The Southern Gospel Picnic at Silver Dollar City was already underway when we came back from our “Pacific Northwest Tour.” Monday morning we rose early to be at the city in time for the first show with the Mark Trammell Quartet in the Red Gold Heritage Hall and stayed on for the evening concert in Echo Hollow that featured Liberty Quartet and Karen Peck & New River.
Red Gold Heritage Hall…
The first show in Red Gold kicked off at 10:30 am. As I located a good seat towards the front of the hall, the building’s emcee, Duane Garren, was getting the crowd riled up and ready to go. He briefly told the crowd about The Mark Trammell Quartet’s special for sale at their product table and exclaimed, “With that out of the way, are you ready for thirty solid minutes of singing from The Mark Trammell Quartet?” The crowd applauded and MTQ came out and sang an old classic, Leave Your Sorrows And Come With Me. This opening number went right into a new tune called I’ll Take It To The Grave. This song was the one that ushered an energy and excitement in the building that’s hard to explain. Take It To The Grave is a fun song with a solid lyric, but I can honestly say I’ve never seen Blake, Nick, Mark and Randy so wound up on it before! I don’t know why this time was so different, but they were just into it! So much so, that it transferred to the audience and they ended with a standing ovation. Seeing that we were enjoying it as much as they were, the quartet encored it. It was a moment that infused everyone in the building with excitement that had us anticipating what would come next. After that moment, Mark introduced the group, ending with Randy. I love hearing how Mark and Randy grew up within thirty miles of each other but didn’t meet each other until later in life. Mark reminisced about the time when both he and Randy fell in love with The Cathedrals at the same concert. They even remember the same suits The Cathedrals wore! Mark said, “We can recall it down to the details. George and Glen wore brown suits with checks. When I joined them I asked George about it and George said, ‘That wasn’t a suit that was a horse blanket!’” LOL! After introductions Mark mentioned that they would be singing different songs each show. Then he said, “Here’s a request,” and they sang Wedding Music. Time was drawing to a close and for their last song, Mark asked all the Veterans to stand. The audience applauded as people all around the room rose from their seats. With three-fourths of the people in the room standing, Mark said, “I want to say this to you – thank you.” That prompted more applause. After a moment of silence, Mark explained, “Last week I celebrated 42 years in Gospel Music – making a living for my family and ministering to folks all over the country without fear that someone would try and stop me. Thank you for keeping this country a safe place to live in.” Their closing song was tribute to the men and women who have or are currently serving our nation – it was Statue of Liberty. Another standing ovation!
As most people did, I stayed for all of MTQ’s shows in Red Gold. Altogether, there were three thirty minute concerts. True to their word, each one featured different songs. In fact, I would be hard pressed to think of just one they repeated. Their second show kicked off with Your Walk Talks and they also sang Meet Me Over On The Other Side, Randy’s “special solo” Side By Side, When The King Comes To Claim His Throne, an old hymn that will be on MTQ’s new CD releasing in September – He Hideth My Soul and Wonderful Time Up There. Their third show consisted of Don’t Stop Running, I Thirst, Coming Out and Moving In, God’s Been Faithful, I’ll Take It To The Grave, Guide Me Oh Thou Great Jehovah, Too Much To Gain To Lose and The King Is Coming. The Spirit was in the building each show but the third one was extra special. Mark said that they had a request for Too Much To Gain To Lose via a Facebook message and how that was odd for that particular song, but they wanted to do it for that person. Well, that song coupled with Guide Me Oh Thou Great Jehovah and The King Is Coming was the “wow” moment of that thirty minute segment for me. All three of those songs were arranged by Lari Goss and hearing them in a live setting back to back created a time of worship that was powerful. To me, that is one of the things I love about the Southern Gospel Picnic. Groups that have multiple short segments usually create a program that you will only hear at the park; and it’s a special time!
Clouds gathered over Echo Hollow just as the evening concert began. When Liberty Quartet stepped on stage, the heavenly balls of fluff opened their storehouses of unwanted moisture. Thankfully, the rain wasn’t a deluge. It rained pretty steady through Liberty’s set until their last few songs, and then it cleared up. When it comes to weather, the rule for the amphitheater is that it can rain and rain and rain and the concert still goes on, but if lightning comes within five miles of the park, the show is cancelled. Monday night, God set His promise in the sky and a large, brilliant rainbow stood over the Hollow the entire evening. The concert was not cancelled – God is good! Liberty’s last song was a big ballad, “The Stone That The Builders Rejected.”
Karen Peck & New River came on stage with I Stand Amazed, a song they brought back for their 25th anniversary as a group. The rain kept coming down at a steady pace as they went into Calling and I Wanna Know How It Feels. “I have to say this,” Karen began, “I am so amazed that you all are sitting out in the rain! I would sing Showers of Blessings but I’m afraid y’all would throw tomatoes!” After a pause, she asked, “Where is Danny Jones? Danny would throw them for sure!” In spite of the tomato possibility, Karen started a chorus of Showers of Blessings a’ cappella. After, she shared a few encouraging words and repeated a chorus of I Wanna Know How It Feels with Matthew providing music on the acoustic guitar. They went into On The Banks Of The Promised Land and Sustaining Grace; with my focus on the music and the sweet spirit that filled the Hollow, I didn’t noticed when the rain stopped, but it did. However, the rainbow continued to shine brilliantly in the sky. Karen went on to share their journey from last February when her husband, Ricky, was diagnosed with cancer. She talked about the treatments, how her family wasn’t able to be in church on Easter for the first time and finally, how Ricky is now cancer free. Karen thanked everyone for their prayers and encouraged anyone who was going through a trial to say, “I’m gonna make it with Jesus.” The crowd repeated this phrase out loud and then Karen added, “The Lord’s prayer helped us through this time.” This led into their song Pray Now and then they closed the first half of the evening with Four Days Late. They encored that last song as well and had the audience repeat the line “My God is great, when He’s four days late He’s still on time.”
Conclusion: After intermission, KPNR came back and sang some of their most popular songs like Revival, their radio single I Am Blessed, Robe and Crown and closed with I’ll Fly Away. All in all, it was a great evening in Echo Hollow and a great day at the Southern Gospel Picnic. If there was one thing this day proved, it was that neither heat nor rain kept the presence of the Lord from coming in and blessing us through music from groups singing all over the park. Silver Dollar City is a special place this time of year, and I look forward to what tomorrow has in store! Stay tuned!