September first dawned on a Sunday morning and though fans of SGM hated to admit it, the Southern Gospel Picnic was drawing to a close. Sunday was the second to last day of the festival. Who would have thought you could have so much fun in the heat? LOL Ah, but you can! I tried not to let the next bit of information distract me…Sunday was the last day I would be at the park. On the other hand, what better way to end the week than see The Whisnants and Greater Vision all in one day?
“Good afternoon and who is excited to be at Silver Dollar City?” asked Duane Garren from the stage in the Red Gold Heritage Hall. It was two o’clock in the afternoon and restless fans were enjoying the A/C that poured from the buildings vents. “This has been a fantastic festival,” he went on, “Well, here is a group that works out of Morganton, North Carolina. I’ve lost track of how many number ones they have, everything they release shoots to the top of the charts and we are so excited to have them with us today, The Whisnants!” The trio opened their first set with We Are So Blessed. Jeff requested that everyone, “Put your hands together on this old song, I dare you to sing it with us!” Following, he was featured on One Day I Will. “Ya’ know folks,” he went on, “I don’t think we have much time to waste ‘cause King Jesus is coming soon!” Their #1, King Jesus, was next. Afterwards, Jeff teased, “I can tell right now that you folks are going to sing us to death!” LOL Then he introduced the group and his wife, Susan, who asked, “Now, this is Sunday, would you sing a little with us? God is so good, God is so good…” With a reverent tone, the room filled with voices. “Ah! Give yourself a hand!” Susan exclaimed afterwards. “This is one of the greatest songs I’ve ever sung,” she said, moving on, “He’ll begin to mold you and chisel you, put you back on the wheel and even through the fire…” That song was a ballad called I’ll Trust The Potter’s Hand. When Aaron was featured on Be Not Afraid, Jeff cried out, “That’s some good singing right there!” Going into their final song, he added, “This is one of the most happy songs we’ve ever done and some of you look like you could use some happy right now.” New Day Dawning was that snappy tune and I think it did make some folks happy, because it had them on their feet, clapping along!
That first show resembled the songs that you would hear at a current Whisnants concert. The two shows that followed consisted of requests and other popular songs they’ve recorded – once again, I wish I would have taken notes on ALL of them! They were just so good! The evening concert in the Hollow was split between two performances, one by comedian Dennis Swanburg and the other Greater Vision.
When Dennis finished on stage, emcee Duane Garren teased him by telling the audience, “He ain’t right.” LOL Going on to introduce the musical talent of the evening, he continued, “These guys have done more for Gospel Music than anyone else, you’ve seen them on the In Touch program with Dr. Charles Stanley many times and they are the most awarded trio in SGM, would you make welcome from Morristown, Tennessee…Greater Vision!” Gerald, Rodney and Chris appeared from the side of the stage and kicked off their program with He’d Still Been God. One song flowed into another with Come Unto Me, The Redeemed Medley and For All He’s Done. “Thank you for coming out on a beautiful summer evening for four hours of Gospel Music,” said Gerald both seriously and lightheartedly. “This song is about 40 years old, some of you will remember it.” The one to be recalled was Gerald’s solo Seeking For Me and When They Ring The Bells Of Heaven followed. “Well, thank you!” Gerald continued, “It’s great to be back in Silver Dollar City. It’s great to be back in this beautiful amp theater. I have to admit, my faith got a little weak at about one in the afternoon (speaking of the dreaded word – rain) and then I remembered that this isn’t an ordinary group of people.” LOL “Did anybody get to see the Whisnants today?” he asked, and when applause broke out he added, “I did. I was up there for two shows – I love them.” He went on to introduce Chris and when he said that Chris was the best, Chris said, “Very kind of you.” Gerald looked confused and asked, “What?” Chris answered, “You’ve heard a lot of tenor singers.” Gerald replied, “Well, I can’t remember them.” LOL Chris sang I Know A Man Who Can and true to form, received a standing ovation. Folks can’t get enough of that song! So they had to encore it… At this point it was getting darker and the stage lights moved up a notch as GV went into Looking For The Grace. “Thank you,” Gerald said politely, “That’s a brand new song we sent off to radio a few months ago.” He went on to talk about how many songs Rodney and Chris have written and told a story on Rodney. Then he introduced the song that Rodney wrote to encourage preachers, Preacher, Tell Me Like It Is. The upbeat My Name Is Lazarus closed out their set, bringing Duane on stage directing the crowd, “Have you enjoyed Great Vision so far tonight let them know it!”
Conclusion: As much as I wanted to stay for the second half of GV’s concert, we had a good drive ahead of us to get home and so we had to leave at intermission. On the bright side, it took us about fifteen minutes to weave in and out of the crowd in the hollow, so we heard a little of Still Waiting By The Well as we marched to the parking lot! 🙂 Both the Whisnants and Greater Vision are groups I can’t get enough of and did an awesome job at SDC!