Halloween. It’s been a few years since I’ve been “out and about” on this holiday. I’m not afraid of ghosts or anything, but when people start covering their bushes with white strings and giant purple spiders…well, that’s a little more than I can handle! LOL! However, when there’s a concert with the McKameys, Inspirations and Primitive Quartet only a few hours from my house – I can manage a few purple spiders here and there… `
Duane Garren’s concert First Time West of the Mississippi had been on my calendar for a few months now. Though the McKameys, Inspirations and Primitive Quartet are scheduled on the same programs many times throughout the year, this would be the first time they would all appear on the same stage west of the Mississippi River. A unique concert not to be missed! So, on Halloween I dressed up as myself and drove to Farmington, Missouri. The concert was in the afternoon, 1:30 PM, at the Centene Civic Center. The only thing I didn’t anticipate was following a truck hauling a washer on a two lane highway with switchbacks and curves that required you to drive 40 mph half the way there! Why, oh why, did I have to stop at the Post Office before leaving town?
When I walked in the civic center, the Inspirations (who sang first) were finishing their set with Beulah Land. The next group was the McKameys; they began their time on stage by featuring Connie on a song called While I Wait. This went right into the following tune that Ruben sang about the Bible. As they sang the lyrics, Peg held up her black leather bound Bible for all to see. Ruben greeted the crowd and said, “Now, we don’t have any Halloween songs…but we have some Gospel songs.” The crowd chuckled as he went on to introduce Peg, his bride of 56 years! They introduced the rest of their family and ended with Roger, who stepped up to sing Unspoken Request. The next two songs were from the McKameys new CD; I’m Gonna Give It Away and Your Prayers Have Been Heard. Then Peg sang God on the Mountain. It never ceases to amaze me how the crowd responds to this great song! Peg had Sheryl introduce the next tune by sharing a quote from D. L. Moody and a brief word on salvation through Jesus Christ. I’ll Give You Grace was the song Sheryl introduced and then Reuben sang That’s How I Got Saved.
Peg spoke to us about last Wednesday (October 28th) when they visited the hospital for prep work for Ruben’s surgery this Wednesday (November 4th) and saw a promoter in the same hospital who asked them to pray for their son. As they talked and prayed with more people they knew and some they met for the first time, Peg shared how people all over the country have needs. “Not just sore toes,” Peg explained, “but serious problems.” Then she added, “All I know to do is give people Jesus…” This led into their ballad There Is Jesus – before they could finish the second chorus the audience was on their feet applauding. Peg kicked off her shoes and they sang an encore. It was a deep moment of worship. Just before they left the stage Peg bowed and said, “We give you Jesus.”
The Primitive Quartet came on stage and Duane made a few announcements as they set up and situated their instruments. When it came time for their first song, they kicked off with I’m Going to a Country Where I’ll Never More Die, a song about “Leaves Scattered on the Ground” and Surgery in My Heart. (I’m not familiar with the exact titles of their songs, so please bear with me!) They sang a song about “this gravel road we’re on will turn from rocks to gold” and then Randy Fox (upright bass player) said, “Ain’t that the truth? These roads can be rough down here.” He asked if a certain couple was in the audience; they were celebrating their anniversary and requested a song – That Soldier Was Me. The whole group was introduced next and I quickly jotted down names and parts. Though I’ve seen the Primitive Quartet before, it had been a while and I was glad to be reminded of such details. “This next song is what we are all about,” Randy went on, “there is hope in the precious blood of Jesus.” My Hope is Anchored in His Blood and I’m No Longer An Orphan followed. Michael lightly strummed to signal a new song and began picking the melody to Dottie Rambo’s He Looked Beyond My Fault and Jeff played the second verse on the fiddle. One of the things I love about Bluegrass groups is the live band! The arrangement sweetly delivered the message even though no lyrics were sung. Their closing song was newly written by Reagan and is the title of their new CD, Reason to Sing. Jeff introduced it by saying, “You know what a wonderful time we’ve had today, imagine what it will be like in heaven…you haven’t heard singing like that!” Then they closed the first half with Reason to Sing.
After intermission the Inspirations kicked off their second set with Talk About Dying. During the break they had a request for Two Shoes and Martin Cook told everyone that the song was written about a couple in Georgia. If you’re not familiar with the song, it’s about a lady who bought a set of “Sunday best” shoes for her unsaved husband. Before the song began, Martin added, “No use in praying if you don’t believe…” They sang Two Shoes and Thank You, Lord. When they finished singing their song about thankfulness, Martin took the mic and began sharing with the audience how he had been talking with some of the Veterans during intermission about some of the things they saw while in the service. After describing seeing children who were so poor they had no clothing, standing in line not to get a meal, but scraps of food, Martin said, “We haven’t seen that in America and we need to thank God for it…sing some more of that.” They encored Thank You, Lord and then ended with Shouting Time.
The McKameys began their second round with I Know How I Made It and Between 12 and 33. “I tell this wherever I go,” Peg began, “Roger’s getting tired of it, but…there’s a group. A Rock group I think, I’ve never met them but Roger has, they’ve been moaning about a song that says I can’t get no satisfaction. But Roger steps up to the microphone and sings I have pure satisfaction.” With that proclamation, Roger sang Pure Satisfaction and afterward they closed with their new ballad What If. The Primitive Quartet came back on stage with a tune called Who Is the Rich Man Now, Thank You For the Roses and God Has Been So Good To Me. Their closing song was one called The Pearl of Great Price; after encoring it a cappella, Reagan closed in prayer.
Conclusion: The McKameys, Inspirations and Primitive Quartet were amazing that afternoon! I always enjoy seeing these groups and when you put them all together, it’s a special treat. The thing that I loved about the McKameys and Primitive Quartet was how they’ve included so many of the songs from their new CDs in their sets. Some groups gradually introduce new songs into their concert over many months, but not these groups. Though the McKameys new CD “What If” has only been out since June, I’m pretty sure we heard them sing half of those songs that afternoon. The Primitive Quartet did this as well and it really made this concert special. Also, I really liked that this concert was in the afternoon. It gave people time to drive home and not be out late Saturday so we could be rested for Sunday morning. It was a wonderful day at the Centene Civic Center!