Many phrases would have been appropriate to title this concert review…how sad it is there can only be one! Though, snatch phrases from the evening like, “Excuse me ladies, if I spit on you,” “George’s Birthday,” or “who did he think I was?” would be perfect, don’t you think? But I digress…
The Truthseekers Homecoming is one of the classiest Southern Gospel Sings I’ve had the privilege to attend and I have been looking forward to the 2013 concerts for a few months! Unfortunately, an ice storm swept through and coated our roads and covered the ground with two inches of ice the night before we were due to leave for Illinois. Needless to say, we missed the first night with the Talleys and Dixie Melody Boys. (That disappointed me GREATLY!!!) Friday night however, I was determined to be in Marion, IL…even if I had to walk! LOL We did make it to the concert – and oh! Can words even describe the evening we had? The featured artists were the Mark Trammell Quartet and Greater Vision, and the rest, as they say, is history! Read on, and I promise you’ll figure out what some of those other “title phrases” are and more importantly, what they were referring to! *wink*
On the other hand, blessed beyond measure doesn’t even begin to describe the seat I had! On the fifth row, I soon found out that seat 11 sat me smack dab in the center, with an awesome view of the stage. Our emcee was none other than Danny Jones, and he was the one to introduce our host group, the Truthseekers. “Make welcome all the Truthseekers to Marion tonight!” Danny exclaimed. Just then, the Truthseekers strolled on stage and either took up the microphones or strapped on their instruments. This mixed quartet/live band kicked off the evening by leading the audience in singing Everyday With Jesus. Behind them sat a Bible larger than life with John 3:16 scrolled across the open page. Three banners dangled from the ceiling on both sides displaying words like; truth, grace, peace, faith, praise and mercy. After we sang the hymn, a local minister was welcomed on stage to open in prayer, and then we sang another congregational, Everybody Ought To Know. Two more songs, Highway to Heaven and I Still Want To Go closed the Truthseekers set.
“This is one of the finest male quartets that we have today…would you make welcome the Mark Trammell Quartet!” Danny exclaimed by way of introduction. With a skip in his step and a smile on his face, Mark skipped up to his mic and then his group kicked off with that great Goss arrangement of Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah. A great applause ended the song. “Praise the Lord,” Mark interjected as the intro for Tis So Sweet began. Dustin Black (the tenor that is singing with them during their audition phase) sang this hymn with tender feeling, and I even caught Chris Allman leaning out from behind the curtain to get a better look! (I love how these groups support each other!) Nick Trammell was featured next on his solo Testimony and slid his mic stand behind him to step forward and deliver the message – with the upbeat track came a crowd ready to clap along! “Well, what a joy it is to be back in Marion, IL!” said Mark, “and thank you for having pleasant weather today…who ever ordered that, thank you.” LOL (I suppose that may only be funny to someone who missed the previous night because of bad weather. *smile*) He went on to introduce the group, beginning with Dustin Black. That night was Dustin’s very first concert with them – according to Mark, he was scared to death. He was also teased to death by Mr. Trammell too! But it didn’t stop there, Mark teased Nick pretty heavily with his introduction and by some phenomenon, Pat Barker received the least amount of teasing and a good amount of praise. “Here’s a request,” Mark informed (along with the knowledge that it was a bass feature) “I’m going to let him sing it for you right now.” While I was anticipating a rousing number like I Want To Know or Wonderful Time Up There, it was pleasantly surprising to hear Wedding Music instead! The crowd must have been pleased with it too because the fans hollered their approval and clapped vigorously! On the other hand, the following number was a good fast one that let Mark shine on the verses – Way Past Ready. On the line in the verse that says, “The only ones going are those who have been clothed in the precious Lord and Saviors blood,” the gentleman sitting next to me shouted, “Yeah! Amen!” Afterwards, Mark explained, “That’s our latest radio song…we found out just the other day that in just four months it went to #3 in the nation and it tickles me ‘cause it’s one of those Rodney Griffin songs.” After a moment of thoughtful contemplation Mark added, “I do like them – they’re my favorite trio now.” LOL He took a moment and told the audience about their current project, Lifetime, and then introduced their closing song with these words, “I believe it with everything in me.” The King Is Coming was that song. The crowd applauded at the end of the first chorus, hands were raised and then everyone stood. During the last half of that song you could barely hear the singing because the applause was so loud – especially from the bridge, the clapping never stopped!
Danny Jones appeared on the stage once again to introduce the next group, “I have the awesome privilege of doing this tonight and a lot of these days are unfortunately spent with these guys.” LOL He went on to explain how they consider themselves all family. “Would you do me a favor and help me welcome them to the platform, Greater Vision!” GV’s first song was When They Ring The Bells of Heaven. As always, Gerald instructed the crowd to clap on the “two and four” beat. After that song, Gerald slipped his handkerchief to the surface of his keyboard as he asked the crowd if they enjoyed the Mark Trammell Quartet. When the track began to play for their second song, he looked at those sitting on the front row and said, “Excuse me ladies, if I spit on you, I don’t mean too…I’m sorry.” LOL I Could Never Praise Him Enough followed and the atmosphere in the room felt so good Gerald stamped his foot in good measure before they started singing the Redeemed Medley. “Go ahead and sing!” Gerald cried out a little ways into the hymn. “Thank you,” he said after the medley, “Wow! Great to see ya’ll – I don’t know how many years in a row we’ve been doing this weekend.” (GV is one of the groups the Truthseekers bring in year after year after year.) He continued and described how they’ve been under the weather a little bit, Rodney especially. So…Gerald took advantage of another baritone singer in the building and let Rodney sit out on a few songs! As Mark Trammell came on stage for the second time, Gerald teased him by saying, “Chris, show him where to stand!” LOL The song that Mark filled in on was I Know A Man Who Can. The response from the crowd was tremendous! They received a standing ovation and encored it as well. “Isn’t that good?” Gerald bellowed, “That old man over there can still sing…and that’s the truth! Can I break a Nashville rule?” After a lengthy story behind how they came to sing this song, they sang Hallelujah Square. (Mark sang with them on this one too!) Moving from his keyboard to center stage, Gerald told the audience what they were going to do on the second half – a tribute to the Cathedrals! “We have time to do one more song!” he said, “I don’t think we could get out of town if we didn’t try to do this song!” It was none other than My Name Is Lazarus!
Intermission broke and fans scattered to the lobby, concession stands and product tables. It was a busy place out there! Yet, time slipped away and soft but steady notes from the piano wooed us back to our seats. When it looked like everyone was in there Gerald asked us to sing along to the hymn he was playing – Because He Lives.
“Welcome back my buddies! Make some racket!” exclaimed Gerald. Both groups meandered onto stage and collected their microphones, meanwhile, Gerald sat at his keyboard telling the audience about Mark’s song I Want To Know. “It was #1 and it was the most played Gospel song in 2012 according to the Singing News magazine and it’s a 50 year old song!” Then he asked the crowd if they still liked old songs. Mark interjected, “The rest of the story as Paul Harvey used to say, is that one over there at the keyboard WOULD NOT leave me alone about releasing it as a single. When he heard it he said you need to release it…we have the same record company…he called our record company and said I don’t care what Mark says release that song…and he got his way! And they did and now every time we see him we have to bow and thank him.” (Here Mark demonstrated a series of repeated bows in Gerald’s direction that made everyone laugh.) “I’m grateful.” Mark continued, “He (Gerald) said you really need to release that song – I don’t care if that dummy does sing it – it’s a good song.” LOL Then went on to say, “So we’re gonna’ let the dummy sing it.” And they did! It was so good, Gerald said, “That’s good, I could take some more of it…” So they did! Encore! When they finished that song, Dustin walked off stage. Surprised, Gerald said, “Well, guess he’s finished.” Mark replied, “You’re Gerald Wolfe…and he just found out who Gerald Wolfe was.” Gerald asked, “Who did he think I was?” Then after a minute added, “Never mind, don’t answer that.” LOL Treasures Unseen was the next song they did together and they put together quite the line up! Chris, Nick and Mark sang as a trio and Gerald played. At the end, a lady from the back of the auditorium cried out, “Gerald! Thank you!” His head snapped around and he answered, “Oh, thank you…I wish everyone was as nice as you.” Next on the “request list,” Gerald asked Chris if he had ever sung Old Convention song all the way through. Chris huffed and said once or twice. Eager to make a point, Gerald turned to the crowd and asked them who had ever sung Old Convention Song all the way through at least once. A few raised their hands and Gerald looked at Chris, “See! They haven’t either!” So Chris was coerced into singing that one with the others. For the following request, Gerald just laughed, held out the paper and asked Pat, “Have you ever sang it?” Pat replied no. With the most calm and casual voice you have ever heard, Gerald said, “Great…we’re gonna’ do it in Bb.” Now that right there was just a little too much for the crowd – they burst out laughing! The guys on stage did too…everyone except Gerald of course, who was trying so hard to be serious and tell each person what part they would sing. It was so funny! So what grand song was this? The bass feature He Loves Me. Chris sang tenor, Gerald – lead, Mark – baritone and the only bass singer on stage, Mr. Pat Barker sang the medley. After the song Gerald made sure that he told Mark if he didn’t get that recorded he was missing the boat! Pausing, Gerald then went on to say that that day was George Younce’s birthday – if he were still with us, he would have been 83. Jumping up from his piano, he mentioned how they wanted to do something different…something to pay tribute to George. A track began and we heard George singing Who Can Do Anything? Gerald and Mark sang along. From here, Mark sang the Old Rugged Cross and asked the audience to sing along with him. As the notes tapered off, Gerald picked up the red back hymnal sitting on his keyboard and opened it to page 305 and read the words to this song. This is what he had to say of it…
“Everybody knows the first verse and everybody knows the last verse, but my favorite verse is the second of the four verses. ‘Oh that old rugged cross so despised by the world – has a wondrous attraction for me. For the dear Lamb of God, left His glory above, to bear it to dark Calvary.’ That ladies and gentlemen is the gospel in one verse of a song. The hope that you have of heaven tonight is based on the fact that Jesus was willing to leave His throne and come to earth to pay the penalty in full for your sin debt. Sadly, the only way to accomplish that was through a blood sacrifice from a perfect lamb. If you read over the back of the book in Revelation there was only one spotless Lamb. The Bible says the heaven was searched, the earth was searched, beneath the earth was searched and no one was found worthy, but then the next verse says, behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world… to pardon and then sanctify me, to pardon us from our sin and set us apart from the world as a very unique and different people, that’s why the world despises us…because we name the name of Jesus Christ.”
Then, Gerald asked us to sing the fourth verse (of the Old Rugged Cross) with conviction! Standing up and coming to the center of the stage, he inquired of the audience this question, “Have you put your eternity on the fact that the old rugged cross is the payment in full for your sin debt? That’s the only way you’re going to heaven.” He continued to lead a prayer of invitation and then the intro for the closing song began…Champion of Love. When Gerald sang the first line, sharp whistles rang out in the concert hall and before the ballad came to an end, everyone was on their feet in a standing ovation.
Conclusion: Did you find the scenes behind the other catch phrases that would make awesome titles? Some of those are going to forever be my favorite moments! I have had the privilege of seeing Greater Vision sing with MTQ multiple times…but this concert was the most unique one I have ever attended! Usually, when they get together and sing Cathedral songs you can guess which ones they’re going to sing – not that night. Everything was spontaneous! From Mark and Gerald singing Who Can Do Anything with George’s recorded voice to Pat Barker singing He Loves Me with Chris, Mark and Gerald…and if I can add one more moment, Mark singing I Know A Man Who Can with Greater Vision! These were priceless moments! One’s I’m not sure we’ll ever get to see again (but you never know!) *wink* I did enjoy Mark singing with Greater Vision again, and seeing him sing along with the songs that were on GV’s current set (not the regular songs they would sing when they do their “original GV” things, like; New Wine or Sailing Away) was special indeed! If I rated concerts, this one would have five stars without a second thought!
“Son, always be yourself, that way you won’t have to remember who you were the next time.” – Gerald’s Dad.