The key was inserted in the lock; in seconds, the glass door was opened and Gospel Music fans rushed into the air conditioned building to the sanctuary of the church. At that moment, nothing was more important than getting that seat. No one stopped to say hello to their favorite artist. No one stopped to see what was for sale on the product tables or veer off to locate the restroom. The only thing that mattered was getting that seat…
It’s like that every year at the Mark Trammell Quartet Homecoming; folks line up in front of the entrance at Hill Crest waiting for the doors to open at six o’clock. After locating their perfect seat, fans will then begin to mill around or just sit and chatter until the concert begins. This year, the opening concert on Friday night featured the Mark Trammell Quartet and guest artist, Legacy Five.
Legacy Five kicked off their set with “God’s Word Is A Comfort To Know,” a peppy song that was followed by “He Made A Change.” Their next song featured bass singer, Matt Fouch, with a slow, smooth tune called “Someday.” Scott mentioned that Matt was one of the Top 5 Bass Singers of 2017. The crowd chuckled when he added, “And the Russians had nothing to do with it!” While it was still the beginning of their set, Scott went on to explain why they are called Legacy Five when there was only four people on stage. Baritone singer Scott Howard, or, “Howie” as long term fans know him, had an important appointment that day concerning the adoption of the little boy that he and Kelly have been foster parents to and so he couldn’t make it for the concert that night. Instead, Legacy Five’s new pianist, Josh Townsend, sang Howie’s part as he played the keys. After Fowler’s explanation, he thought it would be a good time to feature the new guy on a solo! Not only did we get to hear Townsend play one song…we heard him play two! When the first piano solo ended, Scott urged him to play another. The crowd embraced Townsend’s new position with L5 by their applause and enthusiasm. Once the crowd settled down, Scott then introduced L5’s tenor, Josh Feemster. Fowler told the crowd that they were bound to like him because he’s an “Alabama boy.” Scott didn’t even pronounce the whole word “Alabama” before the crowd hollered their approval! The next song featured Feemster and to quote Scott’s words, he believed, “This song will become an anthem in Gospel Music.” You might recognize it – it’s a powerful ballad called “One Holy Lamb.” Another tenor solo, the popular “I Found Grace,” followed. Scott brought out his American Patriots Bible and read a quote from Patrick Henry before L5 dedicated a tribute to all those who served. For this special remembrance of our military, Townsend played a Patriotic Medley beginning with “My Country Tis Of Thee.” It only took a few moments before the crowd was on their feet in honor of our country and the ones who served to keep America free. After, the crowd didn’t get to sit for long…L5 went into their last song, “The Hallelujah Chorus,” which quickly had them on their feet again!
As L5 left the stage, emcee Jay Parrack came on to introduce our host group for the weekend. How did he do this? By telling a story on Mark from their days as Gold City! Though the story ended with Mark forgetting the words to a requested song way back when, the crowd chuckled and then Jay asked the audience to stand and applaud as The Mark Trammell Quartet approached the stage. Everyone seemed eager to comply and made a lot of noise as the quartet kicked off their first song, “Treasures In Heaven.” Keeping their set up-beat, MTQ went right into “Take It To The Grave” for their second song. Then, gazing out into the audience with a thoughtful smile, Mark welcomed everyone to the MTQ Homecoming. “I look out and see so many faces,” Mark began. Then continued, “Some, for all 15 years of this ministry and some for all 40 years. You don’t think that I know who you are, but I do.” He went on to thank those folks for their support of the ministry; after that greeting and thanks, he quickly introduced the group. He ended with the newest member of the group – pianist, Trevor Conkle. Mark mentioned that this was Trevor’s fifth concert with MTQ and so he wanted to feature him on a solo. After a big introduction, Mark leaned over the keyboard and asked, “What’s your name son?” Trevor, playing right into the bit of humor, whispered his answer and Mark exclaimed, “Ladies and gentlemen, Trevor Conkle!” Trevor played the old hymn, “Since I Have Been Redeemed.” Mark gathered the guys around the keyboard for a song with just the piano. Instead of just giving Trevor the title of the song, Mark began humming the tune, accompanied by his fingers tapping the beat on the back of Trevor’s keyboard. A moment later, Randy interjected, “You don’t even know what song it is you’re trying to teach him!” Without missing a beat, Mark replied, “No, but I know how it goes!” The tune ended up being “Echoes From The Burning Bush.” Immediately following, we enjoyed some familiar tunes that always please the crowd; songs like “Wedding Music,” “Don’t Stop Running,” “He Hideth My Soul” and “Led Out Of Bondage.” The quartet’s last song before intermission was “My Faith Still Holds” – a powerful ballad from MTQ’s latest CD, “Full Sail.”
Intermission came and went, putting Legacy Five on stage for a few more songs. On the second half of the concert, L5 sang “What All The Shoutings About” and then Scott asked Josh Townsend to tell his story. I won’t go into all the details here because this is really a testimony of God’s healing that you need to hear in person, but suffice it to say, the Lord has given Josh an incredible gift to play after suffering a stroke at a very young age. Scott asked him to share story with the audience and then he sang “God’s Been Good.” I’m telling you, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house and most folks were on their feet, hands raised before the end of the song. Scott led the crowd in singing a chorus of “God Is So Good” as the rest of the group returned their mics to the stands and slipped off stage.
The Mark Trammell Quartet came back on stage and began their second set with “How Long Has It Been” and “It’s Almost Over.” They took a few moments to draw names for their NQC giveaway; and three people won free tickets to the National Quartet Convention. In closing, Mark asked all the L5 guys to come up and then they finished off the night with “Boundless Love.”
Conclusion: The MTQ Homecoming is a special event and Friday night we enjoyed quite the unique concert. Just think about it…two male quartets, both with brand new pianists and both pianists 19 years of age. Not to mention that Blake (MTQ’s tenor) and Matt (L5’s bass) are cousins. It all made for a fun night! Then again, you can’t come to the MTQ Homecoming and not have a good time. The spirit of joy rests on the event and you can’t leave without a smile on your face.