On Friday afternoon, there was a matinee in the “little cave” around noon with Karen Peck and New River. The little cave is next to the zip-line building and a few other shops. It is most known for its flying friends (aka – bats) and being a bit chilly, even during the day.
“Well, Karen, you look nice,” said Duane, “are you ready to sing?” Then he teased Karen by telling the crowd that Gospel singers are usually just getting out of bed at that time! “They won’t brag on themselves, but I’ll brag on them,” Duane went on, “Nashville, TN last week they picked up a Dove Award…ya know. She’s a big movie star now. You know ‘em and love ‘em, They’re down to earth folks and that’s the way we like it around here, Karen Peck and New River!” When KPNR took the stage they kicked off with Ephesians 1. Karen greeted the crowd afterwards while a slower bluesy track began and Susan sang I’ve Been Broken, But I’ve Been Blessed. When they went right into On the Banks of the Promised Land the crowd applauded during the first line – they really liked that song! “Sing this…” Karen began a chorus of On Jordan’s Stormy Banks. Karen paused and said, “Who would have thought 100 years ago that there would be singing in this cave? I’m still fascinated by that story. Jesse James, I wonder if he got saved? If he would have heard the singing and preaching in this cave I know he would have. One hundred years later, here we are singing…who would have thought?” Matt kept up with a soft strum on his acoustic guitar and Karen led us in another chorus of On Jordan’s Stormy Banks. “When you’re young you sing about heaven your whole life but then you get a little older and things start happening,” said Karen. She went on to talk about when her dad died – she was 32 years old. “Heaven became real to me then,” she said. Karen went on to talk about the passing of Bob Johnson, the Primitive Quartet’s tenor and how the Primitive’s were her favorite group growing up. “Norman fought the fight, kept the fight. Sonya Isaacs, six months pregnant, buried her baby girl yesterday. I’m not telling you this so we can cry all morning and lived a bogged down life. There’s a better day coming and we can sit in our houses and cry our eyes out, but I’m not going to do that, I’m gonna work for the Lord!” Then she quoted Eccl 7:10 and reminded us that it’s not wise to say we’ve seen our better days… Then she began singing I Wanna’ Know How It Feels with just Matt playing his acoustic guitar. (I’m gonna tell you, I’ve always heard them sing this one with a track, but just their voices and the guitar that morning filled that cave with such a spirit you didn’t need anything else.) While Matt changed guitars Karen snapped her fingers and encouraged the crowd to sing I’ll Fly Away. Though they clapped along with that for a chorus, they really began clapping when Jeff began singing the song when the track started! “How many remember those old tent revivals?” asked Karen. “This is the song that won the Dove Award last week for Song of the Year.” Then they sang Revival and Robe and Crown followed; before long, the crowd stood to their feet, some clapping and some dancing. It was so good KPNR encored the chorus. By way of introducing the next song, Karen asked the crowd, “Are you glad to see my sister Susan Peck Jackson?” Susan then sang her ballad, Sustaining Grace. When that song finished up Jeff helped Matt switch from his lead guitar to acoustic and Karen began one of her signature songs, Hold Me While I Cry. “These songs that we’re doing today are some of our most requested songs,” said Karen.
Susan took a moment and told a little story on Karen at Jeff’s insistence… “I’ll tell you what. This girl right here does not follow directions at all! A couple of weeks ago we had to get our passports renewed, so we went to downtown Atlanta, and that’s a whole different story in itself! We went into the building and up to the desk and they gave us these forms to fill out. Needless to say, this one right here has so much trouble reading forms and filling them out… ‘cause she wants to do her own thing.” Karen stopped her and asked the crowd, “How many are like this: you don’t want to read the directions, just show me how to do it?” Unfortunately, the response wasn’t as great as Karen anticipated, “There’s about ten of ya…” Susan continued her story, “Well, she was filling out her name and had it in the wrong spot. She had lines through everything and her address was in the wrong spot. Then it came down to what color are your eyes, and then, the big question … what color is your hair? She looked over at Ricky, her husband and also her hairdresser and asks, ‘Ricky, what color is my hair?’” As the crowd chuckled Karen defended her honor and said, “You can’t lie on those things!…It’s been so long, I can’t remember what color my real hair is!” Susan replied, “It’s blonde and it goes all the way to the roots!” LOL
“Take a load off your mind…” sang Karen as the crowd clapped to The Mighty High. Karen, Susan and Jeff stepped off the platform and huddled together in front of the stage for their next song, Everybody’s Going Through Something. A few moments later, Matt joined them playing his guitar. At the end, Karen had the crowd sing the chorus one more time with them. “I’m so glad to know, that no matter what I go through, I can go through it with Him,” said Susan. Jeff went on to say that his pastor always said: you are going into a storm, you’re in one, or you’re walking out of one. Last year, Jeff’s pastor suffered a massive heart attack and didn’t make it. KPNR recorded their CD, Revival, the night of his pastor’s funeral… Jeff told us how they were broken. But when they started a song called Finish Well, it all made sense. His pastor finished well. This set up Jeff’s song, You Did It Anyway. Four Days Late followed and when Karen came off stage singing the second verse people began to stand. “God answers prayers,” whispered Karen, still off stage and invited the crowd to sing God Is So Good. “It is so good to know that He will carry us when we can’t walk and He hears our hearts when we can’t pray,” Karen explained. “Today, we are saying the answer is Jesus. It’s as simple as that, Jesus.” As Karen asked us to bow our heads, Jeff backed her up on the keyboard. Preparing to pray, she quoted 2 Timothy 1:7, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Then she prayed for the Lester’s, the work they take on with the festival and the people who came.
With the “amen” Karen said, “I’m telling y’all there’s a sweet, sweet spirit here today…” Then we all sang There’s Just Something About That Name and Karen asked, “Real quick, does someone have a one line testimony? Anyone?” A few praises and prayer requests followed. Karen said, “Y’all, this is my favorite time. Duane? We’re out of time…” Duane hollered, “Go long as you want!” Karen laughed, knowing that could possibly be all afternoon. LOL After the CD pitch Karen shared, “When we get to the end of our lives may we all look back and say we Finished Well,” then they closed with that powerful ballad, Finish Well. Standing ovation.
Conclusion: Words really are not needed to sum up an afternoon like that. It was filled with worship, praise, testimonies and prayer. There was a sweet spirit there in the “little cave.” I firmly believe that was because when KPNR took the stage, they made it all about Him and what He can do – that set the tone and defined the afternoon. I walked out blessed…