Every year the Black River General Baptist Church of Broseley, MO has a benefit concert for UCAN. www.ucanpb.com The United Cancer Assistance Network volunteers know what it means to battle cancer. They seek to provide direct assistance to individual cancer patients free of charge and are able to provide support in paying utility bills, groceries, medical supplies, transportation needs, wigs, etc. All donations are used locally and 100% of the financial donations go directly to local citizens – your friends and neighbors! This evening’s concert with Tribute Quartet was to raise money for that association so they could help others and ease burdens.
Tribute opened the evening with I Love Living In Grace, an upbeat quartet song that all the guys sing together. On the turn around after the chorus, Gary tells the audience, “Turn to the person sitting beside you and say, ‘I’m glad you got to see me tonight.’” When they began singing the next verse, Josh looked to the first few rows of pews and jokingly said, “Ok, that’s enough!” Gary introduced their next song by asking, “How many feel blessed tonight?” I’ve Been Blessed followed, featuring each of the guys on a line of the verses. Josh and Gary shared lines on the first verse while Anthony and Riley did the same on the second. As all the guys sang their parts you could tell each one truly believed the words they were singing. Their countenance reflected the title of the song! On the last chorus, both Gary and Josh encouraged the audience to sing the words of the chorus with them. At the end of the song, while the intro played for the next song, Josh asked the crowd, “Amen?” And encouraged all to listen to the message of his solo, I Believe It, I Heard It, I’m Saved. Gary introduced the group then, beginning with Anthony Davis, their new bass singer. This was only Anthony’s seventh week out on the road with Tribute, but from his presence on stage with the guys, it looked like he’s been singing with them far longer than that! He’s a perfect fit! Gary said that Anthony was a police officer by trade, then asked, “If he came to arrest you, would you be scared? – No. I guarantee he’d say, ‘stick ’em up…please.’” Gary introduced Josh and Riley, and Josh stepped forward and introduced Gary, saying, “Come on up here…little fella.’” (Josh glances at the audience and gives one of those laughs he loves to do.) “Ain’t he cute?” Josh asked, then proceeded to tell us that Gary is celebrating his 26th year in Southern Gospel Music. “So, as you can imagine, a lot of people know Gary Casto,” says Josh, “Case in point, we were on that cruise in February that leaves out of Jacksonville, FL – the Singing At Sea. We were waiting to get on the boat with a whole crowd of people and someone hollered, ‘Gary Casto is in the crowd.’ They all turned toward him and looked down, (crowd laughs), he was so embarrassed, bless his heart. He told me later though that he was sorry he hollered.” (Audience laughs again.) The next song of the evening was the classic, When You Look For Me (look around the throne) featuring Anthony on the verses. The audience clapped through the whole song and the guys had great stage interaction, huddling together in the back when the chorus changed to When We Sing Around The Throne Eternal, letting Anthony have the stage. After that song, Gary asked how many were seeing Tribute Quartet for the very first time. A good amount of people raised their hands. (Which seemed to please Gary very much!) Then Gary went on to tell of when he and Josh traveled together with the Wilburn’s, at that time, Josh was doing very little singing and a whole lot more “pickin’ on the piano” – he then asked if would we like to hear Josh play something? The audience applauded their approval. Gary also mentioned that Josh had his very own solo Cd…which Josh just so happened to have a copy of by his keyboard! Holding it up for everyone to see, Gary turned to Josh and said, “That’s enough Vana White, sit down.” Josh played Everyday With Jesus. Half way through the piano solo, Josh looked out into the audience and said, “thank you.” Suddenly, the crowd began clapping. Then Josh replied, “Oh no, it’s too late.” (…and gave one of his laughs.) Gary introduced their next song as being one off of their new Cd, where they went back and picked 10 classics to re-record. “And we decided that we would let Josh pick his very own song,” said Gary…“you feel our pain already don’t you!? You see, Josh likes a lot of different styles of music, have you ever heard of people like, Dean Martin? Lucille Ball? He loves that type of music, so this is what he picked out, let me see what you think”…then they played the track intro. Sweeter As The Days Go By was the song Josh selected. As you can imagine, Josh was pretty wound up on this one! When it came to the first verse, Josh used his foot pretending to slide to the front of the stage. And on the second chorus he kicked his legs up high in perfect beat with the music. (Of course, that drew some laughter from the audience and glances from the other guys!) Then a line later, Josh exclaimed, “Ouch!” and grabbed his side! Another song from their new Cd was, One Holy Lamb, featuring Riley Clark. Josh accompanied him on the piano while Riley passionately sung this ballad. The Spirit was really moving and before the second chorus everyone applauded. On the line in the chorus that says, “One Sacrifice, paid a price I could not pay” – Riley jumped up and down as his passion for that thought evidenced itself. They received a standing ovation and a thunderous applause, but I think the message of the song is what brought tears to Riley’s eyes, encoring the chorus, he sang with just Josh playing piano and much of it accapella. The last note of the song he held for fifteen seconds without thinning out or getting weak. The last note was just as strong as the first!!! (Be sure to check out the clip on the video blog – it’s sure to send chills up your spine!) The encore received another standing ovation. Gary mentioned their Singing New’s Fan Award nominations. Riley was nominated in three categories, Favorite Horizon Individual, Favorite Young Artist and Favorite Tenor…Gary said that is an honor. An honor indeed, and it is fast becoming evident from his performances that Riley is going to be one of the leading tenors in SGM! Josh is also nominated in the top ten Favorite Musician category!!! Yeah Josh! Moving on, Gary told of when they first found out that their former bass singer was leaving, how he, Josh and Riley began to pray that God would send them the right man…and Gary said that they believe that God has sent them the right man! “I’d never heard of him, never heard his name before,” Gary shared, “Someone told me that I needed to listen to him sing this song on YouTube. Well, I didn’t even know what a YouTube was! I thought that was something you played in the High School Band! (Josh turned and interjected to Gary, “That’s a tuba!”)… So, either Josh or Riley pulled it up on the computer for me, and I began to listen to this young man sing this song, and tears began to run down my face. I said, ‘Lord, if YouTube’s this good, I need to come back more often.’ Amen?” Then Gary asked Anthony if he would come and introduce this song.
“How many of you remember being scared of things growing up?” Anthony began. “Do you remember being scared of the monsters in the closet? Or maybe they were under the bed, I don’t know where your monsters live in Missouri. (Everyone laughs) Do you remember being scared of the dark?…Riley’s still scared of the dark. (More chuckles) Life is a scary place – when you got scared, where did you go? Mom and Dad, right? Think back, do you remember the feeling that you got when they picked you up and held you in their arms? We ran to Mom and Dad for a safety thing, there was security there. At twelve years old, I lost my Dad to a massive heart attack, that’s tough. Where do you go? I didn’t have a Dad to run to anymore. You know, as we get older, life is still a scary place. The monsters change, but it’s still scary. Where do you go? At ten years old, I gave my life to Christ, and I have the promise in the Word of God that I have a Friend that will stick closer than a brother, He will never leave me or forsake me, and when life is a scary place, I can run to my Heavenly Father who will hold me in His arms.” Anthony sang the classic Hold Me.
Gary asked the crowd, “Aren’t you thankful that we have a Heavenly Father that will hold us?” He turned to the guys and requested that they sing That’s Why I Love Him So next. Gary sang the first verse and Riley took up the second, both putting their all into the message and doing an excellent job in conveying it to the audience. Next, Gary was happy to announce that today (at that time – March 31st) was the opening day for professional baseball. “Now I get excited”, Gary said, “I’m a big sports nut, I feel like I can’t get a good nights sleep unless I watch Sports Center, amen? I love it when my team wins…when my team hits a home run in the bottom of the ninth and they win, I get excited! In fact, the guys can hear me in the back of the bus from the front of the bus, amen?” Anthony, Riley and Josh reply with a very unenthusiastic “a-m-e-n”. Gary gave the guys a thoughtful look before turning back to the audience, “But friend, can you imagine what heaven is like when another lost soul comes to know the Lord? Well, I can sum it up for you tonight….Calvary Wins Again!!!!” Anthony stepped up and began the first verse to the great song written by Barbara Huffman, Calvary Wins Again. When they came to the chorus, nothing but joy was expressed on all their smiling faces! On the last chorus, in between lines, Gary asked, “Do you believe that Church?” I love this song! Even though it’s about salvation and the cross, (and SGM has hundreds of songs about that subject already), the lyrics of this song are unique and so applicable to everyday life! Especially the second verse, it’s my favorite… “as long as there is life there will always be a struggle, a tug of war between the right and wrong, and for everyone who makes their choice for Jesus, Satan has a plan to stop salvation’s song.” Yet, no matter how hard Satan tries – Calvary wins!!! This song closed the first half of the concert. As Josh walked off stage he shouted, “AMEN!”
The pastor came up on stage and told about the mission and purpose of UCAN. In attendance that night, were a few board members of UCAN, whom the pastor acknowledged by having them stand. As the ushers were preparing to take the offering, Pastor Jim asked Josh if he would play a solo on the piano. Josh was all to happy to comply! He played a very jazzy rendition of Mansion Over the Hilltop which everyone enjoyed.
After the offering, Tribute kicked off the second half of the concert with He Was In Charge. Josh played and sang on this first song, and Gary mentioned that many came up to him and asked that Josh be set loose on a fast song. So Josh played Goodbye World, Goodbye. Yet, the other guys didn’t think he was playing fast enough, and would go up to him and tell him to speed it up in different parts of the song. Of course, Josh insisted that it was fast enough, and made plenty of faces to express just that! His efforts received a standing ovation along with a great applause of appreciation! Gary stepped forward and said that they had a request for this next song, and introduced it by stating that he thinks the all time best songwriter in their genre is Rusty Goodman. He always weaved an encouraging word into his songs. Riley came up and began the classic Who Am I? Half way through the song the audience applauded in recognition of the message of the song. This was another where the Spirit was evidently moving and when the song ended Gary led the congregation in singing Because He Lives. Of the hymn, Gary commented, “I don’t believe any truer words have been written.” Then he came down off the stage onto the floor and began talking about Isaiah 53 where it talks of being healed by His stripes. Gary said he believes that passage not only talks about a physical healing, but a spiritual one as well, or maybe a financial healing. “I want to sing this for somebody tonight.”
Gary continued and began singing I Am Healed. During the song, Gary walked down both isles all the way to the back and back to the front again. When Gary was down the isle, I looked back to where he was and happened to see Pastor Jim with his hankie out wiping tears away ~ how touching! Many eyes were moist with tears. It is worthy to note the way that Gary really connects with folks in the audience. It’s nice to see an artist come off stage and not be afraid to interact with the people. You can tell he truly cares about those he is singing to. Gary asked when the song ended, “Aren’t you thankful for that tonight?” The evening closed with an upbeat number called I’m In That Crowd. The audience really loved this song also, after the first line, everyone was on there feet clapping!
Before the guys stepped off the stage Pastor Jim had them advertise their product and do a drawing. Gary pulled the names for the drawing and both winners were sitting on the same side of the church, Josh looked to the other side of the church and exclaimed, “Ya’ll should’ve sat on the other side!!!”
When Pastor Jim came up on stage again he announced that, that very night they raised $4,030 for UCAN! The crowd gave generously! Then, Gary had Pastor Jim sing What A Day That Shall Be with them before the concert was dismissed.
After the concert I had the opportunity to meet Barbara Huffman. She is such a sweet lady! I really enjoyed talking to her and chatting about all the concerts we’ve been to and are hoping to go to in the area. We sure do appreciate the songwriters who pen such encouraging lyrics for us to draw from! Barbara wrote Calvary Wins Again and I’m In That Crowd, both of which Tribute staged that night and the crowd enjoyed immensely! Calvary Wins Again is Tribute’s new radio release and is on it’s way up on the SN charts! ~ Call your radio station and request it today! ~ This is a message that needs to be heard!
Conclusion: It was an awesome night! Anthony is a perfect fit for Tribute, a natural on stage. He looks very happy to be singing with them! His testimony and the way he introduced Hold Me was/is very moving! All of the guys put everything they had into the performance and it resulted in a very powerful evening. Some of the highlights for me personally were Riley singing One Holy Lamb – the emotion he puts in that song is priceless. You can tell that he is singing straight from his heart. I am so delighted that he is nominated in the top ten Favorite Tenor, Horizon Individual and Young Artist categories for the Singing News Fan Awards! I Am Healed is another! If there was a song in itself that could pay tribute to what UCAN does, it is I Am Healed. And Josh singing Sweeter As The Days Go By was just hilarious! I hope Josh wins the Favorite Musician Award this year from the SN Fan Awards ~ with talent like that, he certainly is deserving! All in all, it was a remarkable evening, we can’t thank the guys of Tribute enough for what they do…I this writer can truly say … I’ve Been Blessed!
Stay tuned…in conjunction with my up coming video blog, I’ll be doing a give away. Watch the up coming video blog for more details.