Some good stuff happened tonight! Gaither was in the house and much more. Read on for the penultimate batch of hasty notes…Oh yes, and this installment includes two pictures of David Bruce Murray’s sock. Read on for an explanation of that too…
I just came in to catch Tribute Quartet’s “Song of Heaven.” Riley Clarke delivered his solo with authority and control, and the ending was huge. It drew a remarkably warm reaction from a crowd this early in the show. They encored the “Hallelujah…” and ending. A good example of a merited encore! Should go down as an evening highlight. They wrapped up with a chorus of “Homesick Angle.”
Now Swanny is taking way too long to set up the Dixie Echoes. He finally shut up, and now they’re up singing “I’ll Shake the Hand of the Lord.” Craig Thomas had a nice step-out. I like his smooth sound. It’s not flashy, and it doesn’t have Michael Selwig’s theatrical flair, but he fits with the group. Now he’s singing “Unworthy.” I hope this doesn’t give the DE bad juju, but he’s a little like Kurt Young. Seriously though, I mean it as a compliment.
Okay Randy has picked up his electric guitar and he and Ben Hart are GOING AT IT on “Happy Rhythm.” This stuff is always such a breath of fresh air. Great 50s sound. Go Johnny go… I mean Randy.
Shoot, the webcast froze on me just as Randy was setting up their next song. Back now. It was “If You Know the Lord.” Oh good, they’re doing “Roll On” now! More Jordan James. Oooops, he had to sneeze/cough on the encore. That was funny! But kind of neat that the DE is the kind of group where if someone misses a line, you don’t hear an embarrassing stacked vocal. You either make the note or you don’t. That’s rare these days.
They finished with a strong version of “Little is Much.” Here I took a little break. Back now with the Diplomats, and our sound is terrible. We’re hoping this gets fixed by the time Gaither shows up.
Break for a dumb video. Obviously they didn’t get the memo that we HATE THESE AND WANT THEM TO GO AWAY FOREVER.
Now I’m back and the Taylors are up. This is a young group that I’ve wanted to hear more of for a while. They’re singing what sounds a heaven medley. The curly blonde is good, whoever she is! Jeff Stice is playing piano for them. Now singing “I Know It’s Real.” Again for the curly blonde girl! We think her name is Suzanne. Oh wait, it’s not Suzanne it’s Lindsey. Looks like that was all they got, and now the Perrys are up. They opened with “Everywhere I Go” and Tracy was channeling a little George Younce. Now Libbi is singing “Celebrate Me Home.”
Next Tracy set up a new song called “He’s Good To Me” by making like it was something the young guys wanted to do and it was a little too prog for his tastes but he’s going along with it. It was fun! Had a bluegrassy kick to it.
Now he’s setting up a recut of an old song, “When He Spoke To Me.” I had never heard this before! Beautiful! Great, powerful finish. Now I should go find the original.
After Tracy led the audience in some fake applause, there was a great surprise moment for Les Beasley. One of the soldiers who was introduced to NQC last year (Jason) came up and presented the flag he took to Afghanistan to Les in honor of Clarke and the rest of the NQC staff! It was folded and framed in glass! Surprise gift, how awesome is that? He had his son with him too (the one who introduced him to southern gospel when he was in the hospital). They got a standing-O from the audience.
After that we had another surprise—Clarke Beasley making an appearance via Skype! He shared some moving words about how listening to the Whisnants’ song about the clay in the potter’s hand ministered to him on Monday, and he got a new appreciation for how gospel music can minister to us in our time of need. He got choked up, and people gave him another standing-O.
Then they rolled a commercial with TBN, which I could definitely have done without. Now Bill is up leading the audience in “Old Friends.” He worked the crowd a little, now the Sisters are up with an acapella moment. “Thou O Lord,” I believe. Indeed, it is! Amazing. Then they sang “I’m Gonna Make It.” I loved Valerie’s voice on this one. They blend so beautifully, it’s nice to hear when one of them does a solo.
Isaacs up now. They opened with “Walk On,” Nathan Faucet did a great job on “the box.” Now they’re singing “The Three Bells.” I like the way Jimmy Yeary is making his guitar sound like bells.
They then sang “I’m Gonna Love You Through It.” Mama Isaac shared her personal story of surviving breast cancer, and it was moving.
Now they’re singing, “I Will Praise Him.” This is one of their best acapella numbers! Wow, I’d forgotten how awesome that key change is.
The Booth Brothers are up. While Bill was setting them up, we heard Mark Lowry from somewhere in the crowd saying, “Paging Bill Gaither… Paging Bill Gaither, we’ve got your teeth.” Funny! They’re singing “I Played In the Band…” again. I hope they don’t encore it fifty times tonight! Well, they’ve encored it twice or thrice anyway. Heard some microphone ringing that went on for quite a while during the 2nd one. A sign, maybe?
I guess that’s all they were doing, because now the Nelons are up. Yay! We missed them last year. They’re opening with “Come to the River.” Next they did a jaw-dropping acapella version of “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.” It was a tune I’ve never heard before. Afterwards Jason set up a new ballad, “Excuse Me, Are You Jesus?” Bit sappy, but sweet.
Now “I’m Going Home to Jesus,” which always gets people up and clapping. Encoring it once, encoring it twice! Matthew Holt turned in some awesome piano (with a little help from Bill Gaither). By the way, in case you hadn’t heard, Matthew is now the official Gaither pianist. I am THRILLED for him.
Okay guys, now it’s the GVB, singing “One Voice.” Mark kicked it off, and they were all darkened on the stage, so I thought it was a joke! “One voice, singing in the darkness…” But I guess not. They moved from that to “Where No One Stands Alone.” I could be wrong but I think Wes has the melody! David has ditched the red leather pants ( thank goodness ) and actually looks rather classy with his tidi(er) haircut and cleaned-up beard. Usual powerhouse ending. Now they’re singing a new ditty called “Wrasslin’ Jacob.” From their new CD of course—never heard it before. Pretty cute. Now they’re singing “I Catch ‘Em, God Cleans ‘Em.” Not a bad song, but I prefer hearing Guy sing it. It’s great to hear Matthew take Gordon Mote’s solos though! He is good!
Mark came up and told some old jokes. Now they’re singing “The Love of God.” Holy cow! Wes Hampton had a good step-out (just when I was pining for one, there it was), then on the end there were some amazing harmonies from David, Wes and Michael. Just a beautiful acapella moment. Perfection. Definitely a candidate for performance of the night.
Okay, we just had a HILARIOUS moment, David forgot the words to “Glorious Freedom!” And he JUST sang it yesterday. LOL. Oops. Back on track now. This really is a great song. Wes Hampton to the rescue, giving him the first few words of each line. I just heard that David’s sister is in hospice in the last stages of cancer. He’s probably exhausted. We should keep him in prayer. Wes just gave David a pat on the back as the song finished. Bless his heart.
Now Michael English is tearing it up on “Winds of this World.” Okay, have to admit it, that’s some great soul singing! Out of nowhere a ladies’ backup choir of Nelons, Martins, etc. started singing behind him, and it made for an amazing escalating moment. Encoring it, why not?? Matthew Holt had some shining moments on the piano too. I’ve never heard this song before, it’s got an Elvis groove, like “Mystery Train.” I love what they did at the end here, they took it all the way down to a whisper and just ended on this… COOL note. Wow. Terrific energy. Brilliant stuff.
Taking it a notch down for a new ballad featuring Mark: “Sow Mercy.” Nice song and harmonies, though I think this feels like a letdown after “Winds of This World.” Some of us are falling asleep in the chat room… and that was the last song. Darn, they should have closed with “Winds!” Oh well.
Pfeiffers. Homework break.
Back with the Crists. They’re singing the only gospel song Hollywood knows, “Oh Happy Day.” WOW, one of the girls has red hair. It seems every year one or more of the Crist ladies makes some weird fashion choice. We’re wondering if it’s for the Christmas finale? However, Tami is wearing a beautiful red shirt that I want. They just sang “He is There,” kind of a snoozer. Presumably the next one will be uptempo. Nope, it’s a worship song: “There is No Other Name.”
Swanny told a new joke (SHOCKER)! Now it’s Triumphant. They’re opening with “Every Day,” great idea! Haven’t heard this one in a little bit, fun stuff. Awesome, they encored it acapella, got a great response. That was pretty great.
After “Whiter Than Snow,” Scotty shared his gripping testimony about his daughter Embry. He got choked up and his wife was in the front row holding back tears. As hopefully all of you know now, Embry is home and doing well! But Scotty said their faith was really tested. He said it so aptly: “I honestly don’t know what people do without Jesus.” Now he’s singing “Only God Knows,” all by himself, acapella. He said, “We don’t have a track or anything…” and Jeff said, “Sing it acapella, it’ll be better.” We agree! This is a simple, tender moment, a definite evening highlight. DBM says, “I believe the previous moment of the night just got bumped down one peg.”
They’re closing with “Old White Flag,” and there’s no tissue near to hand so I’m waving my Calculus II homework. Does that count?? DBM is waving his sock, wish I’d thought of that. He assures us he would never do it at a concert. (Later he offered to send me a pic when I told him it was going in my write-up, and I assured him that I think we can visualize it just fine in our mind’s eye. But I dared him to send me one anyway. )
UPDATE: He actually did it! Sorry folks, I had to include these…
Filler video, and now MTQ! All right, this is their last day, and the first full set I’ve caught all week! Opened with “On the Other Side.” I’m trying to sort through big MTQ songs to think if there are any they haven’t nailed yet. Perhaps “Loving the Lamb?”
Mark just invited promoter Ray Flynn up on stage and honored him, saying he’s just recovered from cancer surgery, and the doctors say he’s cancer free! Mark then asked all cancer survivors in the audience to raise their hand, and then launched into the song “Too Much to Gain to Lose.” Nice, they segued into “We Shall Behold Him,” nice marriage of the two Rambo tunes! Now a great up-tempo chestnut, “Standing On the Solid Rock.” Pure quartet goodness, with a richly merited encore! They’re closing with the “Golden City” medley. Stacks sky-high on the climax, but who cares? Eric is singing “I’ll Meet You In the Morning” and the orchestration is great. Standing-O.
Hoppers are up now, singing “Jerusalem.” Michael is making faces while killing the drums! We thought it felt a little slower than usual, but DBM informs us it’s the same speed. I think we’re projecting our late-night grogginess on the tempo of the song! Now they’re singing a new song, “I’ll Take You Home.” I predicted this would be a highlight when I first heard the clip.
After that they sang “I’ve Come Too Far to Look Back.” Connie Hopper paused here and shared a story about a young man who had recently come to their table asking how he could be saved, and prayed and accepted Jesus right there. She said that we don’t hear much about repentance any more, but Jesus said “Repent and be saved.” I agree!
She then invited Taranda Greene on stage to sing an encore, and that was a moment! Connie sort of played it like “Gloryroad,” where she kept asking Kim to sing the same long note over and over. Connie and Claude stood back and watched Kim, Taranda, Mike and Dean take over for several powerhouse acapella encores. I think we could be looking at the future Hoppers lineup! After that, they did “Something’s Happening” and encored that with Taranda too. It got a standing-O.
At that point they moved into the Christmas segment, and I just felt like it was too late to keep staying up. Tonight started strong with Tribute, then sagged for a while, but ended up being an amazing night, propelled of course in large part by the Gaithers and the Vocal Band. There were a lot of “moments” tonight that kept things spontaneous, fresh, moving and exciting. For that reason, even though some other nights may be more consistent in hindsight, I vote this as the best night of the week so far. A few songs that brought the house down: “The Song of Heaven,” “I’m Going Home to Jesus,” “Thou O Lord,” “Winds of This World,” “Something’s Happening.” Share your highlights if you were watching! I’m going to bed.