Tuesday afternoon proved to be a lovely day at Silver Dollar City! Though the forecast warned of a 30-40% chance of rain, the clouds were just enough to protect us from the rays of the sun so we could enjoy being outside. The Southern Gospel Picnic offers a wide variety of artists to see each day, but I have the tendency to meander to my favorite theater – The Red Gold Heritage Hall – whenever I can. On Tuesday, I walked in just as Tribute Quartet began their second show and afterwards made my way down to Echo Hollow for the evening concert with Wilburn & Wilburn and Triumphant Quartet.
Red Gold Heritage Hall…
Tribute Quartet was ten minutes into their program when I walked into the theater and found a seat. From the stage, Riley, Gary, Josh and Anthony were singing an old favorite, Living In Canaanland. Another upbeat tune, Look For Me Around The Throne, followed. Riley took a minute and shared how he loves coming to the Southern Gospel Picnic. Being from Oklahoma, his family was able to come and spend the day with him but more than that, the park holds special memories for him because Silver Dollar City was his family’s vacation spot while growing up. In addition, Tuesday happened to be his Dad’s birthday! Riley asked his Dad to stand and wave at everyone and though we didn’t sing to him, Josh was playing the “Happy Birthday” song on the piano while Riley talked. Next, Tribute sang a ballad that will appear on their new CD coming out in September called Grace At Its Best. The deep lyrics hit home and while they held the last note, the audience gave them a standing ovation. They closed their second show with I Remember The Day, which featured their bass sing, Anthony.
The amphitheater filled quickly as show time neared. After an early CD pitch Wilburn & Wilburn took the stage and kicked off with their upbeat Nobody Like Jesus and Let’s All Go Down To The River. Jonathan greeted the crowd with, “Howd-eee!” The crowd responded with the same greeting and Jonathan chuckled, “Y’all watch Hee-Haw too!” He went on to thank Silver Dollar City for hosting the Southern Gospel Picnic and all the staff that works so hard for making this event possible. A song called It’s What He’s Done, from their new CD, Shoulders, followed. This slower, easy listening tune featured Jordan and when he finished Jonathan said, “Sometimes I forget to sing because I’m standing back here, so proud of this young man. This is my son in whom I’m well pleased – Jordan Wilburn!” He went on to explain that their next song was a little different, but reminded him of all the times he and Jordan sat in his truck, driving down country roads together. That tune was called Love Without End, Amen, which spoke of the special relationship between a father and son. Afterwards, Jonathan explained that he enjoys new songs as well as old ones. Beginning a story, Jonathan said, “Backstage a while ago, Jordan came up to me and said, ‘Dad, we have to sing some old songs tonight!’ I asked, ‘Why?’ and Jordan said, ‘Because there are thousands of old people out there!’” LOL! Their following song, of course, was an old one drawn from the Happy Goodman Family. Jonathan introduced it by saying, “I want you to think about where we would be without Jesus.” Then Jordan came and sang Who Am I? The next two songs were from their new CD also, titled Living Proof and You Asked Him To Leave. In closing, Jonathan shared a testimony of how his Grandfather came to know the Lord. This man, who was Jonathan’s hero fought in World War II, but came back a lost man. He told the crowd how important it was for his Grandpa to be saved because of the influence he would have on Jonathan growing up – his Grandpa was the one who taught him how to break ice for the cattle to drink in winter, how to treat a cow that had pink eye, how to say ‘yes, sir’ and ‘yes ma’am’ and many other things. Yet, before his conversion, everyone in town thought that Jonathan’s Grandpa would amount to nothing because he grew up in the home of an alcoholic – but what the Devil didn’t know was that his Grandpa would marry a praying woman. One day, during a revival, his Grandpa came to know the Lord when he walked in the back of the church house, fell to his knees and crawled to the front and gave his life to the Lord. This story introduced Wilburn & Wilburn’s closing song, The Old Rugged Cross Made The Difference. With that true story in mind, the lyrics of that classic took on a whole new meaning when Jonathan sang them.
Triumphant Quartet was the second artist to appear at Echo Hollow Tuesday night and they opened their program with We Will Remember. During their first set, they didn’t talk much but used their time to sing, sing, sing! (Which thrilled the audience.) One thing I loved about their song selection was how they chose their most popular songs – songs like Love Came Calling, Saved By Grace, Somebody Died For Me and an old Cathedral song Who Can Do Anything? David also played a harmonica solo with their new pianist, Aaron Dishman and then they sang the infamous I Wish It Would Rain. This song has become a running joke for the crowd in Echo Hollow; usually, if it’s already raining when Triumphant comes on stage, this is the first one they sing! (In fact, that happened last year!) LOL! Sorry guys, no rain tonight, but it was still funny considering the rain we sat through Monday evening with Karen Peck & New River. Anyway, another up-beat tune, Somebody Tell Somebody was next and then Eric shared some thoughts on Psalm 22 and Psalm 23. We don’t know how much time passed between the writing of these two Psalms, but as life throws its joys and heartaches upon us, we can easily relate to the two realities David experienced when penning each one. Psalm 23 speaks of the cool streams and fresh greenery in the valleys while Psalm 22 opens with the heart wrenching plea, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” He shared a personal story of how his cousin recently lost his son; in just one day, life can quickly change. In times like these, our praise of Psalm 23 can become the cry of Psalm 22. This introduced their song Amazing God; this and their popular ballad He Is closed the first half of the evening.
Conclusion: If you’re wondering when Triumphant’s “Bluegrass tune” made an appearance, it was on the set after intermission! I guarantee you the white hankies flew over the Hollow in grand array! Triumphant also sang This Blood on the second half. Once again, I had another wonderful day at the Southern Gospel Picnic. Thankful for the nice weather and great talent, the day was filled with my favorite music. I can never get over how much I can see and hear at this festival and am grateful that the folks at Silver Dollar City keep bringing it back year after year!