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The Jubilee tours have brought three of Southern Gospel Music’s most popular groups together for a series of concerts that can’t be topped by anything else in the genre.  Over the last couple of years, Greater Vision, Legacy Five and the Booth Brothers have traveled together, shared the stage and released three unforgettable CD’s.  So, when the “Jubilee Gang” announced the beginning of a Christmas tour for 2012, well, the word “excited” can’t explain the buzz that followed!  The Jubilee tour visited seven cities in ten days, and I was so thrilled to be able to attend one of those concerts in Branson, Missouri at the Mansion Theater.

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Let it begin!!!!!!!!!!!!

The burgundy steps descended into the theater and ended in a Christmas paradise.  Trees decorated the stage, along with a white baby grand, black chairs angled on center stage with other Christmas festivities adorned around them.  Reds and greens, blues and golds…the red velvet curtain framed the platform and provided a very festive atmosphere!  A host from the theater directed us to our seats with a mini flashlight and we slid into the third row.  Once settled in, my attention was drawn to the two big screens that flashed a slide show of family pictures from GV, L5 and the BB’s.  Christmas was in the air!

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Scott Fowler appeared on stage and asked, “Everybody ready for a Christmas Jubilee?”  He recounted how the Jubilee CDs and concerts all began with a simple poll on the Singing News website.  With Jubilee celebrating their first Christmas tour, they offered a special deal – the first three Jubilee CDs for $20.  With a grin, Scott announced that the best part was that we didn’t have to move to get them!  The guys were going to serve us!  And so Matt, Rodney, Trey, Michael and all the other guys appeared in the isles with stacks of CD’s bundled together.  Money was held up everywhere!  LOL  When the guys finished up selling Jubilee product, Gerald Wolfe walked out and greeted the crowd.  With a look of surprise, he pointed to someone on the front row and asked, “Didn’t I just see you in Tyler, Texas?”  The fan proudly announced that Branson was their third Jubilee Christmas concert.  (They had attended the one in Texas and Oklahoma the two previous nights!)  Anyway, Gerald explained that this concert was a live recording for their DVD, and so they needed to get some shots of the audience before the show began.  We began with a “polite applause” and did two more applauses before they filmed the standing ovation.  I had seen this done at NQC many times, and thought I was accustomed to it when Gerald announced they were going to do the “laugh tracks.”  Now, I had never done one of those before!  To get us laughing, he brought out Michael Booth!  We did three “laugh tracks,” just like the “clap tracks.”  But when they came to the third one, Michael said he needed some help and disappeared backstage.  Gerald counted down from three and suddenly Rodney Griffin came out and danced a jig across the stage!  Now that had everyone laughing!  Afterwards, Gerald explained how the concert would begin and thanked us for coming.  When he left the stage, the big screens began a count down from five minutes.  The lights dimmed low, and the announcer exclaimed the introduction…

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Dark shadows crossed the stage as the music began, suddenly, the lights popped on and Legacy Five, Greater Vision and the Booth Brothers began singing A Christmas Jubilee.  Before the second verse, Gerald stepped forward and asked, “Are you glad to be here?”  As the song neared its end, the bridge brought in the chorus of the Gospel song, Jubilee.  The Carol Medley followed, featuring Hark the Harold Angels Sing and O Come All Ye Faithful.  Legacy Five and the Booth Brothers shared lines on the verses, and after a chorus of everyone singing together, Greater Vision sang the second verse.  The guys sat down and Chris stepped forward to sing The Most Wonderful Time of the Year as the jib swung down close.  The Booth Brothers were featured next on the popular Come on Ring Those Bells.  They ended the song acapella and everyone clapped.  Legacy Five came forward and Howie sang his solo, Grandma’s House for Christmas. I personally enjoyed watching the camera man peek out from behind the cluster of Christmas trees on the left side of the stage.  Afterwards, Gerald popped up from his black chair and greeted the crowd.  Explaining that the next song was his first “hit” he’d written – the crowd broke out in laughter.  I guess it was the way he said it that made everyone laugh – though it probably wasn’t the response Gerald was hoping for!  LOL  Howie jumped in, “They’re just as shocked as we are that you wrote a song.”  So Gerald shared with the audience how he came to write the ballad.  When Chris returned to GV, Gerald mentioned an idea for a song, and Chris kept bugging him about it – so they wrote it together.  Though the Jubilee Gang thought Gerald should sing it, he had other plans – he wanted his favorite singer, Jim Brady, to sing it!  Thus, Jim stepped up with Gerald and Chris to sing this new Christmas song – It Came to Pass.

Gerald, Jim and Chris singing the "hit" - It Came To Pass.

Before the second verse, Gerald silently beckoned us to applaud with a brief motion of his hand.  When everyone began clapping he smiled and asked, “What do you think?”  Well, as the ballad closed the audience raised to their feet in a standing ovation.  (Think they really liked it!)  Gerald smiled and then introduced their pianist, “We are so excited to have our buddy Trey Ivey with us!”  Trey played a medley of Christmas classics like Here Comes Santa Claus and Frosty the Snow Man.  Half way through the solo, the track suddenly stopped and began something different!  With a look of confusion, Trey stopped playing.  Gerald pondered, “Well, that’s the first time that’s happened on this tour,” then asked the sound man, Robert, if that was a technical glitch.  Howie interjected, “He got tired of hearing Trey play.”  LOL  For the video, Gerald had to re-introduce Trey.  So, as he stood to button his jacket Michael reminded the crowd that we were standing for the previous song, and to make it authentic we needed to stand up and clap again.  LOL  The audience gladly complied, but Gerald messed up the introduction and had to do it twice before getting it the way he wanted it!  This time the solo was flawless.

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_DSC1036Reminiscing about the music of days gone by, Gerald told of how when Christmas rolls around he gets out the old albums to listen to and asked the audience if they remembered any of the crooners.  They felt that they should have one of those songs in their Jubilee set, but they really only had one crooner.  Immediately, Rodney Griffin jumped up out of his seat – Jim and Matt took him by the arm and had him sit down.  Howie looked at Rodney and corrected the misunderstanding, “He said ‘croon’ – not ‘goon’.”  LOL  The Christmas Song (more commonly recognized by the first line, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”) was performed by the Booth Brothers, featuring Ronnie Booth (a.k.a. the crooner!).  During this song, Rodney slipped behind the row of chairs and came out with a saxophone, playing his heart out on the turn around.  When the trio began singing again Rodney staggered a little (acting dizzy) and then ducked back behind the chairs where he stayed until the end of the song.  As the Booths were singing their last few lines the sax part appeared in the track again and when it did Rodney popped up from behind the chairs and played his heart out again!  It was so funny!  He really put some emotion in that brass!  (…and it had everyone laughing very, very hard!)  The comedy didn’t cease either!  Gerald tried to explain the next song they would sing for us.  He did this by pointing out that there are many Christmas songs that we know and love, yet, what they mean isn’t certain.  “They’re just kind of…weird,” Gerald said making a face.  He went on to say that Gospel Singers are a different breed of people – they travel on buses and do things that are just, different.  So, they re-wrote this Christmas song so it would apply to them.  It was none other than The 12 Days of Christmas!  “Get up guys!” Gerald exclaimed, “You all know your days.”  Then it began!  Everything from Chick-Fil-A gift cards to matching suits, red back hymnals and fruit cakes!  Trey, for one, was very frustrated with the fruit cake.  (He had one sitting on the white grand and at the appropriate time he grabbed it, ran off stage and gave it to a lady sitting a few rows back.)  After that Gerald said, “Let’s show ‘em we can do something serious.”  All the guys gathered around in a horseshoe shape on stage as Gerald shared with the audience that they think the best Christmas project ever recorded was The Cathedrals Acapella Christmas in ’84.  This next one was a tribute to that – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.  Greater Vision sang Grace Has a Face after that and Legacy Five closed off the first set with a very powerful O Holy Night.

 

 

"Five...bad...toupees!"

Gerald reminded us that intermission would be twenty minutes and because the concert was a live taping, they had to be punctual with the time – so we tried to be mindful of that!

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Another five minute countdown began on the screens, and the second half began with Legacy Five singing Christmas with a Capital C.  The Booth Brothers were up next, and I have to say their rendition of Sleigh Ride was very funny!  Well,_DSC1463 Michael was at least.  Before the song began he announced that he had some “choreography” to go along with the lyrics!  First, he flicked his wrists to imitate bells – then he pretended like he was splatting something on the ground, and this was the “snow falling” – and thirdly, the “giddy up, giddy up, giddy up lets go…” was demonstrated by some skipping on stage that resembled a cantering horse.  It’s worthy to note, that while Michael was doing all this, Jim and Ronnie were NOT cooperating!  They were trying very hard to ignore the tenor singer!  LOL  Gerald and Chris followed with a medley of Christmas classics.  No Place like Home (for the holidays) began by featuring Gerald and went into Chris’s solo, I’ll Be Home for Christmas.  Afterwards, Gerald explained that they wanted to take the time to spotlight some of the new guys in the Jubilee Gang – Trey Ivey and Matt Fouch.  Trey was the first to be introduced to the spotlight and as Gerald shared his background with the audience he mentioned how Trey attended a Conservatory School of Music.  One question filled Mr. Wolfe’s mind, “Why do they call it a Conservatory?  Are they trying to ‘conserve music’ – are they trying to save it?”  Trey giggled and replied that he honestly didn’t know!  LOL  Anyway, Gerald went back to introducing Trey to the crowd and did it just like Scott Fowler would!  Meaning, Gerald told Trey he could play anything he wanted just as long as it was a “traditional” Christmas song…and Trey played a Classical intro to O Little Town Of Bethlehem.  During the first line all the guys looked at each other like, “That isn’t a Christmas song!” – and Gerald put his hand in his face.  When Trey’s solo ended, Gerald had another question for him.  He noticed that when Trey played, he kept snapping his head.  “Did they teach you that?” asked Gerald, “Cause it’s right on beat…”  LOL  Trey answered, “That’s not on the teleprompter!”  Since that was not the answer Gerald was looking for, Fowler jumped up, walked over and shook Trey’s hand.  (Must have liked that!)  Gerald went on to introduce the other new guy – Matt Fouch.  While Gerald was talking, Howie cut right in and announced to the whole auditorium that the show only needed one more thing to be really festive and Christmassy.  Fake snow!  Gerald paused to answer Howie and explained that they had priced the snow machine and it was too expensive.  So, though they would have liked to have had it, they couldn’t get one.  Howie took that as an opportunity to provide a solution.  He told of how he grew up in Louisiana and how he only remembered it snowing twice in his childhood.  He then went on to tell of how he and his brothers would make their own “snow making” devices that provided “fake snow” – he also made sure Gerald knew that he just happened to be able to make some fake snow right then, too!  Unsure, Gerald declined and said that they really wanted the focus to be on Matt while he sang his solo.  But that didn’t deter Howie!  He assured Gerald that he would stand behind the chairs and that NO ONE would be distracted by him.  A few moments later…Gerald caved.  Happily, Howie completely disappeared behind the black chairs and Matt began singing You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch.  Half way through the song, toilet paper shot high in the air above Matt’s head.  In the background, Howie stood up behind the chairs holding a leaf-blower high in the air that powered a paint roller holding a roll of TP.  The leaf blower spun and unraveled the TP…the entire roll!  When the song ended, Howie spun around to the front of the stage and grabbed a microphone, “Back home we used to make snow-angels!”  Then, he sat down on the floor and began waving his arms back and forth in the pile of TP making snow-angels!  Gerald cried, “No!  Stop!  We have another show!  Can we roll it back up?”

The laughs continued with the next song – where Ronnie sang as Elvis “Celebrating Jesus.”  When Ronnie stood up Gerald handed him a pair of “Elvis glasses” complete with side-burns, and flipped up his jacket collar too!  But he didn’t forget to mention that when Elvis toured with the Stamps, there was a female group that traveled with that tour – the Sweet Inspirations.  Immediately, Gerald eyed Michael up and drug him across the stage to where three mic stands were set up.  Rodney and Howie joined Michael to complete the little trio.  Ronnie didn’t get half way through the song before Gerald reached behind his chair and pulled out three big, (poodle looking) curly wigs.  He dispatched the three wigs to the “Sweet Inspirations” – they were so fluffy they covered the guy’s faces!  On the other hand, Michael was working up a dance and Howie and Rodney had a hard time keeping up with him.  Towards the end of the song, they did a sideways shuffle behind Ronnie to the left and then back to the right.  It was hilarious!  As the crowd applauded Ronnie’s performance, Fowler picked up a piece of TP, flipped it around Ronnie’s neck and used it to dab the “sweat” off of his forehead and then tossed it to the crowd in true Elvis fashion.  LOL  Immediately, Rodney took his wig off and Howie tried to also, but a little lock of hair was wrapped around one of the buttons on his suit jacket and wouldn’t let go!  Laughter burst out both on and off stage!  Ready with a little wit, Howie said, “Somebody should have fed this thing!”  LOL

The pictures tell it all...

The song that followed was a new one that was written by a lady who had never had a song recorded before, though she had been writing for years.  It featured Chris and was called It Will Always Be Christmas to Me.  Gus and Jim completed the trio.  After that ballad, Michael took a few moments to tell a little about his grandparents and how special they made Christmas every year.  When his grandpa passed away, he left all the grandkids some money, and Michael wanted to use it on something that would remind him of his grandparents.  So he went down to the Thomas Kinkade store in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and purchased three paintings that reminded him of them.  Before beginning Away in a Manger, Michael shared what he learned from his grandparents, “It is worth following His steps.”  Ronnie came and read the Christmas story from Luke 2:1-20 as each verse displayed on the screen.  Gus sang Silent Night and then the afternoon ended with everyone singing Go Tell It on the Mountain.

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Conclusion:  The inaugural Jubilee Christmas concert tour, I dub, a success!  This was the best concert   I attended in 2012 – bar none!  The first thing that stood out to me about the concert was the atmosphere of Christmas.  The decorations on stage put you in the mood from the moment you walked in the theater!  The “moments” on stage that made us laugh were hilarious!  I’m not sure I can wait till next Fall for the DVD to release!  *wink*  The sax player, Elvis, the “snow maker”, the “Sweet Inspirations” and the 12 Days of Christmas re-written are all memories I will NEVER forget.  I also especially enjoyed the way the program was set up.  All three groups were featured equally and the solos were special.

Author: lynnschronicles

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