A long intermission. Missing singers during the last half of the program. That’s how the Second Half Quartet accidentally fell together in 2014 at the Truthseekers Homecoming. When the quartet retired in the fall of 2018, it seemed only fitting that they appear one more time at the event of their birthplace. Saturday night at the Marion Civic Center on March 27, 2019, Greater Vision and the Mark Trammell Quartet came together to do just that!
The evening started with the Mark Trammell Quartet singing an old song that appears on their new album, “God Has Provided.” The tune was a Gaither classic, “When We All Get Together.” This went into “Treasures In Heaven” and “He Hideth My Soul.” “I love that great old hymn,” said Mark, “and I’m glad you do too.” He went on to quickly introduce the group and let folks hear Trevor play a solo on the piano. Trevor’s feature was “The Redeemed Medley” and afterwards, Mark looked at Trevor and said, “I want to do a new song.” However, this new song only had guitar on the first verse and chorus, leaving Trevor unoccupied for about half the song. So, as the MTQ guys were singing their lines, Trevor snuck out his phone and snapped a selfie from stage! The crowd giggled, leaving the guys looking around just in time to catch Trevor in the act. LOL! “Here’s another new one!” Mark exclaimed. This introduced the groups current radio single, “Be Saved,” and then Mark talked about another new song that Blake sings, called “The Way In The Wilderness.” Their set ended with the upbeat title track to their new album, “God Has Provided Himself A Lamb.”
As the MTQ guys left the stage, Mark brought on Greater Vision, who came out and sang, “He Is To Me.” Several favorites followed, such as, “You Were Faithful Yesterday,” “Paid In Full” and “The Walls Came Down.” Gerald then greeted the crowd and shared how good it was to see so many people that they’ve met over the years in Marion. Introducing each member before they sang their featured song, Gerald began with Jon and the story behind he came to sing, “Why Me Lord?” After Jon’s solo, Gerald began to introduce Chris with, “We were in Myrtle Beach…” Suddenly, a guy from the crowd hollered, “Yeah!” Without missing a beat, Gerald turns to the area of the audience the voice came from and asked, “Were you there?” The guy answered, “Yeah! I live in Myrtle Beach!” Gerald replied, “What are you doing here?” LOL! Anyway, Gerald did eventually get to tell how Chris came to sing “Hallelujah Square,” and of course, the folks in Marion heard it again that night. The final introduction of the night was Rodney, who, not only had a story behind his introduction, but also the writer behind their closing song for the first half, “Still.”
The moment we’d all been waiting for came after intermission when the Second Half Quartet would take the stage for the last time at the Truthseekers Homecoming. It was bittersweet. Gerald, Chris, Mark, Rodney and Pat walked out and began singing, “Far Beyond The Starry Sky.” As the songs continued, the crowd soaked up tunes like, “Standing On Holy Ground,” “There’s Just Something About That Name” and “Master Builder” while offering applause, hoots and hollers as encouragement. Gerald introduced the next song, explaining that it was an acapella tune that Mark would kick off with one word… So, Mark belted, “Well!…” Almost immediately, Chris admitted, “I gave him the wrong word!” Everyone laughed and then Mark sang the right word, “Now,” that kicked off the old spiritual, “Cheer The Weary Traveler.” Following, Gerald shared how their next song was inspired by this exact audience the night it all started. Gerald even remembered what side of the auditorium the man sat on who shouted out the title, “Prodigal Son!” on that February night. As Rodney went into the first verse, I couldn’t believe that this would be the last time I’d hear it in this auditorium, but like everyone else, I kept my eyes and ears glued towards the stage as “Prodigal Son” was sang once more. “When I Move” came next and was encored and then they had Chris sing “I Know A Man Who Can,” since it wasn’t included in GV’s part of the program on the first half of the evening. “Well,” asked Gerald, “are you glad to see Pat Barker?” The crowd roared their reply as Gerald went on to tell that Pat now sings with The Guardians and how they couldn’t have Pat on stage without singing his signature song. The crowd went wild when the music for “How Big Is God” started and Pat went into his solo. After another classic, “Wedding Music,” Gerald asked the crowd, “Are y’all ready to leave?” Unanimously, the crowd shouted, “No!” in unison. It was at this point that Gerald began telling a story about a song they wanted Pat to sing when a lady from the crowd hollered, “Daystar!” Without missing a beat, Gerald replied, “No, that wasn’t it! It was this one…” The walk up only had a few beats, but it was enough to tell the audience that “Thanks To Calvary,” was the tune Gerald spoke of. As the evening came to a close, two songs completed the Second Half Quartet’s time on stage, and those two were a send off that I, nor audience, will probably ever forget – they were none other than “Going Home” and “Boundless Love.”
Conclusion: What a night. Now, I know that the official “last concert” from the Second Half Quartet was last November, but for someone who was at the Truthseekers Homecoming on the night when it all started (2014), this was the night that was special to me. To see the group end where they began… That memorializes this group with the Marion Civic Center in a way that only the sentimental can understand. As you can tell, I qualify! LOL! On a serious note, here’s the thing that was truly amazing about that night. Sometime after intermission, the electric went out in the city of Marion, Illinois. Outside, the streets lights and marquee signs on the square went black. On the other hand, the lights inside the Civic Center never dimmed, flickered or went out. They found out later, that the bars were closed, yet, Gospel Music sang on. The Second Half Quartet’s last concert at the Truthseekers Homecoming was literally the only lights on in town…