When I think of going to Paris; images of the Eiffel Tower, beautiful gardens and the Seine River flash through my mind. The City of Lights. Instead, the Tennessee hills rolled by my window as we drove into a small town all decorated for Christmas. I smiled as we passed a mini Eiffel Tower made out of Christmas garland and lit with white lights in the center of town. So maybe it wasn’t Paris, France, but Paris, Tennessee was charming in its own way. What town isn’t when there’s a Gospel concert nearby?
Inside the Church of God of Prophecy people congregated in the sanctuary in anticipation of the music ahead. Sticky tacked to the wall in the lobby a poster read In Concert: The Mark Trammell Quartet…7 PM.
The music minister bounced on the green carpet up to the stage and welcomed everyone to their church. After prayer, he led the congregation in singing I Have Found The Way. The words appeared on a retractable screen behind him as we sang. (In the wrong order, unfortunately! lol) With a simple, “Make welcome the Mark Trammell Quartet,” the evening began. When the guys ascended the stage, Mark asked, “Do you love the Lord tonight? Say, ‘Amen.’” A very strong “Amen” came in reply. “That’s pretty good,” said Mark with a grin. The Mark Trammell Quartet kicked off the evening with Leave Your Sorrows, How Long Has It Been and Ransomed and Redeemed. Mark began to talk about leaving Nashville and driving to that venue, and then he introduced the group. Right in the middle of acquainting the crowd with Nick, the retractable screen behind them began to whizz up into its tube-like home. In sync, all the guys slowly turned to look at it. Mark teased, “I guess that means the presence of God has left the building.” The audience giggled along with them for a moment. After the introductions, Mark invited their former pianist (who was in attendance that night) to come up and play with them on a song. “Normally, we do a particular song here,” said Mark, “but we have a special guest here tonight and I’m going to embarrass him.” When Dustin Sweatman sat down behind the church’s black glossy grand, Mark asked, “Do you remember anything?” Dustin S. shook his head and Mark laughed, “Good!” LOL Turning to the other three he added, “Come on over here! I’m not mad at you!” and waved them closer. So MTQ gathered around the piano and sang How Big Is God. The audience applauded when they finished and the guys encouraged Dustin S. with a, “Good job, boy!” and so on, after the song. Pat said, “Keep going,” as they went into Wedding Music, but when that one ended Dustin S. left the stage and returned to his pew in the back of the church. MTQ began Guide Me Oh, Thou Great Jehovah and Mark said, “I love that great old hymn. It’s one of my favorites.” Mark introduced the next song and asked everyone to clap along. Then Nick sang Testimony. “Listen to another favorite of the newer songs,” said Mark. This one was his solo, God Knows How Much Mercy I Need, and the crowd loved it too! When Mark finished singing the second verse the audience burst out in applause. The up-beat tune, Wonderful Time Up There, followed. “That song is on our newest project but it’s not a new one by a long shot,” said Mark. Then he went on to talk about how back when Pat Boone made that song popular on radio (it was the first Gospel recording to sell a million copies) it crossed all barriers of music. Just as he was about to tell how radio was different back then, Pat and Mark started going back and forth, joking about the difference between Pat Boone and Daniel Boone. A few jokes down the road, Pat asked, “Was that the guy who invented the mason jar?” Calmly, their tenor, Dustin (Black) corrected him, “No. That was George Mason.” With a look of surprise all the guys turned to him and Mark said, “Actually, that is right.” Nick asked, “How do you know all that?” Mark continued, “That is intelligent…for a tenor singer.” LOL Too Much To Gain To Lose closed the first part of the evening and then they broke for the offering. As the guys stepped off the stage to let the music minister go and conduct the offering, he asked for a piano player to come up and play while the plates were being passed. A lady in the middle asked, “I’d like to hear him again!” (Meaning Dustin Sweatman, MTQ’s old pianist.) So Dustin S. went up and played a solo as the offering was taken up. The guys went up on stage once more and told about their product, how you can connect with them on social media and their upcoming concerts dates. My favorite remark came from Pat about their Twitter account, “Twitter-ific!” Mark said to Pat, “You really ought to take your medicine in the morning…lets sing.”
The second half of the concert began with Meet Me Over On the Other Side. “Listen to our tenor as he sings one of my favorite old hymns,” said Mark. That hymn was Tis So Sweet, which featured Dustin (Black.) Mark’s solo, Way Past Ready, followed. It was fun to watch the other guys while Mark was singing the verses – they were so into the song, singing along with him! “I had a request for this,” said Mark of the next ballad, “it’s been a while since we’ve done it but I’m gonna sing it.” It was Loving The Lamb. Again, this song stirred the crowd and brought them to their feet.
“Satan would like to think that he can do whatever he wants to in this day of time, and if we’re honest with each other – he’s done a good job. But I still believe Genesis 1:1 all the way to the maps. We are more than conquerors. He can do a lot of things, but he can’t keep us from loving the one who died for us.”
From that powerful ballad they went into another bass solo, I Want To Know. After a few encores encouraged by an eager crowd, Mark said, “Ah. Okay, that’s pretty good. I’ll admit, I enjoyed that.” Pat couldn’t resist, he added, “Don’t worry; you’ll get a number one someday, buddy.” Before they went into their final song, Mark said these few words on the coming of the Lord. (I thought they were so fitting!) “Tell the world that it’s gonna get better – not it’s gonna get worse. It will get worse before it gets better, but when it does, it will be better than anything the world’s ever seen…if you’re a child of God.” Then he began singing The King Is Coming and a sense of reverence fell on the sanctuary. It wasn’t long before everyone stood on their feet. It was a perfect moment. The guys bowed and left the stage; Mark took a seat on the front row and the other three went back to the table. When the pastor climbed up on stage he looked at Mark and said, “Now, at our church, we always end on a fast song…could you guys sing one more? A fast song?” Personally, I thought the evening was perfectly complete, but tradition prevailed and Mark called in the guys to sing one more song. The up-beat, Sweetest Song I Know, officially ended the night.
Conclusion: Winter is one of the most difficult times of the year for attending concerts…for me anyway! It had been one full month (30 days!) since I had been to a concert. Stir crazy? Oh, yes! Indeed! So you probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear how much I enjoyed seeing The Mark Trammell Quartet, eh? They are one of my favorite groups and though I must know all of their songs by heart, you just can’t beat a live performance! When the emotion they pour into each line and the stirring lyrics bring everyone to their feet, I remember why I keep coming back to MTQ’s concerts again and again. Maybe Paris, Tennessee is just as magical as the “real” Paris…