Another National Quartet Convention is in the can! While life got in the way this week and kept me from covering all the groups and nights I would have liked to see, I hope you enjoyed the commentary I could provide. Please click below the fold for my running observations on Saturday’s final batch of concerts. Have a great weekend!
Moment of the Night: I’m adding this Sunday morning because I forgot it last night. Sorry! My moment of the night tonight is easy: The Collingsworth Family, “The Love of God.” On a stage full of uneven performances and moments, the Collingsworths can be counted upon to deliver quality vocal after quality vocal. When that vocal powerhouse talent connects with a timeless, classic song, the result is spell-binding.
Good evening! I will be updating this live commentary periodically throughout the evening. Enjoy my thoughts on the last night of National Quartet Convention 2014!
11:43 All groups on stage for the closing song, “Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul.” A nice, unexpected choice. Chris Allman’s voice is soaring above the rest. Short, simple and sweet—much better than the cumbersome “Statement of Faith,” which has been the default in previous years.
11:39 Greater Vision, “For All He’s Done.” Again, a good song, but what’s the deal with singing exactly the same song you just sang on the very same night? Why am I bothering to stay up late for this if it’s just going to be a re-run of what I already saw? I could better see a quick verse/chorus, but a whole song, twice?
11:36 The Collingsworth sisters are playing “Power in the Blood” on their violins. But I thought the Collingsworths already had their one song? Never mind, it’s fun.
11:31 The Hoppers, “Jerusalem.” I know they sing it at least twice a week every year, but I never get tired of hearing it, because it’s just so cool. Melissa Brady is joining them on stage.
11:27 Susan Whisnant is up now singing “I’ll Pray For You.” But she actually sang this earlier in the evening. I mistook it for “A Greater Yes” because Susan seemed to be leading into that, but now I realize it was this one. Couldn’t they have selected something fresh?
11:24 Oh no… it’s the backwards filler video! Groan. I thought we’d manage to make it through just one NQC without it, but apparently there is no escape. I just now noticed that nobody even spell-checked the view to notice that the “s” and “i” were switched in “Ephesians.”
11:23 Encoring it once… I see Michael on drums!
11:20 Michael set up Triumphant Quartet’s “Saved By Grace.” I love the relish with which he emphasized, “We are not saved by our works. There is nothing we can do.”
11:19 Kim set up the Booth Brothers’ “He Saw it All” by re-telling the story of blind Bartimaeus. I loved hearing her put her spin on the story.
11:10 Kim is playing a piano solo: “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Oddly enough, despite my Yankeeness, I can’t help hearing this song with Dixie ears, thinking of how atrocities like Sherman’s March put the lyrics in more chilling, less inspiring context. Not that I’m trying to ruin the song for anyone or anything. It’s just what I think of when I hear it.
11:05 The Collingsworth Family did a little skit to kick off their song “Show a Little Bit of Love and Kindness.” Brooklyn asked her siblings, playing “men on the street,” to give their definitions of “love” and “kindness.” Olivia got the last word, opining that “If we practiced them a little more, the world would probably be a better place.” That’s cute guys. But seriously, just sing.
11:03 Finale Kickoff. This is the “popcorn finale,” where a bunch of big groups come on for one hit song apiece. Mark Trammell Quartet starting things off with “I Wanna Know.” Randy Byrd is doing a solid job. I was hoping Pat might come out, since he was here today for the Cats reunion showcase, but perhaps he flew home right away.
10:55 “Good News From Jerusalem.” Josh Singletary is doing his thing. I never could quite connect with this one—the verses have no tune! Once the chorus kicks in though, it’s good. Not unlike “He’s Alive,” and in fact the lyric spot-checks that tune.
10:50 “Homecoming Day.” Yay! Riley remains one of the industry’s brightest talents. But he still needs to work on not turning beet-red when he goes for a high note.
10:48 They’re singing some faux-Jamaican…thing. It’s not working. It rarely works when white people pretend to be Jamaican.
10:46 Tribute Quartet. There was supposed to be some other one-off quartet before them, but I guess the schedule was changed. I missed the title of their opener.
10:44 Standing ovation. Great finish! That was worth staying up late for.
10:39 “Arise My Love.” Featuring Owens and Matt Rankin. I’ve always thought Matt was a somewhat underrated lead. They make this quite dramatic. When Ian Owens whispers “Death” into the microphone, it’s a little scary!
10:36 Their latest single “What a Great Life.” Bryan’s voice has a slightly annoying nasality to it, but I can tolerate it.
10:33 “Are You Going to Heaven With Me?” I like the gospel/Motown edge to this one. Soul’d Out has always had that drive to their style. Ian Owens looks and sounds very comfortable on stage with them and did great playing around with this number.
10:26 Soul’d Out Quartet. Um, Bryan, you’ve got a sea anemone growing out of your suit jacket pocket. What is that thing? “Mini feather duster corsage of the month”? Anyway, they’re opening with a nice quiet tune: “More of You and Less of Me.”
10:21 “When the Trumpet Sounds.” Such fun! “Dubya” is rocking it on the keyboard. (I’m going to call him “Dubya” — his initials are “G. W.” after all.) Several encores.
10:17 “He Loves Me,” piano only.
10:13 “We Will Remember.” The choir is still sticking around. I wonder if they’re providing all live backup or if that’s some stacked choir I’m hearing in addition on the track.
10:06 Kim just introduced Triumphant Quartet. “Put your hands together and give a rousing welcome… oh, wait, they’re not ready, forget it. They’re shaking their heads and cuttin’ their necks off.” Ah, now they’re ready, and opening with “Oh Happy Day.” Have I heard them do this before? I’m not sure. Anyway, Scotty is clearly enjoying himself. It looks like they’re getting some help from the Fire in the Choir folks. And the tempo just picked up for a little more fun.
10:00 “Jesus Saves” — very cool, this is their best song. A relatively new worship song that so far from not stinking, is actually awesome. Of course, right after I compliment the mix, it goes all soft. I can barely hear the singing at the moment! Hello, did the Booth Brothers just come up on stage with them? I mean, like, it’s a little random, but I’ll totally take it? [Edit: A quick glance at fellow blogger Lauren’s Views From the Pew tells me the Booth Brothers sang this song on Thursday night, joined by the Collingsworth Family at the end, so there’s the connection. Too bad I missed THAT. Will have to go back and catch it On Demand] It sounds great, although Michael Booth seems to have had his tie made from the photo negative of the kidney bean pattern on Devin McGlamery’s jacket last night. (Although now I’ve decided they’re actually not kidney beans—they’re more like paramecia.)
9:55 “Saved By the Blood.” Their blend is quite tight. I hear some of the mixes have been less than optimal this week, but this sounds good. Now the tenor is being featured on a song called “Put it Right There.” Not being all that familiar with the Lefevre Quartet’s work, I’d never heard this song before. I like the how the first verse grabs the listener’s attention with a story about a son confessing his drug addiction to his father.
9:51 The Lefevre Quartet, “If I Ask.”
9:48 A group called the Mattingly Family is doing a one-off song called “This Same Jesus.” The lead singer looks like an abandoned Ball Brother (another way of saying he’s kinda cute).
9:44 “Just Beyond the Sunset”
9:39 Oh good, I was hoping they were going to sing something from the red-back like they did this afternoon. They’re gathered around the piano doing “My Savior Heard My Earnest Prayer.” In the absence of Steve French, pianist Andy Stringfield is filling in on baritone.
9:37 “I Can Pray”
9:29 Kingdom Heirs up now. I really enjoyed their half of a showcase with Triumphant this afternoon and am looking forward to tonight’s set. They’re opening with “Redeeming the Time.” Next, “No Bones About It.”
9:22 Welp, I just got goosies on my goosies. The Collingsworths wrapped that sucker up like a Christmas present, and I have nothing to say but “Wow.” Hallelujah indeed. Now they’re singing “The Healer is Here.” This is an oldie but a goodie!
9:17 A very pregnant-looking Brooklyn is leading “The Love of God” (the hymn now, not the Vep Ellis). I’ve never heard the family sing this one before. Brooklyn sounds a little hoarse, but it gives her voice a nice country quality—a bit like Sheri Easter. Kim is accompanying her on piano. Phil Jr. is getting a verse now. His voice has also matured a good bit. As usual, the Wes Hampton influence comes through very pleasingly.
9:14 The Collingsworth is up. They opened with a trumpet solo by Phil. Now Olivia is being featured on a song with her sisters called “It Matters to the Master” (I believe). My, she’s grown up into quite a pretty young thing.
9:04 Lead singer Andrew Goldman singing “I Wish I Could Have Been There.” I notice he’s put on a little weight since getting married. 😉 He’s still doing yeomanly work, considering that it’s Saturday night. He’s kind of like a young Arthur Rice.
8:59 Brian just set up “I Rest My Case At the Cross” and thanked fans for praying for Libbi, Tracy and the ministry. Tracy just made a joke: “Libbi’s like a little bag of sugar—sweet and low!” It’s good to have him back.
8:55 “Blue Skies”
8:50 Back now! A young family called the Lores just did a solid one-off song called “I Live to Testify.” Now it’s the Perrys, and Libbi is pulling out “God Walks the Dark Hills!”
8:12 “I’ve Passed Over Into Canaanland.” This concludes the strongest set of the night so far.
8:08 They just introduced the young pianist Josh Townsend on a solo rendition of “I Saw the Light.” We were informed that he just had a birthday and is now a big seventeen! He can already tickle the ivories in a big way. Look for good things from this lad.
8:03 Bass singer Daniel Ashmore just got a feature. I’d forgotten what a bright young talent he is. Now Tim is singing “God’s Great.”
7:55 Phil just introduced the Old Paths Quartet. Hooray, this is the first time I’ve seen them this week. Phil said their pianist is a mere 16 years old! They’re opening with “I Bowed On My Knees and Cried Holy.” Perhaps an ambitious choice, but I’m glad Tim Rackley isn’t over-singing it. I’d much rather hear someone sing it his own way than try to be Michael English and fail catastrophically, especially since even Michael English doesn’t do Michael English so well, at least not anymore. However, Tim can get up there in his own right! He just nailed the center of all the high notes.
7:49 “Something’s Happening”
7:45 We had a very brief but cute moment with Mike Hopper’s two little girls on violin and ukulele, doing a little duet of “Amazing Grace.” Now the family is singing Vep Ellis’s “Love of God.”
7:42 Dean just introduced her as his daughter Karlye. He says she’s a good writer whose articles have appeared on the Homecoming site. I’m sorry to hear she’s majoring in English, but it sounds like her writing may be better than her fashion sense—that leather over-jacket with a belt… thing around the neck. Just ugh.
7:38 The Hoppers. Who’s the younger lady in black with too much eye-shadow?
7:33 “For All He’s Done,” the title track from their latest album. This is quite a good new song.
7:22 Chris Allman is now singing “Like I Wish I’d Lived.” Next, “Since I Have Been Redeemed.”
7:19 Kim just shared a cool story about eating out with Greater Vision at Steak ‘n’ Shake across the way. A waitress spilled Gerald’s drink and was beside herself trying to clean up all the spilled ice. As she frantically worked with a broom, she asked “Are y’all from that convention over there?” Kim said “Yes we are,” and the waitress said “Oh, I’m safe.” Here the audience laughed, but Kim said to the crowd, “Now listen, listen to me. I didn’t leave it at that. I asked ‘Why do you say that?'” The girl replied, “Because y’all are Christians.” That got an applause. Kim concluded with the reminder that we have a message to share that we need to carry beyond the buildings where we gather.
7:17 Kim Collingsworth keeping the spirit moving with a little audience hymn sing. Interestingly, the keys she’s choosing are providing a nice rare glimpse of her upper range. She’s usually singing so low, this is a side of her voice we don’t hear as much.
7:11 I was wrong, they have one more song—“Worthy the Lamb.” This should be pretty good. On the other hand, it makes me sad to think about the fact that the Gaither Vocal Band couldn’t make it to NQC this year at all! But the lead singer is giving Guy Penrod’s part the old college try.
7:07 They are closing with an acappella “I Love You Lord.” Very tasteful choice. The lead singer is sharing a passionate word about the reality of the gospel. I love his transparent heart for the Lord. “Three Samoan guys and two brothers from another mother singing on a stage. All we want to be is a blessing. That’s all.” Judging by the crowd response to his message, I guess they deem his pony-tail to be irrelevant!
7:03 Keepers of the Faith is still up, now singing “It is Well.” Very sweet to hear their Hawaiian accents creep into this one. They drew a standing ovation from at least part of the crowd.
6:56 Now Keepers of the Faith are up. You may remember them as the quartet from Hawaii who made their NQC debut last year, if I recall correctly. They’ve got flower wreaths around their necks—it may clash a bit with the suits, but you can’t say they don’t stand out! They’re singing “Over In the Promised Land.” Now “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder.” I’ve always this particular old hymn. This quartet has a nice full sound.
6:55 Closing with “New Day Dawning.” I love to watch their drummer on this one.
6:52 Back after a break. The Whisnants are still on, singing “His Mercy Is Flowing.”
6:37 Kim Collingsworth is emceeing tonight. She just introduced the Whisnants, “I’ll Pray For You.”
6:33 “Get Up, Get Ready” Robert Fulton sounds just about spent on tenor. Granted, it’s tough to nail Jay Parrack’s sugar sticks, but this guy isn’t gonna have a voice left if he keeps treating it like this!
6:30 I’m getting my first really good listen to the new Gold City lineup live, as I only caught a bit of them earlier this week. They just sang “Power of the Cross,” a smart Getty cover. Now new lead singer Chip Pullen is singing “There Rose a Lamb” (good set planning). His voice is a bit thin, but it’s a great song no matter who’s singing it.