At 4:30 PM each day, the doors opened for the Memphis Quartet Show. On Thursday night, I stood behind the product table of Brian Free and Assurance as fans began to trickle in and browse around the vendor’s booths. How much time had passed, I couldn’t be sure, but soon a lady wearing one of the Memphis Quartet Show T-shirts walked up to the CD rack and asked the price of a double set. I noticed that her accent sounded foreign and just as I was about to ask her where she was from, she said, “I’m from Sweden.” I couldn’t believe my good fortune! If you read the review of the afternoon matinee with the Booth Brothers “Quartet”, you’ll recall that Danny Jones polled the crowd as to who traveled the farthest to be there. The lady that I just met was the one who came the farthest – 3000 miles – from Sweden! Her name is Eva and she leads the music at her church in Southern Sweden. When she comes to events like MQS she looks for soundtracks and new music to take home and incorporate into that ministry. Meeting Eva reminded me of how blessed I am to live in America where we can go to a Gospel sing any time we want – I can’t comprehend what it would be like to travel 3000 miles to a different country to hear even one of my favorite groups! I’m really glad that I had the chance to meet Eva and hear a little bit of her story.
Here is a quick list of the quartets that sang on Thursday night: Soul’d Out, Gold City, The LeFevre’s, Brian Free and Assurance and Legacy Five. I have to admit that I missed the first two groups (Soul’d Out and Gold City) that night…but I did hear them!
The LeFevre Quartet just came on stage when I made it to my seat in section G. They started with a classic called When The Glory Did Roll and I was both surprised and pleased to see a live band playing with them! (I’ll write more about that in a few moments…) Their second song was But For The Cross – the message and beat reminded me of their tune “Jesus Saves.” A bass solo featuring that good old quartet song, I’ll Let You Lead Me, followed. After Mike sang one called Keep Holding On, he greeted the crowd with a hearty, “Hello Memphis Quartet Show!” He went on to say how honored they were to be a part of the first Quartet Show and then introduced the group. The band they had with them consisted of their pianist Michael, a drummer by the name of Steven (who I think came in to play special for that night) and a borrowed bass player, Scoot Shelnut. After introducing the singers, they sang their radio single that has been doing excellent on the SN charts, Come and See. “There’s a lot of history tonight at the Cook Convention Center,” mused Mike. Then he went on to explain how they came about singing their closing number. While taking auditions for the tenor position, Mike sent 90 songs to Thomas, (their current tenor) but when Thomas came to try out Mike told him, “Just sing what’s on your heart.” He picked Oh What A Savior. Though the audience heard that very same ballad the night before, when Thomas sang it again it brought the crowd to their feet.
“From Douglasville, Georgia how ‘bout it for Brian Free and Assurance?” exclaimed emcee Danny Jones. Brian Free and Assurance stepped on the platform and began their program with What A Beautiful Day (for the Lord to come again). Just a few weeks ago, BFA welcomed a new member onboard – baritone singer Mike Rogers. Mike had been with the Dixie Melody Boys prior to joining BFA and this was the first time I saw him sing with Brian and the guys. After bass singer Jeremy Lile was featured on If The Lord Says Do It, Brian introduced the song that would showcase Mike. “This song right here says what we need in our land now more than ever…” and the song title revealed the need, Revival. Though Brian had said this was only Mike’s fourth time to sing with them, by watching Mike on stage, you couldn’t tell! He’s a great fit for BFA. During another bass solo, Just A Little Talk With Jesus, Bill encouraged the audience to sing along and the sound filled the room. “How many are glad to be in Memphis tonight, say praise the Lord,” instructed Brian. A very full and powerful answer echoed back to him. Brian went on to introduce the group and when he came to Mike he said, “Everyone tells us he looks like Elvis.” After the crowd chuckled at the implication, Brian voiced it, “Since we’re in Memphis, it’s a good place to tell you that!” LOL Finally, Bill was featured on a song that he introduced like this, “Listen to this song and let it touch your heart tonight.” It was called I Will Be Praying. Afterwards, Brian introduced the song that went to #1 for them in February, he touched on the recent holiday we celebrated in June, Father’s Day, and how it applied to the song – I Want To Be That Man. BFA closed their set with Long As I Got King Jesus and from the very beginning folks began standing, clapping and tapping along to the beat.
“When these guys come across a stage they bring class,” said Danny Jones of the last quartet to sing before intermission, “Welcome Scott Fowler and Legacy Five!” L5 kicked off their set with some classics like He Loves Me So, Blood Washed Band and I Found Grace. “I could not wait to get to Memphis for several reasons,” said Scott Fowler, “One of those reasons was the history that’s here and two (here he turns to his bass singer and exclaims) what a monster of a bass voice! Welcome the newest member of Legacy Five, Matt Fouch!” Matt sang I’ve Been Changed and then Scott took a few moments to talk about the Cathedrals’ music and how it was so simple. “I love that era because you could understand every word the singer was singing,” said Scott. After he introduced their pianist, Trey Ivey, Scott talked about how they were going to do a song with just the piano. “This is how we did it in the old days,” Scott announced proudly, “In the 1990’s.” LOL When Trey played the intro of Life Will Be Sweeter Someday the crowd broke out in applause. Scott stopped the singing before it started and said, “The first applause was over his age and the second applause was over a silly intro…that makes me sick! A good kind of sick.” *wink* Somewhere in the middle of that song, Matt dropped down to a real low note and Howie exclaimed, “Bless you! That’s Memphis BBQ!” LOL They closed out their program with Somebody Sing and We Shall See Jesus. (Standing ovation!)
Conclusion: I realize that this post is only a small glimpse into the night as a whole, but I hope it reflects the fun we had! As are most sings this size, it’s a challenge to stay rooted in your seat for every group from start to finish – sometimes, you just need to stretch your legs and visit with the artists, grab a bite to eat or slip outside into the hall to go to the…well, you know! Anyway, it was a wonderful night! On the second half, they gathered Brian, Mike (LeFevre) and Tim Riley to sing a few older Gold City songs like a little “reunion.”