Crowds are thickening and things are getting more fun! Here’s tonight’s installment.
I showed up in time to catch the back half of the Michael Frost Trio’s song “Author and Finisher of My Faith.” The little I heard was very good! Now it’s a group called 11th Hour. Didn’t catch the name of their song.
ALL RIGHT, it’s the Penny Loafers! This is a pleasant surprise for sure. And they’re actually wearing penny loafers. Singing a pitch-perfect acapella version of “Goodbye, World, Goodbye.” The mouth instruments were IMPECCABLE. This is some of the best harmony we’ve heard all week. I totally needed more of that. One song isn’t enough. They should be on mainstage.
Tim Lovelace says we’re skipping fan cam tonight, so it’s on to the Hoppers. They’re kicking off their set with their new arrangement of “I Just Feel Like Something Good is About to Happen.” I really like this slowed down groove, with brass and B-3 Hammond.
Now for a dinner break…
Back with Tribute Quartet. They’re singing “Homesick Angel.” Josh Singletary is playing piano with one hand and holding a microphone in the other!
Now Riley is singing “Homecoming Day.” He’s even better than he was last year. His control and expression have improved a lot. He was a bit pitchy on some of his high notes, but that was an impressive performance.
Okay they’re going right into “Good News From Jerusalem.” This should be good. Impressive song. I think it needs somewhat better vocals to really bring out how cool it is, but it’s getting a big response. They’re encoring the chorus. Normally I’m not a fan of monotonic, slow-building songs, but once the chorus kicks in on this one I think it picks up speed and it’s really exciting. That was the end of their set. I hope they stage “The Song of Heaven” tomorrow.
Now the Collingsworth ladies are playing a violin duet. It’s the same one they did at the concert where I saw them, “The Prayer.” I thought their outfits were perfect until I saw Brooklyn’s high red boots. Hmmmmm. Anyway they’re playing beautifully. The crowd responded warmly.
The Lesters are up now, to be followed by the Whisnants, the McKameys, and a Dennis Swanberg segment. I’ve got some work to do so I think I’ll tune back in a little later (though I do like the Whisnants). Unfortunately looks like I’ll miss the Collingsworth Family at about 8:00, but I’ll be back to pick up from Greater Vision onward. Looking forward to seeing the Talleys with Brian Alvey tonight.
Okay, I didn’t get back until around 8:35. Now David Jeremiah has just come up for his segment. He says that he was getting tired of writing books about dark, depressing happenings in the world so he decided to take a break and write a book about the love of God.
Now Greater Vision is singing “No Longer Chained…” and our webcast is freezing up. This is the first time I’ve encountered a major issue with the ‘cast this year, so actually I think this isn’t too bad. Still, we had to get something sooner or later. Now it’s back and they’re singing “When They Ring the Bells of Heaven.” I like the way this one sounds, even though it really needs a bass.
Now Chris is singing “I Know a Man Who Can.” I missed this one when they did it the other night so this is fun. Gerald says they sang it for Jack Campbell, the songwriter’s widow, who was here in the audience tonight and had driven a long way to see her husband’s song performed. This wasn’t pre-planned, but they just had to do it. We’re glad they did. After Chris nailed it, Gerald said “That old man can still sing.”
Now he is setting up some kids I’ve never seen before whom he recently invited to come sing a number after being asked to listen to them and being blown away. Never seen a mainstage group do this before—give some of their OWN time to an unknown group. Okay, they’re singing “The Doxology” acapella. Wow, they are really good! They’re obviously styling themselves after the Martins. A little pitchiness and unsteadiness here and there, but overall they are tight and on pitch! And they closed great! Wow, this was a great surprise. Terrific. What a classy move on Gerald’s part. They just sat down and they were positively shaking, so nervous and happy. They can’t be older than 16/17/18. Definitely an evening highlight. If they keep polishing their sound we’ll be naming them in the same breath as the Martins in another few years!
Now Gerald is sharing some thoughts about faithfulness to set up “Faces.” He tells a story about a farmer named Merle Haun who gave him a peppermint every Sunday and said, “Jesus loves you this morning, and I do too.” Gerald is so right, it’s not about how famous you are, it’s about how faithful you are. “Faithful to teach Sunday school every Wednesday, faithful to do all those things nobody wants to do, faithful…” He then put in a plug for Compassion, but tied it all together brilliantly with a memory about meeting a little girl his family had “adopted.” When she met him, she hugged him and started jabbering, and the translator said “She wants to take you home with her.” So she led Gerald to her family’s house, and it was in a poor, nasty part of town. But the family asked Gerald to pray for them there. And he says, “It dawned on me in that moment: ‘I’m Merle Haun, to this little girl!’ She didn’t know I was a famous gospel singer, she didn’t know I’d been on a Gaither video, she didn’t know I’d stand in front of 10,000 people tonight and tell her story.” Wow! That’s a powerful thought. Now they’re singing “Faces.”
GV is off, and now the Sisters are singing “It is Well” for an acapella moment. Great, powerful performance! Now the Isaacs are up. First time I’ve seen them this week. Singing “Get On Board.” They’re so good it can tend to make other perfectly good artists look second-rate. Unfortunately we’re getting some fuzzy sound. Hoping it improves… Wow, they closed off that one with some hot picking! Great instrumental stuff, with Matthew Holt on piano. Then they sang “Why Can’t We?” Now Ben is doing some great jazz bass plucking and they’re singing a song I don’t know. I think it’s called “Three Men.” Wow, a brilliant guitar/mandolin-picking interlude. This band meshes perfectly. Matthew just complements the bluegrass instruments so well. Another new song called “Waiting in the Water,” Becky gave a moving intro. This is about the blind man who goes to wash in the pool after Jesus puts the mud on his eyes. Good song.
Mark Bishop is up trying to read tomorrow’s schedule with his glasses on. It looks like he flubbed a joke—wrong punchline. LOL. But he made up for it when his microphone got turned off, and he said, “Just as I was talking about myself [he mentioned that he was up for an award in tomorrow's show] you turn my microphone off! Next time I’m gonna ask for the one that says ‘Made in America!’ ” Then he grinned and said, “I literally was just waiting for my microphone to have problems so I could tell that joke.” You gotta love Mark Bishop! So down-to-earth and funny.
Now the Booth Brothers are up, yeah! Singing “I’m Free,” DOUBLE yeah! That was great, now they’re bringing Bill Gaither up to sing bass on “Joy in the Camp.” The track is a little soft… even after Michael bluntly said, “We could use a little more track.” Hel-LO! Bill’s coming in on the “boom-booms” now and the crowd is eating it up.
Then Bill set up “Let the Healing Begin” with, I’m just gonna say it, a kind of jumbled, mushy intro about how everybody should get along. The Church needs to be one, Americans need to come together and see the good in everyone and set aside differences, because we’re all still Americans after all, and our country is so polarized, etc. I’m sorry but I think this is Bill being his usual well-intentioned but naive self. It’s not going to happen, and it shouldn’t happen as long as there are evil people out there who hate God’s people. But, in any case, a good song.
Next they pulled out “I Played in the Band” again. I like this one. Nick Bruno is on piano for them and he’s tearing it up. They’ve encored it a couple times. Not sure a 2nd encore was warranted, but hey whatever… THREE encores? Really? They’re bringing Bill up, okay. FOUR! Okay, guys, really. Josh says “Two without Bill means you need two with Bill.”
Mark Bishop is up now singing “I’m Listening For the Call.” Now a moving intro and “God Builds Churches With Broken People.” It looks like that was it, because they switched to another vintage filler clip (yay), and now the Talleys are up! Opening with “Surely,” a great choice. And Brian Alvey is back, yay! I just pointed out how much Lauren sounds like Brian Free on this one and said, “Close your eyes and try see Brian in your mind’s eye instead.” DBM’s response: “Lauren is prettier.” HA!
Then they sang “Broken World,” and now Brian Alvey is sharing his testimony to set up “That’s Why I Love Him So.” I’d never heard this before, but he was kicked out of his house at the age of 16. For several years he didn’t want anything to do with church. But when he was 19 he saw Gerald Wolfe and Greater Vision. Afterwards he walked up to Gerald and said, “I’m just a long-haired kid, but I wanna sing someday.” And Gerald gave him his card. Brian says, “He showed me people like him were faithful to God, and through that I saw God’s faithfulness.” What a great way to tie back to Gerald’s own comments about the faithfulness of people he had known from his childhood. Too bad the track for the song cut in too early and interrupted the end of Brian’s intro.
Next, “Great Love He Gave.” Powerful live number! The awkwardness of the narration just sails right on by in a live setting. The group sounded a little tired but gave a strong performance. Then they just went right into a chorus of “He’s Alive,” a good transition, good way to close out the set.
Kingdom Heirs up now, singing “Ever Since That Wonderful Day.” Mark practically bounded off stage after introducing them. He ate his chocolate frosted sugar bombs this morning! Now Jeff Chapman singing a cute one called “Hit the Ground Running.” Next, that old chestnut, “He Locked the Gates.” Works every time.
Okay, finally they’re featuring Jerry Martin, on “I Can Pray.” Something’s off though, I think he just went sharp or something. He never does that. He must be really tired, or maybe even sick. Or DBM suggested perhaps it’s an ear monitor issue. He really does sound tired though. But as Keith Waggoner is pointing out to us here in the chat room, NQC does that to its tenors, “Just think…you’re keeping weird hours, eating bad food, talking to everyone at the booth, plus pulling out all the big songs.”
Hey, I’ve never heard them sing this one before: “I Never Shall Forget The Day.” Arthur Rice is tearing it up! Obviously NQC is easier on lead singers than tenors. This performance is my favorite of their set so far. Encoring it, and the piano player is channeling a little Roger Bennett almost!
Karen Peck & New River are closing it out. Karen’s on tonight, and they played the beginning of her “Mighty High” clip from Joyful Noise before she came out and started singing it for real. Good idea for an opener! High energy, an evening highlight. Keeping the energy right going, Jeff Hawes is taking the lead on “Look What My Lord Has Done.” He sounds great but something bizarre happened with the track midway through, the volume abruptly got turned down almost to a whisper for a few seconds. Things are back on track now. Whoops, famous last words, it turned up again at the end. Susan is singing “I’m Saved” now. Encoring it once…
Now Karen is announcing an upcoming solo project. She invited Wes Hampton and Ben Isaacs to come up and sing a new song whose name I didn’t catch. Sounded a bit sugary to me—equating homeless people with people in a nursing home. (Jesus lives there, we should go to both, etc., etc.) I don’t think so. Comparison doesn’t jibe for me. I’m sure some homeless people are in real need, but many are actually not doing too badly, and they spend any money people give them on whatever addictions they were stupid enough to get themselves into. To compare someone like that to an old lady who needs someone to take care of her basic needs just seems in poor taste to me. But I realize people don’t think through these things. Sorry for the mini-grumble. Moving on… Karen’s singing “Four Days Late,” a very dependable closer. Good way to close out the night. I think KPNR had one of the strongest sets of the evening.
Mark Bishop closing with a great prayer. He was a funny, energetic MC tonight. I think he should do this every night. Maybe he doesn’t agree though.
Tonight was a bit of a mixed bag, maybe not the week’s best but there were some definite highlights. I think for me the most memorable moment was Gerald bringing up the unknown trio to sing acapella. Also, the Penny Loafers’ one song was awesome, as was the Sisters’. The Isaacs and Talleys turned in strong sets. Share your highlights in the comments! I’m going to bed. Night all. See you tomorrow!