The Brumley Sing celebrated their 43rd Anniversary this year, and Saturday evening’s “quartet night” is a great way to end such an event.
The line-up for Saturday was: Tribute Quartet, The Dixie Echoes, Dove Brothers, Dennis Swanberg, The Mark Trammell Quartet, Blackwood Quartet and Legacy Five. I missed Dennis Swanberg and the Blackwoods ‘cause I was out stretching my legs! This is one of those events with no intermission, so you just have to make your own! LOL!
The night kicked off in Brumley tradition with all of the groups on stage singing congregationally together, the last of which was I’m Camping In Canaan Land. Duane Garren, mc for the event, made sure that everyone gave Virginia Squires a round of applause for playing the piano all week.
Duane introduced the first group of the night, “Just a few short years ago this quartet came on the scene and the Singing News Magazine voted them Horizon Group of the year in 2008! Make welcome to the stage – Tribute Quartet!” Tribute came on stage all smiles and launched their set with He’s Leading The Way. One of the disadvantages for being the first artist on stage is, you are the one who gets to warm up the crowd. And at a Sing this size – that isn’t always an easy thing to do! Tribute did an outstanding job and kept the first couple of songs up-beat. Another new song from their brand new recording, The Waiting Is Over, was It Makes Me Wanna Go – a snappy quartet song that features Gary on the second verse. Josh had his solo on I Heard It, I Believe It, I’m Saved. Gary tried to get the crowd to clap with them on this one, and he succeeded partially with the first couple of rows. “Oh my goodness! It’s good to be back at the Brumley Sing! Real quick, let me introduce the guys to you,” Gary said. Anthony Davis, Bass singer, was up first, and Gary proudly announced that Anthony is celebrating his sixth month with Tribute. When he asked how many were glad to see “Red” (AKA – Josh Singletary) we heard the loudest screams and shouts of the night! Riley Clark, Tenor singer, was last and Gary teased him about being the “baby” of the group. The next song, Look For Me Around The Throne, featured Anthony. Josh and Anthony had fun towards the end of the song and set their feet on their heels and began rotating them in sync. “How many of you want to hear Red play something on the piano?” Gary asked. Josh played Everyday With Jesus. Applause filled the house when he finished, and Gary jokingly said, “I didn’t tell you that we are going to have an auction after the concert to see who gets to take him home.” That caused some laughter in the audience! Sweeter As The Days Go By followed, featuring Josh on vocals. Riley sang Homecoming Day, a beautiful ballad about the return of Christ. It touched the audience so much that everyone was on their feet before the end of the song, and then they encored it. The Spirit just filled the house on that one! “How many are ready for some joy in your life?” Gary asked. Bring On The Joy closed out their time on stage with another standing ovation and encore. The energy the guys had on stage definitely did a good job of warming up the crowd – way to go Tribute!
The Dixie Echoes stepped up to their two old RC microphones and began singing a fast quartet number, On The Other Side Of Jordan. (Disclaimer! I’m not 100% sure on some of these song titles, so if I get a few wrong, please bear with me)! Just A Little Talk With Jesus followed, and when they encored it, their Bass singer for the night, Eugene, was really enjoying himself! “I may look like I’m having a good time tonight and that’s because I am!” said Randy Shelnut. He went on to say that years ago, when they sang on the Jubilee videos, they had a 17 year old bass singer with them at that time, turning to their Bass singer, he said, “That’s him!” It’s been 34 years since Eugene Hathcoat has been onstage with the Dixie Echoes, until tonight. (This indeed was a special night! Eugene was just filling in until they found a new bass singer. They did find one, and he was there that night also, but Brumley was already booked to be sung with Eugene, and Randy really wanted him to sing with them that night!) Then, on the other side of the stage, Randy introduced their tenor, Gerry Stroup. Gerry (who use to sing with the Dixie’s in the 70’s) was also a former Dixie Echo member who returned to help Randy out. Randy shared that he and Gerry are life- long friends, they grew up with each other. When he left the Dixie Echoes years ago, Gerry went to sing opra, but recently, when they needed a tenor, he told Randy, “I’ll help you out.” “That’s a true friend,” commented Randy. Gerry sang the old ballad Walk With Me as a solo and received a standing ovation. Randy continued sharing of the time when both Eugene and Gerry stood on stage with two Shelnuts…and here they were, standing on stage with two Shelnuts again! – Only this time, with his son instead of his father. Randy introduced his son and made sure the audience knew that he married just a few weeks ago. (That received a hearty applause from the audience). Scoot sang Crumbs From The Table then Randy introduced Stewart Varnado and let him play a solo on the piano. The Devil and His Ole’ Suitcase was next (I do have to say the sound was off on this one too). Towards the end of the number, when they slow the tempo down, Randy held this really long note, when everyone clapped he said, “Finally! I thought ya’ll would never clap!….where was I? I didn’t mean to end the song there!” Whether he really forgot where he was or if he did that on purpose to be funny, I’m not sure, but it took him a minute to get back on track and finish off the song. On the next song, Randy picked up his guitar and made sure everyone knew, Stewart included, that it was a guitar song, and NOT a piano song! LOL Stewart gave the audience a dejected look and “awwwes” filled the room. Steward had fun with the song anyway. He danced in it, played with his “coloring book” and even sang the bass part a couple of times! What fun!!! (I think the song was I’m A Pilgrim and A Stranger). Randy brought out their new bass singer, Mike, and had him sing How Big Is God. It received a standing ovation. Randy joked with the crowd concerning Mike, saying, “I know I’ve done some things over the years that has been out there, but I think I did it this time – I hired a bass singer from MARYLAND!” I’ll Have A New Life ended the Dixie’s set with an encore and standing ovation. As they were exiting the stage, Duane said, “Hey Stew! – What’s up with the coloring book?” Varnado answered with a big smile, “They are $5!”
The Dove Brothers and the “Dove Brothers Band” were the third group of the night. Honestly, I couldn’t hear a word they sang through entire their set. Some of the singers mics sounded like they were turned down and the band was really loud. As you can imagine, it’s pretty difficult to guess song titles you are unfamiliar with when you can’t hear the words to the songs! LOL! (All of you Dove Brothers fans can help me out) So without further ado, I believe their first song was something like Jesus Is The Man For The Hour – an up-beat country sounding song that they all sung together. When He’s Holding To Your Hand followed, featuring Eric Dove, this was another faster song that kept the same beat. This was one of those songs where you couldn’t hear their tenor at all. (His mic had to be turned down) McCray Dove had a solo on a smooth country number There’s Been A Change In Me. Their tenor was featured on a fast song called My Soul Has Been Set Free. I noticed that most of the Dove’s song choices sounded alike. They all had the same beat and musical flavor. If they are going to trademark themselves with a new “sound” like that – I’d say it’s working! Another faster number was When King Jesus Comes To Live With Us Again, this featured their bass singer, David Hester (who is no longer with the group). This song had a really strong, I’m going to call it a “rock” beat – McCray got the audience to clap along with the song and they encored it once. McCray cut the band loose on the old hymn Power In The Blood. Personally, I didn’t recognize the tune until the end of the song when the guitar player picked it out very distinctly. Watching Adam Harmon jump up from the piano and skip across the stage to each band member when they played their part in the instrumental brought back memories from a Country show I saw in Branson, Missouri once. As the Dove’s time neared it’s end on stage, McCray said that they had time for two requests. Want to take a guess as to what those two were? If you said Didn’t It Rain and Get Away Jordan – you were right! McCray took the lead on Didn’t It Rain, and while he was doing his dancing thing on the bridge, he turned, tripped and would have fallen on the stage had their tenor not grabbed him. Yikes. This song rolled into Get Away Jordan, where Eric sang the first verse and McCray took the second. For being a request, the crowd wasn’t too into it, so it was hard to judge what they thought! Some people stood, some remained seated, and some decided to sit who were standing before! McCray put his all into that last one though – he even threw off his jacket at one point! They certainly did their best to entertain the crowd that night.
Upon realizing that the Mark Trammell Quartet was singing and I was still back in the booth area, I made my way back to the Auditorium as fast as possible. As I slipped back into the seating area, MTQ was singing the classic Wedding Music, and by the time I reached my seat, the guys were well into Testimony. Mark shared his passion for songs about the cross, which set up for the Calvary Medley comprised of a combination of three or four hymns. “We promised that we would do this song,” said Mark. If you’ve been keeping up with MTQ, you’ll know that there is only one song that Mark has to promise to sing every night! And that is, I Want To Know, featuring bass singer Pat Barker! The crowd ate this one up! Before they could even think about encoring it (which they did), the whole auditorium was on their feet and clapping strongly to the beat! (Personally, I didn’t know that the “Brumley” crowd could get that excited!) LOL! Did you ever notice how Pat Barker’s hair is always so perfect??? LOL! Once the crowd settled down, Mark stepped forward and said, “If there are any present who have served or are currently serving in our nations Armed Forces, please stand.” (It was amazing to see how many stood – about one third of the audience!) Mark continued, “I want to thank you, if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.” The song was none other than Statue of Liberty. The crowd didn’t wait for the end of the song to stand in ovation, immediately, people were rising out of their seats to their feet with either with their hands over their hearts or in the air. It was a magnificent sight! Very stirring to the soul.
Last but certainly not least, the beloved Legacy Five took the stage to close out the Sing! This great quartet began their set with I’d Like To Say It Again, a song where Glenn took to narrating the verses while the other guys softly backed him with “ooo’s” and “awww’s.” (Kind of like George did Beyond The Sunset). New Born Feeling followed and Scoot told of how he spent ten years with the Cathedrals. “We use a lot of soundtracks and things because that’s what we do now, but I’ve been inspired!” exclaimed Scott Fowler. “Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and do it like they did – no offense guys – like they did it in the good ole’ days!” The selected song was Life Will Be Sweeter Someday. Boy, did the guys have some fun with the audience on this one! They came to the place where they cut off their note and waited…but no applause. They pretended to act disappointed and told the crowd that they were supposed to clap and all, so they did it again! This time, the audience roared with shouts, whistles and applause – a few of the men were even waving their hats! Howie stepped up and said, “Pace yourselves! You have to save a little for the end, we’re not done yet!” At the end of the same song, Gus held a killer note! It was clear and strong the whole way through! Way to go Gus! Boundless Love came next, and introductions after that. When Scott introduced Trey (pianist) he said, “You can’t have a great quartet if don’t have a great piano player.” Scott informed the audience that Trey is a classically trained piano player. Before he cut Trey loose on a solo, Scott gave him some advice, “Rule number one: if you give the people what they want, they will love you. – no pressure.” Then turning to the crowd Scott says, “I present…Trey Ivey!” And Trey begins playing this really complicated classical piece! When Trey paused for a moment, Scott jumped up behind him and said, “Rule number two: don’t make your boss look like an idiot!” Without missing a beat Howie took one step forward, looked at Trey and interjected, “Yeah, that’s my job!” Everyone started laughing! Trey then began playing Leaning On The Everlasting Arms and received a standing ovation. Gus had his solo on another powerful song There’s Something About That Name with Holy Is Thy Name. (Another standing O!) Scott shared some thoughts from the Word on Jesus’ ascension that set up for the next song. He said, “You could not have been an ordinary man and be born the way Jesus was born. You couldn’t have been an ordinary man and lived a sinless life, or endured what He did for the three days He spent in the tomb and what happened after that. Just in case you weren’t in church on Easter Sunday,” Scott teased, “let me remind you of what it says…” And he went on to read from the Word a portion from the New Testament concerning Jesus’ ascension on the cloud. None other than We Shall See Jesus followed – and both Glenn and Scott brought the house down! The powerful performance just filled the room and brought everyone to their feet by the chorus! This was an excellent way to end the evening, and the sing, being left with the thoughts of when we shall see our precious Lord and Savior, Jesus!