Tell you what, when the map on your phone tells you the arrival time for a 6PM concert is 5:57…it means you’ll get there at 5:57! Well, that happens when road construction is afoot. The most important thing is we did get to the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Springfield, Tennessee in time to see the Mark Trammell Quartet on June 1st!
Bethlehem Baptist has been hosting Gospel concerts for 12 years and the line-up continues…after MTQ made their appearance in June, many other groups will follow in the coming months; such as the Tribute Quartet, Dixie Echoes, Dove Brothers, etc. After the pastor opened in prayer, he, his sister Pam and nephew Hunter sang a few songs as a trio.
“Keep that applause going and make welcome one of my favorite quartets and yours too, the Mark Trammell Quartet!” exclaimed the pastor. The quartet kicked off the evening with the old number Leave Your Sorrows. How Long Has It Been followed and I could see Pat mouth the words, “I like this song,” as Ransomed and Redeemed began. “What a joy it is for us to be back in Springfield, Tennessee,” Mark said, and then he asked how many in the crowd were seeing them for the first time. Hands lifted up and dropped back down and Mark teased, “That’s probably the same group that said they’ve never been here before, well, thanks for getting lost and coming for a Gospel concert!” The last time Mark Trammell was in Springfield, the group had been a trio…so it was time for some introductions! First up, was their new tenor, whom Mark teased without mercy because he’s from “up North.” When Mark announced, “Welcome our Yankee, Dustin Black,” a large applause came over the room, especially from the back right of the building and someone called out several encouraging words. Dustin exclaimed, “I have one friend!” Echoing from the back, we heard, “Two!” From the opposite side of the church a lady hollered, “Three!” In spite of his home state, Dustin had three friends in Springfield. *smile* The time came to introduce their bass singer, Pat Barker, it only took a few steps forward to get an applause from the crowd. Mark looked at him and asked, “Was he here with someone else?” Pat quickly replied, “No,” but Mark interjected, “You don’t know where you are! Hush…” Then to the crowd he asked, “Was he here with the Dixie Echoes?” The audience shouted out, “YES!” So Mark said, “Then I don’t need to introduce him…” LOL Pat did get introduced and before the next song Mark explained, “The Bible says ‘A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.’ I like to have fun no matter how corny it sounds because when we go out in the world, there won’t be much of it out there, so when I’m in here I like to have fun…I get to poke fun at him.” LOL
After Echoes From the Burning Bush they sang Wedding Music and Testimony. Pat encouraged Nick with a tap on the shoulder and “Good job, man,” as Mark began to introduce the next song, “This is a relatively new song that sounds like an old one.” – God Knows How Much Mercy I Need. Afterwards, Mark pointed out that the song they just sang was written by Diane Wilkinson and her publisher was there! Rick Shelton is the vice president of Daywind and “in charge of publishing,” as Mark put it. But he wasn’t the only person there who works behind the scenes with MTQ. Their booking agent Jeff Harper, was on the back row, but not because he’s Baptist! He just had a yungin’ with him he needed to keep an eye on. *smile* He also pointed out their webmaster, Candace Mills (who just happened to be sitting next to me! LOL) and Steve Mauldin, a popular producer who “spends hours in the studio trying to make horrible singin’ sound decent.” Mark proceeded to close their first set with a song from their new project, “And since these folks are here that help us do what we do,” Mark explained, “I want to dedicate this song to them.” Then he told a little story about the first time he heard it… a radio station in Little Rock, Arkansas by the name of KGMR, a concert that his group opened for, a group called the Rambo’s and finally, a song called Too Much To Gain To Lose. As MTQ sang that song in Springfield, they let their hearts shine and the crowd couldn’t stay in their seats.
After a drawing, the offering and a few jokes, the pastor asked Mark, “Are you guys ready to come back?” Mark answered (with what had to have been a gleam in his eye), “No, but we will.” Before they started singing they told about their product and the cruises they’ll be a part of this year and next.
The second half began with Meet Me Over On the Other Side and then Mark went on to introduce a song featuring Dustin, “I gave him all sorts of time to warm up and now I want him to sing this song.” After some teasing, someone from the crowd called out, “Go Yankee!” With a look of surprise on his face, Mark asked, “What’s that?” The voice called out again, “Go Yankee!” Mark corrected, “No, I think it’s Yankee go…” LOL Anyway, Dustin was featured on Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus. Wonderful Time Up There followed and shouts of “Yeah!” and “Whoop!” rang out through the building as Pat sang the verses. They really liked Pat! They even gave him a standing ovation! The ballad they did next was one that first became popular when they were a trio – Loving the Lamb. As a quartet, they’re dynamic on this one! The more they put into it the more the crowd gave back. (Another standing O!) Before they went into their next one, someone called out, “Thank you brother!”
“Glory Road!” a lady on the front row hollered. Quickly, Mark replied, “I’m sorry, we can’t do that one. There are some songs we can do and some we can’t…and that’s one we can’t. We had a request for How Big Is God and we can’t do that one either.” (He went on to explain that those songs needed a piano player and currently they don’t have one.) “There is a song we can do that was requested the moment I walked in the building,” said Mark brightening the audiences hope, “and it does feature our bass singer.” At that point, Mr. Barker said very loudly, “OOOOOO! I like this one!” LOL That song was I Want to Know – the crowd loved it. “We’re gonna’ do one more then we’ll let you go home,” said Mark. Immediately, the audience whined, “Awwww!” Mark looked surprised and asked, “You want to sing some more tonight?” The crowd brightened at the prospect…and then Mark had to dash their hopes, “Okay, turn the lights out when you’re done, we’ve got to go to Charlotte, NC.” Then he called for us to listen to the story in the closing song…The King Is Coming. Before we were dismissed Mark prayed, “We can sing all the high notes and the big endings, but if You don’t show up it’s just a bunch of racket.”
Conclusion: It never ceases to surprise me how the Mark Trammell Quartet makes each and every concert special. After seeing MTQ at the Meramec Theater a week earlier, I expected this concert to be much the same, but with a different crowd and different requests I was reminded how much that wasn’t the case. Even though the song selection mostly remained the same, these guys took the opportunity to make this night special for those who attended…when the crowd shouted out comments and interacted with them from the pews, they answered and joked back with them. Mark Trammell also took the time to acknowledge those who work behind the scenes in their ministry (without those introductions, the crowd wouldn’t have known they were present) and that showed me how much MTQ appreciates them. It was a great night through and through! The crowd just loved Mr. Pat! Every time he was featured they would go nuts! (They must be big Dixie Echo fans…) Anyway, if the Mark Trammell Quartet comes to your area I highly recommend you attend their concert – you won’t be disappointed in any way and will leave with your heart lifted up and encouraged. I’ll leave us with a little quote from the evening…
“The shortest path to peace is the direct line to God…” – Mark Trammell