer. “They already gave us the check!” THAT got a REALLY big laugh.
Eventually he settled down and began talking some serious theology, setting up their new song “What About Now.” This will be good. Thought-provoking closing number. Michael delivers the lyric with so much feeling. You can tell he means it from the bottom of his heart.
I couldn’t tell exactly what was going on after that… Michael began leading the audience in “Nothing But the Blood,” then Karen Peck came up and joined him… Michael said something about the “machine” not cooperating with what had been planned. More a capella singalong, “Reach Out” and finally the “Doxology.” Then it was good night to all. Not sure what happened there, but I think there was some grand finale that was supposed to happen involving a track, and they couldn’t get the track to play and had to cut it off. That’s too bad! But in any case, it was a great night. Brian Free & Assurance and the Booth Brothers brought some amazing moments tonight, and there were other good sets too. But in the end, it was Michael Booth’s night all the way. His emcee work was sparklingly witty and brilliant as ever, and he delivered moving performances as well. Truly one of a kind. His touch may have made this the best night of the week.
Please leave comments. I am signing off and going to bed. It has been an awesome week, and I may try to do a post-NQC thing some time next week. Meanwhile, thank you to all the artists who made this week awesome, and to all of you in the chat room. You guys were great. Especially wanted to say to Mrs. Janice Allman and Mrs. Donna Wolfe that it was a pleasure to “meet” both of you! Blessings to all and good night.