The harsh weather of Thursday night was behind us. Though cloudy and chilly, no tornados loomed on the horizon! Yes, that’s right – I just said tornado. Mother Nature has a way of showering her presence upon us and we experienced that first-hand the night before when the electric went out! It just so happened, that incident which had two folks stuck in the elevator, the auditorium in the dark and the concert powered by generators from the artists tour buses was the result of a tornado touching down a few miles away, thus, leaving the whole city of Marion, Illinois without power!
Well, nothing that exciting happened on Friday night when Greater Vision and The Mark Trammell Quartet performed. We returned to our seats expecting a “normal” Gospel sing, and as far as sound, stage lights and weather were concerned, we had one – but if you know those two groups, you know that when they sing on the same stage they’re going to have fun! And that’s exactly what happened!
The Truthseekers and Dustin Leming warmed the crowd up with a few songs. Jane, of the Truthseekers, was featured on He Didn’t Throw the Clay Away and Dustin sang a snappy tune called Walking with Jesus Every Day.
Before walking off stage, Dustin Leming smiled at the crowd and evenly introduced MTQ, “Keep your hands going and make welcome The Mark Trammell Quartet.” Immediately, a bow could be heard striking a fiddle, picking up a lively tune as the quartet walked on stage. The Mark Trammell Quartet opened their set with Meet Me Over on the Other Side. Between that number and the next, Mark asked the crowd if they loved the Lord and a firm “Amen” didn’t hesitate to reply. Mark began to sing a song that says “God’s Been Faithful” and no sooner had he reached the last part of the second verse when the audience broke out in applause. The message found its mark. “I love old convention style music,” said Mark, setting up their next song, “this is one of them and it’s from a brand new project. In fact, Mr. Wolfe is playing the piano on this track.” Then they sang I’ll Go Over Jordan Someday. When they reached the turn-around Mark asked the crowd who remembered that old song – a few raised their hands. For the next tune, Pat exclaimed, “Here we go! Put your hands together!” The crowd began clapping along as Nick stepped forward and sang his solo, Don’t Stop Running. The audience seemed to enjoy this lively tune that Nick not only sang…but wrote! Mark took a few moments to introduce the group and he took great pride in saying, “This is the first time I’ve been able to say this in a year – this is the same bunch that was here last year.” I had to smile at that comment because I remembered that when MTQ was in Marion last year it was Dustin Black’s very first night to sing with them! (He was trying out for the tenor position at that time, which he accepted later on in May…) When Mark said that Dustin was from Saginaw, Michigan a loud applause and a few hoots came echoing towards to the stage. Mark asked, “Are you from Saginaw?” A single voice (with a pretty good southern drawl) answered, “YES!” Without hesitation Mark replied, “You don’t sound like you’re from Saginaw.” LOL Nick was introduced next and Mark was proud to announce that Nick and his wife, Jess, are expecting their second child. “So now I’ll have two to help me take naps,” said Mark with a grin. Now, we all know that Pat likes to pick on Mark and Mark likes to pick on Pat too, so it’s no surprise that when Pat stepped up to be introduced he pretended to pick a hair from Mark’s jacket and put it on top of his head. Mark looked at Pat, who said, “I thought you could use all the help you can get.” Finally, Mark spoke, “How do you know it wasn’t a dark string?” Pat replied that it was most definitely a hair. Mark asked, “How do you know it was mine?” Pat replied, “It’s the only white one on stage.” LOL When Pat went into singing Wonderful Time Up There the crowd was ready to have some fun – they began clapping along to the beat and afterwards they hollered and shouted out their approval of the number. “Here’s another brand new song,” said Mark, getting ready to go into a ballad, “Let me know if you like it – some of you will, I think.” This ballad that featured him was called Man of Sorrows and the beautiful lyrics talk about all the sufferings the Lord took upon Himself to be our Savior. “I love that new song,” he said, “The places that He had to go to…the darkness He saw…the sin He died for…the One who gives the greatest peace and joy took that badge upon Himself, Man of Sorrows.” Then he told the crowd that the song they were about to do has never been done in front of people yet and that the guys didn’t have a clue as to what he was going to have them sing! When Mark gave the name of the song Pat exclaimed, “That is a BAD idea!” Mark turned to him, “Why do you say that?” Pat replied, “Hang on and y’all will find out!” Mark mentioned how that intrigued him. Pat added, “I’ll be saying watermelon a lot.” LOL Well, the song was When the King Comes to Claim His Throne and I can testify that Pat didn’t say watermelon once! Your Walk Talks was their next song and they teased (because the song was written on an Alaskan cruise in the piano bar) that it was, “One of the best things that happened in that bar was this song!” LOL Mark told the crowd to listen close because, “It’s one of the neatest songs I’ve heard in a long time.” Afterwards, they went right into I’ll Take It to the Grave and finished their time on stage with The Kings Is Coming. (Standing ovation – on both of them!)
Mark took up his mic and introduced the next group. “These guys that are coming out are no strangers to Gospel Music. God allowed me to help them in the beginning days of this ministry and I’m proud of every moment that I’ve spent with them, please make welcome to the stage Greater Vision!” GV kicked off their set with four great songs: He’d Still Been God, Come Unto Me, For All He’s Done and When They Ring the Bells of Heaven. With a bounce in his step and a grin on his face (and most likely the knowledge of what happened last night in the forefront of his mind) Gerald Wolfe exclaimed, “Ah! I’m so excited to be here because yesterday I heard my first tornado siren and lived to tell about it!” He went on to say that in East Tennessee (where he’s from) they don’t have tornado sirens. In response, someone from the crowd hollered, “That takes electricity!” Without missing a beat Gerald replied, “I hear it’s you who didn’t have electricity last night!” LOL Back to Gerald’s story, he claimed that they all found their cameras and jumped off the bus to the parking lot. A gentleman came up to them and said, “You need to go to the storm shelter.” Gerald asked the man, “Does it have windows in it?” They wouldn’t be able to take a picture of it if the shelter didn’t have windows! Speaking of their next song Gerald teased, “Everywhere we go we get asked to sing this song…and every now and then people yell out songs from the crowd…very rudely.” (LOL) That song was I Know a Man Who Can – and when folks began standing to their feet GV encored it. After the popular My Name is Lazarus Gerald told a story on Rodney about what he bought his mother-in-law for Christmas and then introduced their “preacher song.” Gerald informed the audience that 3500 preachers left the ministry last year – so Rodney wrote this song to encourage preachers, it’s called Preacher, Tell It Like It Is. They went on to close their set with Looking For the Grace.
We took an intermission then but were anxious to come back to our seats and hear MTQ and GV come on stage together and sing old Cathedral songs! When that time came, Danny Jones told the crowd, “They (George and Glen) ought to be thrilled with what they are doing with their groups today. Ladies and gentlemen, Greater Vision and the Mark Trammell Quartet.”
With that lavish introduction Gerald took his place at the keyboard while Chris, Mark, Rodney and Pat took their mics and began singing Wedding Music. Master Builder followed and I couldn’t be more pleased! It’s one of my favorites and I love hearing live. When they began that last one Rodney stepped away and Nick stepped up to sing that part. Then they switched again for There’s Just Something About That Name with I Will Serve Thee. Gerald counted off for the next number and they launched into Boundless Love. They encored that peppy chorus just when everyone thought they were finished. After the encore someone from the crowd yelled, “Do it again!” Gerald asked, “Do what?” But they did encore it again. Well, that encouraged the crowd a little too much ‘cause they hollered ‘do it again’ once more. Chris looked at the crowd and said, “You do it again!” After a pause he added, “You’re about to wear Gerald out.” To which Gerald perked up and agreed, “Yeah! You’re wearing me out!” What happened next couldn’t have been planned better – just as Gerald was talking a train blew its horn in the distance. Gerald exclaimed, “I know that sound!” Rodney interjected, “Let me get my camera!” LOL After all that fun it was time to settle down for a serious moment or two and so we did. Gerald set up the next song by explaining how it was one of George Younce’s signature songs and how it was always “George’s song.” “A few months ago,” Gerald said, “I started telling people that this is Pat’s song…Thanks to Calvary.” Pat sang that old ballad that the crowd enjoyed so much. Well, after Pat’s song they were taking too long to figure out what to sing next, so this one gentleman in the crowd decided to help ‘em a bit. “The Prodigal Son!” he called out. Before Gerald could say no, Rodney grabbed his mic and said, “I’ll try it!” So they did it! Rodney Griffin sang Prodigal Son and nailed it! This was the highlight of the night for me – totally unexpected, but remarkable! When they finished Mark turned to Gerald and asked, “What have we done?” Well, Mark was right, ‘cause requests just kept coming. Someone hollered, “Daystar!” Gerald replied, “Oh no! Lord, it’s late!” Literally, the crowd booed him. Gerald exclaimed, “And the crowd turns ugly!” The next song to be called out from the crowd was O What a Savior…and Chris sang it too! Quite well, I might add! Then Power in the Blood was called out and Gerald played it and had the crowd sing along with them – afterward he took that moment to give the Gospel message. “That is absolutely the truth,” said Gerald, “There is wonder working power in the blood of the Lamb. The question is would you be free? Have you placed your trust in the finished work on the cross…plus nothing.” He asked five questions to determine whether you know the Lord. 1. Do you believe you are a sinner? 2. Do you believe that Jesus was the Son of God? 3. Do you believe that He bore the wrath of God for you sin? 4. Do you believe that He walked out of the tomb three days later? 5. Have you trusted Him for forgiveness of sin? After a brief prayer it was time for the final song of the evening. “We’re glad we came,” Gerald said, “and we couldn’t leave this place without singing this song.” Champion of Love – standing O!
Conclusion: It’s no exaggeration to say that the crowd had more control over what happened on stage than the singers did! LOL But it was true. The crowd in Marion is very active and vocal in each concert and they know how to have fun. And boy did we have fun on Friday night! The singing was excellent, the songs unpredictable and the humor truly entertaining. I loved how the “camera” and “tornado siren” kept coming up throughout the night.