I was able to attend night one (06/23/11) of the 2011 Singing in the Foothills, held in Wilkesboro NC. With outdoor Southern Gospel concert events going by the wayside, I would venture to say this event is probably now one of the largest Southern Gospel outdoor events in the country.
This year’s talent line-up will no doubt bring in large crowds and night one was no exception. I didn’t arrive to the event until about 7:30pm and the first group on the program, the Pfeifers, were wrapping up. So of the groups I saw, here are highlights in order of appearance.
Dove Brothers - The Dove Brothers took the stage with authority. They almost seem to demand it now with the full band backing them up. They keep getting better every time I see them with the band. They opened with the Oak Ridge Boys gospel classic, “Jesus Is The Man For The Hour” and went right into their current single “I Recall”. I was already enjoying their set but it only got better with Jonathan Price stepping up to perform “My Soul Has Been Set Free”. Jerry Martin was a huge loss for the Dove Brothers but Jonathan really showed last night he has what it takes to be one of Southern Gospel’s top tenor singers. Southern Gospel veteran Tony Peace was playing bass in the Dove Brothers Band last night. I don’t know if it is a permanent position or temporary fill in. The Dove Brothers set the tone for the rest of the night. Great set!!
McKameys - The North Carolina foothills had no shortage of McKamey fans last night. The group opened their set with several songs from the new recording, Joy In The Journey. Most notable selections were the title song “Joy In The Journey” and the crowd came unglued when the group performed “I Made It By Grace”. The song deserved an encore and the crowd was on their feet. Peg mentioned the group had just come off vacation and were ‘chomping at the bit’ on stage. The group definitely came ready to sing. Other highlights included “The Shepherd’s Point Of View”, “I’ve Won” and “I Keep Praying”.
Triumphant Quartet - This was the first time for Triumphant Quartet to perform at the Singing in the Foothills. They came on stage with one of my all time favorite McGruder songs, “Saved By Grace”. This should be another big song for them at radio. The crowd was pleased with the instrumental solos from David and Jeff and then Jeff’s piano solo. I was hoping the group would perform “Love Came Calling”, but the song was missing from their set list. They did wow the crowd with “Old White Flag” and “He Is”. Consistently solid live performances will continue to garner this group quartet of the year. It is going to happen again for 2011.
Hoppers - Another consistent live performer is the Hoppers. They never disappoint and always give the crowd the songs they want to hear. It was nice to hear “Stepping On The Clouds” again. I haven’t heard them stage that for a couple of years. They rolled out the big guns with “I’ve Come Too Far”, “Jerusalem”, “Yes I Am” and “Shouting Time” but the crowd really responded to the powerful “Something’s Happening”. Learned last night this will be the Hoppers new single. If concert response is any indication, this song should do well at radio.
**It is good to get back to the things I enjoy and one of those is live Southern Gospel concerts. Last night was a good concert to come back to. Some of my favorite concert artists all on one program was too good to pass up.