NQC 2013, Day 3: Live Blog
Far and away, this evening’s program has been the strongest so far. In fact, this evening has had so many highlights that it will be rather hard for the days later in the week to top it.
Perhaps a much better attendance has energized the performers. @jon_leighton posted this picture on Twitter, commenting: “ironically, a huge crowd on quartet night at quartet convention!”
I missed the first three hours; I was at my church’s Wednesday night service. My siblings, who live across the country and don’t have a midweek service, provided our coverage of the first three hours.
Highlight of the Night
The moment of the night was the retirement performance of The Couriers. It was the final time most of the people in the audience or watching the webcast will see these legends live and in person; they have announced that their final performance is later this year.
One song into their set, the Mark Trammell Quartet sang one of The Couriers’ signature songs, “I Sing the Mighty Power of God.” Mark then talked about how he had seen the Couriers for the first time at NQC 1974, and talked about the impact they had on their fellow performers, on the fans, and on his life.
Then Mark said that the Couriers—Duane Nicholson, Neil Enloe, and Dave Kyllonen—were there, and he was going to call them up on stage. The artists in the artist circle, surrounding the stage, stood for a standing ovation.
If the audience had any clue what was coming next, the audience would have joined them.
Gerald Wolfe and Jim Brady join Mark to present The Couriers with plaques from the National Quartet Convention thanking them for their years of faithful service and integrity and commemorating their retirement, coming later this year.
Mark Trammell introduced “Statue of Liberty” with these words: “As we pay tribute to the fallen heroes tonight on 9/11, I want to pay tribute to living heroes who show us how to do what we do with grace style character, and integrity.” The Couriers sang most of the song; the Mark Trammell Quartet joined them for the dramatic final choruses.
The audience stood throughout much of the song. Based on the video feed, it looked like there wasn’t a person in Freedom Hall still in their seat by the midpoint of the song. After the song, the standing ovation was enthusiastic and prolonged. It was as if the audience didn’t want to sit down because they didn’t want that moment to end.
Mark Trammell deserves credit for giving up most of his set for this moment. The Couriers deserved this moment—their NQC retirement, and probably their final appearance at a major venue. (Their retirement concert is in two or three months.) It was the final moment most of the people in the room and watching the webcast will get to see them live, and thanks to this, they went out in grand style.
This is one of those NQC moments fans will still be talking about in ten or twenty years.
My siblings noted these highlights from the first three hours.
- The Booth Brothers Quartet (see 5:56)
- The Quartet Choir (see 5:53)
- The Basses Quartet (see 6:51)
- Quartet Gilead of Rio De Verde, Brazil (7:17)
I picked up around 8:30. These are the highlights from 8:30 on:
- The Couriers’ final NQC performance (see above).
- Legacy Five singing “We Shall See Jesus” (10:22). Of all the times I’ve seen them stage the song, this was easily the best. They had a tough act to follow—the moment of the night, the Couriers’ retirement performance. It’s hard to turn around from that into another evening highlight, but they pulled it off. For about a dozen years after Glen Payne’s death, no major group was willing to touch the song, but, as Fowler said, “the song is too good to die.”
- The Confused Quartet (8:35): Jeff Easter on tenor, Scott Howard on lead, Arthur Rice on baritone, Mark Trammell on bass, and Gerald Wolfe on piano. This was a highlight for comedic reasons; Easter did a brilliant Kingsmen tenor impression.
- All-Star Quartet (8:58): On the other hand, this was a highlight for musical reasons. Riley Clark, Clayton Inman, Mark Trammell, and Jeff Chapman did an outstanding rendition of “Glory Road.”
- The Old Paths set: They’ve had two #1 hits within the last year, and those songs carried their debut NQC appearance.
- The Kingdom Heirs set was perfectly paced.
- Triumphant was a great pick to close the night. Their set just kept getting better and better, and they were tearing Louisville up by the last two songs. Clayton Inman reprised his classic Singing Americans feature on “Welcome to Heaven.” And when you thought it couldn’t get any better, they pulled their best fast song—a song a few too many fans have forgotten—out of their back pocket, “I Know I’m Going Home.”
Click “Read More” to read the entire play-by-play; it’s hidden from the home page for space considerations.
11:17: It looks like the finale got canceled—not a bad idea, since the program is running a half-hour behind schedule. Gerald Wolfe dismisses the audience.
11:00: We’re around a half-hour behind schedule now. Trimphant Quartet starts with “Heaven Will Be Mine Someday.” Song 2: Scotty Inman on “Somebody Died For Me.” Song 3: Lead singer Clayton Inman reprises his solo on the Singing Americans classic “Welcome to Heaven.” Song 4: “I Know I’m Going Home.” The audience is on their feet, and you can see quite a few white handkerchiefs being waved. Well, I guess it’s clear enough which song the audience wanted to hear, but it’s also clear from the looks on their faces that they do love what they’re hearing instead.
10:43: Gold City begins with “I Cast My Bread Upon The Water.” Song 2: “I Have an Anchor.” Song 3: “It’s Still The Cross.” Song 4: “When He Blessed My Soul.” A solid set all-around; “It’s Still The Cross” was delivered with a particularly powerful emotional fervor. And Tim Riley is one of the greatest legends our genre can still find on stage each weekend. Since he’s already retired once, we simply don’t know how much longer we’ll get to keep him, so we should enjoy every moment we can.
10:22: Legacy Five begins their set with “A Newborn Feeling.” Song 2: “I Found Grace.” Song 3: “The Galilean,” pulled from one of the Jubilee recordings. It’s just Legacy Five on stage singing it, though. Song 4: “His Name is Wonderful.” Scott Fowler shared how a church last year told them they could not talk about Jesus name from the platform. He said, “Folks, if we can’t talk about Jesus, we ain’t got nothin’ to talk about!” He pivoted to introducing song 5, “We Shall See Jesus.” A highlight of the night!
10:02: The Mark Trammell Quartet takes the stage with “Wedding Music.” Pat Barker is incredible on the solo, as usual. Song 2: “I Sing the Mighty Power of God.” Song 3: Mark Trammell brings The Couriers on stage. A standing ovation from the artist circle. The audience would stand, too, if they knew what was coming. They then sing “Statue of Liberty.” Words come close to failing me to capture this moment, but I tried. (See above.)
10:00: Several minutes ago, the evening’s emcee, Gerald Wolfe, called Brian Free up on stage. He was talking with Karen Peck; Wolfe broke up the conversation, and, after quite a bit of friendly banter, told Karen Peck to find a sit so that the group could take the stage. Reader Josh notes in the comments: “Just realized MTQ was supposed to be before BFA. No wonder Brian and Karen were talking!”
9:45: Brian Free & Assurance starts off with “If It Takes a Valley.” Song 2: Bass Jeremy Lile sings “Save Me a Seat.” I think there’s a microphone muted (baritone?) in the first chorus vocals. Corey Pearson joins for the night on piano; Ricky Free is on drums. Song 3 is the group’s current #1 hit, “Calvary’s Cry.” Song 4: The group calls Karen Peck up on stage for “Looking for a City.”
9:35: In reply to the question of how the All-Star Quartet was selected, @NQCOnline on Twitter replies: “We’ve heard no complaints with the All-Star lineup, so we’ll keep the selection process a secret for now… ;)” Ah, well, what can we say. We tried! Sorry, readers, that’s all we have, at least at this point!
9:28: In the comments, readers were asking how the All-Star Quartet (see 8:58) was selected. We asked Gerald Wolfe on Twitter, and he offers an unbelievably prompt reply: “I have no idea. I was handed the list at the beginning of the evening.” We’re asking the @NQCOnline account and several of the singers featured.
9:25: The Kingdom Heirs kick off their set with “Redeeming the Time.” Song 2: It’s time for an energetic convention song, “The Joys of Heaven.” Song 3 is their new radio single, “The Borrowed Tomb.” Song 4: “Just Beyond the Sunset.” The Kingdom Heirs are on fire tonight! Regrettably, there’s also the first major audio issue of the night, as tenor Jerry Martin’s microphone starts cutting out halfway through the final song.
9:10: Before I forget: Michael Booth passes along his greetings to fans watching NQC via webcast and joining in the discussion here. Thanks, Michael!
9:05: The Old Paths kick off their stand with their recent #1 hit, “Battle Stand.” Song 2: Another #1 hit, “God’s Great.” Song 3: “We Are Those Children.”
8:58: Gerald Wolfe introduces an all-star quartet selected by the fans: Clayton Inman on lead, Mark Trammell on baritone, Jeff Chapman on bass, and Riley Harrison Clark on tenor. Wolfe played piano. After some great banter between Clark and Wolfe, they sing “Glory Road.” They brought the house DOWN.
8:38: Inspirations. Song 1: “He Made a Change.” Song 2: “I’ll Never Get Over.” Song 3: “I Have Not Forgotten.” Baritone Jon Epley is nailing this one. The acapella encore is also smooth. After song 3, Martin Cook takes a minute to pay tribute to Jack Laws; Laws’ funeral was last Sunday. It was a classy move to take a minute to acknowledge him from the stage. Song 4: “Overwhelming Joy.” After Martin introduces the song, he takes a minute to throw in an apology for finishing their last set early. Cook doesn’t usually cut up on stage much, so what he added was quite a surprise twist: “We went over two years ago, and it cost us $200. So I thought, if we quit a little early, they might give us that $200 back!” Song 5: “I’m Not Ashamed.”
8:35: Gerald Wolfe assembles a scrap-iron quartet: Jeff Easter on tenor, Scott Howard on lead, Arthur Rice on baritone, Mark Trammell on bass, and Gerald Wolfe on piano. Wolfe takes his time picking lineup members. As he’s trying to settle on a tenor, Howard delivers a classic Howardism: “Don’t worry about the mule, just load the wagon. We’re ready to go!” Jeff Easter delivers an unbelievably brilliant Kingsmen tenor impersonation, and Trammell does a respectable Ray Dean Reese impression. It’s DEFINITELY the highlight of NQC so far.
8:31: The Torchmen Quartet, from Canada, is wrapping up their set with “One Way Trip.” Their tenor reminds me of Garry Sheppard, later in his career.
8:26: I’m home from church and ready to kick off live-blogging the rest of the evening.
8:24: The question “How could such a big sound come out of such a little feller?” isn’t exactly inherently funny. But it sure is funny is when it’s Gerald Wolfe asking the question.
My siblings, in Ohio, didn’t have a mid-week service. So they took notes on the first three hours for the live blog. So the notes from the 5:25-8:13 sets are courtesy of Daniel’s Siblings.
8:15: The feed has been better today than what people have described the last few days being. A few glitches, but not many and it recovered.
7:59: Keepers of the Faith from Hawaii, now Washington State. “He Came Down to My Level”—joined by Jeff Stice on piano. Tenor gave group testimony of how he and his brothers grew up in a street gang. Look at what God will do if you let him in. They concluded their set with “Oh What a Savior.”
7:51: Showcase winner: Emmaus Road sang Get on Board.
7:34: Tribute Quartet: It Makes Me Wanna Go. When Jesus Comes in the Clouds—baritone Josh Singletary went to piano and stayed for two songs. Safe Thus Far—featuring tenor Riley Clark. Good News From Jerusalem, featuring Josh. Standing ovation from the floor (and partial from bleachers) and encore, standing ovation continued.
7:20: LeFevre Quartet: Come and See, Lead Me All the Way, I’ve Got My Reservation
7:17: Afternoon Showcase winner: Quartet Gilead of Rio Verde Brazil has been singing for 25 years, in over 600 churches in Brazil and Europe. Gerald Wolfe said they don’t speak English at all! They did an amazing rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus in Portuguese. The crowd seemed as impressed as we were and Quartet Gilead received a standing ovation!
7:00: Dixie Echoes set: We took a break and didn’t pay close attention. They do have a new little bass “who comes with a spare.” Evidently he is a twin and his twin travels. They are Alex and Andrew Utech. They closed with Roll On, Jordan.
6:51: The Basses Quartet featured four basses who all sang bass, until Gerald Wolfe stopped them and made them get in order and sing the different parts. Wolfe assigned Jeff Chapman to bass, Eric Bennett to baritone, Matt Fouch to lead, and Pat Barker to tenor. Pat Barker took it in stride and put grand effort into his part, turning out a dramatic ending that had the crowd on their feet and everyone laughing. That was the main highlight of the night so far (with the pitiful Quartet choir and the Booth Brothers Quartet being the next most)
6:34: Dixie Melody Boys: All live music from live band: Corey Pearson on Piano and Scoot Shelnut on bass guitar, Michael Booth on drums. On This Road to Gloryland. I Found Jesus, Now Everything’s All Right–featuring Aaron Dishman on piano and verse solos. Ed introduced Peace in the Valley by saying it was for all those blessed people with gray hair who stopped by the table and requested it, “This is for you Dean Hopper.” “When I Cross to the Other Side of Jordan” ran overtime and Josh Garner didn’t get the memo, so he encored it again and then Steven Cooper and Rodney Griffin came on stage to finish the set out.
6:12: Kingsmen: Traveling Home, Look for Me at Jesus’ Feet, Justified, Land of the Free (audience stood during song).
5:58: Soul’d Out. Through the Blood–Ian sounded great with Soul’d Out–the blend was remarkable. He is Worthy/ I Will Praise Him.
5:53: Quartet Choir: Dixie Melody Boys, Mark Trammell Quartet, Kingdom Heirs, Tribute, Soul’d Out, Legacy Five, Triumphant. Hilarious performance of Give the World a Smile. The basses seemed to have the best idea of how the song went, having Professor Ed O’Neal in attendance. Tenors particularly had a hard time with the words, and were trying to read them off David Sutton’s cell phone, and when they failed, they sang notes!. After the performance which Gerald Wolfe dubbed “pitiful” he asked Josh Singletary if he had ever sung the song. Singletary answered “no.’ Wolfe asked him if he had ever played it, and Singletary said, “Never. Which song are we talking about?”
5:56: In order to make a guest appearance on Quartet night, The Booth Brothers added guest vocalist Gene McDonald. Opening song: “I Can Feel His Hand in Mine.” The BBQ had a all-live band consisting of Scoot Shelnut on drums, Corey Pearson on bass guitar, and producer Nick Bruno on piano. Others songs: Roll On, Jordan (it seemed Gene forgot words at one time). Michael at least pretended to have a hard time finding his part on Sweetest Song I Know and stopped the song and asked “a quartet guy” off stage how it was supposed to go. The song kicked off again and they turned out a energetic rendition complete with a bass slide after the encore! Gerald Wolfe pointed out that at their first appearance as a quartet, they ran overtime. Michael Booth promptly ran over and turned the clock over!
5:47: Host of Quartet Night—Gerald Wolfe, a trio member! In memory of September 11, 2001 they opened with a patriotic theme. The National Anthem–The Dixie Melody Boys and a guest vocalist Ashley ?Unknown last name? God Bless America– led by Mark Trammell and Gerald Wolfe
5:25: Troy Peach’s group First Love did a strong performance of One Holy Lamb. Union Street–God is Good (all the time)
For more about Brian Free and Assurance and Gold City and Legacy Five and Soul'd Out Quartet and the Booth Brothers and the Dixie Echoes and the Dixie Melody Boys and the Inspirations and the Kingdom Heirs and the Kingsmen and the LeFevre Quartet and the Mark Trammell Quartet and the National Quartet Convention and the Old Paths and the Torchmen and Tribute Quartet and Triumphant Quartet—and other Southern Gospel news and commentary—follow our RSS feed or sign up for our email updates!