Good evening! Please join me for Free Friday with your thoughts and comments, or just sit back and enjoy the show!
Best of the Night:
The Gaither Vocal Band, “It is Finished” – One word: Glooooray!
*Isaacs, “The Living Years”
*Karen Peck and New River (what I caught of their set, COUGH COUGH)
*Easters with Wilburn & Wilburn, “Down In the Valley
*Bill’s calling on the crowd to stand during “I Played In the Band”
*Mark Trammell Quartet, “Wonderful Time Up There” and “The King is Coming”
*Gold City, “Get Up, Get Ready” — Jonathan Wilburn joined on the encore.
11:13 Gaither Vocal Band, “It is Finished” — magnificent! After a slightly underwhelming segment earlier in the evening, this bonus show-stopper left nobody unsatisfied. Nobody was in their seats by the end. I was a bit confused because the order of the bonus performances was rearranged, and I figured nobody could follow THAT. In fact, they ended abruptly after that. Quite right, quite right, goodnight.
11:04 The Mark Trammell Quartet, “I Want to Know — Good choice. You know, I’m really noticing it this convention, but Pat Barker is one good-looking guy. Truly! And if you’re a friend of Pat’s you can tell him I said that and meant it. I notice Matthew Holt and Greg Ritchie are back on stage. Oh dear, another mike mishap when Mark introduced the GVB!
11:00 The Booth Brothers, “Still Feelin’ Fine” — Awww, the camera just zoomed in on a young girl holding an “I heart you Booth Brothers!” sign. Uh-oh, Gene McDonald just came up with them but his mike wasn’t on!!
10:55 Okay folks, strap your seatbelts and get ready for the Gospelpalooza! Each group is going to sing one sugar stick of their choice, one after another. I always love this section of the evening! First up, Karen Peck and New River, “Four Days Late.” As Daniel Mount noted on his site, their set earlier this evening was strong even without this song, but it’s cool to see them pull it out as a bonus now.
10:50 Gerald just shared a great testimony about one of the cameramen, who had strayed from the faith before working on the NQC crew some years ago, but after coming to NQC and listening to the music, he rededicated his life to Christ and is now active in his church. Appropriately, Chris is now singing “I Know A Man Who Can.” I’ve heard him sing this dozens of times and yet it never gets old.
10:46 “Preacher, Tell Me Like it Is” — This is quickly becoming a new standard for the group. I heard a few someones saying “Yeah!” as soon as the track started up.
Gerald gave us a sneak peek into the schedule of an NQC singer. Getting up at 7:00 in the morning, meeting at 8:00, bed at 12:00, lie awake all wound up until 2 AM, then get up and do it all over again next day! He opines that it would sure be nice if the groups could sing to a full house to start with, then end the convention when crowds were low and “We don’t sound good no-how!” And yet, I think the week has gotten better as it wears on, so I would beg to differ with Gerald there.
10:36 Greater Vision 1. Seeking For Me — The purity of Chris’s voice on this one slays me! 2. Looking For the Grace — Another highlight of the new album. Mark Trammell Quartet getting into the encore on row one.
10:33 The Browders, “He’s Not There”
10:14-10:30 Gold City 1. When I Get Carried Away 2. I Get Down — Tim Riley just dedicated it to a fan turning 22 today. She must have requested this song. Nice touch! 3. Midnight Cry — I was expecting this, but was hoping for a bit more of a crowd response at the beginning? A little cheer for Jerry Pelfrey? I think he does a great job with this song. Of course, my all-time favorite was the spin put on it by short-lived lead singer Craig West. When he left, I thought “There goes the guy who sang ‘Midnight Cry’ better than it ever will be sung again!” But Jerry does a creditable job as well. I think maybe next time Ivan does a solo set, he should just invite Jerry up to sing this one for him… 4. Get Up, Get Ready — Now here’s a tasty little sugar stick! I want to see what Fulton does with this on the key change. And he did great. Was singing himself hoarse by the end but it didn’t matter. Jonathan Wilburn couldn’t contain himself and ran up on stage for the encore! Grabbed Jerry’s mike away from him and let it rip, did his little dance. Gerald made a little joke afterward when he said “Jonathan’s ready to go, isn’t he?” LOL.
9:59 Mark Trammell Quartet 1. Meet Me In the Morning 2. Wonderful Time Up There — Pat Barker killing it! 3. The King is Coming — Cool! Mark Trammell set this up by recalling the first time he saw the Gaithers sing it. He said if he could sing only one more song, it would be this one!
9:55 Michael Booth introducing Mark Trammell. I love how he put it: “He’s a guy we can follow in a direction. Paul said ‘Follow me as I follow Christ.’ Men like this point us in the right direction.” Exactly the right attitude toward the saints of God.
9:52 Really neat moment–Bill Gaither asked folks in the crowd to stand gradually as he called out different tasks in church. “Anyone who’s ever sung… played an instrument… driven a bus… done janitorial work… helped in the nursery.” Then he said, “Without you, the church wouldn’t work! You are important! All of you!” Great moment.
9:45-9:49 Michael Booth presented their song of the year award for “I Played in the Band” to Bill Gaither. Then he said, “And Bill, when you take that back to Larry Gatlin, can you send us the money for a replacement? ‘Cuz y’know, we don’t have one now.” Michael just created a great moment when Bill got the title wrong. “You wrote it!” And now, of course, they’re singing it. Nick Bruno providing some understated piano accompaniment.
9:35 Awwwwww, it’s the Booth Brothers and Michael is singing “Look For Me at Jesus’ Feet.” I’m so happy. 2. I’m Free — I knew this would be a great live number when I first heard it and they’ve staged it twice this week. Unfortunately my feed is cutting out! Ah good, back now. (That was quick!)
9:32 Sing-a-long. Gerald Wolfe just shared a really neat story about how his group got to sing in a context where there was a diverse gathering of folks from multiple countries, and when they sang a chorus of “Because He Lives,” people started joining in each in their own language. Appropriately, the audience is now singing “Because He Lives.”
9:17-9:23 The Easters are up. 1. Anything Could Happen 2. When You’re Broken — This song just doesn’t work, in my opinion, but it’s a nice surprise to see Wes Hampton on stage singing it as a duet with Morgan. Jeff just shared a great story about his father’s whirlwind courtship with his second wife after his first wife passed away. They dated for only a few weeks before tying the knot. When Jeff expressed astonishment, his father said, “Son, the Bible says do what you do do quickly!” 3. I Get To — Love the sweet message in this song. 4. Down In the Valley — Hey, Wilburn & Wilburn are joining in! They sang guest vocals on the studio version. Well, this is a nice bonus. It was so good that Gerald demanded an encore!
9:12 Hey, they’re giving us a hand! (Us being those of us watching by webcast.) I guess they did the “funny thing happened” segment earlier. I forgot to mention that — Bill said Gerald offered him a free hot dog and was praising his kindness when Gerald interjected “And you said you’d pay me later too.”
9:10 Hmmmmm, wonder if “At Calvary” was really the best choice for a singalong immediately after “He’s Alive,” because it’s creating a bit of a whiplash effect stylistically, but okay!
9:05 I figured they were going to pull out something big before their segment finished up, and sure enough, here’s “He’s Alive.” I enjoy David’s production on this one. The melody is boring enough that it needs some bells and whistles to make it exciting, but the all-stops-pulled-out orchestration is just right. The Talleys staged this song earlier in the week, but it’s a testament to what a signature song it’s become for both groups that neither one felt they could risk leaving it out. Go David, do your thing.
8:58 Bill just shared a little bit about his grandson who’s going to college (?) in Scotland, who’s very shy and having difficulty making friends. He talked about how the most important things in life are our kids and grandkids and actually got choked up! Now Michael English is singing “That Sounds Like Home to Me.” I was kind of nodding off, to be honest, but then David Phelps freshened it up a little. The pop flourishes may not mesh with the style of the song, but at least he woke me up!
8:50 David Phelps, “Come to Jesus” — are they just turning this into a David solo thing? I guess he carried pretty much all of it on the record, but I like the harmonies too. Okay good, they’re filling in the background now.
8:48 Michael English being featured on “I Don’t Want to Get Adjusted.”
8:43 Mark Lowry telling the motorcycle story… a reader has suggested it’s time for a new story. I agree, but I still liked hearing him tell it again.
8:30 Gaither Vocal Band is up. Wes Hampton is wearing a pink shirt. Noooo! Not another victim of the pink shirt disease. No, no, Wes, not pink, not for you… 1. I Catch ‘Em, God Cleans ‘Em 2. I’ll Tell it Wherever I Go — Looks like they’re going for a Give It Away vibe so far. I really enjoy this feature for Wes, and he’s matured a lot since first cutting it. Ha, Bill said “Eat your heart out Triumphant Quartet” on the acapella long note. Oh, oh, are we jealous? (JK) 3. My Journey to the Sky — aren’t we going to see any powerhouse GVB tonight? Anyway, always a fun number with Bill’s history of the Jordanaires interrupting Mark at the beginning. Wes is in great form tonight!
8:20 After some banter, Bill Gaither introduced a surprise appearance from Canton Junction. Whaaaat? So awesome to see Tim Duncan back on mainstage! I think Matt Hagee should be turned up in the mix a bit. Didn’t catch the name of their first song, but they’re doing “Dig A Little Deeper” for the second one. Matt said this is their last one, but I could sit through a couple sets of these guys!
8:00-8:15 Um, hel-LO! We are missing the start of Karen Peck & New River’s set. Get BACK on mainstage NOW. I am doing my Animal impression at the screen right now (Muppets reference). I wonder if they’ll provide an alternate version with all music. Okay, we FINALLY got back… at the end of the first song. Drat you, whoever you are who made that decision. Okay, well from the little I saw of that song (AHEM) it looked great! They opened with the title cut of their new album, “Revival.” 2. I Want to Thank You — Moving song and performance, but why is Kevin Williams chewing gum while playing guitar? I thought singers got a pass on gum chewing because they need to keep their mouths moist, but Kevin’s not gonna be singing tonight (as far as I know anyway!) 3. On the Banks of the Promised Land — Yesssss. Great song. 4. We Shall Wear a Robe — They’re on fire tonight! Nelons joining in. Encore, encore!
7:55 Gordon, Kevin and Greg are playing “Gospel Ship” completely live! This is the bomb! And…. what??? They just cut away from it to another backstage interview, with the Hoppers. Noooo! Wrong move guys. I endured it when you cut Gerald and Gordon off earlier, but this is unconscionable. It sounds like they’re encoring it too. I almost want my money back just for that.
Gordon Mote just made a great crack at Bill. “You were in the key of F# — uncharted territory for you!” He also plugged the Isaacs’ new project. “From top to bottom, it’s perfect. Go buy it.”
7:33-7:50 I had a prior commitment that took me away for a little bit here, and it sounds like I missed an amazing set by the Hoppers! But I’m back now with the Isaacs. They opened with “Walk On” and are now singing “The Living Years.” I just looked up the song, and it’s an interesting choice–it’s a pop/rock ballad originally recorded by Mike and the Mechanics. Bill Gaither suggested the song to them. I am now going to go check out the original, because it sounds like a great song! Good to see Zak Shumate back on stage playing the drum. Boy, this song is fantastic. Bill Gaither just came up on stage with them to make them encore the chorus acapella. Now they’re singing “Walk Together Children,” also a new song I think. Bill is doing boom booms: “I’m not as good as the Penny Loafer boom boom guy, but I’m the boom boom guy on this one…” Zak providing some light percussion. 4. If That Isn’t Love — Bill is now playing piano. He joked that when he asked his doctor whether a finger surgery would affect his playing, the doctor said, “No, I’ve heard you play and I don’t think it would.”
6:45-6:58 The Nelons are playing their music video for the song “Excuse Me.” I think it’s more powerful with the video. I didn’t know it was written by the Gaithers and Larry Gatlin! 2. Hallelujah Chorus — acapella 3. He’s More Than Wonderful To Me — Amber is singing lead. What a beautiful voice she has. Powerhouse finish. This is one of her best vocal performances IMO. She’s straining some on the highest full voice notes, but in her head voice she just went up to an A, I think! 4. I’m Going Home With Jesus — Matthew Holt and Greg Ritchie are providing live backup. Whoops, Amber launched into the encore a little early, but no matter, this is great, and with Matthew Holt tearing the keys off the piano even better!
6:37-6:42 This showcase group is different! I didn’t catch their name. But they’re singing a Psalm 23 paraphrase that had a very interesting vocal echo verse that’s hard to describe unless you hear it. I’ll try to get their name in a sec. The younger of the two women has soul, and she isn’t even black! It’s interesting, because this group is the Collingsworth parents’ generation or older, but this is definitely what you’d call “progressive” gospel. Pretty rocky stuff for NQC, but I like it! The song was called “Surely.” I’ve got their name now: The Wilbanks, from Dallas and Houston. Gerald was very impressed and said he’s going to buy their CD. “Are you folks PC? Well you’ve got something us Baptists ain’t got!”
6:35 Adam is backstage interviewing Karen Peck & New River. Karen and Adam shared memories of NQC 2001 when September 11th hit. Karen said she felt it was symbolic that “Four Days Late” won song of the year two days later. I’m glad Adam talked a bit with the other members too though!
6:15-6:30 The Bowlings are up! One of my favorite mixed groups. 1. I’ll Be All Right As Soon As I Touch Calvary — This is a Crabb family cover. Great country-styled song about the cross. 2. I Know Enough — This lyric is very powerful given all that the Bowlings have gone through with their bus accident. I think it may be a new song. 3. Surprise! The three Bowling kids are singing an acapella trio of “Accentuate the Positive.” Inspired by the Isaacs maybe? Very cute! Sure, the harmonies weren’t absolutely spot-on, but the two younger ones were little enough that it was still impressive. 4. Wait, there’s more! Once again the kids are singing a song called “Jesus You’re All I Need.” It was just piano. These little girls were good enough for this to be a highlight in a genre now so heavily reliant on tracks and stacks. Give them a few more years and all three might join the group! 5. I’m Glad I’m Saved — great song, but an awkward moment after this one when Mike asked “How many here are Christians tonight?” and he asked the question so fast that only one person went “YEAH!” in response. 6. Somebody’s Believing — Troy Peach introduced this by saying that Mike had a vocal polyp that threatened his singing career, but then disappeared after they asked for prayers. The Bowlings are keeping things going at a pretty fast clip, with little talking and solid, rousing songs. This song packs a big whallop with some great vocals. If that’s just their four voices making that sound, that was amazing!
6:12 The Browns, instrumental. Good, they’re playing something other than the Pachelbel thing. They’re playing “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.” Now it’s turning into a medley with “Crown Him With Many Crowns.” However, I think the tuning is slightly off. Not sure if the violins are out of tune with each other or the track, or if someone’s just going sour, but something’s not quite right. I sensed this yesterday too. Okay, this ending is horrible. Something went badly wrong there.
6:03 The Rick Webb family. This group is a nice surprise. I haven’t heard much of their music before but am really enjoying their set so far. 1. Hallelujah I Have Found Him — I was unfamiliar with this old hymn and really like it! In other news, my video problem has been resolved with a hard reboot. 2. God Bless America — another fluttering flag on my screen. You’d think they’d find a different fluttering flag this time, but nope.
5:53 They’re taking a break from the singalong to show Adam Crabb backstage interviewing the Bowling Family. This is a nice twist.
5:50 I’m experiencing a weird problem, and I want others to chime in and tell me if they’re experiencing the same thing: Half of the video is cut off! It’s like the whole thing has been shifted to the right, with the right half missing. I’m going to try a reboot in a minute and see if that helps.