“Would you remain standing and welcome our host group from just up the road in Gadsden, Alabama, the Mark Trammell Quartet!” exclaimed the emcee, Jay Parrack. It was Saturday night at the Mark Trammell Quartet Homecoming and MTQ had just stepped on stage to kick off the night with Echoes From the Burning Bush. As they sang, my gaze couldn’t help but wander over to where Chris Allman, Gerald Wolfe and Rodney Griffin of Greater Vision (the evening’s special guest) were sitting. Guessing from the pre-concert chatter, this was the most anticipated nights of the Homecoming. “Echoes from the burning bush…!!!” sang the quartet, holding out that last note long and loud. “I had to do that song first thing,” said Mark Trammell, holding up his hand with about an inch between his thumb and index finger, he went on, “Because my memory is about that long.” Mark asked their families to begin making their way to the stage and once everyone was in order, Dustin introduced his mom, Pam, to the Homecoming crowd. Nick followed and introduced Jess and Tessa, when little Tessa threw her arms above her head, Mark explained, “That means roll tide.” (lol) “This is the support system we have at home,” Mark conveyed, and then to the families added, “Thank you for all that you do even when we’re not here, and I wanted to say that publicly, now, go sit down.” That last part made everyone giggle because the words seem harsh, yet, it sounded quite funny.
“I love old conventions songs,” Mark went on, “and this was one of the requests.” It was actually one we heard last night, The Sweetest Song I Know! Following that good ole’ barn burner, was: Tis So Sweet, Wonderful Time Up There and I Sing The Mighty Power. That last one received a vigorous applause and one old lady jumped up to her feet, clapping away! “Another request,” Mark presented. If I had thought I Sing The Mighty Power had the crowd excited, it was second to Loving The Lamb! Applause broke out as Mark reached the end of the verse. When you attend events and sings like this, there is one thing for certain – when a group is consumed with passion for the song they are singing at that exact moment, it doesn’t go un-noticed. That’s exactly what happened with this ballad. The audience stood to their feet, someone from the back cried out, “Hallelujah!” and another from the front, “Thank you, brother.” It was a moment to be savored. Mark went on to tell about the “second” most requested song last night, “And it grieves my soul because I’m sick of singing it. But ya’ll like it and Glen Payne taught me to give folks what they want so that’s what I’m gonna’ do…but I’d love for you to take it home with you.” (Implying that those who requested it should buy the CD it’s recorded on.) LOL Well, the song was I Want To Know and boy, did they have fun with this one! Before Pat had a chance to sing the verse, Dustin looked at him and said, “Your hair is pretty.” As random as that comment was, it made the crowd laugh. Afterwards, Pat turned to the crowd and exclaimed, “Thank you, music lovers!” MTQ had one more to sing and this is what Mark had to say about it, “I promised I’d do this song. There are about 15-18 of you who asked for this song, one of you even told me a story about why I should do it. This song gives us a good reason why we should keep going…” That ballad just happens to be their current radio single, Too Much To Gain To Lose. (Standing ovation!)
Jay returned on stage and gave a synopsis of the Gospel before introducing the special guests of the evening. “I’m ready to meet Jesus,” Jay earnestly expressed, “but there’s something inside of me that’s not ready for Him to come just yet, because I want to hear this next group…from Morristown, Tennessee, Greater Vision!” Gerald, Rodney and Chris kicked off their part of the program with He’d Still Been God – Come Unto Me, The Redeemed Melody and For All He’s Done followed. “Thank you,” said Gerald greeting the crowd, “It’s great to be with you tonight. Mark mentioned good songs never getting old and this song here is over 40 years old and I want to share it with you tonight. Most of you don’t know it, but that’s okay.” The 40 year old ballad was Seeking For Me, one of the many tunes from their new CD, For All He’s Done. It may be old, but the message was delivered with power! When They Ring The Bells Of Heaven came next and everyone began keeping the beat with a clap. After they held the last note, Chris turned to Gerald and exclaimed; “Now you talk!” Gerald laughed, “We held that ending out a little longer than we usually do.” LOL After Gerald thanked Mark for having them at the Homecoming, he slipped behind his keyboard and introduced Chris. “When I walked in tonight, there was a request at the product table that said, ‘Please sing this song,’” said Gerald. It was none other than I Know A Man Who Can. No matter where GV sings this song they always, always get a standing ovation. Well, Anniston was no exception, and when the crowd was still on their feet GV encored the last verse and chorus. Even the folks sitting in the balcony were standing!!! Gerald stepped away from the keyboard to sing My Name Is Lazarus and then he introduced Rodney. Gerald took special care to squelch the rumor that Rodney was leaving GV. Recently, Rodney moved from Tennessee to Kentucky to be closer to his parents and somewhere along the way, a humor started that they (GV) were fighting and he was quitting. Gerald said it was so bad it reached California! LOL Well, Rodney’s not leaving, he just bought a little farm over the border in Kentucky. “Let me have Rodney sing you a new song,” Gerald concluded, “we call it our ‘preacher song.’” The “preacher” song is officially called Preacher Tell Me Like It Is. Looking For The Grace (GV’s current radio single) ended the first half of the evening, but without an encore! “God bless you all! Thank you guys!” Gerald exclaimed as they walked off stage.
Before the crowd was dismissed for intermission, Jay had the ushers come forward and take up the offering. As the plates were passed Gerald softly played Great Is Thy Faithfulness, a little way in he paused and said, “Well, someone behind me is humming that song so let me get it in a congregational key.” A few moments later, everyone was singing along.
“Are ya’ll ready for some more, good Gospel Music?” Jay asked as everyone scurried to their seats. The Mark Trammell Quartet set the second half in motion with their first song, Meet Me Over On The Other Side. Mark mentioned that that was their first request, and this, the following song, was their second…The King Is Coming. After a standing ovation, Mark said, “We are so grateful that you’ve come to be a part of this weekend. Please be seated.” When Greater Vision walked on stage, they began with Just One More Soul. I was so excited to see them sing this one live! It’s one of my favorites! After their next tune, Waiting At The Well, Gerald waved MTQ on stage, “C’mon, Mark!” While the guys secured their spots on stage, Gerald informed the crowd that on the following Monday they were going into the studio to record the “Cathedrals Family Reunion” CD. “Pray that Mark can remember his words,” Gerald teased, and then he lined up the guys with the parts he wanted them to sing on the next song. Mark was asked to sing baritone, Pat bass, Rodney lead and Chris tenor. Rodney asked Gerald what they were going to sing and Gerald replied, “You’ll know it when it begins.” Rodney guessed, “Achy Breaky Heart?” Without missing a beat Gerald casually said, “No, that’s our invitation song.” LOL It was actually Wedding Music. When the crowd heard the intro, six i-phones and point-n-shoot cameras popped up to capture the moment on film. Of course, with such anticipation, everyone gave it a standing ovation at the end. “You wanna’ hear another one?” Gerald asked with a grin. Instead, a lady from the back hollered, “That’s good playin’!” That made Gerald’s smile even broader, “Why, thank you!” Gerald turned to Mark and asked why they didn’t sing How Big Is God. Usually, Mark’s answer is “we don’t have a piano player,” but Mark was smart to know that wouldn’t work with Gerald sitting at the piano, so he said, “Dustin doesn’t know it.” Dustin interjected, “Always blaming me for something!” Gerald turned to Dustin and asked, “Are you the youngest?” When Dustin nodded his head yes, Gerald said, “Well, get used to it!” LOL So, Chris, Rodney, Mark and Pat sang How Big Is God…after Gerald practically sang the whole thing by himself. But that’s a story for a different time. BUT, Pat got the standing ovation. While they were trying to figure out what to sing next, Pat said, “Something that features me. We’re on a roll!” Chris chides him, “Hush! Mark’s thinking…” (Only Gerald and Mark knew what they were going to do next, and at this moment, they were trying to figure out what key it was in.) Satisfied, Gerald announced, “G! It’s in G!” Then, everyone on stage began singing I’ll Have A New Body/Everybody Will Be Happy Over There. Half way through the song Chris sang, “Mark needs a new body!” LOL The crowd was on their feet, the tune was encored and everyone applauded Greater Vision and the Mark Trammell Quartet as they ended the night with such a happy tune.
Conclusion: I really loved how they ended the night. Usually, when you see these two groups together, you can be 99% sure that they’re going to close out with Champion of Love. It was a joy to be surprised with the 1%! Not only do these two groups make a wonderful combination, their individual sets are awesome too! Saturday night at the MTQ Homecoming was a blast! It really was the night when “things that never happen,” happened! (Title credit for this post goes to Mr. Pat Barker for thinking it up! Thanks man!)