I have just returned home from my first night of NQC 2012. I have been coming every year since 2006, at least one night each year. Some years every night, some just one or two. This year it will be a two day event for me. As I stated last night I got a little burnt out after a full week last year, so I am glad that I had to scale back this year. Now without further ado I bring to you my highlights and low-lights from the nights festivities.
ruppesSisters never ever cease to amaze me. They were pitch perfect on the two songs they did tonight. I could have listened to quite a bit more from these ladies. My fiancee’ who was with me tonight hadn’t heard them before, and she was pretty much slack jawed throughout both of their songs. That to me summed up the quality of their performance (my fiancee was a music major).
- Gaither Vocal Band: other than poor David Phelps forgetting some words to his feature “Glorious Freedom”. The Vocal Band’s performance was probably the biggest highlight of the night for me. They had a solidly paced set that went over extremely well, though I believe they should have switched their final two songs around. Michael English was so amazing on “Winds Of This World” the other guys had to try and keep up. They closed with a slow song “Sow Mercy” which is a great song featuring Mark Lowry; but didn’t really fit after their blow the roof off renditon of “Winds Of This World. Back to the Phelps feature, they had some breath taking vocal inversions on that one. Similar to what they did on “Please Forgive Me”; but with this song they have taken it up another notch. I was pretty well gobsmacked throughout that entire song, once David got things figured out. I will say though that David has had a tough week, his sister is entering the final stages of cancer and is in hospice, so keep them in your prayers for sure!
- The Mark Trammel Quartet was quite good tonight, Mark only seems to get better every time I hear him sing; and Pat Barker, WOW what a singer. He isn’t just a bass singer, he is a singer who happens to sing bass. Eric Phillips has also gotten better since I last heard him, he isn’t over singing his notes nearly as much as he used to, which is a very good things and something that others could learn from. Highlighting their set was Mark knocking the ball out of the park with his spot on rendition of “Too Much To Gain To Lose”. This quartet is going places trust me on that one folks.
- The Perry’s had a decent set, I missed their first song and apparently so did Joseph Habedank. Their set was highlighted by “When He Spoke”. I am still amazed at Josephs progression as a singer since he joined the group nine years ago. He always had potential, and he is just really starting to take a hold of that potential and build on it.
- The Nelons knocked it out of the park. Amber Nelon proved tonight that she belongs in the conversation as one of the best female singers on the road today. She beat the tar out of “I’m Going Home With Jesus'”. To be honest Jason and Kelly had trouble keeping up! I am looking for great things out of Amber Nelon over the next few years
- Tribute Quartet was a highlight for me this year, their sound has really evolved into something really worth perking up and listening to. “The Song Of Heaven” and “Good News From Jerusalem”were the big hits from their set. The former really gave Riley Harrison Clark a chance to really shine. Josh Singletary has, like the group evolved as a singer. His solo on “Good News” was spot on and well done. I look for big things in the future for this group.
- First lowlight of the night was when I found out my “media” identity had been stolen! I got to the media booth and gave the kind lady my name, and she said someone had already picked up media passes under my name. I have to say that I was floored to learn of this. I then proceeded to show her my ID; and she obliged by giving me another set of passes. I later learned that Daniel Mount had the same stolen identity issue. I would encourage NQC to tighten up on this, by simply requiring ID before any passes are handed out!
- The crowd was pitiful at times tonight. Not to mention the fact it was probably the lowest crowed I have ever seen at an NQC on a friday night. They two upper sections closed off with a large black curtain. I hope it picks up next year and beyond, because if this year is any indication then the NQC could be in trouble down the road somewhere.
- The Exhibit Hall was an absolute ghost town. I haven’t ever seen so many empty booth spaces on a friday night. Though the flea marketers still seemed to be out in full force peddling their garbage. A lot of the groups booths had already been tore down and gone. I can remember days when groups stayed the entire week, now due to the economy alot of groups have to schedule dates on Friday and Saturday to pay the bills. I hope things get better; because what I saw tonight really bothered me regarding the future.
- The sound was pretty solid most of the night, until the gaither show started, they had more than one instance of some really awful feedback coming through the speakers. It ruined what would have been a decent sounding night.
Overall I came away pleased with what I witnessed. Sure there were performances that fell short of what should be a high end standard at NQC; but I can’t really complain to much about night as a whole. I had a good time. On another note I thought the first NQC awards show was tastefully done and it was good to see some winners that don’t ever win though they deserve to in the singing news awards. Dianne Wilkinson was a very deserving winner of songwriter of the year, and Kim Collingsworth was very deserving of her musician award. Also it was nice to see David Phelps win favorite tenor, and the Collingworth Family win favorite mixed group. As I stated already I had a good thing, and tonight left looking forward to tomorrow night. I can’t say that has always been the case at NQC.
Friday Night: Tonight was much better than last night, but it was not without its moments of mediocrity. Though those moments were more ephemeral than some nights where average to well below average singing, and stacked tracks abounded galore. Tonight had a better feel, and the sound was a little better than all previous nights.
Kingdom Heirs: The Kingdom Heirs had a managleble set highlighted by “No Bones About It” and the closing number. The ones in between were forgettable.
- In The Gloryland Way- I did not catch much of this one as I was attempting to get a seat. What I did hear sounded a little off to my ear.
- Jesus Showed Up- Once again this one sounded a little off, maybe it was the sound? I can not say for sure.
- No Bones About It- This was the highlight of the set for me personally. Jeff Chapman is alot like Burman Porter in the respect that he can just flat out bring it at the low end, this song really showcased that aspect.
- What We Needed- They have run this one into the ground at least to me. It is a terrific lyric, but I believe I have heard it to many times.
- We Will Stand Our Ground- This big ballad deserved a tremendous ovation and it surely got one. As I said last night Arthur Rice just honestly sounds better when he is not forcing notes, and just stands flatfooted and sings like he did on this one last night.
The Collingsworth Family: The C family brought their A game this week and they never let up. They seem to have this wall of sound that is impregnable I can honestly say I don’t really hear a weak link in the group. They once again had a extremely impressive set of songs highlighted by “Resurrection Morn.”
- I Know- Never truly got into this song much. Phil Jr. once again turned in a very solid vocal.
- The Place I’m Longing To Go- This song was a little draggy, but I thoroughly enjoyed it overall. The A Capella ending was a exceptionally elegant touch. The crowd truly seemed to enjoy this one.
- Resurrection Morn- This is where that wall of sound I was talking about comes into play. On this song, you hear six voices woven together seamlessly for some truly beautiful sounds to my ear. The song itself was quite stirring, and set the mood for Kims piano solo just afterwards.
- Hallelujah Chorus- Of course everyone stood when Kim started the track on this one. Kim is an absolute force to be reckoned with on the piano bench. Her mastery of this arrangement was jaw slacked amazing! She had the entire auditorium buzzing long after she had finished the final strands of music.
Karen Peck & New River: I always look forward to seeing KPNR perform at NQC, for they always put on a terrific show. Tonight was not much different. Karen was battling allergies and laryngitis; but somehow she pulled through like a trooper, and if you was not paying much attention you would not have even noticed.
- Love With All Your Heart- This song had some lovely harmony on the chorus. The song itself was a bit repetitive and lacked a solid core. Otherwise, it sounded pretty good, and the crowd seemed to like it quite a bit.
- Hold Me While I Cry- This is where Karen always shines and even while battling sickness she did not disappoint whatsoever.
- On The Banks Of The Promiseland- Crowds everywhere love this song and for right reason. It is well written and probably even better arranged and performed by KPNR. It is a song that really clicks with you when you hear it live.
- 4 Days Late- This is one of KPNR’s biggest hits, and for good reason. It is an impressive piece of lyrical work. Once again Karen pulled through like the professional that she is.
Ivan Parker: Parker has lost a lot off his voice especially in the last 5 years or so. He had an average set of songs, none of which undoubtedly stood out to me as a wow moment.
- 24 Hours A Day- Nothing really stood out to me on this song.
- I Am Whatever You Need- I personally do not like songs written from the perspective of Jesus, which this one is. Parker did an ok job of singing it though, and the crowd seemed to like it quite a bit.
- I Choose- This is probably my favorite Ivan Parker song from his soloist discography of songs. He performed it adequately, despite some sound issues.
- When I Get Carried Away- The crowd ate this one up as Parker struggled placing tones and pitches you name it… I felt sorry for him to be honest with you, but if you just go off crowd response then it was on the best performances all night. We know that is not always an accurate measurement of just how good a song is.
Gaither Vocal Band: The Vocal band had a brilliant set, easily the best all week of any group really. It was perfectly paced and had just the mix of songs. The Vocal band undoubtedly makes all the other groups that have performed this week look like weekend garage bands. That is not really a slight at any of the other groups, that is just to say that the Gaither Vocal Band is ENORMOUSLY talented.
- On My Journey To The Sky- Wes Hampton really really impressed me on this particular song. His growth into his role with the GVB has been nothing short of a joy to watch unfold. I utterly love this guy, and the crowd at NQC did too…
- Greatly Blessed,Highly Favored- This song just went to number one on the radio charts it is a jolly good song. Once again Hampton stood out, but the blend on the chorus was second to none.
- Where No One Stands Alone- This song felt just a little out of place with the rest of the set, but David Phelp’s extraordinary solo salvaged it. His voice is just really getting better with age.
- He Is Here- I was rather Gobsmacked throughout most of this brilliant performance by Wes Hampton. I truly believe he may be the best overall singer in the group.
- Please Forgive Me- Michael English is back to full form without a doubt, and his exquisite performance of this Crabb hit last night proved that in a mighty powerful way.
- He’s Alive- David Phelps is a brilliant communicator in song. I love his interpretation of this great song. The crowd really, really got into this one especially when the chorus started up, and when David went for his big note. Brilliant stuff if I do say so myself.
Greater Vision: It would normally be a rather daunting task to follow the Gaither Vocal Band in your NQC set, but GV pulled it off with gusto. Their set was highlighted by “I Know A Man Who Can.”
- I Know He Heard My Prayer- Had not heard Greater Vision sing this in quite a while. It was an interesting way to start off their set, the crowd was not sure how to react, but they gave it a strong ovation.
- My Name Is Lazurus- I knew there was no way the die hard GV fans would let them escape NQC without doing this song. I was right.
- It Pays To Pray- I liked Rodneys interpetion of this great song on prayer. It is a well crafted lyric that the crowd truly appreciated.
- I Know A Man Who Can- This was the big highlight moment after a rather scatter gun approach to their song selection. Chris Allman is a signing machine. One commentator said that this song is quickly becoming his “Oh What A Savior,” and I tend to agree.
The Hoppers: I could not seem to get into the Hoppers set very much, Mike kept moving from drums to vocals then back to drums. It was rather distracting to me, and I felt it took away from the overall effectiveness or lack thereof of their set.
- I Will Serve Thee- I did like the harmony on this song. I assume it will be on their upcoming “Hymns” album?
- Jerusalem- This is one where Mike really hopped up and down from the drums then back to vocals, so I did not really get the full effect of the song. Kim sounded pretty good.
- Somethings Happening- This was probably the highlight of their set. I enjoy this song lyrically, and I enjoyed the Hoppers take on it musically.
- If I Can Help Somebody- This was a rare feature given to Claude. It was a nice song.
- Shouting Time- Of course they had to do this one with some persuasion from the crowd ugh…
Perry’s: The Perry’s basically had a recycled set from Monday and Wednesday nothing really stood out.
- Plan Of Salvation- Tracy did another solid job with a very hard song to sing for a bass.
- Blue Skies Coming- Joe Habedank always shines on this one, last night was no exception.
- Celebrate Me Home- Same thing as Wednesday night. It went over very well again.
- Wish I could Have Been There- They sang this for some kid in Texas’s birthday, and made a big deal out of it. Seemed kind of odd.
Gold City: GC’s set seemed to be a little mail it home style. It looked like they were just ready to get off the stage the moment they stepped onto it, but maybe that was just me.
- In My Robe Of White- Dan Keeton turned in a solid vocal on what I felt was a rather odd way to start the set.
- Peter James And John- They are really trying to push this new song as it is their first single from the upcoming project.
- When He Blessed My Soul- Tim Riley nailed some very low notes on this one. I love getting to see him sing after he retired I never thought I would get to see him live, now I have seen ten plus times in the past two years.
- It Won’t Be Long- This song has really grown on me since I first heard it at NQC last year. Danny Riley turned in a very nice vocal.
- Gods Building A Church- Once again Tim Riley hit some extremely low notes. Keeton seemed to struggle a little finding the right placements at times, but he is getting better which is a very good thing for Gold City.
Legacy Five: L5 had their best set of the week, highlighted by “Ask Me Why.” L5 is one of the most solid and consistent groups in Southern Gospel and they once again proved that this week, even though they had some sound issues.
- Destination Known- This new song featuring Scott Howard seemed to connect well with the crowd.
- Just Because Of You- Gus turned in a exceptionally nice vocal on this one, even though he was a little hoarse. That was probably from all the time spent talking with fans at the product table. The crowd certainly seemed to love the song, many probably recognized it as an old Cats tune.
- Ask Me Why- Love the story behind this song, Scott set it up nicely and sang his verses extremely well. Gus also stood out in a big way on the chorus… They tacked on an A Capella encore to the end which was quite nice, even though they were slipping a little in their pitches, but trust me I have heard much worse.
- Boundless Love- This one featured a live band of Trey Ivey on Piano, Scoot Shelnut on Bass and Mike Hopper on the drums. Unfortunately they were behind by about 30 beats throughout the song, probably had something to do with Mike counting down with the drumsticks which threw Trey off… So it slowed down what should be a fairly fast song. The vocal performance was very nice though, with Gaches shining once again.
BFA: I left during their set, I had my brother with me tonight and he was ready to go and quite frankly so was I. I did like what did get to hear though. I will just list their songs and not make comments about them since I was not there for most of the set. I got the list from Daniel Mounts website.
- Go Tell The World
- Save me a seat
- You Must Have Met Him
- Never Walk Alone
- Jesus Will Pick You Up
- Long As I Got King Jesus
Friday Night Conclusion: Overall Friday Night was probably the best night of the week in more ways than one. I did regret missing the Isaacs set I got tied up in the exhibit hall and missed the entire set, so I am sure I missed some sheer musical brilliance from that amazingly talented family. Anyway I enjoyed myself Friday and felt it was well put together though were some off moments; but every night has them some more than others unfortunately. I wish every night could go as well as Friday did overall where moments of sheer musical delight overrides the stench mediocre performers and performances… This is the last night I will be writing about NQC, as I will not be at NQC tomorrow night. I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings and at times incoherent thoughts on the greatest event in Gospel music.
Thursday: I didn’t catch quite as many sets tonight as I wanted to due to unforeseen issues. It was a pretty good night with some decent sets and some uninspired sets. I will list the ones that stuck out to me, and my thoughts on each one.
The Collingsworth Family: The Collingsworth’s were stuck in a crummy time slot, right at the start. Which IMO is one of the worst slots a group can get, as there are still lots of people streaming in looking aimlessly for their seats. The Collingsworth Family handled it fairly well and turned in a decent set highlighted by “Tell The Mountain.”
- Joy- This is a charming little song from their new project, the crowd seemed to enjoy it.
- Fear Not Tomorrow- This was their monster hit last year. It did not seem to go over as well as last year primarily due I believe to the early time slot. It just did not seem to connect as well.
- Tell The Mountain- This was the highlight of their set for me personally. I certainly like Phil Jr’s voice, he has matured a great deal over the last couple of years. The crowd still did not really bite on this song either; but I sure enjoyed it.
- Jesus Is All I Need- This song was set up by a moving testimony by Kim. I thoroughly enjoyed this song, the crowd seemed to warm up some by this time. It went over extremely well.
The Kingsmen: The Kingsmen had a mediocre set. Highlighted by their new hit single “He’s Everything I Need.”
- - When My Feet Touch The Streets Of Gold- Bryan Hutson turned in a very nice vocal on this old hit.
- -If Not For The Love Of Christ- A song from their new album, that I personally liked better on CD than I did live.
- - After The Sunrise- Another really old song, Ray Dean turned in a nice performance.
- - I Knew It Was Him- Harold Reed was often criticized last year for his performance of “He’s All I Need.” This year he came out and turned in a solid vocal on his new ballad from their new CD.
- - He’s Everything I Need- This was the highlight of their set tonight. The crowd certainly got into to it big time as they turned it around about three or four times. Great song to say the least vintage Kingsmen.
The Kingdom Heirs: The Kingdom Heirs had a rather forgettable set, highlighted by “Tell Me Why.”
- -Im Not Worried About Forever- A charming ditty that the crowd seemed to enjoy. I actually prefer Arthur Rice on a more mellow song of this sort.
- -Tell Me Why- I thoroughly enjoyed this song, it just has a very catchy tune that the crowd picked up on as well. Very hard-driving vintage Kingdom Heirs number right there.
- - When Heavens Gates Open Wide- This song featuring Jerry Martin, was well received. He is still a very popular singer from his days with the Doves.
- - He Locked The Gates- This was a huge hit last year that they seemed to turn around a million times… Thankfully last night they did not turn it around to many times.
L5: Legacy Five had a pleasant albeit predictable set. I will give them one thing they are remarkably consistent. Their set was highlighted by their lovely piano only rendition of “There’s Something About That Name.”
- - Everyday- This jazzy number was a hit with the crowd. I worked L5’s table some last night and several people came by asking what CD this song was on.
- - God Cares For Me- This one from their new album was another song that was well received. It’s a enjoyable upbeat ditty that featured some lovely inversions from Gus towards the end.
- - I’ve Been Changed- Glenn Dustin has certainly mastered this song in the last 6 years. He has not always sang it as good as he did last night.
- - Thankful For The Change- This song always follows “I’ve Been Changed” in the lineup no matter where they sing, so I knew it was coming. I have always enjoyed this song more live than I ever did on CD. Some songs are just made for the live setting I suppose.
- -Something About That Name- Trey Ivey offered some particularly tasteful piano only accompaniment to this fabulous Gaither song. The vocal blend was terrific. Since the addition of Gus L5 has this blend that is just incredible, maybe it has always been there; but Gus just helps bring it out. That was abundantly clear on this song last night. The crowd seemed to love it as well.
- - We Shall See Jesus- L5 did not stage this last year at NQC due to EHSS doing it. Well L5 got their shot at it last night. I will say the response was almost as big or bigger as what EHSS got last year. It’s just a phenomenal song, that L5 did an excellent job on.
The Isaac’s: I have grown to love what the Isaacs bring to the table at NQC every year. They are not quite full on bluegrass, and they definitely are not full on Southern Gospel. Maybe you could call it Southern Grass?! Anyway they are brilliant, and I can not wait to hear more tomorrow night!
- -Walk On- Sonya Isaacs is astounding need I say more?
- -Three Bells- Never truly liked this song, but Ben always turns in a delightful vocal and last night was no exception.
- -Im Gonna Love You Through- This is a new song from their new album. It was written and recorded with Lily in mind. It is a hauntingly beautiful song. Last night it was even more chilling when they brought some cancer survivors on stage to hold up signs, stating how long they were free from Cancer.
- -I Will Praise Him- The Isaace really soared to the rafters on this all A Capella rendition of this great hymn.
EHSS: Ernie Haase and Signature Sound churned out some new songs last night for the first time in what seems like forever, they have been on this stroll down gospel memory lane for what seems like forever, so it was refreshing to hear some new material from this great quartet.
- - Here We Are Again- I really like this new song, it has a modern yet laid back feel that drew me in from the first strands.
- - I’ve Been Here Before- They seemed to drag this one out a little (maybe trying to drive it home) they encored it like 4 times without really much response from the crowd. It is a pleasant song but nothing earth shattering.
- - I’ll Take What’s Left- This was a song featuring just Doug Anderson as it is from his solo album. I absolutely cannot get over just how good of a singer Doug is. This song and his take on it was a big highlight for me without a doubt.
- - Oh What A Savior- Ernie turned in a very nice piano only version of his long-standing ballad.
- -Glory To God In The Highest- It was strange to see them go to this one again at the end of their set, what was even more puzzling was the confetti they shot at the crowd…
Dove Brothers: Once again Burman Porter was a highlight reel. I just can not get over what he brings to the Doves table.
- - Hold On- This is their number one hit from last year. The crowd and Mcray were really into it. Me not so much, maybe it was because I was so tired. I don’t know..
- - Still Singing The Song- A new song that didn’t really stick with me after it was over. Mcray turned in a nice vocal though.
- -Didn’t It Rain- NQC would not be complete without Mcray sliding all over the stage, and all over pitches with this song…
- - Get Away Jordan- Burman Porter is breathing life back into this one while Mcray is killing it…
Booth Brothers- The Booths had a well paced set highlighted by “When I Met The Master.” They are crowd pleasers to say the least. A huge crowd stuck around just to hear them.
- - He Saw It All- This song is still as popular with the audience including myself, as it was the first time they and I heard it…
- - I’m Feeling Fine- I have actually never been a big fan of the Booth Brothers take on this song, but the crowd sure ate it up to say the least.
- - Tears Are A Language- Jim Brady is a singing machine for sure. I loved his vocal inflections on this tender ballad. Brady has just gotten better and better as a singer in his years with the Booths.
- When I Met The Master- This was a big hit last year, and I believe a bigger hit this year. Ronnie turned in a masterful vocal for sure. The crowd ate it up like there is no tomorrow.
Thursday Night Conclusion: I was pretty tired tonight, so I might have missed some good moments while I was drifting into la la land… I was also in and out of the arena a lot, so I missed some sets. I believe that Thursday night overall was a good night. It seemed to be front logged with some great groups and great singing and back logged with some mediocre groups and uninspired singing. Maybe it was like that from start to finish. It’s funny how someone watching the same car crash tell the story of how it happened in a different way, that is a lot like NQC…
NQC Wednesday Night: Wednesday night at the NQC was a mixture of new groups and some group that have been around for a long time. Wait is not every night that way? Oh well just a thought… I had a pretty enjoyable time Wednesday night, even though there were some meh moments.
The Freemans: The Freemans had a terrific opening set highlighted by my favorite Freemans song “The Father And The Son,” and of course Chris Freeman!
- One Lonely Hill- This was a good way to open up their set with. I enjoyed this song immensely.
- The Father And The Son- Chris Freeman sang the absolute fire out of this song. It got the crowd all worked up early on.
- He Keeps Sending Angels- This song featured their youngest son, who had never sung at NQC before, he did a nice job for his first time.
- Children Of The Dust- This song is another one that Chris knocked out of the park, it once again got the crowd going.
THE BROWNS: I Sing The Mighty Power/Canon in D- I was decently impressed by the three brown children with their violins on this number.
Tribute Quartet: Tribute had a pretty unspectacular set until their last song (Homecoming Day) which was when the gloves came off…
- He’s leading the way- A charming little ditty that Tribute sang fairly well.
- It makes me wanna go- I enjoyed this nice mid tempo song. Riley Clark is a terrific tenor (more on him below)
- Its gets sweeter- Their close quartet harmony was emphasized on this one.
- Bring on the Joy- This is where things started to get interesting, really enjoyed this number.
- Homecoming Day- As I said above Riley Clark is a terrific tenor. This song and his performance of it showed he has the potential to become a great tenor. The song itself is an excellent, excellent song written by Melsissa Brady.
The Perry’s: The Perrys had a very enjoyable set, that was highlighted by Libbis stirring song “Celebrate Me Home.”
- In Time On Time- This catchy song was one of my favorites off of Blue Skies. I was glad to see them doing it at NQC.
- Celebrate Me Home- I was surprised to see this one so close to the start of their set, but that did not matter it went over extremely well. Libbi is one of the best for sure. The video of pictures they played of passed on heroes during the song was a marvellous touch.
- Great Is Thy Faithfulness- Tracy introduced Bryan Walker as the singing policeman, then had him sing this song solo with no music. I have to say he impressed me immensely on this one.
- Jesus Hold My Hand- This old classic is on Libbi’s new solo CD. She truly nailed it last night to say the least!
- Wish I Coulda Been There- NQC would not be the same without the Perry’s singing this modern day hit song. The crowd ate it up to say the least.
Ernie Haase And Signature Sound: Despite sound issues, EHSS had a very enjoyable set highlighted by their no track all live music rendition of “Until We Fly Away.”
- Someday- EHSS has not sung this one for quite a while since they have been doing their Cats tribute thing.
- Moving up to glory land- Never really been a big fan of this song at any time…
- I Believe- Ian Owens knocked this one out of the park. He reminds a whole lot of Armond Morales.
- Until We Fly Away- Doug Anderson really shined on this song which is one of my favorite EHSS songs. They did it without a soundtrack which allowed them to do some neat things with the arrangement.
- Then Came The Morning- Devin Mcglammery has really growed into his lead singer role with EHSS and really did a terrific job on this one last night.
- Glory To God In The Highest- They closed their set on a big note. They even had Gerald Wolfe join them for their dance routine, it was pretty funny…
Rambos: I had been looking forward to seeing another Rambo/Mcguire set since I experienced the magnificent set they had last year at the 100 year showcase.
- Troubles can break you or make you a man- This was a nice way to start off the set, I really like this song.
- Nothing But Good- Destiny really shined on this number, she has a beautiful voice reminiscent of Sonya Isaacs.
- Mama’s Teaching Angels- Once again Destiny did a terrific job on a song that Sonya has made popular lately.
- I Won’t Ask No More- A very nice song, that was sung very well.
- To Much To Gain To Lose- They brought up Buck for this one. It was one of the more touching moments of the week in a week full of touching moments.
- He Looked Beyond My Faults- No Rambo set would be complete without arguably the greatest Dottie Rambo song ever!
Greater Vision: You would have thought following the Rambo’s Greater Vision would have fallen a little flat; but instead they blew everyone away, especially Chris and the Little Giant.
- When They Ring The Bells- Nothing to fancy here, just some good sangin from one of the best trios ever in Southern Gospel.
- You Were Faithful Yesterday- One of my favorite songs from “Not Alone.” Loved the verse Allman sang.
- Like I’d Wished I Lived- This is one of their new songs featuring Chris. Last night they had him do it with just piano and wow did Allman really pull off a thrilling vocal. He is just a singing maniac. I love his voice especially on a slow song like this one.
- Til The Storm Passes By- Gerald has had some voice trouble the last year or so. Well that surgery he had must have taken care of that because he blew the top off of this song. His Ab he hit at the end of the last verse was perfect for the most part, he is starting to sound like the 20 year younger Gerald again WOW.
The Hoppers: The Hoppers had a terrific set punctuated by Kim singing a Tribute song to her brother, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.
- Yahweh- Not to sure about starting with song; but it worked for the Hoppers.
- Nobody’s To Bad- Karyle Hopper has grown in just the last year as a singer. She may not ever become the powerhouse her mom is; but she will be a excellent singer one day.
- I’ve Come To Far- Connie Hopper is one of the most consistent female singers in Southern Gospel. She turned in a very nice vocal on the verses of this one, and Kim carried it home.
- Shouting Time- I have heard this song so many times in my five years of attending the NQC I could scream… It was nice at the end though when they brought Tim Riley up to really pound out some low notes.
- Well Done,Well Done- Kim sang this beautiful song in tribute to her brother. I can honestly say I shed some tears throughout this one. I loved the video with pictures of Tony they played during the song. It was a fitting tribute to a wonderful man of God who was taken before his time.
Paul’s Journey: This group from Texas who won a showcase to get the chance to perform on main stage.
- This Is What Heaven Means To Me- They made the most out of their one song. Their tenor got the feature and man can that kid sing. I was blown away by his vocal control and pitch. They got a enormous standing ovation at the end of this one.
Sisters: Oh how I heart the Sisters! I just wish they could have gotten more stage time. Their one song was probably the best vocal performance by any group all week.
- Under His Wings- The sisters can sing this song like its no ones business. Their smooth as butter harmony is unmatched by anyone else in any genre of music. And it showed out in a big way with their performance last night of their biggest hit song.
Jason Crabb: Not much else can be said about Jason that what I said about him last night. He is just downright anointed, his band seems to be as well…
- Sometimes I Cry- Love this song and loved Jason’s vocal on it last night. He sings with such passion and conviction, you can tell he truly means what he is singing.
Gold City: Gold City had a pretty decent set of songs, highlighted by “Get Up, Get Ready” Once again like Monday night their mix was I felt pretty solid.
- We’ll Soon Be Done- This old classic song was performed nicely last night, even with some mic issues
- Peter James & John- They again sang this new song last night. I believe I liked it better than the first time I heard it on Monday night. It certainly wets my appetite for the new CD.
- I’m Rich- Craig West turned in a very solid performance on this one.
- I Cast My Bread- Tim Riley is still the man and Gold City on this song last night proved that.
- Get, Up, Get Ready- This old Gold City hit still hasn’t lost its favor with the NQC crowd, they absolutely tore it up. Dan Keeton sang remarkably well on it, he was more in control of his voice on this song than when I had heard him on it before.
Triumphant: TQ usually always turns in a decent set and last night was no exception. They kicked things up a gear after the first song and sent the crowd home happy with three straight fast songs.
Love Came Calling- Scotty Inman is one of the very best young singers in Southern Gospel right now. His smooth delivery on this song last night was very nice, very nice indeed.
Saved By Grace- This hand clapper of a song always leaves the crowd wanting more, and last night was no exception whatsoever.
Old White Flag- White hankies were waving everywhere as Clayton Inman sang the fire out of this bluegrass number, with Jeff Stice looking on in chagrin.
Almost Home- This is a new barn burner written by Scotty Inman. The crowd absolutely loved this song,and TQ had to encore it two times.
Conclusion: Wednesday night was a night of many laughs some tears and some people in a hurry to get out of there… I enjoyed myself for the most part and I got home at a decent hour so I can’t complain too much. Jason Crabb and the Sisters did a great job emceeing. Jason seems to be a pure natural at the job. Half the week is now over,and I am hoping things really get kicked up a notch starting tomorrow with the Gaither Vocal Band Reunion.
Tuesday night at the NQC was probably one of the better early week nights I have seen in a long time. I arrived early in the day and enjoyed bits and pieces of various showcases the highlight being Legacy Five’s chapel service. I will be doing a group by group highlight analysis from just the night sets that I was in the auditorium for below.
Dove Brothers- The Doves biggest highlight was seeing Burman back with the group. Man does he give them a shot of energy at that bass position.
- I Recall- Burman really sounded good on this one, which was a theme through their whole set.
- Life Can Have New Meaning- A new song featuring Eric Dove, nothing really special here.
- Operator- Burman brought down the house with this old classic. You could tell The crowd was pleased to see porter back with group.
- Get Away Jordan- No Dove Brothers NQC set would be complete without a little of “ole chilly jordan” once again Porter nailed it.
Jeff And Sheri- They might have had the moment of the night when they had Jeffs dad come on stage with them and sing “Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me”
- God Knows What He Is Doing- Morgan Easter is starting to really get a more mature sound to her voice, which is a very good thing.
- Praise His Name- I will probably never get tired of hearing Sheri sing this modern classic.
- I Get To- A Nice song, that was sang fairly well by Jeff Easter.
- Thank You Lord For Your Blessings- As I mentioned above this was a highlight moment of the entire night.
Legacy Five- They had a consistent set highlighted by Gus’s superb rendition of “For What Earthly Reason”.
- I’d Like To Say It Again- Glenn Dustin sounded better than he ever has on this one.
- Wonderful Life- Off their new project this one seemed to connect well with the crowd.
- Piano Solo- Trey Ivey turned in a superb rendition of “Leaning On The Ever Lasting Arms.”
- For What Earthly Reason- Gus Gaches knocked this one out of the park, even though he had a sore throat.
Crabb Family- Most of the Crabb family were there together and they sang a few together before splitting it up.
- Amazing Grace- Adam Crabb played the fire out of this one on his Harmonica.
- Tears Will Never Stain the Streets of that City- Nothing really stood out about this Terah Crabb Penhollow Feature.
- Leaving On My Mind- Mike Bowling stood out on this one in a big way, he is such a superb vocalist.
The Bowling Family- They had a very strong set highlighted by a soul stirring rendition of “I Still Glory In The Cross.”
- Unclouded Day- This old hymn was sung exquisitely by the Bowling Family.
- Your Cries Have Awoken The Master- I have always loved this song, and there is nothing like the Bowlings singing live.
- I Still Glory In The Cross- This song featured some superbly good singing. It got probably the strongest response of the night.
Jason Crabb- His whole set was pure gold. As is his incredible band, WOW can those guys make some killer music.
- I Saw The Light- Not sure if there is a better performer anywhere than Jason, this song proved that last night.
- Beulah Land- Beautiful rendition of this Squrie Parsons classic.
- Who Am I- Jason was joined by Adam for some exquisite harmony singing on this one.
- Midnight Cry- Jason said he has adopted this song. He did a solid job putting his own unique spin on it.
- Through The Fire- No Crabb set would be complete without this amazing song.
The Hinsons- I unfortunately missed most their set; but what I did catch was jaw dropping.
Mark Trammel Quartet- They pulled off a very solid and consistent set, that featured all former Cats songs.
- Wedding Music- Pat Barker really showed here why he is one of the best bass singers out there.
- Old Convention Song- Never really liked this song much; but the MTQ did a solid job singing it.
- Gentle Shepherd- Very smooth, and it was a nice follow up to the upbeat song preceding it.
- Its Almost Over- A big moment of the night, Mark Trammel still has it without a doubt!
The Whisnants- They pulled off a nice set highlighted by “New Day Dawning.”
- King Jesus Is Coming-Nothing really stood out about this one.
- Be Not Afraid-The title track to their latest CD, the crowd seemed to really like it.
- Getting Ready To Leave- The Whisnants excel at this type of upbeat song last night was no exception.
- All Is Well- A gorgeous song set up, and sung superbly by Suan Whisnant.
- New Day Dawning- This was the Whisants “Shouting Time” moment, they turned it around several times…
The Booth Brothers- The Booths proved once again that they are one of them most popular groups at the NQC.
- Look For Me At Jesus Feet- This was a nice rendition, accompanied by Eric Ollis on piano. Michael dedicated it to Squire.
- Welcome To The Family- Still a VERY popular song at NQC. The crowd ate this one up.
- She Still Remembers Jesus Name- This one seemed to connect with the crowd in some ways and in others it didn’t…
- Since Jesus Came- This is even better live than on CD. Smooth as butter harmony sounds better live anyday…
- Trading The Old Cross- Jim Brady rocked the house with this one.
Christmas Finale- This seemed to go over fairly well with what crowd was left.
- Crist Family- Love Me Some Snow- Love that family harmony on this one, it was fun watching them throw fake snowballs too…
- Greater Vision/Chris Allman- Its The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year- Allman proved once again why he is so good with this one. Even while having gifts piled on him he still sang the fire out of it, and on perfect pitch too.
- Matt Holt Piano Solo- Matt Holt is one of the best players out there without a doubt, and this proved it.
- Triumphant- Glory To The Newborn King- Nothing really jumped out at me on this one.
- The Talleys-Away In A Manger- I could listen to Lauren sing all day…
- The Hoppers- I Want To Hear The Angels- As another blogger said the Hoppers really need to incorporate this into their sets year round.
- Legacy Five- Carol Medley- A nice medley of carols, sung in that unique L5 way.
- Greater Vision- O Come, O Come Emmanuel- This was not as good as it could have been, but still some very nice singing from the GV guys.
- Jeff Stice- Hallelujah Chorus- Jeff proved why he is the fans favorite piano player, he knows just the right buttons to push (or in this case keys!)
- Silent Night- Everyone joined in on this one including the crowd.
Tuesday Night Conclusion: I came away fairly impressed with most of the sets I caught on Tuesdday night. The sound wasn’t nearly as bad as what I had experienced in the past. A big moment for me was when I got invited to sit in the artist circle for a couple of sets (L5, Jeff And Sheri) I had never set that close to the action before, so it was a neat experience. I didn’t really like the sound that close up though.
For the most part it was a really good night that left me feeling like I had not wasted any time whatsoever… The Christmas thing wasn’t a flop; but it wasn’t a HUGE hit either. They could continue it or discontinue it next year, and I don’t think fans would really care one way or the other.Well its almost three in the morning, I will wrap this up by saying that I will be back tomorrow with more reports from NQC land…
I had the rare pleasure to see the Liberty quartet in Indiana this past Friday night. They very rarely ever make it to the Midwest as they are from the west coast. So, needless to say when I found out they would be 30 minutes from me I knew I had to go. Below is a breakdown of the night.
1. Wedding Music- Liberty opened with this cathedral classic. Royce Mitchell is without a doubt one of the bass singers I have heard… New tenor Phillip Batton also sounded superb on this one.
2. Its alright- This brass driven number was a hit with the crowd. It featured some impressive unison singing. Liberty is exceptionally strong in the ensemble.
3. Going Home- They sang this one a cappella. WOW is all I can say. People say you truly find out how good a group is when they can sing as good without soundtracks than with… Well liberty blew me away with this one, and proved they are one of the best quartets in the biz.
4. Climbing Higher and Higher- Lead singer Dan Gilbert turned in a strong lead vocal on this old cats song. That was some very nice quartet singing, Gilbert is a very talented leadsinger. Royce did a little tenor singing on this one which showed how much of a freak (I mean that in a good way) of nature he really is!
5. I Made It Mine- This song featuring Jordan Cragun is a touching song that Cragun sang very well. The harmony on the chorus was quite excellent.
6.Statue Of Liberty- This is one of my favorite songs of all time and Liberty sang it superbly. They had a marine join them on the song which made for a emotional moment especially since we just came through the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
7. Gods Been Faithful- This the title track of Liberty’s upcoming CD. It features Royce, and it has a nice feel to it, very easy listening. Their ending was excellent with Phillip Batton hitting some nice high notes.
8.Side by Side- this classic comedy song that George Younce made popular,about a man that married a woman with false teeth,a artificial leg and fake hair. It of course featured Royce. Needless to say, it drew plenty of laughs
9. Offering special – Phillip Batton and his brother played a trumpet duet, being a trumpet player myself I was excited. They did not disappoint . They played blessed assurance.
10. I’d like to say it again- Once again Royce Mitchell stood out on another former cathedrals song.
11. Glory To God In The Highest- I like Liberty’s take on this modern Christmas hit. Liberty has always been known for outstanding arrangements, and this is no exception.
12.I’m His- This is my favorite song by Liberty. Former tenor Keith Waggoner was the featured singer. New tenor Phillip Batton has a very similar voice to Keith’s so he did a fantastic job with this song. The lyrics are extremely encouraging and was a song I truly needed to hear on Friday night.
13. Glory To God In The Highest reprise- They ended the night on a great note, leaving the audience wanting more with this reprise.
Conclusion: The Liberty Quartet lived up to my expectations and then some. I had heard how good their concerts were from others that have seen them before; but now I can say just how good they are myself. Liberty is in my opinion one of the best quartets in Southern Gospel its just that not everyone has heard of them (at least in this part of the country and south). They also are lacking that breakthrough hit that could propel them to new heights in Southern Gospel. As long as they keep churning out the quality music that they are they will be fine. I would strongly recommend that if you get the chance to see these guys in concert you won’t walk away disappointed, they will make you laugh cry and feel blessed all in one concert experience. I for one can’t wait to see these guys on stage again.
The first night of NQC used to be quartet night, but now it is just another night that featured variety of quartet’s, trios and even a soloist… In my opinion that was a mistake on NQC’s part. I am not saying however that the night was a disaster or anything. I am just saying that I enjoyed it more when they did a night featuring solely quartets, hence the name of the event. But I digress… The stage in Freedom Hall has once again been changed, they lowered the middle of the floor and this is where the band section is now located, leaving the singers walking around the piano player, drummer etc… I actually kind of like the new look…Below is a rundown of my thoughts (in an unordered list) of most of the sets on Monday Night.
- Tribute Quartet started the night out with the first full set of the night. They sounded pretty solid with the highlight of their set being “Calvary Wins Again”. I also really enjoyed one of their newer songs called “That’s Why I Love Him So”. Their new tenor, who tended to oversing his part a bit (nervousness maybe?) sounds like he has quite a bit of potential, Gerald Wolfe (who superbly emceed last night) was also impressed by young Riley Harrison Clark. Tribute is definitely one of the best young groups on the road today…
- The Inspirations set was like the exact opposite of Tribute. They used maybe a bit too much time on the song “I Have Not Forgotten” as their opening song… I will say that Jodi Hosterman their new tenor sounds pretty solid with them. He really gives them a different sound that is different from the Watkins years… This is the strongest I have heard the Inspirations for years. The highlight of their set was their closer, which was a song off of their new project On The Sunrise Side the song was “That’s Why I Call It Home” I believe they might have had issues with the track for they sang it A Capella (the song has a track on the CD) and it went over very well.
- I missed the Hunter Family and The Dixie Echoes, I wanted to catch the Dixie Echoes set but alas I got tied up in the Exhibit hall a little too long.
- The Dove Brothers have found a new song to encore multiple times at NQC and in their concerts; the song is their recent number one hit “Hold On”. It seems they might have retired the old Didn’t It Rain routine along with Get Away Jordan, and have adapted “Hold On” into their set to much success… Mcray Dove gave a very strong performance of said song. The crowd really ate it up, and it was of course as I mentioned encored multiple times… The highlight of their set, for me anyway was their opener “I Recall” that is a great song that the group really shines on especially live.
- The Talley Trio had a very strong set that was highlighted by Lauren Talley singing her powerful version of “In Christ Alone” which went over pretty well, but not as well as the closer of their set “He’s Alive”. Lauren really thrives in the lead role on a big ballad, she did not disappoint on this Don Francisco classic.
- The Perrys had a great set; they started with the title track of their upcoming project Blue Skies Coming it is a great song featuring some nice group harmonies. After singing one more and then with a great lead up by Troy Peach, Tracy Stuffle made an appearance on stage and sang their last two songs with them. Tracy set up the highlight song of their set “If You Knew Him” with an emotional story about his stay in the hospital; he said that this song has taken on an entirely new meaning for him. The song was performed incredibly well by the Perry’s and the crowd rewarded them with rousing standing ovation… Joeseph Habedank in particular impressed me tonight with the Perry’s, he has really developed into a first rate lead singer for the Perry’s. I am looking forward to seeing more from the Perry’s this week.
- Squire Parson’s had a short set that was highlighted by his hit song “Beulah Land”. His son, who is a very good singer, joined him for the last half of the song. They ended it nicely, and the crowd loving every second of it gave them a nice standing ovation…
- Gold City was the group I was looking forward to seeing the most last night for it was Josh Cobb’s first appearance back at NQC since he left Legacy Five two days after the 2000 quartet convention… Scott Fowler came down to the stage to watch Gold City’s set; it was the only time that I personally saw him down around the artist circle. I may be reading into to it a bit much but I thought it was a nice gesture from Scott to come down and see Josh sing in his first set with Gold City. Gold City’s set itself was solid enough, I was hoping that they would have Josh do his solo that he has been blowing away crowds with all over the country, but alas they did not. Maybe they are saving that for later in the week… The highlight of Gold City’s set was “When He Blest My Soul” Tim Riley has so much power in that big voice of his you could feel the seats shaking all over the place! “By Your Grace, For Your Glory” was also a highlight… They covered one song from their new table project which was their rendition of “We’ll Soon Be Done Troubles and Trials” they really add some oomph to that one for sure. I am looking forward to more out of this great quartet this week.
- The Collingsworth Family had what some might consider the strongest set of the night… When you get three straight unanimous standing ovations (which is something that I have never seen at NQC for any group) it makes it easy to draw that conclusion. They started their set with “I Shall Not Be Moved” which featured the entire family, it went over ok… But the next three songs were breathtaking to say the least… They started their last three songs with “Fear Not Tommorow” which is a very powerful song featuring Kim and her two oldest daughters as a trio. They performed it perfectly and with their close harmony, and soaring vocals it was a sure thing for a standing ovation. Next up was Kim playing a stunning piano solo she played “And Can It Be” and did it magnificently… She is without a doubt one of the best piano players on the road today, and her performance last night was proof positive of that, she received a standing ovation for what seemed like forever… They closed their set with the hymn “I Want Jesus More Than Anything” The song has a slow buildup but man did it end on a strong note. The crowd really loved the Collingsworth family last night and deservedly so…
- Brian Free And Assurance opened their set with “What A Beautiful Day” the first thing I noticed was the fact that they had a full live band accompanying them, Ricky Free was of course on the drums, I am not sure who was on the bass guitar or the piano, it looked like Adam Borden on the Bass but I am not 100% certain of that… They sang a new song from their newest project Never Walk Alone the song was called “God Will Close The Door” it featured Jeremy and should be another fast paced hit for them. Brian Free hit some really nice high notes towards the end of the song… They closed their set with the ever popular “Long As I Got King Jesus” The crowds at NQC never seem to get tired of this song, it was a great way to close, what was a solid set from Brian Free and Assurance.
- Greater Vision slowed things down from the faster paced Brian Free and Assurance set with a great rendition of “We Are So Blessed” though for some reason it sounded like there was a bass singer in the mix with them, I may have been just hearing things… Gerald Wolfe then introduced Chris Allman and had him sing “I Could Never Praise Him Enough” he turned in a great performance as was expected. It is really good to see Chris back with Greater Vision, he really seemed to be enjoying himself last night, and he was down by the stage most of the night snapping photos with his camera… Greater Vision closed their set with a powerful version of “It Is Well With My Soul” Gerald Wolfe turned in a very strong performance. The Lari Goss orchestrated/produced track on this song really makes it soar. It was a great way to close their set for sure; the crowd was on their feet before the final note was sung.
- Triumphant Quartet got the last set of the night, which was really too bad because half of the crowd was already gone… But Triumphant did not disappoint… They opened with my favorite TQ songs “Look For Me” and since my mom passed away several months ago that song has taken on a new meaning… They also sang the title song from their new CD “Love Came Calling” I really like that song it has some very nice harmonies throughout and it has some good lyrics… The highlight of their set was them singing their cover of the Mcgruders hit song “Saved By Grace” TQ really nailed it last night. Scotty Inman in particular turned in very nice performance, he like Joe Habedank with the Perry’s, has really developed into a very good lead singer for TQ, I see great things for Scotty in the future. Greater Vision and BFA joined TQ at the end of this song making for a nice finale…
Overall Monday night at NQC wasn’t too bad… The Sound which was a little spotty at the beginning of the night seemed to be locked in for most of the groups sets, other than some mic issues…(but there are always mic issues at NQC) I just hope it stays that way or gets better as the week goes on… Well that’s it for now; I won’t be posting much about tomorrows sets. I will only be at NQC for a short while and that will be to do an interview with one of leaders of this industry (if it works out with his schedule) (H/T Josh) and potential future hall of famer… I won’t reveal who it is, but stay tuned, I will have that interview available to read on this blog hopefully a couple of weeks from now…
One more thing if you want to follow what is going this week I will be twittering live from time to time throughout the week… Follow me on twitter here.