NQC Hasty Notes: Thursday Night

Crowds are thickening and things are getting more fun! Here’s tonight’s installment.

I showed up in time to catch the back half of the Michael Frost Trio’s song “Author and Finisher of My Faith.” The little I heard was very good! Now it’s a group called 11th Hour. Didn’t catch the name of their song.

ALL RIGHT, it’s the Penny Loafers! This is a pleasant surprise for sure. And they’re actually wearing penny loafers. Singing a pitch-perfect acapella version of “Goodbye, World, Goodbye.” The mouth instruments were IMPECCABLE. This is some of the best harmony we’ve heard all week. I totally needed more of that. One song isn’t enough. They should be on mainstage.

Tim Lovelace says we’re skipping fan cam tonight, so it’s on to the Hoppers. They’re kicking off their set with their new arrangement of “I Just Feel Like Something Good is About to Happen.” I really like this slowed down groove, with brass and B-3 Hammond.

Now for a dinner break…

Back with Tribute Quartet. They’re singing “Homesick Angel.” Josh Singletary is playing piano with one hand and holding a microphone in the other!

Now Riley is singing “Homecoming Day.” He’s even better than he was last year. His control and expression have improved a lot. He was a bit pitchy on some of his high notes, but that was an impressive performance.

Okay they’re going right into “Good News From Jerusalem.” This should be good. Impressive song. I think it needs somewhat better vocals to really bring out how cool it is, but it’s getting a big response. They’re encoring the chorus. Normally I’m not a fan of monotonic, slow-building songs, but once the chorus kicks in on this one I think it picks up speed and it’s really exciting. That was the end of their set. I hope they stage “The Song of Heaven” tomorrow.

Now the Collingsworth ladies are playing a violin duet. It’s the same one they did at the concert where I saw them, “The Prayer.” I thought their outfits were perfect until I saw Brooklyn’s high red boots. Hmmmmm. Anyway they’re playing beautifully. The crowd responded warmly.

The Lesters are up now, to be followed by the Whisnants, the McKameys, and a Dennis Swanberg segment. I’ve got some work to do so I think I’ll tune back in a little later (though I do like the Whisnants). Unfortunately looks like I’ll miss the Collingsworth Family at about 8:00, but I’ll be back to pick up from Greater Vision onward. Looking forward to seeing the Talleys with Brian Alvey tonight.

Okay, I didn’t get back until around 8:35. Now David Jeremiah has just come up for his segment. He says that he was getting tired of writing books about dark, depressing happenings in the world so he decided to take a break and write a book about the love of God.

Now Greater Vision is singing “No Longer Chained…” and our webcast is freezing up. This is the first time I’ve encountered a major issue with the ‘cast this year, so actually I think this isn’t too bad. Still, we had to get something sooner or later. Now it’s back and they’re singing “When They Ring the Bells of Heaven.” I like the way this one sounds, even though it really needs a bass. :)

Now Chris is singing “I Know a Man Who Can.” I missed this one when they did it the other night so this is fun. Gerald says they sang it for Jack Campbell, the songwriter’s widow, who was here in the audience tonight and had driven a long way to see her husband’s song performed. This wasn’t pre-planned, but they just had to do it. We’re glad they did. After Chris nailed it, Gerald said “That old man can still sing.”

Now he is setting up some kids I’ve never seen before whom he  recently invited to come sing a number after being asked to listen to them and being blown away. Never seen a mainstage group do this before—give some of their OWN time to an unknown group. Okay, they’re singing “The Doxology” acapella.  Wow, they are really good! They’re obviously styling themselves after the Martins. A little pitchiness and unsteadiness here and there, but overall they are tight and on pitch! And they closed great! Wow, this was a great surprise. Terrific. What a classy move on Gerald’s part. They just sat down and they were positively shaking, so nervous and happy. They can’t be older than 16/17/18. Definitely an evening highlight. If they keep polishing their sound we’ll be naming them in the same breath as the Martins in another few years!

Now Gerald is sharing some thoughts about faithfulness to set up “Faces.” He tells a story about a farmer named Merle Haun who gave him a peppermint every Sunday and said, “Jesus loves you this morning, and I do too.” Gerald is so right, it’s not about how famous you are, it’s about how faithful you are. “Faithful to teach Sunday school every Wednesday, faithful to do all those things nobody wants to do, faithful…” He then put in a plug for Compassion, but tied it all together brilliantly with a memory about meeting a little girl his family had “adopted.” When she met him, she hugged him and started jabbering, and the translator said “She wants to take you home with her.” So she led Gerald to her family’s house, and it was in a poor, nasty part of town. But the family asked Gerald to pray for them there. And he says, “It dawned on me in that moment: ‘I’m Merle Haun, to this little girl!’ She didn’t know I was a famous gospel singer, she didn’t know I’d been on a Gaither video, she didn’t know I’d stand in front of 10,000 people tonight and tell her story.” Wow! That’s a powerful thought. Now they’re singing “Faces.”

GV is off, and now the Sisters are singing “It is Well” for an acapella moment. Great, powerful performance! Now the Isaacs are up. First time I’ve seen them this week. Singing “Get On Board.” They’re so good it can tend to make other perfectly good artists look second-rate. Unfortunately we’re getting some fuzzy sound. Hoping it improves… Wow, they closed off that one with some hot picking! Great instrumental stuff, with Matthew Holt on piano. Then they sang “Why Can’t We?” Now Ben is doing some great jazz bass plucking and they’re singing a song I don’t know. I think it’s called “Three Men.” Wow, a brilliant guitar/mandolin-picking interlude. This band meshes perfectly. Matthew just complements the bluegrass instruments so well. Another new song called “Waiting in the Water,” Becky gave a moving intro. This is about the blind man who goes to wash in the pool after Jesus puts the mud on his eyes. Good song.

Mark Bishop is up trying to read tomorrow’s schedule with his glasses on. It looks like he flubbed a joke—wrong punchline. LOL. But he made up for it when his microphone got turned off, and he said, “Just as I was talking about myself [he mentioned that he was up for an award in tomorrow’s show] you turn my microphone off! Next time I’m gonna ask for the one that says ‘Made in America!’ ” Then he grinned and said, “I literally was just waiting for my microphone to have problems so I could tell that joke.” You gotta love Mark Bishop! So down-to-earth and funny.

Now the Booth Brothers are up, yeah! Singing “I’m Free,” DOUBLE yeah! That was great, now they’re bringing Bill Gaither up to sing bass on “Joy in the Camp.” The track is a little soft… even after Michael bluntly said, “We could use a little more track.” Hel-LO! Bill’s coming in on the “boom-booms” now and the crowd is eating it up.

Then Bill set up “Let the Healing Begin” with, I’m just gonna say it, a kind of jumbled, mushy intro about how everybody should get along. The Church needs to be one, Americans need to come together and see the good in everyone and set aside differences, because we’re all still Americans after all, and our country is so polarized, etc. I’m sorry but I think this is Bill being his usual well-intentioned but naive self. It’s not going to happen, and it shouldn’t happen as long as there are evil people out there who hate God’s people. But, in any case, a good song.

Next they pulled out “I Played in the Band” again. I like this one. :) Nick Bruno is on piano for them and he’s tearing it up. They’ve encored it a couple times. Not sure a 2nd encore was warranted, but hey whatever…  THREE encores? Really? They’re bringing Bill up, okay. FOUR! Okay, guys, really. Josh says “Two without Bill means you need two with Bill.”

Mark Bishop is up now singing “I’m Listening For the Call.” Now a moving intro and “God Builds Churches With Broken People.” It looks like that was it, because they switched to another vintage filler clip (yay), and now the Talleys are up! Opening with “Surely,” a great choice. And Brian Alvey is back, yay! I just pointed out how much Lauren sounds like Brian Free on this one and said, “Close your eyes and try see Brian in your mind’s eye instead.” DBM’s response: “Lauren is prettier.” HA!

Then they sang “Broken World,” and now Brian Alvey is sharing his testimony to set up “That’s Why I Love Him So.” I’d never heard this before, but he was kicked out of his house at the age of 16. For several years he didn’t want anything to do with church. But when he was 19 he saw Gerald Wolfe and Greater Vision. Afterwards he walked up to Gerald and said, “I’m just a long-haired kid, but I wanna sing someday.” And Gerald gave him his card. Brian says, “He showed me people like him were faithful to God, and through that I saw God’s faithfulness.” What a great way to tie back to Gerald’s own comments about the faithfulness of people he had known from his childhood. Too bad the track for the song cut in too early and interrupted the end of Brian’s intro.

Next, “Great Love He Gave.” Powerful live number! The awkwardness of the narration just sails right on by in a live setting. The group sounded a little tired but gave a strong performance. Then they just went right into a chorus of “He’s Alive,” a good transition, good way to close out the set.

Kingdom Heirs up now, singing “Ever Since That Wonderful Day.” Mark practically bounded off stage after introducing them. He ate his chocolate frosted sugar bombs this morning! Now Jeff Chapman singing a cute one called “Hit the Ground Running.” Next, that old chestnut, “He Locked the Gates.” Works every time.

Okay, finally they’re featuring Jerry Martin, on “I Can Pray.” Something’s off though, I think he just went sharp or something. He never does that. He must be really tired, or maybe even sick. Or DBM suggested perhaps it’s an ear monitor issue. He really does sound tired though. But as Keith Waggoner is pointing out to us here in the chat room, NQC does that to its tenors, “Just think…you’re keeping weird hours, eating bad food, talking to everyone at the booth, plus pulling out all the big songs.”

Hey, I’ve never heard them sing this one before: “I Never Shall Forget The Day.” Arthur Rice is tearing it up! Obviously NQC is easier on lead singers than tenors. This performance is my favorite of their set so far. Encoring it, and the piano player is channeling a little Roger Bennett almost!

Karen Peck & New River are closing it out. Karen’s on tonight, and they played the beginning of her “Mighty High” clip from Joyful Noise before she came out and started singing it for real. Good idea for an opener! High energy, an evening highlight. Keeping the energy right going, Jeff Hawes is taking the lead on “Look What My Lord Has Done.” He sounds great but something bizarre happened with the track midway through, the volume abruptly got turned down almost to a whisper for a few seconds. Things are back on track now. Whoops, famous last words, it turned up again at the end. Susan is singing “I’m Saved” now. Encoring it once…

Now Karen is announcing an upcoming solo project. She invited Wes Hampton and Ben Isaacs to come up and sing a new song whose name I didn’t catch. Sounded a bit sugary to me—equating homeless people with people in a nursing home. (Jesus lives there, we should go to both, etc., etc.) I don’t think so. Comparison doesn’t jibe for me. I’m sure some homeless people are in real need, but many are actually not doing too badly, and they spend any money people give them on whatever addictions they were stupid enough to get themselves into. To compare someone like that to an old lady who needs someone to take care of her basic needs just seems in poor taste to me. But I realize people don’t think through these things. Sorry for the mini-grumble. Moving on… Karen’s singing “Four Days Late,” a very dependable closer. Good way to close out the night. I think KPNR had one of the strongest sets of the evening.

Mark Bishop closing with a great prayer. He was a funny, energetic MC tonight. I think he should do this every night. Maybe he doesn’t agree though. :)

Tonight was a bit of a mixed bag, maybe not the week’s best but there were some definite highlights. I think for me the most memorable moment was Gerald bringing up the unknown trio to sing acapella. Also, the Penny Loafers’ one song was awesome, as was the Sisters’. The Isaacs and Talleys turned in strong sets. Share your highlights in the comments! I’m going to bed. Night all. See you tomorrow!

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15 Comments

Filed under Music Commentary, NQC

15 responses to “NQC Hasty Notes: Thursday Night

  1. Terry Franklin

    YGG, thanks for the updates and the rundown on the events of the evening at NQC. It made me feel like I was there.

  2. Penny Leusink

    I just ret’d from NQC about 6p last night so haven’t had time to read your nightly comments other than last night’s. So sorry if I’m repeating something you’ve said – I’m not sure you are aware that each night the one or two artists/groups deemed to be the best of the day in the afternoon’s Featured (seem to be those who are more experienced, may (or must?) have recordings and a booth to sell them) and Regional showcases (up and comers – for instance Guy Penrod was in this group his first year as a single) are invited to sing one song on the Main Stage that night (or the next). The Penny Loafers that you liked were probably from one of those two showcases (thus “one” song). You may have commented on Abby Paskvan, 16 yr old singing It is Well With My Soul another night, she was from the Featured Artists showcase and was outstanding). In previous years they announced that each was a winner, but this year seem not to be telling the audience that’s who they are. So anytime you hear someone singing one song, it is probably from one of those.

    For some reason this year they often began the music too soon and cut off speakers. Also each group does not get the same amount of minutes on stage. It is possible that the 3 that Gerald Wolf brought up to sing were not using Greater Vision’s minutes, Gerald is on the Board.

  3. Lee Black

    I, for one, am glad that Jesus put no qualifiers on “the least of these.” Matthew 25 gives me the impression that we are to look after the needs of the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned.

    God is omnipresent – from the loneliest halls of an assisted living facility to the filthiest streets of a red-light district and everywhere in between and beyond. There are desperate souls in all of those places who need the grace of Jesus. And those of us who know Him are called to extend it, not judge who is or is not worthy to receive it. I believe we are called to offer grace to even those who are battling “addictions they were stupid enough to get themselves into.” So let me assure you, as Kenna West and I were writing God Lives There, we absolutely did “think through these things.”

    One more thing. Since I have not yet begun my blog in which I critique southern gospel bloggers, I will just post this comment here: the word you are trying to use is “jibe” not “jive.” Not that I’m trying to gibe…

    • Hey Lee, thanks for the correction on “jibe.” I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it typed out, just heard it spoken, and people aren’t always that clear with their pronounciation. ;)

      I do want to engage further with your comment, but I want to do so when I’ve had some sleep and can formulate a full range of thoughts (perhaps someone else will come along in the meantime). Give me a day or so and I’ll get back to you, promise.

      • I’m back now and able to respond more fully. Like most of my long comments, this will be pretty thorough and analytical, but don’t take it personally.

        I took time to go back and listen to the song again On Demand so that I could tailor my response as closely as possible to what the lyric actually says, as opposed to what I seem to recall in a fuzzy memory. This was actually very good for me, and I think I can clear up some misunderstandings now. I’ll start by quoting the first verse:

        There’s a cardboard house beneath the bridge
        At tenth and Broadway
        That the old man calls home
        He drowns his sorrow and regret
        The cheap wine helps him forget
        That the best years of his life are all but gone
        Til the preacher man from the tabernacle rescue mission
        Tells him ’bout amazing grace
        And he finds what he missing…

        Let me hit pause here and just say that this is all very good. I realized it’s what follows after this that triggered the negative reaction.

        And it didn’t take a steeple
        Stained glass or perfect people
        There’s a cardboard house beneath the bridge
        And people pass by ’cause they don’t care
        But God lives there

        Okay, pause again. First I’d like to make a distinction (we analytics love distinctions—Thomas Aquinas is our G-daddy). I think the reason why the opening verse without the chorus doesn’t bother me is that it’s not being moralistic or trying to guilt-trip ordinary Christians. It simply tells a story. Good art shows rather than telling. So that’s a well-written verse. It describes one specific person (the preacher) whose calling is to work at a rescue mission and take the gospel to people like the homeless man in the story. I believe those rescue missions have a place and a purpose within the church, and I am not advocating that they close their doors or stop preaching the gospel. If you ask me, our country would be a lot better off if the government had left welfare to the church to begin with. So thumbs up on the verse.

        The problem really comes in the chorus, because this is where I think your artistic instinct slipped and your desire to “make a point” kicked in. I feel the difference immediately. You wanted to tie up your story with a neat little moral, but it actually took away from the song’s depth and quality. As it is, this chorus is really rather shallow because now you’re suddenly shifting the burden of responsibility from one man with a specific calling to every Christian who happens to drive by the homeless hangout. You say that they pass by “because they don’t care,” but I think that’s equal parts judgmental and naive. Judgmental, because you don’t know what good reasons a person might have for not feeling like he’s in a good position to extend that sort of charity.

        For example, maybe you’re a small, vulnerable white female like me, and you don’t walk in strange, unfamiliar places unless you’re with a male or packing heat. I heard one story about a single mom with a young child who decided to take a homeless man home with her, but started to feel uncomfortable when she realized he didn’t have anywhere else to go for the night. The guy just sat around and didn’t actually do anything wrong, but the woman wisely called some men from her church to come help out, and they politely but firmly escorted the man somewhere else (I believe they drove him to the local mission). Afterwards, they sat down and gave her “the talk.”

        So that’s the judgmental aspect of the line, but it’s also naive, because you’re assuming that a) All of these people are in real need, which some aren’t (I’ve read true stories about people who decided they weren’t going to work because they were making so much more pan-handling), and that b) Even if they are caught in a downward spiral, handing them money or even food is in their own best interests.

        My father knew a man who lived as a homeless person for a prolonged period of time as a research experiment. One of the things he learned was this, in his own words: “The cruelest thing you can do to a homeless man is to feed him.” It should be a given that offering these people money is a bad gamble, but even food can be cruel because it helps keep them in their self-destructive cycle and give them the illusion that they don’t need to change anything. There are places they could go to get help if they have an addiction, but often they just don’t have the will-power to take the necessary steps to begin controlling it. Helping them to stay where they are isn’t kind or charitable.

        The contrast with your second verse, which is talking about an old woman who through no fault of her own has ended up in assisted living, brings me to my main point: We can and should prioritize when it comes to physical charity. I read an excellent Kevin DeYoung article that broke this down very well:

        http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/07/17/obligation-stewardship-and-the-poor/

        Essentially, we have circles of responsibility. First comes our responsibility to our immediate families. Next comes our responsibility to our church family. After that, situations can vary widely, but those are our first priorities. If I’ve got a choice between helping a lady in my church pay her medical bills because she can’t afford them, or throwing away that same money on a homeless drunk who lives under a bridge, there’s no question where my priorities should lie. We have a term for people who would give the money to the drunk: enablers. The woman in your church has a legitimate need and didn’t get where she is by harming herself.

        Now preaching the gospel to these people is a completely separate issue. But while I do agree that the Great Commission warrants that the gospel be spread far and wide, wherever human beings are found, I think that like any other kind of missionary work this is a special calling. Maybe God wants you to go to the red-light districts and preach on the corner. If he does a work through you, praise God. But many of us are called to work for him in other ways. That’s why if you had just left the first verse alone, there would have been nothing wrong with it, because all it does is give a picture of how one part of the body can work without trying to force the entire church into that calling. But I suspect that you’re trying to make a larger point about charity qua charity, which includes financial assistance, food, etc. And when it comes to physical charity, I certainly wouldn’t argue that I’m “withholding grace” from a homeless alcoholic by refusing to feed his addiction. Far from it.

        I hope this clarifies where I’m coming from. You may still disagree, and that’s okay. I enjoy your work very much. I just think both you and Kenna can do better. Please keep writing and blessing us with your gifts, because you unquestionably have a talent.

        In conclusion, let me point you to one song about homeless people that’s a perfect example of “showing,” not telling. It’s called “The Man Inside,” by Bebo Norman, and it talks about a man who actually had a mental disability but remained constantly cheerful. I’d love to give you a Youtube link, but it appears to be unavailable there. Look around on grooveshark, or just buy it on Amazon. I think you’d like it.

    • Break to nit-pick my own comment (can you tell I’m kind of OCD?) I said that “good art” shows instead of telling. I think that might be a tad broad since, after all, works of art like hymns “tell” rather than “show” and they can be very great. I think what I meant to say was that a good STORY shows rather than telling. Since this is a story in a song I automatically applied that same standard to it.

    • Adam K

      Love it! totally aggree..

  4. Lydia

    YGG has a lot of good things to say here. Distinctions have got to be made. Offering grace is often not the same thing as offering a handout, and offering a handout is often not a good idea. Offering actual grace is also not the same calling for everyone in every situation, and particularly when the would-be recipients are potentially dangerous and/or addicted. It takes a special kind of wisdom to offer grace in those situations in a way that is not enabling of self-destructive behavior, and clarity of thought is a prerequisite for that special wisdom. Simply lumping everybody who could possibly be called “needy” together, refusing indignantly to distinguish those who desperately need to change their behavior from those who are _simply_ in need (e.g., nursing home residents), and especially making these mental moves deliberately, doesn’t encourage that clarity of thought.

    • Let me chime in with an addendum on clarity of thought: Rational thinking isn’t a dirty phrase. I know there are some people who think that Christians aren’t supposed to be “rational,” and if you come along and talk about thinking clearly/rationally you must be Pat Robertson. But you don’t have to be a callous jerk to be smart. It is possible to be aware and humanistic at the same time. I think Jesus put it well with the “wise as serpents, innocent as doves” phrase.

  5. “I’m sure some homeless people are in real need, but many are actually not doing too badly, and they spend any money people give them on whatever addictions they were stupid enough to get themselves into.” Come on.
    I worked with that demographic for 18 years and that sweeping statement just isn’t true for the “many.”
    You’re better than this.
    Not cool.
    -b

    • Hey Belinda, thanks for the comment. I did approve it, though I’m sure some bloggers would have felt it crossed some sort of line. We have a bit more flex room around here, within reason of course.

      It sounds like you worked with some people who were hard-working and responsive, and that’s wonderful to hear. I want to honor the fact that you’ve got some hands-on experience in this area.

      I would cautiously suggest that before discounting anything and everything I might have to say on this subject, you have a look at my very long response to Lee’s comment above, when I had more time to formulate a specific criticism of the lyric (because the real question here is what EXACTLY does the song say, and if so, EXACTLY how is it not as good as it could be?) Keep in mind that the initial draft was written up very hastily, in a chatty style, because that’s the format people seem to like for NQC posts. Were I to write an entire post devoted solely to this topic, it would have much the same flavor as my response to Lee. I think I do make some pertinent points in that comment, so if you want to engage thoughtfully and convincingly, you’re welcome to do so.

      Enjoy your work, and again, appreciate the comment.

      • Also, I do request that if you decide to read and converse further, you remain focused on answering what I actually say, rather than jumping to conclusions about what you think my character is like, how loving/unloving I am, etc., because not only would you most likely be completely mistaken (since after all, you don’t know me or my heart), it’s also just not conducive to fostering thoughtful discussion.

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