Ah, yes. I know you’re just dying to know what the title of this post is referring to…but alas, you’ll have to read the review to find out! (I know, I’m mean. LOL) It was the second night of the Great Lake of the Ozarks Gospel Sing and if you haven’t already guessed, The Lesters and The Mark Trammell Quartet were the featured artists that evening along with a local group from Iowa called Higher Power.
Todd Foreman started the evening by having the audience recite the Lord’s Prayer with him and then brought Higher Power on stage. When a third artist gets added to the platform it can make for a long review. Since they sang the exact same songs as last year, I decided to leave their set out.
The Lesters were the second group to grace the stage on Friday night. This male trio from St. Louis kicked off their program with an old hymn, Revive Us Again and went right into a new upbeat song called Carry the Message. On their next song they featured tenor, Justin Wells, and was called Anytime. Before the song began, Brian shared with the audience that the tune was also penned by Justin. The audience sure approved of that! When it came time to introduce the members of the group Brian had a lot of fun with Jonathan – Jonathan and Bailey just welcomed their first child, Jonathan Brian Lester, into the family a few weeks ago and you know first time grandpas love bragging about their new grandbaby! Brian was no exception! Jonathan stepped forward and told a story about the next song they were going to do. It happened a few years ago when they sang at a prison – the popular hymn Amazing Grace was in their set and they had the inmates sing a verse. Jonathan said that not one of those men sang on pitch or in the correct key, but it was the sweetest sound he ever heard because when those guys sang, they did so with such a passion they didn’t think to care what others would think of how they sounded. Then the Lesters sang Amazing Grace – with that story in mind, the hymn became so much sweeter! The perfect ballad followed, one called Freedom’s Never Free. This song reminded us not only of those who have kept and continue to keep our country safe by enlisting in the armed forces, but also of the One who died so that we could have the ultimate freedom. What a great set!
Before the last group came up to sing, Todd wished one of our good friends, Joyce R. a Happy Birthday! Then he gave Mark a hard time as he brought The Mark Trammell Quartet on stage. The quartet kicked off their set with Meet Me Over on the Other Side, To Know He Knows Me and I’ll Take it to the Grave. “That’s a new song off of a brand new project that we have with us this year,” Mark explained of the last peppy quartet tune. Just as Mark asked those in the crowd to raise their hand if they have never seen MTQ sing, Todd came out from backstage and as he was walking down the aisle he raised his hand, looked at Mark and hollered, “Who are you?” Mark teased back, “I’m your worst nightmare if you don’t leave me alone…you scrawny Baptist preacher.” LOL While introducing the group, Mark mentioned how their tenor Dustin is from “up north” and that, “He doesn’t speak redneck yet…but we’re teaching him the finer things in life, like how to make a real tomato sandwich with a real vine ripened tomato. Not a store bought tomato – how many know the difference?” The sound of applause resonated in response. When he introduced his son, Nick, he talked about how his granddaughter, Tessa, had her first gymnastics class that day. “I got a video of her walking on…what do you call that thing?” Mark asked. Nick answered, “Balance beam.” Mark replied, “Don’t act like that, I wouldn’t know. At my age you balance standing on the floor yet alone on one of those things.” LOL When he went on to share with the audience that Tessa would become a big sister in October the crowd “awed.” Wonderful Time up There followed, along with another new one that Mark sings, God’s Been Faithful. The next few songs were When the King Comes to Claim His Throne, Your Walk Talks and Don’t Stop Running. “We’re going to sing one more for you and then we’ll take a break and sing a few more after,” said Mark. He let everyone know that on this last song he considered the audience the Great Lake of the Ozarks Mass Choir. “If you want to sing,” said Mark, “open up and let ‘er fly!” Their closing song that included this mass choir was The King Is Coming.
After Higher Power sang their part on the second half The Lesters stepped on stage with a classic, I’ll Fly Away. (They should have been there the previous night, eh?) LOL Brian instructed the “choir” to get their vocal chords warmed up as they went into Nothing But the Blood – immediately the audience echoed the chorus as they sang. “Ah,” Brian began, “I love to hear everybody singing those old songs.” He went on to tell the folks that they were going to do another one that Justin wrote, then he turned to Jon and said, “You know, the one with the music I like.” Jon hit the track and Brian smiled and said, “Yeah! That one!” Justin sang his song So Many Nights and then mentioned how Brian looked like Winnie the Pooh before the song started. Afterwards, Jon said, “Dad has been called a lot of things, but not Winnie the Pooh. Didn’t Justin do a great job on that song? If you’ll allow us to do one slow song, this is one that needs to be sung.” It began as Room at the Cross For You and transitioned into the main hymn, The Old Rugged Cross. “We’ll leave you with this little thought,” said Brian as they prepared to close. Turning to Justin he said, “Sing it sister Justin!” LOL It was God Be With You Till We Meet Again. The crowd rose to their feet and Todd appeared on stage and said, “That’s the power house from St. Louis! Let ‘em know you love them!”
“I told you earlier that I don’t like Mark Trammell,” said Todd, “and I don’t.” Mark peeked his head out from behind the curtain and Todd looked at him and said, “I told them (the audience) I’d pray for you to have a, you know…whatever!” Turning back to the crowd Todd exclaimed, “Please make welcome the Pat Barker Quartet!” LOL While walking to his side of the stage, Pat paused in the middle and took a quick bow…grinning. They kicked off with Leave Your Sorrows and then Mark thanked the crowd for allowing them to be there. He made a few jokes about the following night when the Booth Brothers would be singing and then he picked on Todd a little too, before he featured Pat on Thanks To Calvary. “Now, I hate to throw you back out here but…” Mark began. Pat cut him off and said, “Oh, why not, they’re loving it.” *wink* The crowd roared for Pat and Mark added, “In case you haven’t figured it out, our bass singer likes to hear himself sing and apparently you do to because all the songs you’ve requested feature him!” LOL As Pat and Mark went back and forth teasing each other and Pat turned a joke on Mark, Todd peeked out from behind the curtain waving and dancing. Back to the song, Mark said, “Because it was #1 two years ago means we’ve sung it 7,000 times by now, which means I’m sick of it! But we’re gonna’ sing it because I don’t like to disappoint people, though tonight I came close.” Finally, the sang I Want To Know. Let’s just say that there was giggling throughout the whole song. First Todd strolled across the elevated stage behind where MTQ was singing wearing a Santa hat and grooving some moves to the tune. Not to be outdone, MTQ’s bus driver lifted a walker on stage and the guys ushered Mark over to sit in it…which he did. Mark looked at the front row and said, “Glad this thing has brakes or I would be in your lap.” LOL By this time, everyone was standing and clapping along. When the song ended Mark said, “Thanks to our minister of transportation for that.” Everyone giggled. Especially at the “transportation” part! Mark introduced their closing song with these thoughts, “I have a mission that’s not completed, even 40 years into it, it drives me to get on that little white bus and leave my wife of 35 years to go to your church and tell you that Jesus is the only way.” That closing ballad was Too Much To Gain To Lose – everyone was on their feet in honor of the lyrics.
Before the evening was dismissed Mark closed in prayer and gave a short invitation. Though I have seen MTQ many times and knew what to expect, I was impressed how Mark made this one different from all the rest. He quoted the verse in Eph 3:20 which says, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” He explained the meaning behind the Greek words and shared what it meant for us. If I didn’t have my head bowed and eyes closed I would have been taking notes furiously! Suddenly, Mark said, “Look up here,” and when we looked up he was kneeling on the stage and he went on to say that there were folks in the building who have situations in their lives that they would like to give up on, but he encouraged them not too, because as the verse says – we have the power in us through the Holy Spirit to conquer all things. Wow. What a way to close a night!
Conclusion: This was a wonderful evening! It was a delight to see the Lesters again! I just love their energy and sincerity they exhibit on stage and everyone was having fun calling Jon “Dad” and “Daddy” throughout the night. MTQ was great too – their new songs are awesome live and I can’t say how much respect I have for them adding so many into their set so quickly. The new Cd, Your Walk Talks, hasn’t even been out for six months yet and they are already singing over half the songs. Truly professionals and a top notch quartet!