If it’s January and you just spent two days in a car driving to Florida, you might be going on a cruise. And if you’re going on a Gospel Music Cruise, you will definitely find a concert to attend on the way down! That was the case for my crew on Friday, when we stopped in Thonotosassa, Florida to see Jim and Melissa Brady and the Mark Trammell Quartet at Fellowship Baptist Church on our way to Tampa for the Singing at Sea Cruise. It was a fun evening. When the concert started, we found out that the pastor of the church was Jim’s brother-in-law and from the title, you can guess we had some other fun experiences as well!
Jim and Melissa Brady kicked off the concert with their new song, “Rhythm of Grace” and then went into a song Jim wrote that the Booth Brothers recorded, “I See Grace.” They were about halfway through their third song when suddenly, a “popping” sound came from one of the mics and the lights went out. The room went pitch black. Jim and Melissa finished their song acapella, and I was impressed by their professionalism to keep going and remain focused in the situation. Luckily, the power came on a few minutes later and the concert went on like nothing ever happened! They sang a ballad called “When I See His Face” and then went into a tune that played off the hymn “Tell Me The Story Of Jesus,” featuring Jim on the first verse and Melissa on the second. The following track was the upbeat “I Have An Anchor,” and afterwards, Jim pulled up a stool to sit on while he shared about the song. He started by saying that he wrote the song over 20 years ago, and since then, he’s wondered why he put so many words in it with so little time to breath! “You know,” began Jim, “I am over 40 now…” The crowd replied with a chorus of “Awww” and Jim laughed. “I’m not going to get any sympathy from this crowd!” he joked. Yet, he took a few moments and talked about how he heard older folks talk about heaven at church when he was younger and now that he has family on the other side, heaven is more precious to him. During one of those recent losses, Jim described how the next song came about. “I sat down one day and just wrote my heart,” he said. The song was “Homesick For Heaven.” Afterwards, Jim invited the crowd to sing this chorus with them… “What a day that will be…” Quickly, the audience joined them and a sweet sound filled the sanctuary. “Until then, we’ll just keep walking with Him,” said Jim. “Here’s a new song.” The tune was “I Know Him Better Now,” and after Jim shared the story behind how the tune was written. As Jim and Melissa’s set came to a close, Melissa went to the keyboard and softly played as she introduced her solo, “Ordinary Love.” Then the couple ended their set with the hymn, “The Love Of God.”
Before Jim left the stage, he shared with the crowd why this evening meant so much to him. “I’ve been so excited about tonight since I found out we’d be doing this,” began Jim, clearly excited. “They’re my favorite quartet. The voice of Mark Trammell has become an icon in Gospel Music – in my opinion, this is greatness!” After Jim went on to share a few more things about the Mark Trammell Quartet, MTQ came on stage and kicked off their set with “Leave Your Sorrows” and their current radio single, “Treasures In Heaven.” Then, Mark greeted the crowd, “It’s a joy to be with you here in wherever this is in Florida.” The crowd laughed, knowing the long and confusing name of their town was a little tricky for those visiting. After finding out how many folks were seeing MTQ for the first time, Mark introduced his group and then encouraged Trevor to play a solo for the crowd. Trevor’s feature was the familiar hymn, “Since I Have Been Redeemed” – and it garnered an enthusiastic applause from the audience. “Well,” Mark went on, “That’s all of us!” After a short pause, he added, “I wanna do something,” and explained to the crowd that they just received their new CD a week ago. Following, Mark shared a little behind the first new song they would do for us. “There are times,” Mark began, “when I will text Rodney Griffin a phrase and then we’ll talk about it. One day, I texted him three words, ‘Go Ask Moses;’ four days later, I got this song…” The title of the new song, of course was, “Go Ask Moses.” It had an intro with a lead guitar walk up and beat similar to “Treasures In Heaven.” Afterwards, they went right into another new song, “Be Saved,” which had an anthem like feel and encouraging message. When the applause died down, Mark said, “Okay, since y’all liked the new songs we’re going to do another one!” The music of the next one, he told the crowd, reminded him of the music he listened to when he was little. “My parents loved Jazz music,” he explained, “I heard it a lot growing up.” But, this new song didn’t just have great music, it also has a powerful lyric. When the track began, you could immediately hear the Jazz influence. It featured their tenor, Blake, and went by the title, “The Way In The Wilderness.” During the turnaround, Randy took Mark by the arm and tried to waltz, but Mark jerked away and exclaimed, “Let me go!” The crowd giggled at their antics. After, “Led Out Of Bondage” and “My Faith Still Holds” closed MTQ’s first set.
Before the concert officially went into intermission, the pastor came up and teased the crowd a bit about how you pronounce the name of the city. He said, “I’m going to give you a quick lesson in phonics, okay? Repeat after me! ‘Tho-no-toe-sass-ah!’” The crowd repeated each syllable with the pastor, but to be honest, I’m still not sure I can say it right! LOL! Continuing on, they took up an offering, which Trevor provided the live music for and then a quick break before the groups went into the second half of the evening.
When it was time for the singing to start again, Jim and Melissa came back on stage with the old barn burner, “Keep On The Firing Line.” Now, what happened next was special, and if you saw the buzz on Facebook about there being a surprise guest that night, then this was the moment we’d all been waiting for. But looking back, there were really two surprise guests! For the first, Jim’s mom came on stage and sang with Jim and Melissa. She was featured on the classic, “I Still Can’t Get Over What Jesus Did For Me” with just Melissa backing them on the keyboard. You bet there were folks on their feet after that one! Then to to top it off, Sandy Peyton, who plays the B3 Organ on the Gospel Music Hymn Sing Tour came on stage and sang one too! Jim mentioned that at the Hymn Sing, Sandy usually sings this song with Mark Trammell and Chris Allman, but that night, Melissa would complete the third part. Mark came back on stage and stood with Melissa behind Sandy, and together they sang “I Must Tell Jesus.” What a great moment! Afterwards, Jim and Melissa went on to sing the upbeat “Wherever I Am,” then, their ballad “No Wonder They Call Him The Savior” finished their portion of the evening.
As MTQ ascended the stage their track for “Guide Me Oh Thou Great Jehovah” started and Mark quickly interjected that they were going to sing a couple of requests. After the upbeat hymn, they went into, “He Hideth My Soul” and “Jesus Is Coming Soon.” Mark took a moment to mention that the next song was actually requested by two people and a favorite “Dad Speer” song of his – “I Am His and He Is Mine.” Immediately following, Nick sang “I Know” and then Mark said, “Thank you for those requests.Those are songs I grew up on – good stuff.” He went on to introduce their last song by talking about the goal of their ministry. “We have one objective,” Mark said, “It’s to worship God. That’s what He made us for.” The track started for “The King Is Coming” and Jim and Melissa joined them for the ballad. Before the end, folks were standing with their hands in the air doing just what Mark talked about before the track began – worshiping.
Conclusion: What a wonderful evening! One, it was good to be out of the car and two, I loved seeing two great groups in one night! Having Jim’s mom on stage with them on the second set was extra special, and it was nice to see Sandy Peyton singing her “Hymn Sing song” again. The “blackout” at the beginning of the concert made the evening adventurous, but it was resolved quickly and will be one of those things you look back on and say, “Do you remember that time when?…” LOL! We were able to make it to Florida with no traffic or weather delays and for that, we were blessed! Next stop, the Singing at Sea Cruise!