Here is the first “hasty notes” installment for NQC. These were my immediate impressions, captured as I was watching the webcast, so they’re written as a stream of running commentary in the present tense. Enjoy. I’m too tired to proofread, so forgive any typos.
Opening: Tim Lovelace is in the audience interacting and making jokes. Little awkward since there aren’t that many folks around. But he is very likable. He gives away a couple free Booth Brothers and Greater Vision CDs.
Now he’s introducing a group called Rejoice who won some sort of talent show earlier. Never heard of this group before. It’s a mixed quartet with three gals and a guy. Singing “When God Dips His Love.” I enjoy their sound. Two of the gals sound like altos, one a soprano, and the guy sounds like a bass, or at least a low baritone.
Claude Hopper and Les Beasley going at it… I thought I’d have to go eat dinner or something before we finally heard some music, but it was cut (mercifully?) short and now Greater Vision is singing “The Only Way.” Chris Allman is sounding great. Now Gerald is emceeing a bit, saying this is going to be the best NQC ever (we’ll see!)
Dinner break. I missed Karen Peck singing the National Anthem but did return to find… the Collingsworth family! Courtney is playing something lovely on violin while her mother accompanies. I do not recognize the tune at the moment. Now Brooklyn’s turn—it’s a duet. They’re so controlled with their playing—very tasteful to watch. Ah, now I have the tune: “No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus.” Loverly. Gerald: “I don’t know ’bout you but that raised the hair on the back of my neck.”
Now Triumphant’s up: “Amazed At the Change.” Very smooth, very solid. Now they’re really getting into “When the Trumpet Sounds.” I wasn’t that impressed with David Sutton’s step-out, but this is good quartet sangin’. One encore. People really love this group. Now David and Jeff Stice are doing their harmonica/piano duet of “Goodbye World Goodbye.” David’s no Buddy Greene, but he can play a pretty mean harmonica.
Next: “Somebody Died For Me.” I LOVE this stripped down to piano only. Scotty just turned in a fine performance.
Now a new big ballad that I don’t recognize. It must be from the new album. It’s not really blowing me away so far. Sort of a poor man’s version of “In God We Still Trust.” But songs like this always have their hearts in the right place.
America, God still loves you
Even though we’ve turned away
We need to raise the banner high again
Bring America back to where she’s been
Stand up for America again
Eeeeek, hate to admit to it, but this one is really awkward though. The music, the melody, it’s buckling under its own over-production. Again though, really nice message. Really, really. People liked it. I wish they’d done something else altogether, or just done a better song with the same idea, but oh well…
Now they’re rolling some random video. I skipped it and came back to find Gerald Wolfe taking a while to set up Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. One of the sound guys told him to hurry up. Doyle’s outfit is pretty amazing. A jacket with… purple flowers on it… and a yellow shirt with an orange tie… But they can really play. This makes nice background music. Perhaps I can try to read Plato while I listen (can you tell I’m really squeezing this in around college?) Hey, I just read the Meno dialogue while listening to Mike Rogers sing “Precious Memories!” And enjoyed them both very much. I want my multi-tasking badge. Now a little acapella bluegrass singing, “He Made It All Right.” Cute. And a closing number before they leave.
Now Tim Lovelace is pitching Compassion International. Believe it or not, I really enjoyed it. I thought he was very funny and genuine. I also appreciated the fact that he didn’t make it sound like an arm-twisting thing, “You’re a terrible person if you don’t sponsor one of these poor little children, blah-blah-blah.” However, I thought it was interesting that he talked about how he had set out very determined to discover whether the money really did make it to the child, and after seeing example after example of the organization in action, he could say for certain that it did.
I took a break during some of Squire Parsons’ set, but boy am I glad I came back in time to watch him and all his artist friends sing “Beulah Land.” Highlight of the night. Everybody is up there, and I mean everybody. Jim Brady put together the recent multi-artist Parsons tribute and stood next to Squire. It was a treat to hear him do some solo step-out on Verse 2. Afterward, Gerald and Karen talked a little more about the process of doing the project and Squire’s recent struggles with leukemia. Bless Jim’s heart, he worked so hard to make that tribute record happen, and everyone was happy to come together and do it.
Now I’m skipping the Gospel Caravan to work a little on an epistemology paper. Planning to catch Greater Vision and the Talleys in a little bit.
Okay, so I did sneak a little look at the Gospel Caravan, and noticed the Nelons are among the artists. They should have been given a slot all their own on mainstage, but it’s nice to hear them a bit here. “How Great Thou Art” going now. The step-outs are kind of flimsy, but man, when the whole gang gets together and really belts it out, that’s just great. And Jimmy Blackwood did sound great on the last verse. Then the tenor for the Lefevre Quartet did a cool bit after him.
Oh, oh, oh, they just rolled a clip of that little old lady who sets off the dude’s air bag with her purse. What a perfect setting. If they had only found a version of the clip that didn’t have a Flip 4 Mac advertisement playing over it (what was that all about??) Anyway, now the Talleys and Greater Vision are singing something forgettable (but they sound great…) Now just the Talleys singing “There’s a Promise Coming Down That Dusty Road.” Lauren tearing it up. Now Roger is introducing her new husband Brian Alvey. (Great moment: “About 10 weeks ago she got married…” Lauren: “WHOOOOOOOO!” Roger: “And she’s not a bit excited about it.”) They gave Brian a feature on “I Kept On Searching.” Their sound is really tight as a four-some. They are on top of it tonight. Now Debra is emceeing, how classy. “You know what, this is is what America is. It’s not what you see in Hollywood or Washington. America is people like you and me gathering here to lift up the name of Jesus.” Amen. Now they are singing “Who Will Pray?” What a great song. Never heard it until now. Closing with a patriotic medley, which was a little shaky but ended very strong with some great power singing from Lauren.
So far the Talleys have been my favorite of the night. I just wish I’d heard a bit more from Brian.
Greater Vision next. “He Didn’t When He Could Have Passed By.” Chris really holds them together. Next, “No Longer Chained,” not a fave but that’s okay. Gerald cracks me up: “I thank God for giving Rodney the gift of writing, because that’s the only thing he can do.” But he admitted Rodney does have a college degree—in biology. “You need that to be a writer.”
Chris Allman and “I Know a Man Who Can.” Incredible. Huge, huge, huge, highlight.
Insert pointless “making rain with the crowd” stuff here (some of you will know what I’m talking about). Then the Perrys: “Blue Skies,” “Damascus Road…” Tracy is looking pretty thin… hey, they just pulled out a great surprise! He said he’d always wanted to sing a certain song even though he’s not worthy to hold the microphone of his hero who originally sang it. The moment they began, we all knew it was “Plan of Salvation.” Tracy did a great job on George’s solo. Did not expect them to do this at all. This is beautiful. Another highlight. I love these spontaneous surprises.
“If You Knew Him” always lights things up.
Now Josh Singletary is bringing us some cool jazz piano on “I’ll Fly Away.” I’ve never heard it done this style before. Love it. Now it’s a group called the Sonmen singing “Life Will Be Sweeter.” They had fun.
The King’s Heralds. Yes? “He Lifted Me.” Classic, legendary sound. Perfect blend, and no ear monitors.
Next came the Hoppers. Let’s just say that so far the best part of their set has been Jim Brady coming up and singing a guest vocal on “He Remembers to Forget.” Except now they’re doing “Jerusalem.” Oh yes, let’s go. Then “My Life Shall Not Be in Vain.”
Now Karen and Gerald are going down the list for tomorrow’s happenings. Priceless moment. Karen: “Now here’s a thing on Understanding God. Are you going to that?” Gerald: “I already understand Him.”
Now Gold City is up, and sounding good. Actually, really good. Great mix. Somebody just said it’s the best mix he’s heard all evening, and I think I agree. They started with “Eye of the Storm,” now they’re doing a new one by Dianne Wilkinson called “Peter, James and John.” This is good.
One man was prayin
Three men were sleepin
One was betrayin the sinless son of God
They left that last supper
Gone away from all the others
Jesus and Judas, Peter, James and John
Now Dan is really nailing it on “When He Blest My Soul.” Now come on Timmy Riley… “Well you’d oughta been theeeeeeeere.” Yes, I would like an encore, thank you. Camera just cut over to show Jonathan Wilburn enjoying himself. Just heard that his son Jordan is dating Michaela Brown. Now they’re covering the Dixie Hummingbirds (you heard me). “It Won’t Be Long.” Danny Riley really does have a great voice. Now time for one more fast one: “God’s Building A Church.” Sounded great, except it was pretty funny at the end when the track kept playing (with a built-in encore I think) and Bryan Eliot had to cut it short quickly. But no matter. Gold City is still alive and well. They were on tonight. I just hope they can keep this together. I really hope…
Hey, Freedom Trio is singing for the showcase slot! John Rulapaugh, music to my ears. “If it Wasn’t For the Cross.” This is great sangin’ right here. Somebody please give these guys more time on mainstage? Thank you. I’ll be watching next year to see if you were listening.
And the moment I’ve been waiting for: The Collingsworth family and Brian Free & Assurance. Could we have put them on a lot earlier and given them a few more songs together? Creative combination that worked awfully well. Bill Shivers and Phil Jr. complement each other great. They sang “I Feel Like Travelin’ On.” One measly two-minute song. Oh well…
Now it’s just the Collingsworth family. “Part of the Family.” How do they always sound so perfect? I mean seriously, for blend, nobody can touch them tonight, except maybe the King’s Heralds. They’re that good. Now Kim is on keys for “Joshua Fit the Battle.” This should be good. And… the walls are starting to shake right about now (along with the piano and the microphone standing next to it). And… there they go! Sweet. Now Courtney and the other kids are singing “I Found It All.” This is one of my favorites off their new record. New stuff from Wayne Haun and a co-writer named Helga (her last name is slipping my mind now). Nice song, really nice. Now “At Calvary.” Phil Jr., Courtney, and Brooklyn are nailing it. Such a sound with just the three of them on that one verse! This arrangement kicks tail live.
And that was it for the Collingsworths. A flawless set from them. Now it’s BFA. I just love these guys. A surprisingly mellow opener: “What a Beautiful Day.” Pretty song. Brian just did some wailing on the tenor. Now it’s “Anything Is Possible,” and the sound on the webcast is suddenly terrible again (I didn’t even mention all the problems we had earlier). Great. Okay, now it’s a little better for “I Believe.” Absolutely love this song, hope it goes to #1 on the charts soon (it was #4 last I heard). Brian is sounding good. But did I mention he needs to lose the soul patch? Whoops, things just got a little rough for Brian vocally in the last half of the song. I think it’s the late hour. A night’s rest will do him good. It may also be that super-high stuff he did on “What a Beautiful Day” left him worn out. Next up, “God Will Close the Door.” Good Jeremy feature. Poor Brian, he really sounds fatigued. They’re closing with “Long As I Got King Jesus.” Trying to rock what’s left of the place. Folks is standing! What is Jeremy DOING on the bass? Wild! His Tim Riley impression perhaps? These guys are giving it 110% here. Has got to be one of their best performances of this song. And here come the Collingsworths to help wrap it up. Wow, my hat it so off to Brian. He’s not holding anything back, even after struggling earlier. Brian if you’re reading this… you’re incredible, but man, easy on those vocal cords! Some of us sorta like your voice. 😉
And that’s a wrap. Lights out for tonight.
Well there you have it. My running commentary on Monday night. Can’t promise to be this detailed later on, but I’ll try to hit highlights. I’m looking forward to more great music. By the way, before I forget, I promised to give a shout-out to our friend Clarence Grigsby, who kept us all laughing in the chat room. Grigs, it wouldn’t have been nearly so much fun without you. Thanks.