Who said NQC wasn’t an eight day sing? Not the one who packed up on Saturday morning to be in Murfreesboro, TN that evening for a Mark Trammell Quartet concert! Those of you who live far enough away from NQC that driving in requires more than one day, you know what I’m talking about! First you find out where you need to stop for the night, then you find a hotel and last but not least you find a concert in the area to attend. Why not? All the artists are driving to NQC as well…so there has to be a singing somewhere! Therefore, we make convention an “eight day sing”. Just take Monday through Saturday, add the Sunday night bonus concert and a Saturday before NQC drive day concert and poof!…you have an eight day sing! LOL
That sounded very good in theory, but when you’re stuck on the side of the ride with car issues, it’s a little more difficult to pull off. Thankfully, our problem was a fairly easy fix and we were off again soon but it set us behind enough to arrive at the church late. (As awful as this is going to sound, I felt somewhat relieved when we pulled in the parking lot and other folks were just walking in too.) *wink*
As we walked in the church the quartet was already on stage and a line from How Long Has It Been greeted us with soothing harmony. When they went into Ransomed and Redeemed I had a feeling that we only missed the first song or so. A new song, To Know He Knows Me, which featured Nick Trammell followed. Mark began introducing each member of the group and my speculation was confirmed – we didn’t miss much. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but grin when I noticed our good friends Joyce and Vince sitting in the pew in front of us! The next couple of songs seemed to follow a pattern, three old songs and then three new ones. The old ones were Wedding Music, Testimony and God Knows How Much Mercy I Need. The little segment of new songs from their Your Walk Talks project began with Don’t Stop Running, God’s Been Faithful and When The King Comes To Claim His Throne. Finally, they came to the spot in their program where they do their single, the popular “walking” song. Mark took a moment to explain why they have been emphasizing this particular song so much. “It is a mindset that we are trying to reintroduce to the world,” said Mark, “that our walk with the Lord has extreme value to the world.” After singing Your Walk Talks, they concluded their first half of the evening with Too Much To Gain To Lose.
The night was put on hold long enough to take an offering. As the plates were being passed the pastor convinced Jerry Kelso (who was enjoying the evening from the side) to come play My Tribute. Jerry tried to get out of it, but the pastor complained that their pianist didn’t want to “work” that evening, so it was him or nothing! Slowly, Jerry made his way to the black baby grand tucked away on the corner of the stage. If you’re familiar with this arrangement, you wouldn’t be surprised that everyone was on their feet when he finished. A very moving piece.
We didn’t break for intermission. Instead, the pastor asked Mark if there was anything else he needed to do and Mark teased him, “Just step out of the way!” Everyone chuckled. Mark went on to thank the church for letting them come and spending their Saturday night with them. He took a few moments to talk about NQC and the need to move to a different venue like Pigeon Forge.
Meet Me Over On The Other Side kicked off MTQ’s second set. When a ballad by the name of Man Of Sorrows came next, I was a little surprised. I don’t hear them sing this one very often but when they do, I find that (for me anyway) it is always during a special occasion. (The concert before the first NQC in Pigeon Forge is definitely a special occasion for me!) I thoroughly enjoyed hearing it live again. Sweetest Song I Know followed and then they featured Randy on Thanks To Calvary and I’ll Take It To The Grave. Those two bass features back to back had a nice effect. Not only did the slower Thanks To Calvary complement the faster I’ll Take It To The Grave, but both lyrics had a sweet contrast. (The idea of Calvary’s life changing effect on an individual’s journey and the results of such, lasting beyond the grave, blended in a seamless flow.) The King Is Coming closed out the evening. As always, it was a powerful moment and the audience gave a standing ovation as the last note rang out among the pews. What I really liked, was the way Mark introduced the song. Lately, he had been using the story from an interview with Daniel Mount a few years ago at NQC where Daniel asked him, “If you could sing only one more song and you would never sing again, what song would that be?” Mark recalls telling Daniel, without hesitation, The King Is Coming. When Daniel asked…why that song? This was Mark’s answer, “Son, it has everything I need to say to the world – Jesus went away and is coming back. What are you doing with that story in your life?”
The concert was wonderful! As someone who has seen this particular quartet numerous times this year in big, Gospel Sing settings, it was very enjoyable to be at a concert where only one artist sang. Seeing our friends there was a special surprise as well! It was a great way to “start” NQC and I couldn’t wait to see what the next week had in store for all of us in Pigeon Forge!