2015 NQC – Saturday Night Recap

11th Hour (300x300)The 2015 National Quartet Convention has come to a close.  The NQC closed on a high note.  I stayed awake the entire night and heard some strong performances.  Lets close out NQC 2015 with some final hits and misses.  I also want to thank all my readers who came to read my recaps for the week.  You’re the only reason I keep this blog running.

  • I was thoroughly impressed with 11th Hour’s set tonight.  They had perfect song selection with four of their hits along with a performance of “He Will Row You Over The Tide” with just piano.  Loved it!
  • Libbi absolutely owned the Joel Hemphill classic, “I Claim The Blood”.  This was a signature song for LaBreeska Hemphill 30 years ago.  Glad the Perrys performed this song tonight.
  • The night started strong with the Nelons.  I never tire of hearing Kelly and the group perform “O For A Thousand Tongues”; one of Southern Gospel’s all time greatest songs.
  • “I Am Blessed” was a great set opener for Karen Peck & New River.  I just wish the rest of their set, with the exception of “We Shall Wear A Robe And Crown”, had that same intensity.
  • I am really enjoying Triumphant Quartet’s latest single, “Living In Harmony”.  It has found a permanent home in my current set of musical playlists.
  • I have been impressed with the Jim Brady Trio this week.  They closed out their week’s worth of performances with a power house performance of “No Wonder They Call Him Savior”.
  • I wish every night of NQC was set up like Saturday night.  The program moved from one artist to the next, nothing but music.  The only down time was for artists to get ready.  No one on the stage talking about their latest book for sale and no silly video on the screens.
  • I enjoyed the ‘this is my story, this is my song’ intros they used several times this week.

  • Whoever was responsible for setting the performance schedule tonight messed up when they placed Southern Raised last on the program (before the finale).  With the absence of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and the Isaacs this year, Southern Raised filled that bluegrass void.  They turned in a strong performance but their placement on the evening was all wrong.  They needed an earlier stage time.  Karen Peck & New River closing their set with “We Shall Wear A Robe And Crown” would have flowed nicely in to the #1 hits finale.
  • I don’t understand the time given to Ernie Haase & Signature Sound for their two sets this week.  Each set gave the group the chance to perform three songs with hardly any talking to take up time.  What??
  • As is the case every year, the end of the week gives us recycled songs already heard earlier in the week.

**Now to crown the best of the night:

Best single song performances (in order of appearance):  (1) “O For A Thousand Tongues” – Nelons  (2) “No Wonder They Call Him The Savior” – Jim Brady Trio  (3) “In My Robe Of White” – Gold City  (4) “I’ll Know I’m Home” – Kingdom Heirs  (5) “Jesus Is In The House” – 11th Hour  (6) “He Will Row You Over The Tide” – 11th Hour (**Favorite song performance of the evening)  (7) “I Claim The Blood” – Perrys  (8) “We Are The Church” – LeFevre Quartet  (9) “Not Afraid To Trust Him” – Whisnants  (10) “Living In Harmony” – Triumphant Quartet  (11) “I Am Blessed” – Karen Peck and New River

Best Set of the Night:  As pleased as I was with the entire evening, I will have to give best set to 11th Hour.


2015 NQC – Friday Night Recap

Dixie Echoes (300x218)Just one night remains for the 2015 edition of the National Quartet Convention.  It was literally a snooze fest for most of the evening as I nodded off several times only to be awakened by a high note.  There were some hits.  Lets get to it.

  • One moment toward the end that woke me up was the Dixie Echoes.  How refreshing to hear just the voices accompanied by piano and bass guitar.  The group showcased a new tenor on the quartet classic, “Hide Thou Me”.  And, Randy can still get it done vocally with a song like “How Great Thou Art”.
  • The Hoppers set was a hit parade of their three biggest songs of the last twenty years; “I’ve Come Too Far”, “Jerusalem” and “Shouting Time”.  Watching Connie during that set, you could see she was happy to be back on the stage.
  • I enjoy the new vocal blend of the Kingdom Heirs with Brian Alvey on lead and Arthur Rice on baritone.
  • Claude Hopper was a trooper helping emcee the entire program tonight.  Michael kept him on track and even made for some funny moments.

  • Friday night of the NQC is still missing that spark it had when the Gaither Vocal Band was on the program.  I also miss seeing the Isaacs this year.
  • The webcast had sound issues early on in the program that eventually cleared.
  • Overall it wasn’t an eventful evening.  I don’t see many memorable moments made tonight that will have people talking and sharing.  The entire 2015 edition of the NQC has had very few moments that fans will remember and share.

**Now to crown the best of the night:

Best single song performances (in order of appearance):  (1) “When He Carries Me Away” – Collingsworth Family  (2) “What A Meeting” – Childress Family (**Favorite song performance of the evening)  (3) “There Is Jesus” – McKameys  (4) “I’m Depending On Jesus” – Dixie Melody Boys  (5) “I’ve Come Too Far” – Hoppers  (6) “Crumbs From The Table” – Dixie Echoes  (7) “He Locked The Gates” – Kingdom Heirs  (8) “Lay Up Treasures” – Jubilee Segment

Best Set of the Night:  The set I enjoyed the most this evening was the Dixie Echoes.

2015 NQC – Thursday Night Recap

Canton Junction (300x300)The night started in the same vein as last night and I thought I was in for another long night.  But, the skies opened and the music performances got progressively better.  Here are Thursday’s hit and misses.

  • After seeing them in concert last week in North Carolina, I was excited to see what Canton Junction was going to stage tonight.  They did not disappoint with four great song choices.  Did I tell you how much I love the song; “Tumbling Down”!
  • How great was it to see former Perrys members join them on stage for “I Wish I Could Have Been There”.  Lets see; there was Loren Harris, Joseph Habedank, Mike Bowling, Nick Trammell and Debra Perry.  I think I got everyone.
  • The Mylon Hayes Family continue to impress.  They continue to rise in the ranks of groups that I want to keep in my musical playlists.  Their set tonight was technically perfect.
  • I have already told you how much I love Jeff & Sheri Easter’s, “Jesus Loves You”.  I can’t get enough this song.  Thank you Sheri for penning what will go down as one of the best songs of 2015!
  • The Taylors continue to bring that classic mixed quartet Southern Gospel sound to the stage.  Their style is reminiscent of the great mixed groups of the 1970’s/1980’s.
  • After the splash they made at last year’s NQC, it was bittersweet to know tonight was the Old Paths last set at NQC, since they are coming off the road in December.
  • I am surprised the NQC didn’t have full afternoon showcases of some of these finale events.  I know they did the Cathedral reunion showcase, but a heritage of gold and even a full Booth Brothers/EHSS showcase would have been nice.  I have enjoyed these finale segments each evening.

  • Thank you NQC for nearly ruining a great musical flow.  Things were really getting good with the sets of the Perrys, Mylon Hayes Family, Canton Junction and Jeff & Sheri Easter back to back, when you decide to bring on another individual to peddle his new book.  It took the wind right out of my musical enjoyment.  Why give this guy nearly ten minutes to hawk a book when he has an entire hour tomorrow to convince everyone to buy it.
  • As I mentioned at the start, I thought tonight was going to be a repeat of last night.  Four of the first five artists on the stage were train wrecks.  I’ll let you figure out which one of the five wasn’t.


**Now to crown the best of the night:

Best single song performances (in order of appearance):  (1) “Mercy Walked In” – Gordon Mote  (2) “Long Live The King” – Old Paths  (3) “As We Speak” – Greater Vision  (4) “There’s Still A Refuge” – Mylon Hayes Family  (5) “Tumbling Down” – Canton Junction  (6) “Jesus Loves You” – Jeff & Sheri Easter (**Favorite song performance of the evening)  (7) “He’s My Guide” – Taylors

Best Set of the Night:  I’ll have to give the honor this evening to Canton Junction.

2015 NQC – Wednesday Night Recap

JasonCrabb-2014-Prov1 (225x300)Wednesday night could have ended sooner.  Of the 23 years I have either attended or watched the NQC via webcast, this may have been the most uninspiring, least memorable of any I have witnessed.  There were a few bright spots.

  • Thank you Jason Crabb for rescuing this night musically.  Your entire set flowed seamlessly from one song to the next.  The two new songs were phenomenal.
  • One of my greatest Southern Gospel heroes, Ed O’Neal, proved why he should still be singing quartet music.  An enjoyable set from beginning to end.
  • Tim Riley singing “Under Control” is always worth a mention.  This song will be forever identified with that voice.  I didn’t understand non-Gold City members being a part of the final segment but I’ve never attended a Heritage of Gold concert either.  I am guessing that is what happens at one of these events.
  • While not the best song selection chosen for their set, I have to congratulate the Erwins on their Singing News fan award win for best new mixed group.  I have been singing the praises of this group for almost two years now.  I wish they would have staged “Greater”.

  • I promise this will be the last night I call out Scott Fowler, even though they have one more set this week.  It is interesting the one founding father passage Scott chose to read from the ‘patriotic’ bible is from Patrick Henry.  If you can’t remember your U.S. History class, Patrick Henry is most famous for the “Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Death” speech.  What you may not know about Patrick Henry is that he was leader of the anti-federalists in Virginia and he was one of the staunchest opponents of the U.S. Constitution.  He declined to attend the Constitutional Convention in 1787.  Among one of the most significant events in the history of our country, George Washington presided over the convention which resulted in the creation of the U.S. Constitution.  Henry was an outspoken critic of George Washington, James Madison (the Constitution’s author) and Thomas Jefferson.  Good try Scott, but again I suggest you read the writings of the Constitution’s actual architects.  These were the gentlemen who helped set up the powers of our government, its three branches and the rule of law in this nation.  No where in our Constitution is the word God, Jesus or Christianity.  I have a challenge for you.  I am willing to pay for you to take a U.S. History class, most notably constitutional history.  Shoot me an email and I will make it happen.
  • The entire evening seemed rushed to a certain degree.  Some groups seemed like they had very little time while others had too much.  Ernie Haase & Signature Sound barely got three songs in with very little talking before they were carted off the stage.
  • The Gerald Wolfe/Jason Crabb banter about having each other’s new CD got old.
  • Here is hoping the remainder of the week steps it up from what was offered tonight.


**Now to crown the best of the night:

Best single song performances (in order of appearance):  (1) “Happy People” – Ernie Haase and Signature Sound  (2) “When I Get Home” – Primtive Quartet  (3) “Listening For The Shout” – Browders  (4) “He Left No Stone Unturned” – LeFevre Quartet  (5) “The Lord Will Make A Way” – Dixie Melody Boys  (6) “Home” – Jason Crabb (**Favorite song performance of the evening)  (7) “Under Control” – Tim Riley

Best Set of the Night:  Jason Crabb.

2015 NQC – Tuesday Night Recap

CFRTuesday night of the 2015 National Quartet Convention is now in the record books.  The night overall was mediocre.  But, a few performances broke through the mediocrity to make the hit list.

  • How good is it to see Pat Barker on the stage again?  I didn’t realize he was doing the Cathedral reunion concerts.  The closing performance of “We Shall See Jesus” was stellar!
  • The Perrys performed a new song tonight that has future hit written all over it; “Keep On”.  Their set seemed fairly short overall, with only three songs.
  • One of the best family groups touring right now has got to be the Nelons.  Their harmony is phenomenal and I have already said it many times, but Amber Thompson is the best there is!
  • Thank you Mark Bishop for one of the most quirky, awkwardly awesome sets of music I have ever seen performed on the NQC stage.  Performing with his daughters and other band members, known as Forget The Sea, the style presented was reminiscent of folk/rock group, Of Monsters And Men.  I look forward to listening to the album when it releases in January.
  • I never tire of hearing Brian Lester perform, “He Didn’t Throw The Clay Away”.  The Lesters heritage is the longest in Southern Gospel music.
  • Another Southern Gospel legend, Ray Dean Reese of the Kingsmen is still hitting those low notes for the group.  Working on 50 years performing with the same group.  Awesome.
  • After a fast paced, muddled start to their set, the Inspirations closed with a nice acappella version of Squire Parsons classic, “Beulah Land”.
  • Overall, the program once again moved along with very little down time in between artists.

  • “The Love Of God” has already been performed by three different groups this week and it is only night three.
  • One of the many things the audience receives when watching/listening via webcast is every poorly sung note.  The amount of singers who were off pitch, flat and just had a train wreck of a long drawn out song ending were too many to count.  But, live performances are not supposed to be vocally perfect.


**Now to crown the best of the night:

Best single song performances (in order of appearance):  (1) “Keep On” – Perrys  (2) “Loving The Lamb” – Mark Trammell Quartet  (3) “Then Came The Morning” – Nelons  (4) “He Didn’t Throw The Clay Away” – Lesters  (5) “Baptize Me” – Mark Bishop & Forget The Sea  (6) “As We Speak” – Greater Vision  (7) “I’ve Never Seen The Righteous Forsaken” – Kingsmen  (8) “It Matters To The Master” – Collingsworth Family  (9) “We Shall See Jesus” – Cathedral Reunion (**Favorite song performance of the evening)

Best Set of the Night:  Like last night, another strong closing.  Best set goes to the Cathedral Reunion segment.

2015 NQC – Monday Night Recap

Triumphant (300x300)Night two of the 2015 National Quartet Convention has wrapped.  A nice broad spectrum of artists graced the stage tonight.  Here were the hits and misses.

  • Triumphant Quartet continues to prove why they are fan favorites.  Their set was cohesive from beginning to end and vocally one of the best sounding groups of the night.
  • It is good to see Mylon Hayes training up his children on how to sing properly.  The same lessons he got from his mom and dad, Lucy and Howard Hayes.  It is nice to see the Hayes Family legacy continue in Southern Gospel music.
  • Speaking of being taught to sing properly, how about the Renaissance Quartet.  These young adults schooled many of the established groups on the stage tonight in terms of harmony, diction and singing on key.  Great job!
  • Jeff & Sheri Easter also turned in one of the best sets of the evening.  Singing material from their newest recording Small Town.  “Jesus Loves You” is easily one of the best recorded songs of 2015.
  • But one song that may have that beat is Karen Peck & New River’s “Pray Now”.  It will be hard pressed to find another song that has defined 2015 for Southern Gospel music.  The group showed off newest male vocalist, Ricky Braddy.  While he went a little too far vocally with “Were You There”, he still showed what kind of vocalist he is and will be for the group.
  • It was nice to hear a couple of classic tunes from Gold City including one that I haven’t heard in over 20 years.  They opened with “Gettin’ Ready To Leave”, which was originally recorded by the group on their 1983 recording, I Think I’ll Read It Again.  Will we find this on a future Gold City recording?
  • Classic quartet music was provided by Freedom Quartet who opened with “One Way Flight”.  I have always enjoyed this song.
  • The program was only running ten minutes behind tonight.  Not too bad.

  • I am really not in the business of giving history lessons but Scott Fowler, I am going to have to call you out.  While the founding fathers may have used Judeo-Christian principles, they never intended to establish a national religion that all citizens/government had to follow.  The United States has never been nor is currently a Theocracy.  Please go and read the writings of John Adams, James Madison (author of the Constitution), Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson on what their actual thoughts/views were on religion and the separation of church and state.  Thomas Jefferson was a deist who did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah or the incarnate Son of God.  All of these men were instrumental in providing counsel on both the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.  I guess the truth can be inconvenient when you’re trying to generate revenue.
  • Why does the Convention board feel the need to trounce out Fox News correspondents just about every year.  Again, for revenue’s sake, a man peddling a book about something that is not even happening in America.  These same individuals were touting this falsehood thirty years ago.  Give me just one instance of legitimate Christian persecution in America and I will reconsider my thoughts.
  • Not to raise an issue of sexism, but why does every night of the NQC have father and sons as emcees?  I have zero problems with that but couldn’t they have switched it up and also had mothers and daughters emcee several nights.


**Now to crown the best of the night:

Best single song performances (in order of appearance):  (1) “The Sweetest Words He Ever Said” – Mylon Hayes Family  (2) “Jesus Loves You” – Jeff & Sheri Easter  (3) “Go Out Singing” – Whisnants  (4) “Love Them To Jesus” – Old Paths  (5) “Pray Now” – Karen Peck & New River (*Best Individual Performance of the Night)  (6) “Gettin’ Ready To Leave” – Gold City  (7) “Jesus Will” – Wilburn & Wilburn  (8) “I’m Standing On The Solid Rock” – Renaissance Quartet  (9) “Because He Loved Me” – Triumphant Quartet

Best Set of the Night:  A very nice close to the evening.  Best set goes to Triumphant Quartet.

2015 NQC – Sunday Night Recap

Hoppers (300x300)The 2015 National Quartet Convention is under way for its second year in Pigeon Forge Tennessee.  This year I decided I would recap the free opening night concert.  On the program was Greater Vision, Hoppers, Jim Brady Trio, Mark Trammell Quartet and Tim Lovelace.  Each artist got two sets on the program.  Here was the hits and misses of the evening.

  • The Hoppers continue to re-invent themselves.  They have their own traveling variety show these days and I mean that in a good way.  The number of individuals and the different vocal configurations they can now utilize is amazing.  With the added bonus of the new Hopper Brothers 2.0 quartet, this group has enough for another twenty years.
  • I enjoyed what the Jim Brady Trio offered the audience tonight.  Melissa absolutely knocked it out of the park with “The Greatest Of All Miracles”.  As I said in my review of their A New Chapter recording, this is the best version I’ve heard of this Squire Parsons classic.
  • The Kim Hopper/Melissa Brady performance of “There Is A Fountain” is worth a mention.  The set up of the song with the story of the songwriter was effective.
  • It was great to see both Connie and Claude Hopper on the stage tonight.  Their special performance of “Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me” was fitting.

  • Interesting how the sound problems from early in the evening cleared up as soon the free streaming portion was over.  I see what you did there NQC.  Sly move, sly move!
  • Mark Trammell Quartet was showcasing their new tenor tonight.  As is the case when any new member joins a group, it just takes a bit of time for all the voices/harmonies to gel.


**Now to crown the best of the night:

Best single song performances (in order of appearance):  (1) “Steppin’ Out In Faith” – Jim Brady Trio  (2) “Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me” – Hoppers  (3) “That Sounds Like Home To Me” – Jim Brady Trio  (4) “The Greatest Of All Miracles” – Jim Brady Trio (**Favorite song performance of the evening)  (5) “It’s Almost Over” – Mark Trammell Quartet  (6) “Something’s Happening” – Hoppers  (7) “It Pays To Pray” – Greater Vision

Best Set of the Night:  The Hoppers second set fired on all cylinders.