The lights dimmed low as a power point screen descended in front of the stage in the Red Gold Heritage Hall. Seconds later a promo video from Humana began to play. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that the location of the screen held my curiosity more than what was running on it. For the folks sitting in the front row, it dangled very, very close to their heads! LOL Anyway, it was the eighth day of Silver Dollar City’s Southern Gospel Picnic and at ten in the morning at Red Gold, I sat in a chair off to the left of the stage ready for a good, long day of music! The first show began at 10:30 AM – The Lesters were singing in the morning. A few hours later, Brian Free and Assurance would load in and set up in the same building for the afternoon slots. Then, at four o’clock the gates would open for the evening concert in Echo Hollow with Legacy Five. (Of course, there were plenty of artists to go see in some of the other theaters in the park, but for Friday, I was content to stay in Red Gold!)
The ten-thirty show with the Lesters began with a brand new upbeat song called Carry The Message. (The Lesters just re-leased a new CD called Life In The Light and according to Jonathan Lester, it was only a week old! Most of the songs they sang in this first show were from that new recording.) Another snappy tune, My Lord Will Lead Me Home, followed. “Ya’ll are a rowdy bunch this morning!” Brian Lester teased, “I love it! Welcome to 10:30 AM vocal chords.” LOL Their tenor, Justin, slipped over to the piano and selected a chord for the acapella intro of a medley of hymns about the blood. Afterwards, Brian said, “This is a song that Fanny Crosby wrote many years ago, I love this message.” He quickly welcomed everyone to the Picnic and asked folks if they were enjoying the week, then they sang My Savior First Of All. As Brian sang the last line that said, “I shall know Him by the prints of the nails in His hand,” he raised his palm and pressed his forefinger into the center. “Does anybody believe that today?” he asked. After introducing the group, they sang a song called Anytime that featured Justin on the verses. “That’s a brand new one!” Brian cried out, “You like that one?” Jonathan stepped forward to tell about their product and thanked Silver Dollar City for having them and the people in the audience for coming. When Jonathan stepped back to set down the special in his hand, Brian asked him, “Hey, can you do that one that he [Justin] wrote?” Turning to the crowd Brian explained, “Justin wrote this and I don’t know it just makes me happy when I hear the music.” To demonstrate, he held up his palms and swayed from side to side with the intro. So the next song featured Justin and was called So Many Nights. At the turn around, Justin asked Brian to do that dance move he did before the song started. “I don’t know about you,” Justin told the crowd, “But he moves a lot like Winnie the Pooh!” Brian again imitated the dance he did before. “Oh yeah! Mr. Justin!” Brian exclaimed, “I’ve been called a lot of things, but never Winnie the Pooh.” LOL The Lester’s last song was a good upbeat number called Hold On Tight. The crowd loved it and an encore soon followed! “Have you really enjoyed these guys today at Silver Dollar City!” Jonathan asked, then bowing, the trio slipped off stage.
The next two shows with the Lester’s were just as good as the first! Because we were going to see more than one artist that day, I decided to blog one show per group, but I assure you, all three shows were great! I mentioned in my first review (The Barn, The Hollow and The Singing) that Duane Garren emceed the evening concerts in Echo Hollow. Well, during the day he could be found in the Red Gold emceeing the morning and afternoon shows as well! After the Lesters were packed up and ready to load out, Duane’s six year old little girl, Ally, told everyone with a big smile, “I get to see Brian Free and Insurance!”
“Who’s excited to be in the Red Gold Hall for Brian Free and Assurance?” Duane asked, walking out on stage at two o’clock for BFA’s first show. “One of the most awarded tenors in Gospel Music history, Brian Free and Assurance!” Brian, Bill, Mike and Jeremy came out on stage and Brian asked the crowd, “How is everyone today?” I Keep Looking Up was their first song and when it ended, Brian said, “Yes, He is.” (Referring to the line that said Jesus is coming back soon.) Setting their microphone stands behind them, Jeremy went into his solo, If The Lord Says Do It. The following song, Revival, featured Mike Rogers and Brian described the message as something we need in the churches now more than ever. “Alright,” Brian announced moving on, “We’re going back a few years to feature this skinny bass singer.” The older song was Just A Little Talk With Jesus – afterwards, Jeremy smiled a satisfactory grin. During the song a lady in the front was taking a picture of Brian and when Bill saw it, he jumped over to Brian’s shoulder and posed. Speaking of the unbearable heat outside, Brian joked, “I hope the man who invented air conditioning was born again ‘cause when we get to heaven I want to go hug his neck.” LOL After the product pitch Brian quickly introduced the song that went to #1 for them in February, I Want To Be That Man. Long As I Got King Jesus ended their first program.
“None of us are perfect, but we have to understand the role we play.” – Brian Free (on I Want To Be That Man)
As Brian Free and Assurance stepped on stage at four o’clock for their last show in the Red Gold the SDC staff was letting folks in Echo Hollow for an evening with Legacy Five. Though we were still watching BFA sing in Red Gold, we still had second row seats in the Hollow due to our good friends Rosella and Sue! Plus, those seats happened to be in front of the giant fan! Yay!
“You’ve seen them on the Gaither videos and you’ve seen them at NQC,” Duane announced, “Legacy Five!” Legacy Five kicked off the night with Blood Washed Band and Everywhere I Go. “It’s great to see everybody!” Scott exclaimed, “We’re gonna’ have a great time!” As they went into I’m Still Amazed, I was officially convinced that the heat wasn’t so bad sitting in front of that fan! Speaking of the heat, Scott mentioned, “I am a firm believer now…in global warming.” LOL He went on to say how glad they were to be there. “It’s amazing to see 4,000 people waving at us constantly.” Howie interjected, “You can point them things this way every now and then…” LOL Scott continued to remind everyone that if they were here last year when L5 was in the Hollow, they saw Matt’s very first performance with them. “You are one year old!” Scott teased. After introducing their bass singer, they featured him on I’ve Been Changed. An old tune called He Loves Me So came in between and then Scott explained how they’ve been a group for fourteen years and all that while, Howie has been there the whole time! “Which is unheard of these days,” Scott mused. Howie’s solo was the classic Had It Not Been and Strike Up The Band followed. While the crowd applauded, Scott turned to the grand piano and exclaimed, “Well, how ‘bout this young piano player right over here! Trey is 23 years old…he’s the runt of the litter so to speak.” LOL After a proper introduction Trey played his Classical solo with Leaning On The Everlasting Arms. Standing ovation for Trey! The next song was to be with just the piano and when Trey finished with the intro, instead of singing, Scott said, “We don’t know where we want to stand.” Howie interjected, “How ‘bout in front of that fan?” Well, they ended up gathering around the piano and singing Life Will Be Sweeter Someday. “Alright,” said Scott, “Here’s another old one, see if you remember this.” Then they went into Count Your Blessings. Stepping up to talk about the closing song on the first half, Scott shared with the audience how George Younce and Glen Payne of the Cathedrals were great teachers. One thing they emphasized over and over was this: “Never, ever, ever compromise the message of the Gospel just to be popular. Refuse to do it.” “Here’s the deal guys,” Scott went on, “We cannot be paralyzed by this politically correct movement. We must tell the truth in love, but we must tell the truth, Jesus saves.” They ended their first half with the song that Roger Bennett wrote bearing the same title, Jesus Saves. I haven’t seen L5 in a few months and to hear them sing that song live again, well, it was just so powerful! Everyone else must have thought so too because they gave them a standing ovation! Duane came on stage and asked, “Have you enjoyed these guys tonight?”
Once again, intermission was about fifteen minutes and then everyone gathered back to hear Legacy Five sing a second round. Bringing them on stage for the second time, Duane announced, “These guys are getting the job done, welcome Legacy Five!” L5 came back on stage with Newborn Feeling and then Scott introduced Gus, who was featured on I Found Grace. “Hey, I asked the guys, ‘Tell me something you want to sing,’ and Gus requested a song and where’s he going?” said Scott, looking perplexed as Gus ran back to the product table to get his hanky. Meanwhile, Howie took that little interruption to tell everyone that when he called his wife earlier and told her that is was hot she replied, “It’s hot here too!” So Howie took his cell phone out and instructed everyone to wave their fans while he videoed the crowd. As he did so, he said, “Hi Honey, we’re sweating for the Lord tonight and we’ll be home in the morning if we don’t melt.” LOL By this time Gus had retrieved his hanky and we soon found out that the song he requested was Wedding Music. “They say when you have a good horse, ride it!” said Scott with a mischievous glint in his eye, “So, Matthew…” When they began to sing It Is No Secret (which featured Matt) a horse fly went after Howie in the worst way! LOL Scott sang Ask Me Why and Champion of Love to close out the evening. (The last one receiving a standing O.) Yet, that wasn’t enough for this crowd. The guys went to walk off stage and the crowd roared, “One more! ONE MORE!” Duane looked at L5 and they looked at Duane. Duane asked Scott, “Do you want to sing another one?” Scott looked at the crowd and said, “Okay!” Then they officially closed with Somebody Sing.
“Never, ever, ever compromise the message of the Gospel just to be popular. Refuse to do it.” – George Younce and Glen Payne
Conclusion: Can you tell we had a great day? I hope so! The Lesters, Brian Free & Assurance and Legacy Five all did spectacular jobs! It had been a while since I saw each of those groups in concert and it was so good to see them again, all in one place. The Lesters new CD “Life In The Light” is going to be a big hit! I encourage everyone – whether you’ve purchased their product in the past or not – to get this new CD! You’ll love it! In fact, I’ll be giving Life In The Light away on this site during the month of October…so mark your calendars for a chance to win!