The night was about to begin. In the cave, Duane Garren was leading the congregation in singing an old hymn and the first group to sing, Greater Vision, was walking in from the hall to the stage area. While Chris Allman walked towards the gate singing along with the crowd, Ali (Duane’s littler girl) hollered, “No singing in the hall!” LOL (Duane and Micki are always careful to let the kids know that any noise in the “hall” echos back in the cave and disturbs the concert – so Ali decided to pass that warning onto Chris!) *smile*
Now, I must let you all know that I had a surprise guest blogger this evening by the name of Nick Trammell. Every now and then when he would happen by, he just lifted my netbook off my lap and did some of his own creative writing. So everything you see in red italics, whether it be word or number, is from Nick. I have left it all in the post for your amusement. Enjoy!
“Are you excited to see our guests Greater Vision and the Mark Trammell Quartet?” Duane asked the crowd. First off, he let everyone know that after intermission both groups were going to come back and sing together…so we better not leave! He also mentioned that Greater Vision won, yet again, more awards this year in Pigeon Forge and are indeed, the most awarded trio in SGM. So Greater Vision kicked off their set with Since I Have Been Redeemed. GV’s tenor, Chris Allman, was then “allowed” to sing his solo I Could Never Praise Him Enough. 😉 He’d Still Been God followed. Gerald then began to tell about the time he came to the cave as a part of the Cathedral Quartet and a young man came up to him at the Cats product table and said, “I saved my lawn mowing money and want to buy some records.” Gerald went on to tell us that he sold that young feller $75 worth of product… “that was the most I ever sold to anybody,” Gerald explained, “I shook his hand and he told me his name was Scott Fowler.” The crowd laughed as Gerald went on to say that the cave held a lot of great memories for them and sang a song the Cathedrals recorded once, Seeking For Me, which featured Gerald and Chris. Then Nick interrupted my typing to tell you about the 5-1 season that the Dallas Cowboys have so far this season. Nick, Mark, Randy, and Rodney are very excited about this. (<– That, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens when you sit next to Nick Trammell when Greater Vision is singing.) Chris just said he was fat. Actually, Chris began singing I Know A Man Who Can. Chris Allman is the greatest tenor to ever step on a stage. (Suck up!) Anyway, the track for My Name is Lazarus began. I am sick of this song. Well, Nick must be the only one ‘cause everybody else was clapping along nicely. Four people are clapping. (Sounds like more than that to me!) “We can’t leave anywhere without singing that song,” said Gerald, and went on to say that they’ve been singing it since the 90’s. When Duane introduced GV he made mention of their awards and Gerald pointed out to the crowd that he usually doesn’t talk much about their awards on stage. “Honestly, I’ve never talked about them on stage except for one time, and I did that for a very specific reason…and that’s because of this, since 1998 Rodney has won the Songwriting Award. I tell you that so you can know that God can use anyone…” LOL “I was walking in tonight and a lady stopped me and requested a song,” Gerald went on. Then he set up Preacher Tell Me Like It Is. “No matter what you read on FB or what your friends tell you, there are still preachers who preach it straight,” Gerald began, “Paul instructed his young preacher apprentice, ‘Preach the word, be instant in season and out of season.’ (2 Timothy 4:2) We need to defend these guys.” GV sang their “preacher song”, which was also their #1 for the month of March and song of the year for 2014 – Preacher Tell Me Like It Is. For All He’s Done closed out GV’s time on stage. “Let’s hear it for Greater Vision!” Duane exclaimed. As Gerald complemented the crowd on how they looked a lady called out, “You didn’t sing my song!” Without missing a beat, Gerald replied, “Yep, that’s her!” LOL
“A lot of people were worried about the new sound of the Lesters but I think we put that to rest last night,” said Duane, and then welcomed the host group on stage. When We All Get to Heaven opened their set. RED. (Ah, Nick has returned.) That would be the color of Matt’s jacket just in case you were wondering. RED. “How many believe that’s gonna’ take place one of these days?” Brian asked. RED. Immediately following was their up-beat song, Anytime. RED. “Folks, whatcha think about Greater Vision?” Brian asked. The crowd applauded their approval. Brian addressed the red jacket then and Matt said, “When he saw it he started making fun of me – this is my Cardinals coat.” Then he went on to say that Brian said if it was for the Cardinal’s, he wanted one too! Matt replied, “If I were to get you one in your size, little kids would come sit on your lap and tell you what they want for Christmas.” (Guess Matt must be real comfortable in his job to say that about his new “boss!”) RED. After talking about the Celebrate America lunch they had at the church Jon sang That’s Just the Way He Was Raised. “Originally we had planned on doing another song, but I feel in my spirit to do this instead,” said Jon. Then he asked the crowd, “You know who that long haired boy was?” The crowd softly replied, “Jesus.” Jon went on to say that he loves that message but there’s a message that he loves even more, as he began singing, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.” After he pledged that as long as he is a part of the Lesters and the Fall Festival of Gospel Music at Meramec Caverns, they will always sing those kind of songs. Then Matt began Amazing Grace and they each sang a verse. RED. “Can we do one more thing?” asked Jon as Brian began to say something. Jon interjected, “Well, it is our concert so you’ll just have to hold on a minute Duane.” Duane hollered up, “Yeah, Claude!” LOL Jon called up Eric Walker, who is a bass singer in the Midwest, to incorporate a little “Lester Quartet” in the program. We’ll Understand it Better in the By and By was the selected quartet number and when Eric hit the low notes you could hear a few folks go, “Oh!” in the crowd. They just had to encore that one more time…
“It is always a joy to introduce this bunch; they are the finest walking in shoe leather today,” Duane began, “singing songs you know and love, The Mark Trammell Quartet!” MTQ kicked off with Meet Me Over On the Other Side. To Know He Knows Me, When the King Comes to Claim His Throne and Guide Me O, Thou Great Jehovah followed. Of course, Mark mentioned that, “It is exciting times for Missouri,” and though Cardinals and Royals fans were in the crowd and how, well, everybody has a right to be wrong. LOL He went on to introduce the quartet and when he came to his son, Nick, and how it came about that he came to sing with him, he said, “I wanted that to be God’s idea, not Dad’s, so I just lived it.” Then he went on to say, “I couldn’t do without him, but the most important part of him is that he is the father of my two perfect, beautiful, invaluable grandchildren.” When Mark mentioned that his grandson was only two weeks old the audience “awwwed.” Wonderful Time Up There and God’s Been Faithful came next. “Gotta do our latest single,” said Mark, “a lot of people have really fell in love with this song.” That would be none other than Your Walk Talks. “Let us do one more for right now,” said Mark, “don’t move unless you absolutely must.” …and The King Is Coming closed out their time on stage.
Intermission came and went, but not fast enough for folks who are still fans of the Cathedrals. When Gerald, Rodney, Chris, Mark and Randy walked on stage as the Second Half Quartet – you knew we were about to have “a time.” Plan of Salvation and Master Builder kicked off this portion of the program. “We call this the Second Half Quartet, one: because it’s the second half,” said Gerald, “and two: because we are in our second half.” (He is always so eloquent when he talks about their ages!) LOL He went on to say that when George and Glen would sing in concert they always would begin the second half with Plan of Salvation and Master Builder, then they would slow it down and do something softer…like their next song There’s Something About That Name and I Will Serve Thee. With Gerald at the keys and Mark plucking the bass throughout those first songs, they stilled their hands and let the four voices continue on with a verse a cappella. Gerald whispered, “That’s good guys.” The crowd whooed and applauded at the end. “I might buy a CD of that,” Gerald bragged. Then he looked at Randy and mentioned that he wasn’t sure were to go next because it was Randy’s first night to sing this kind of a program with them and wasn’t sure what Randy knew. Randy replied, “There Isn’t a lot of Cathedral stuff that I don’t have knowledge of.” Without skipping a beat Gerald said, “Oh, can you help Mark out?” The crowd hooted in laughter. Gerald then asked the crowd what they liked and a lady hollered I Just Started Living. Gerald answered in his typical fashion, “When?…Oh, the song!” LOL They decided on Prodigal Son featuring Rodney and the crowd received it well. The crowd loved it so much they encored the tune. Rodney began the encore with a jump (just like Glen would have done) and everyone on stage grinned. This went right into Boundless Love. Afterwards, Rodney trotted across the stage and Gerald said, “That old lady just said ‘I love old people.’” LOL A gentleman cried out “one more time” to which Gerald immediately hit the keys and the people immediately popped up from their seats clapping. Gerald mentioned that the next one might take him out of his comfort zone and Randy interjected, “You did that when we started!” LOL When Gerald began him-hawing around about the song he wanted Randy to sing, it ended up being one of Randy’s said favorites. Gerald asked, “Do you know it?” Randy replied, “I think so.” Gerald chuckled, “How can it be your favorite and not know it? Have you sung it?” Randy said, “Yes, but not with you.” Gerald came back and said that he would walk it up and then he could start into the song, then he paused, “What if we’re talking about two different songs, that will be embarrassing?” LOL So Gerald walked it up and Thanks To Calvary was what Randy began singing. (It was the same song Gerald had in mind.) Afterwards, Gerald struck a chord and said “That is really good.” Randy jumped in and asked, “Since this is my first night and I did good can I make a request?” Gerald’s humor replied, “Sure, we won’t do it but you can request it.”
“Mark and I grew up 30 miles apart and didn’t know,” Randy began, talking about a concert he went to when he was a kid, “The Kingsmen came out with 3 chords and a cloud of dust. After them, two old men walked on stage and I told my buddy, ‘This is gonna be awful,’ and then George began singing There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood … and I went home and told my mom I’m gonna be a bass singer in a high squeaky voice.” The request was Champion of Love – that’s the song Randy always wanted to sing with The Cathedrals. Gerald mentioned that if they sang that song they’d have to quit. Immediately, the crowd shouted out in unison, “NO!”
Instead, they went into Step Into the Water and I’m telling you Randy didn’t miss a beat! (For being his first time to sing a Cats program – he did AWESOME!) “What else do you want to do?” asked Gerald. Many folks called out requests and one was Somebody Touched Me. Gerald, in humor that is characteristic for him said, “Well, get up and move.” Another called out The Old Rugged Cross. Now that was one they wanted to do! Gerald bounced on his piano bench mumbling about a key and a gentleman called out E flat! That made everybody on stage laugh. Gerald added, “More like B flat” then turned to the man and said, “But do you know the page number?” LOL That got ‘em! You just can’t get one up on Gerald! So Gerald sang the verse and asked the crowd to sing the chorus with them and Mark sang the last verse.
They did go on to do Somebody Touched Me, which featured Chris, but when the second verse rolled around the lyrics left him and he turned to Mark for help. Who fed him the wrong line… Gerald laughed and said, “I can’t believe you’re listening to him! Mark’s just pulling lines from songs!” Poor Chris had to stop because he didn’t know the words and Gerald claimed that Mark messed him up so he (Gerald) didn’t know the words either. For a few moments they paused and tried to figure the lyrics out while sitting on the side Duane and Nick were shouting, “ONE DAY!” Then Chris latched onto the words and finished out the song. The minute Chris had the lyrics again the crowd popped out of their seats cheering and clapping for him. “Getting older,” Gerald explained, “is not for sissies.” LOL
“Don’t ever think that just because you’re stiffer than you used to be that God’s done with you because you are in your most usable time in your life. You are not finished, you are not washed up, you still have lot of miles left on your engine and you still have a lot of people to influence. When you boil it down, only what you do for Christ will outlive you.” – Gerald Wolfe
Champion of Love closed out the evening with Gerald singing the first verse and Nick on the second.
Can words even sum up an evening like that? Personally, I don’t think so. It is just something you have to experience. Each concert is different and produces unique memories. I will never forget how Nick and Duane kept hollering the correct words to Chris for Somebody Touched Me and how Chris couldn’t hear them. Being the first night that Randy Byrd ever sang the “Cathedrals set” with MTQ and GV was special too. You can tell that Randy was a true fan of the Cats because he had every song down by heart and fit in on stage like he had been doing it his whole life! The talk of the night and for the rest of the sing was how much Rodney had Glen’s mannerisms and how much Randy sounded like George. Thursday night was a truly memorable evening – one that I will always remember. By the way, did you enjoy my co-blogger, Nick Trammell, for this review? If you did, let him know! We were both enamored with Matt’s RED jacket and just had to grab a picture!