Every evening at the Steve Hurst School of Music we enjoyed fine concerts from the best in Southern Gospel. Groups like The Talleys, Booth Brothers, Tribute and the Mark Trammell Quartet rank among them, and though I would like for nothing more than to write a detailed description of each, I believe my readers would benefit from a swift overview of each night. If I were to go over every detail, I fear it would be more like a book – definitely more than what ya’ll would want to take in at one sitting. Though I promise, I’ll resume my regular moment by moment concert reviews in the posts to come! So, are my readers ready?
Sunday night kicked off the school with a concert by the Talley’s. I was very excited, because this time, Brian was with them! (The last couple times I’ve seen the Talley’s in concert he’s been absent for various reasons, so it was cool to see them as a “foursome”!) The students at SHS are always a great audience, and this was shown once again by their response when the Talley’s came out on stage. For the first song, We Want To Thank You, they applauded and stood through the whole ballad! The Promise and Surely (goodness and mercy) were done back to back – both are upbeat songs and the audience didn’t miss a beat clapping, in fact, they didn’t stop from one to the other! Introductions were next, and then Roger sang a new song called Every Scar. Speaking of scars, Debra mentioned, “I got a few, don’t you?” – before going into her solo, Amazing Grace. The following song, Up Above, received a standing ovation, and Lauren said that it went perfectly with the one they were going to do next, Broken World. (My! The themes of those two songs were made to be sung in succession of each other!) Two more new songs were performed: Talk To The Lord About It and That’s Why I Love Him So. The later was penned by Brian, and he told about how he wrote it in a Wal-Mart parking lot, and then shared his personal testimony. As he sang it again acapella, the audience was brought to their feet in ovation. Before Lauren began her solo she interjected, “Yeah, I think he’s good too.” He’s Alive, a medley of older songs and His Life For Mine closed out the evening.
On Monday night, it was time for the Booth Brothers to shine! Because He Lives, I See Grace and Masterpiece Of Mercy were the first three tunes performed back to back. Michael let us know from the beginning that at “school” they sing differently from anywhere else because it’s “special.” The evening was very different! They sang a ballad by the name of Let The Healing Begin, and then…it happened. As the BB’s were singing See What A Morning, Mr. Mark Trammell came rolling out on stage on a pink scooter, tooting a horn! He handed Michael a bottle of water and scooted off the other side of the stage, tooting the horn all the way! At that point, it was time for Michael to sing his verse, which he re-wrote on the spot to say, “See old men going crazy – and losing their minds…” then he began laughing and forgot the words to the rest of the verse. LOL Afterwards, Michael explained why they recorded a hymns CD and had Ronnie play his guitar while they sang Have Thine Own Way. There Is A Higher Throne followed. Michael then brought out his Bible and challenged the singers and musicians that “If you get up on a stage – know the Gospel.” He proceeded to tell us what the Gospel was with their ballad, We Believe, and then prayed. When he said “amen,” they gathered around one mic and sang Since Jesus Came To Live Inside Of Me. A rowdy rendition of Robe and Crown followed and immediately the crowd jumped to their feet. After three encores, Michael addressed the songwriters and encouraged them to listen to what Jim would tell them that week. “Not because he’s in our group,” Michael paused, “but because he told me to say that!” LOL Jim chuckled, “That’s the first time you’ve ever done what I’ve said.” Michael lit up, “That’s good! Remember that one for next week!” LOL Towards the end of their set they sang Every Cry Is Heard and the altar filled…
Tuesday evening was “Family Night” at SHS – which is where all the staff gathered together on stage and sing Gaither Homecoming style. I have to say, from the moment the evening began, a spirit of worship filled the air. Gary Casto and Aaron Unthank were featured on the verses of the opening ballad Because He Lives and Sheri Thrower was called to the center to sing Be Still Me Soul one more time that week, in honor of her dad. A round of everyone singing a chorus of Alleluia followed. From center stage, Steve turned to the right and said, “Pat Barker, come here…” so Pat came and delivered a heartwarming He Looked Beyond My Fault. Before he could go on, Pat shared his testimony, how he has been singing Gospel Music for 20 years, but only has been saved for 14. “I was lost, wicked and vile,” said Pat, “but he looked beyond my fault and saw my ONE need.” He encored the song one more time. The next soloist was one of the piano schools very own whose name was Pansy. This talented woman blessed a staff member so much one afternoon in the piano lab, Steve called her up to play that solo, I Know Who Holds Tomorrow. Standing ovation! (The piano school was so proud!) What you may not know is that a year ago, Pansy was bedridden and in poor health – what a testimony her life is to the healing power of our heavenly Father!!! Next, Steve began talking about the famous Church of God hymnal, and I just have to share this one comment Steve said to the audience… “Do you know that Gerald Wolfe is Baptist and carries a Church of God hymnal around? – that’s why he is the way he is!” LOL Another standing O for I’ll Fly Away, sung by a trio made up of John Rowsey, Dustin Sweatman and Lauren Talley Alvey. Standing ovations were the order of the night, and Jim and Melissa Brady received one for their duet, No Wonder They Called Him Our Savior. Steve prayed over Jim and Melissa and then Aaron Unthank came and sang Gentle Shepherd with these encouraging words, “Its okay, God still has his hand on your life – it might be in a different facet, but your talents still count.” Daystar followed, and the whole staff rose to their feet to sing it. Melissa Brady felt led to share something she read out of a book recently, and it fit the atmosphere perfectly. Afterwards, Mark Trammell sang How Great Thou Art and receiving a standing ovation. Steve reminded us of the very first time that he went on the road with Rosy Rosell. That night, he met Rusty Goodman, and the next song is what he sang…Who Am I? Tribute sang this song and Riley’s passionate singing resonated through the building and our hearts.
The Mark Trammell Quartet sang on Wednesday night. Steve introduced them with these words, “They will not sing until you give them the best welcome from the Steve Hurst School!” And did we give them a welcome or what?!!! Standing, cheering and clapping, the crowd went wild all the way into their first song, Guide Me Oh, Thou Great Jehovah. Mark greeted the audience before they sang Tis So Sweet, and then introduced the group. As Mark plucked the beat on his bass guitar and Dustin accompanied on the keys, two more songs were sung: How Big Is God and Hallelujah, I’m Going Home. “We’ve been doing this for a 100 years,” Mark announced lazily, “and I thought, ‘We are not doing that song tonight,’…I got in the flesh for a minute, then I repented, so Eric, I want you to sing this like you never have before, for this sweet elderly lady.” (Who requested it.) The number was Glory Road – and lifted the roof right off the building with a standing ovation. Wedding Music was the song that introduced their new lead singer, Nick Trammell to the stage. “While Dustin goes off to college, Nick’s goin’ to the bus,” Mark interjected. After an old classic, Meet Me Over On The Other Side, another followed, Too Much To Gain To Lose – which Mark dedicated to Steve Hurst. (A touching moment) A song from their new CD followed, Wonderful Time Up There. That bass solo brought the crowd to their feet rapidly. It was so good, that someone shouted, “Do it again!” Pat replied, “You do it – I’m too fat to do that twice!” (What? MTQ’s handsome bass singer, fat? Pat, have you been eating the Krispy Kremes?) Mark made a comment about an area of the audience being “demonic,” and Pat asked him, “You knew Eric when he was born?” Mark said yes and Pat posed another question, “Did you ever change his diaper?” Mark said yes again, and Pat chuckled, “There is coming a day when he’s gonna have to change yours!” Mark’s response? – he turned around and hit the track for Wonderful Time Up There, again, and made Pat sing it a second time. LOL After that, Mark decided that he needed a rest and left the four guys on stage to do whatever they wanted as he sat back behind the curtain. The guys huddled together, deciding what to do, then suddenly turned around with their thumbs up and began singing, “Singing in the rain…” Laughter burst out in the crowd. It was undeniably funny! Back on track, Nick was featured on Every Where I Go, but when they couldn’t decide on a song to do after that, he hit the button for Wonderful Time, again – Mr. Barker almost jumped out of his skin as he cried, “No!!!!” LOL They sang Plan Of Salvation and then Mark joined them once again for Echoes From The Burning Bush. The King Is Coming ended the evening.
Tribute Quartet was the last group to perform a concert at the Steve Hurst School of Music, and led us right into the presence of God on Friday night. They kicked off the night with He Is Leading The Way and More Than Able, the latter featured Josh Singletary and Anthony Davis. As the music for Sweeter As The Days Go By came on, Josh pretended that he was startled, but jumped into the mood of the song nevertheless. Pointing to the keyboard, Gary asked Josh to go play while he sang God Likes To Work. Adding encouraging words here and there, Gary repeated the chorus and stretched the music, drawing out each phrase so we could ponder its meaning. Riley’s solo, Homecoming Day brought the crowd to their feet – Riley encored the chorus without music. At that point, the Spirit was moving and Gary had us sing with him, “What a day that will be, when my Jesus I will see…” Then, he stopped and said, “The great thing about the Steve Hurst School is that we don’t just feel the spirit at the evening concerts, we feel it all day.” After he sang I Am Healed and spoke about fears, Steve asked for everyone to grab someone’s hand and come down to the altar and pray in pairs of two. From then on, the Spirit took control of the night. Tribute sang Inside The Gate, and later closed the night off with I’m So Glad That Jesus Lives In Me.
Conclusion: Wow! What a week! With all of the artists we had ministering to us, we were bound to be blessed! What I love most about SHS is that you get to see artists do things a little differently. Case in point: MTQ singing “Singing In The Rain” – I guarantee you that won’t happen on any other stage! The Booth Brothers admitted themselves that this venue is different from all the rest. Michael spoke about a lot of current issues and they sang a number of slower songs – which were most welcome. Each group brought something unique on stage with them and blessed us in the way only they could. The Talleys ministered to us on Sunday evening when they were in much need of physical rest … what power radiated from the stage! I want to thank the staff and all the singers for their dedication, making 2012 an extraordinary year!