NQC Hasty Notes #4: Thursday Night

NQC Hasty Notes #4: Thursday Night September 15, 2011

Wilburn & Wilburn just lost their track on Fire in the Choir. It was on, then it wasn’t. Jonathan started singing “And what I need right now is a track playing….” Waiting. Waiting. Tim Lovelace is killing time… this is embarrassing for somebody. I don’t know his name and he’s probably glad. Okay, it eventually came back. Jonathan and Jordan are tearing it up! Jonathan hit some pretty powerful notes and got red in the face. So did Jordan. Like father like son. 🙂 Jordan is honestly one of the best young singers in gospel music, and I’d really like to see him get some recognition. I could see him landing a job with a top-tier group some day.

Okay, congregational singing with Brian Free was up next, but now the Hoppers are up singing “Victory Shall Be Mine?” This is kinda important, ‘cuz Brian is supposed to be co-hosting tonight?? Hopin’ he’s okay?? We’ll see. I’m enjoying the Hoppers in the meanwhile… without describing what she was wearing last night (others already have) Kim is wearing a much better outfit tonight.
Okay, Brian’s here now, good. Did I mention I love this guy? He’s leading the crowd in “Victory in Jesus.” LOL, he’s switching between the girls’ and guys’ parts. Now he seems more comfortable with the girls’. LOL. He seems to be having trouble getting the crowd to sing. He picked a key they could sing too!
Now the Collingsworth family is up singing “Joy Unspeakable.” At first their mix seemed off, now it’s good. Hey, just noticed Brooklyn’s bright red shoes/boots look just like Morgan Easter’s! Great opening number. Yay, now they’re doing “Fear Not Tomorrow.” This will be good. But it sounds like Kim is louder than the girls. Must be more mix issues… They are sounding great tonight though, just finished big. Now Phil is introducing a family friend who happened to work for Donald Rumsfeld under the Bush administration—Lieutenant Colonel Billy Watts. Now Phil Jr. is singing “Tell the Mountain.” I must say, I’m learning a LOT about parts singing by listening to some of these bad mixes (ahem). I just caught sight of Signature Sound in the crowd even though they’re not on until 9:00. They must have come to catch the Collingsworths. Phil is doing a terrific job with this song. Now Kim set up “Jesus Is All I Need” by talking about the scare they had in December when Phil Sr. had brain surgery. She is a very powerful communicator. I didn’t realize that this song started with just Kim and the two Phils. They make a great trio! Aw, did I just see Momma make Phil Jr. shed a tear there? Now the whole family is coming together for the last part. Oooooh, acapella encore, sweet.
Now the Pfeiffers are doing “How Great Thou Art,” trumpet, sax, and clarinet instrumental. Then vocals at the end. A lot of people have complained about this group. Admittedly they’re not that great, but not as bad as all THAT.
Now Brian and Sheri are up. Sheri is wearing some drapy thing that’s black with large pink pokodots. Brian is wearing a pink tie and just said, “Sheri you’re looking beautiful, and I just noticed that we match. We’re both wearing black and pink.” He then defended himself by saying every tenor singer is entitled to wear pink. “Isn’t that right? Michael Booth?” (I think I heard Michael respond from somewhere in the audience, but it may have been my imagination…) Not many people realize how funny Brian can be because he’s got such a clean-cut, polished singing presence, but just watch Assurance’s on-the-road videos some time.
The Kingsmen just blew my ears out on “When I Wake Up,” and not in a good way. Ouch. I like their lead singer though (Bryan Hutson), and I believe Randy Crawford used to sing for Brian Free & Assurance, before Derrick Selph came back. He’s singing “If Not For the Love of Christ” right now. This is a nice song. Now “After the Sunrise,” a pleasant up-tempo number. They’re sounding better now—it may be the mix (surprise). When Harold did his high thing, it didn’t hurt my ears this time because his mic was turned down. Oh, now he’s featured. “I Knew It Was Him.” This might grab me more with a different singer, not sure. Now they’re doing “That’s All I Need.” You know, it’s not that they’re bad, they’re just not good enough to distract me from the hot GVB debate I’m having in the chat room right now… maybe that’s not a fair standard though. 😀
I took a short break, and I think they may have sung another song in the meanwhile, but now Bryan Hutson just introduced the Kingdom Heirs. These guys are one of my favorite quartets. Singing “I’m Not Worried About Forever.” Some of us are speculating whether Arthur and Steve are THAT tall or whether Jerry Martin is THAT short. We’re thinking the latter? Or maybe both? Now we’re musing on the fact that Jerry is the only one in the group with real hair (and not much of it either… maybe that will mysteriously change one of these days?) Oh, the singing? They sound great. Now it’s “Tell Me Why.” Just a great sound, and what do you know, no mix problems yet! A new song.  I’m hoping they’ll do some more of their new stuff, but I think they have three slots, so they probably want to spread things out. By the way, their band is great. The bass player just did a great comedy bit with Steve French where he claimed that he got pulled over for running a stop sign and got an $80 ticket he wants Steve to pay… I hear they did this on their Live from Dollywood DVD too. Somebody said it was a waste of precious time, but I thought it was funny. 🙂 Now Jerry just sang “When Heaven’s Gates Swing Open Wide.” Does he have a cold or something? Cuz that was kind of thin. Now into “He Locked the Gates,” which always gets a good response. Encored, of course.
Now my favorite piano player in gospel music… Kim Collingsworth! “My Tribute.” I remember the first time I watched her do this I fell over backwards in my chair. Whoa, she is killing it now. I feel sorry for the piano. Standing ovation. Hallelujah. 😀 Sheri just summed it up: “I believe she believes it!”
Legacy Five. Opened with “Every Day,” now they’re singing “God Cares For Me.” Expecting them to move on to a ballad in a moment. Sure ’nuff, now Glenn is singing “I’ve Been Changed.” I like this song. Glenn always puts his heart in it. Gus is sounding awesome on the chorus. Now singing “Thankful For the Change” — nice sequencing! Ahhhh, now they’re doing “Something About That Name.” I love it when they take their time with this. Just like the Cathedrals. Now Scott is reading the Easter story… I bet I know what he’s setting up, it’s gotta be “We Shall See Jesus.” This is a creative arrangement. I like the idea of changing the lead around. Though I admit I prefer it the traditional way, this is neat. Scotty going for it on the climax now. Standing-O.
[Pointless video break. This is longer than usual. I think maybe it’s finally over?? Yes!] Talleys are up, opening with “He’s So Good To Me.” Wondering if maybe they should have done something else since the Booths have picked this up now? Now Brian Alvey is singing “Why Me, Lord?” The song isn’t a favorite, but Brian is. They’re doing it as a trio with Brian, Lauren, and Roger. Now it’s “Applause.” Brian, Lauren and Debra. Have to say, I’m coming to think they do sound tighter when they stick with the trio configuration. Gotta say they got kind of thin “Applause” at the end there. Ironic? 😉 Now Lauren is singing “He’s Alive.” I’d rather hear her sing this than David Phelps. I’m really liking the quartet sound on this chorus. Bringing the house down, have to say. Rock it guys.
Calvary’s Voice, a showcase group is up now. They’re okay, don’t know the song. I’ve just been finding out about Sheri’s outfit. Apparently it is called an “overlay,” and we’ve decided it’s sheer, with the black dress showing through. Ouch, the tenor singer just tried to sing a high note. Ack. If you can’t hit it, don’t try. It’s simple. Poor guy.
Now MTQ is up singing “Echoes From the Burning Bush.” (And David Bruce Murray is happy in the chat room. He was about to fall asleep with all the slow songs, and we all know how much he LOVES slow songs…) Pat Barker is great, and Joel Wood sounds like he’s struggling with allergies or a cold something… blech, that’s not fun. As others have pointed out, it is the Kentucky Fair and Expo Center after all, so often they have animals penned up in the hallways. You can just imagine what that does to people with allergies. Now Dustin is singing “Testimony.” Next, “That Day At Calvary.” Mark Trammell is now setting up “Statue of Liberty,” I assume. Wow, how classy. He just asked all the veterans to stand, then thanked the military members who have sacrificed for freedom. Then he said that even though there are people who try to say  this is not a Christian nation, “That is a lie from Hell. There is still a remnant.” They did indeed bring the house down with “Statue of Liberty.” Have to admit, I’m not as good with very long drawn-out ballads as some people, but this is one of the better ones.
Now David Jeremiah is talking for a pretty long time about his new book (and over-stepping his 5 minutes) but boy is he saying some good hard-hitting things, especially about Israel. Then he rolled some old Cathedrals footage I’d never seen before. Wonderful. And somebody thinks we’d rather watch pointless motivational videos? Never mind.
Now it’s a group called Smoky Mountain Reunion. Really old guys. Sweet. I’m told they’re former Inspirations. Just did “A Rose Among the Thorns.” Now the original Inspirations baritone came up to sing “My Best Friend.” (His name is Jack Law I think.) Now “Wonder of Wonders.” This is nice and all, but it’s running a bit long… hopefully this will be the last song? No, wait, they’re doing “Roll On Jordan” acapella! This is actually fun! They’re doing great. That bass is great! We just remembered his name is Marlin Shubert. He always was a great bass. They just did an encore. 😀
I left and came back to find the Isaacs singing “Walk On.” Band is doing great. I see Sonya’s current husband playing guitar. Now they’re singing “Little Jimmy Brown.” This song is hopelessly saccharine, but…. now they’re playing “Love You Through It,” Martina’s latest hit which Sonya co-wrote of course. They had some cancer survivors come up on stage towards the end with posters saying how many years they’d been clean, but a couple said just “survivor” (maybe still battling) or “diagnosed 2011, keeping praying.” Honestly, it was a nice idea, but seemed just a little bit forced. A nice idea though. Now singing “I Will Praise Him” acapella. I’d forgotten what they can do acapella. Mercy. Beautiful.
Then Dennis Swanberg came up, maybe killing time so EHSS could get their sound right? Brian and Sheri are killing more time… is it taking EHSS that long? Okay, now they’re up singing this new song called “Here We Are Again.” Come on guys… Sheri said you were going to “tear it up.” I’m already tired, now you’re trying to put me to sleep? And… the pink shirts… well, that’s all I’ll say about that. Come to think of it though, somebody mentioned it might have something to do with breast cancer awareness month. Oh wait, that’s October. The mystery remains… maybe it was the cancer walk Janet Paschal did this morning? Anyway, now they’re singing something brand new called “I’ve Been Here Before.” Devin is singing lead. This is a pretty neat song. I like it! They’re doing an encore. Ernie’s mic is a little cold… could someone maybe turn it up? Ernie paused for a word about the inspiration for the song, then launched into it one more time. Probably could have left off that last encore… time is precious at NQC. Now they’re sitting down and letting Doug sing a solo, “I’ll Take What’s Left.” That was gorgeous, and now Ernie launched right into “Oh What a Savior.” He led the audience a little, then did the high part. He was a little croaky, but he still hit it (might be he has a cold?) Then an encore of “Glory to God in the Highest.” No special guest hoppers this time. Ernie did confetti at the end… hmmmm. Maybe not the best idea for NQC? All in all, their set yesterday was better. But it wasn’t bad.
A showcase group called Omega is singing now. The lead singer is very talented, but this is a ho-hum song. There was a really bad line in there: “Our problems bring us down… our smiles become frowns.” Then Brian came up and showed off a picture of his little grand-kid. Have to say Brian’s been a great emcee. I really enjoy his style—nothing forced, just a natural, genuine guy.
Now the Dixie Echoes are up! Been looking forward to this! They are singing around two mics with an all live band. This is how it’s done. Mike Jennings is singing “How Big is God” now. He was a great hire. Now Scott is introducing Michael Helwig. He is a great singer, this will be good. Oh MAN, he’s singing “Walk With Me!” Unbelievable. I love Randy Sr.’s understatement. He just said, “What a good job. What a good job.” Now the band is playing an instrumental. Some mics are NOT on. Get this fixed, please? Okay, Randy’s guitar mic came on, this is good. Now the violin please? That was short but sweet. Awesome electric GUI-tar pickin’. These guys are so refreshing. A breath of fresh air tonight. I just typed “This is the group of the night. Click ‘like’ if you agree.” So far seven people have typed in the word “like.” Now they’re doing “I Am A Pilgrim.” Guys, this is classic music! Their piano player is doing the McCray shuffle behind them. Love it. 😀 Then he tried to do a spectacularly unsuccessful Richard Sterban impression. I just got a few more “likes.” Now they’re doing “I’ll Have a New Body.” They left in style.
Gordon Mote is up for a blazing piano. And he’s singing at the same time. We’re cookin’ with gas folks. As somebody in chat just said, “We needed him about an hour or so ago. Now I can wake up!” Amen to that sister. The Easters sang with Gordon, and now their set is starting with Morgan singing “I Need You More Today (Than I Did Yesterday).” She’s got that country sound, for sure, though I would go with Amber Thompson first. Still, I can hear a little of her mom is in Morgan’s voice. Now Sheri set up “Hear My Heart” with a thoughtful word about how sometimes words are completely superficial in the middle of a terrible storm, but if we listen in the quiet, we will be brought close to God. Hey, James Easter is back tonight, and this time he’s singing “A Heart That Will Never Break Again.” Never heard this song before, but it’s great. And the violin guy’s mic FINALLY came on. Would have been nice to hear him for the ENTIRETY OF THE DIXIE ECHOES’ SET TOO. But, ah, I digress. This sounds great. Great song. Some fun stuff with Jeff and James, now another great song called “Morning’s Coming.” I just realized the music is ALL live. Gordon on keys, Kevin Williams on guitar, Jeff Tolbert on violin, another guitar player, a bass player, drums. This is some of the best live music I’ve heard all week. Fantastic.
Then a showcase group called Eternal Vision came up and sang. They ended up finishing okay. Then Brian and Sheri came up and were funny together. Brian said, “Can this woman sing?” and Sheri said “Oh, well thank you, and can this man sing?” Brian: “No.” Love ya Brian. 🙂 Then they were congratulating each other on looking just like they did in 1986… then the Dove Brothers’ band had finally gotten their instruments tuned, and they came up and sang “I Still Recall.” Burman Porter is rocking orange tonight… hey, better than fuchsia! (Ahem. Ernie.) McCray is doing “Still Singing the Song.” Everybody says it’s terrible. Hey, let me be the judge of that. I think it’s sweet. So there. But have to admit, it’s slow for this late. Great, so just as they were launching into “Didn’t It Rain…” it froze. Faaaaaantastic. Okay, back now. They launched into “Get Away Jordan” and smooooked it. McCray did some great shuffling. Some people on their feet. Brian Free came up and said, “Whoo, didn’t it feel good to get up and stand this time of night? [crickets] I just heard somebody say NOOOO. All right!” LOL.
Okay, now the Booth Brothers. Doing “He Saw It All.” Great choice. Now “Feelin’ Fine.” Bless Ronnie’s heart: “You GOTTA clap on this one.” Good luck cowboy. Hey, the audience is standing! And clapping! They’re still alive. Michael is rocking it! They’re just… wow, how can you not love them? Now Jim is singing “Tears Are a Language.” He sounds great. (And in other news, the sky is blue.) Very nice song. Now Michael is taking a moment to thank the audience: “God knows it’s easier to sing to people than chairs.”
Then Michael did something pretty daring. He verbalized the unspoken rule of late-night sets at NQC: “You’re supposed to sing something fast and get people on their feet.” But then he said he would rather sing something that would help people get through next Monday morning instead of just getting them on their feet. Apparently this is something he’s said before, and he shared a story about one man whom that personally touched. This man told Michael that after going to a concert of theirs where Michael said that, he began feeling like God was telling him “I’m going to get you through…” something, he didn’t know what. Early next Monday morning, the police came to their door and said their adult son had been killed in a car accident. Michael summed it up by saying, “Isn’t it amazing how God uses us in spite of ourselves to touch lives?” Then Ronnie started singing “Then I Met the Master.” It really is a great message of assurance: We BELONG to Him, the master. After the song was over, I swear I saw the crowd stand as one. For eleven something at night, that is INCREDIBLE. I don’t care how big-name a group you are, if you can get a unanimous standing-O this late at NQC, that is an Accomplishment with a capital “A.” It shows that the Booth Brothers really do have something special, something that sets them apart even from other top-tier groups.
Brian came up and saw them off very warmly (he’s a big fan) and closed in prayer. I have to say that the Brian/Sheri combination worked splendidly tonight. Both are a class act. I thought it was sweet how when a showcase group stood out (even if it was only towards the end of a song, or only because of one singer who managed to keep it all from falling apart), Brian would come up and say “Good job guys! Really good job.” That is CLASSY.
Highlights… honestly, this night was pretty slow and mediocre on the whole, but there were great moments here and there. Right now I am leaning towards the Dixie Echoes and the Booth Brothers as my two stand-out sets. Looking back though, I’m remembering that I don’t want to leave out the Collingsworths. So maybe those three. Please share more thoughts in the comments, you know I love them. Good night all!

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  • Norm

    On Wednesday at the regional showcase and later on the main stage I was blown away by the three Belmont University girls called High Road. They have the talent to go beyond the country gospel field (I’m thinking an act like Allison Krause and Union Station). This amazed me since I’m mainly a an old quartet fan.

  • David Mac

    No harm in dreaming…. but the chances, humanly speaking, are close to 0%.
    But, if we never got to a NQC down here; across all the blogs and bloggers, YGG you bring home the “Feel like I was…” factor.
    Which is some accomplishment, seeing you ain’t!
    Big thanks to you sister, from two far-away fans!

  • You’re welcome, my South African friend. 🙂

  • David Mac

    No review of the GuyVamoosedBand?

  • Regrettably I was in class all afternoon and could not catch them. I will get around to watching it On Demand though.

  • Melissa

    Let me add my own thanks for the “you are here” feel of your commentary. You’ve managed to convey both your enthusiasm for the good sets and your disappointment in the lacklustre ones, while at the same time providing some fair and cogent suggestions for why they may have turned out that way. And as a major fan of both the Booth Brothers and Triumphant Quartet, I really appreciate your hanging in there clear to the nightly farewells!

  • Thank you Melissa, you’re very kind! Sometimes I wonder whether I’m too blunt in these write-ups, but I think it’s fair to call things like I see them. I trust that my readers know that I wish all the singers I report about nothing but the very best, and nothing I say is meant to cast aspersions on them personally. So I try to deliver as fair and balanced an account as I can while walking a line between pure fluff on the one hand and pure snark on the other.

  • David Mac

    “pure fluff on the one hand and pure snark on the other”…
    Both are out there, in spite of some poor mixing at NQC, thanks for the good mix here! 🙂
    God bless in the studies too…

  • I really appreciate that, thanks bro. In fact I’m getting some great work done this afternoon!

  • I’m watching some of the On Demand stuff, and had a thought. You mentioned during EHSS’s set about time being precious, and I agree. However, think about this.
    They sang a set Wednesday. Sang this set Thursday night. It was ~9:30 when they got off the stage. They then traveled to Oklahoma City for a Friday night concert, and will sing Saturday night in Texas. Thats a lot. I don’t blame them for doing a lighter set.
    Did they encore one too many times? Maybe. But who will honestly remember that weeks down the line?

  • Sorry, I had a thought again. Watching MTQ’s set this time. Leading into “Statue of Liberty,” when Mark said that “there is still a remnant,” that line just stuck out to me more than it did live. I really think that a song could be written around that line.

  • I’m not sure that using the time they spent encoring the one song to sing a different song would have left them more exhausted. I mean it was the same amount of energy used up either way! Agreed though, I can’t imagine living with that rigorous of a schedule.

  • Oh, that was some good stuff right there, for sure. However, I think that song has already been written, and it’s called “We Will Stand Our Ground.” The word “remnant” isn’t used specifically, but there is a line that comes close: “God still has a few good men who won’t bend, won’t bow, won’t burn.” After what Dianne did with that concept, I’m not sure anyone else should touch it!

  • damonfromky

    First time on the site after following the link from averyfineline. I love your writing style and appreciate your candid “what I’m thinking right now” analysis. Thursday was my only night at NQC so I was more positive than most because I had nothing else to compare it to. I did chuckle at your comment about the Kingdom Heirs’ hair because I actually thought the same thing sitting in the arena. I won’t be surprised if Jerry doesn’t show up with a piece next year. You are right on in saying the Booths and Echoes were the highlights.

  • Well what do you know. Avery did me some good after all. Thank you, I really appreciate your feedback! And there were good moments on Thursday even though by comparison it seemed weaker. Booths and Echoes were definitely the standouts.