The last session of Greater Vision’s Praisefest was on October 31st, Halloween. A few days later, we were home anticipating another great Gospel music concert down the road in Mountain Grove, Missouri. This annual concert we were present at celebrated it’s 9th year, and this was our third year to attend. Previous years, the Booth Brothers were the featured artists, but with 2012, a new era began with the Mark Trammell Quartet, Karen Peck and New River, and our host group, the McCunes.
From my front row seat on the far left side I watched our emcee, Duane Garren, lead the audience in congregational singing and open in prayer. Chilly air swept into the gymnasium from the open side door on my left as the Mark Trammell Quartet took the stage. They opened their first set with Meet Me Over on the Other Side and then Mark introduced Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus like this, “Listen to one of my favorite old songs that Eric is gonna’ sing for you.” As Eric sang, sweet refrains filled the minds and hearts of those listening. Ransomed and Redeemed, an up-beat track, followed. Mark mentioned, “Well, we had quite a few requests tonight.” One of those requested tunes featured Mark himself – Master Builder. During the second verse, Pat added a low “Yeah” as Mark was singing. Mark paused and looked at Pat, then to the audience Mark made his own words up and sang, “And I’m gonna’ kill him when this is over…” LOL (Those guys have fun with each other!) “What a joy for us to be where ever it is we be tonight,” said Mark. He went on to explain that he didn’t know where they were, but he knew they were in Missouri! Introductions came next and Mark was sure to tease each one of the guys. When he introduced Eric he picked on his stature…to which Eric mouthed the words, “That’s not funny!” to the crowd. When he reached their bass singer, Mark assured the audience, “I’m gonna’ let him sing for you tonight, in fact, I’m gonna’ let him sing right now.” Then Mark turned to the right and asked, “What’s your name?” The bass singer replied, “Pat.” LOL The song that Pat sang was the classic Wedding Music. Nick’s solo, Testimony, came back to back and everyone clapped along to the beat. Mark explained that they were fixin’ to do a Christmas song, and as his words sunk in, Pat and Nick began shaking their heads, no. Upon observing this, Mark explained why they didn’t want to sing one – two of the four of them (Nick and Pat) didn’t have a clue as to what he was going to do! Well, Beautiful Star of Bethlehem was the first Christmas song of the night and the crowd approved the choice with applause as the carol began. “Let’s do this one,” Mark interjected, “it is my favorite of all Christmas songs.” It was O Holy Night. Once again, the audience clapped as the ballad began, showing their joy in hearing such a classic. The intensity built as the song went on, and by the end, the crowd practically jumped out of their seats in a standing ovation as Mark held that last note. With bright smiles all around, they went into their next song – Wonderful Time Up There. When they came to the part in the verse where the other guys sing as a trio, Pat puffed out his cheeks like he was out of breath. LOL “We have time to do one more song and then one of my favorite ladies in this industry will come sing for you,” said Mark. He went on to tease Karen, saying that she would love to have the crowd think that she is younger than him, “But, of course that’s not true,” Mark said in jest. We finished laughing and then Mark introduced their closing song with thoughts reminding us of the reality of the Lord’s soon return – The King Is Coming ended MTQ’s first set. A charge of excitement came over the room as people jumped from their seats clapping and cheering in a standing ovation!
“This is our 9th year to do this concert,” Duane announced, “who is here for the first time? – raise your hand.” After a pause and quick head count, he asked how many were excited about Karen Peck and New River, and continued to inform us of Karen’s 11th year winning the Singing News Fan Awards “Favorite Soprano” award – and before we knew it, Karen and her group New River, were on stage kicking off their time with Ephesians One. Mighty Big God followed. “Okay,” Karen asked during the tag, “how many believe that tonight?” Group members Jeff Hawes and Susan Peck Jackson were subsequently featured on their solos He Set Me Free and Sustaining Grace. While the last few notes of Susan’s song played through, she reminded us of this truth, “And know that Jesus is with you every step of the way.” Karen sang I Want To Thank You next and when she finished, said, “I’m telling you it feels good in here.” While on the topic of the Lord’s Spirit filling the room, she mentioned how the anointing of the Lord breaks the yoke of burdens, and she knew there were burdens already lifted that night.
“I knew Mark when he had hair,” Karen teased, “that’s wrong, I know that’s wrong!” LOL Ride The Mighty High came next, and soon everyone in the building were raising their hands and pumping their arms along to the song that required hand motions! Back to back was Jeff’s solo, Look What the Lord Has Done. Everybody clapped along to the beat on this one. Karen introduced her next solo by dedicating it to a ten year old girl in attendance that night. The song was Hold Me While I Cry. “We have literally applied that song in this ministry, haven’t we?” Karen motioned to the crowd while looking at Susan at the same time. The introductions were next, and then they sang I Can See Cleary. Karen said this of that oldie, “Ya’ll, this one is one of our most requested songs.” By the applause that it received – I believe it! On the encore, Karen walked off stage and let certain fans sing into her mic on the different lines. Afterwards, she asked for the Veterans to stand so they could honor them. Turning to the American flag and placing our hands across our hearts, we listened to Karen sing the National Anthem. On the Banks of the Promised Land came next, and Karen asked the writer of that song, Sue C. Smith (who was in attendance) to stand at the end. After an acapella encore, they sang their final song – Four Days Late. Another standing O!
“Well, here they are,” Duane announced after intermission, “The McCunes!” This trio of sisters came out and opened their set with What Heaven Means To Me. Precious Friend, Outside of Heaven and Thanks For Loving Me came back to back. “Well, good evening everybody!” exclaimed Toni. “Oh, that was pitiful, are ya’ll too full of pie?” Each sister found their instrument while introductions were made and then Teresa, Toni and Mickey played a hymn with the sax, bass guitar and piano. After, I Will Serve Thee was sung with just the piano and bass. Every year the McCunes always bring their children up on stage to sing something, well, this year they sang Karen’s song Love With All Your Heart! It was sooooo cute! I Must Tell Jesus and I’m Saved close their set.
The Mark Trammell Quartet kicked off their second set with a tenor feature – Safe on the Glory Side. “Ya’ll like our little tenor singer, I can tell,” Mark teased. Continuing, he mentioned that he wasn’t very fond of the next song either, but it also features Eric. That song was Glory Road. When Eric hit the high note everyone made some noise for him, but Pat shook his head “no.” Though he tried not to encourage them, the fans gave this one a standing ovation! “I can’t feature the tenor singer on two songs without featuring our bass singer on at least one,” Mark explained. So they sang I Want To Know. From the standing ovation they received, I’d say the crowd likes the bass singers just as much as they do the tenors! LOL “Praise the Lord,” said Mark, “we’ll sing this song and then say goodbye to you.” And so their final song was sung – It’s Almost Over.
When Karen Peck and New River came back on stage they brought some little ones with them! KPNR stood with the McCune kids as Karen explained to us what they were going to do. She went on to say that for some reason kids really like her music. “I think it’s because I sound like them,” Karen joked. So the McCune children sang a rousing number of Hey with KPNR! (And they knew ALL the words too!) When the kids left the stage Karen was featured on I Wanna Know How It Feels. After, she prayed a brief prayer before going into My God Will Always Be Enough. On the second verse she came off the stage and sang the rest of the song walking the isles and shaking the hands of those she came in contact with. At the end, she went to climb back on the stage, then paused, turned around and came back. She began to talk about life and how everyone goes through trials and tribulation – but the Lord is always enough. With a heavy burden on her heart, she asked us to stand and bow our heads as she gave the salvation message and how one could come to know Jesus Christ. After the “sinners prayer” she lead us in singing I’ll Fly Away and O Come Angel Band. With a low, sweet note, the night ended.
Conclusion: I had been looking forward to this concert for quite some time! It was a wonderful evening full of surprises, laughs and spiritual nourishment. Both the Mark Trammell Quartet and Karen Peck and New River know how to usher the Spirit of the Lord into the building…and that is exactly what happened that night!