Churches, theaters, auditoriums – any place where you can find Gospel Music on a regular basis that’s dependable to bring in artists who have set their course on ministry, these promoters are the lifeblood to the industry we love so much. Such is the case with the Meramec Music Theater in Steeleville, Missouri and the events promoter, Rosella Roberts. Every year, Rosella keeps a steady flow of SGM’s top groups coming to the Ozarks. On May 18th the Mark Trammell Quartet made an appearance at this very place…and it just so happened to be lead singer, Nick Trammell’s, birthday! Set that in the rural hills of Missouri and what do you get? – the second concert in the May Madness SGM Mini-Marathon! *wink*
Before the concert began I was out by MTQ’s product table and happened to overhear the emcee, Mr. Wayne, ask Dustin, Nick and Pat if he could tease Mark a little before he brought them out on stage. Well, I think you may already know how they answered that one! Not long after that I settled down in my front row seat and eagerly listened for the easy going banter that was sure to come after Wayne greeted the crowd and made announcements. Sure enough, I didn’t have to wait long. Wayne made special note that Mark Trammell has been a part of every large ranking quartet in Southern Gospel Music and then listed the Cathedral Quartet, the Kingsmen and Gold City, just to name a few. “But I don’t believe he’s been with the Chuck Wagon Gang,” Wayne mused, “Or the Lewis Family and Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver…” After the crowd chucked, he added, “But maybe they’re next.” LOL! Anyway, in celebration of Nick Trammell’s birthday Wayne had the audience sing “Happy Birthday” to him and then he committed the evening to the Lord in prayer.
“Now let’s welcome them to Steeleville, Missouri!” Wayne exclaimed, as the Mark Trammell Quartet walked out on stage and began singing Leave Your Sorrows (and come with me). The thoughtful ballad How Long Has It Been followed and paved the way for Ransomed and Redeemed. “You cannot imagine how thrilled we are to be in the parking lot of this particular facility,” Mark announced with a grin, and the story began… Their bus driver informed them the night before that they would wake up in the parking lot of Walmart in Cuba, Missouri. “At least that’s what he said,” Mark went on, “Well, we are accustomed to (and here Pat echoed simultaneously) ‘super-centers.’” The crowd laughed and Mark rushed on to assure them that the Walmart they were at was very…cute. “But the parking lot was SUPER,” Mark emphasized. Yet, from the little tale he continued to tell, I have concluded that the parking lot to the theater was even more super considering the little jaunt they took down the dirt road with the bus. (I would like to have seen that, wouldn’t you?!) Mark explained that their GPS had three routes of which to choose to get to the theater from the Walmart parking lot. They chose the “shortest” route, which took them on a countryside journey! LOL On that little dirt road where the GPS insisted their destination was located, roofless school buses hauled inner tubes back and forth in pursuit of those who wished to float on them down the river. Certainly, it’s not every day you are floating down the river and look up to a big ole entertainment bus crossing the bridge!!! To Mark, those on the tubes floating down the river had an expression on their faces that said, “They’re lost and stupid all at the same time.” LOL Well, that’s what he claimed at least, especially when they had to turn that big ole bus around on that dirt lane and head back over the bridge a second time! 🙂 Anyway, they were just happy to make it to the theater! After introducing the group, they went into two songs that had quite a bit of bass singing in them, Echoes From the Burning Bush and Wedding Music. That last one was a favorite – with its powerful ending, the crowd called out cheers and blew whistles. Nick (the designated birthday boy) sang his solo Testimony next. Afterwards, Mark shared how much he loves that song and really how he loves both old songs and new ones. Right then, he went on to say that he wanted to do a song that sounded old, but is really a relatively new one – it’s called God Knows How Much Mercy I Need. I wish I could describe the expression with which Mark sang the verses – it was obvious that he believed every word. Wonderful Time Up There came next and the crowd kept the beat with a consistent clap throughout the old barn burner – this number had an energy that had the singers and the crowd excited. The powerful strains of I Sing the Mighty Power filled the air and captured our attention with its distinct harmonies and then Mark announced, “Let’s do one more song and then we’ll take a break.” He went on to tell a story of when he was 13 years old. He had been a part of his first Gospel group for three weeks. That group was called by the local station in Little Rock, Arkansas to open for a group that was passing through on their way to Texas – the Rambo’s. So at the Teamsters Union Hall, Mark met them for the very first time. “But that’s not what I remember from that night,” Mark explained, “but what I do remember, was that Buck Rambo paid attention to a 13 year old boy.” Buck had introduced himself to Mark, asked him his name, and was very polite. Then he sang a song later in the evening that caught Mark’s attention. It wasn’t the message of the song, for Mark says he knew little about that then, but rather the way Buck sang it. He convinced Mark that he knew what he was singing about, knew who he was singing about and had been through what he was singing about…and made it through by God’s grace. Mark dedicated that song to any who has been in the ministry or has done something for the Lord and wondered whether or not anyone has cared. It was their current radio single, Too Much To Gain To Lose. After a story like that and then the emotion that Mark sang it with, everyone was standing by the last note!
Just before they took a break Mark and Pat talked about their product and special. After Mark announced the amazing deal their special afforded…and after no one responded…Pat shouted out a loud “Whoop!” Mark looked at Pat and reprimanded him, “You don’t do that to old people!” One of the gentlemen sitting behind me called out, “Gonna give you a heart attack!” A lady countered with, “He has some enthusiasm!” The whole CD pitch was funny because the audience kept interacting with the guys like that.
The second half of the concert began with Meet Me Over On the Other Side and then Mark shared with the crowd that they had many requests they were going to try and do…however, the next one was not. Mark wanted to feature their tenor on an old hymn of the church called Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus. Dustin really put a lot of thought and tenderness into the lyrics. The classic Boundless Love came next and the crowd really liked that one! It was a request (and the response from the audience suggested it may have been requested more than once! Though that’s pure speculation on my part, but they did love it!) The following ballad was a request also, Loving the Lamb. It was neat to see this song that was originally recorded as a trio, sung as a quartet. As Mark neared the close of the second verse a huge applause broke out – followed by a standing ovation! “Our bass singer likes his singing,” Mark announced, and after applause he added, “Apparently you do too.” Well, what I liked about the bass singer was his cuff links! Round, green and stamped with “Boston Celtics” – they were quite the sight! And thanks to lead singer, Nick Trammell, Pat even wore a tie that was the perfect color green to match! Ah… I digress. Mark introduced their #1 song in the most affectionate manner, “I haven’t been so sick of anything in my entire life, than this song.” Maybe that’s because it was the most played song of 2012 and because of that, is requested a lot. Or maybe it’s because it features their bass singer. Either way, they sang I Want To Know and in Mark’s words, “Tore the lights out.” They were so animated singing this one! They encored it twice and as Nick went for a third Mark instructed him to, “Turn that off!” Pat echoed those sentiments with, “THAT’S ENOUGH!” LOL Someone in the audience hollered, “One more time Pat!” Well, Nick didn’t need any more encouragement and hit the encore button again. Mark and Pat simultaneously swung around and gave Nick “the look.” Nick raised his shoulders as to ask, “What?” and with a look of disappointment, shut it off…again. Mark went on to introduce the song that would close out the evening, the King Is Coming. His all-time favorite!
Conclusion: It never ceases to amaze me how the Mark Trammell Quartet gets such a GREAT response everywhere they go. This crowd was no exception. This was the fifth time I had been to the Meramec Music Theater and I have never, ever seen that crowd so excited and goofy! They clapped, shouted out and commented the whole way through! MTQ was great. It was fun to see them on Nick’s birthday too! From the fudge I saw slipped into his hand and the special cake Rosella made, they had many ways to celebrate…even if they did get a little lost on their way there! LOL Anyway, as you can tell, it was a remarkable time with the Mark Trammell Quartet! Be watching for the last installment of the May Madness SGM Mini-Marathon with Brian Free and Assurance!