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At 8 A.M. the lovely city of Branson, Missouri is just waking up…unless you were at the Mansion Theatre, then you were already dressed, had your cup of coffee, found your parking place, and were ready to go watch some singing! (Although, it is of my most humble opinion, that Gospel Sing’s should not be held at eight o’clock in the morning!!! Read on, and you’ll find out why….LOL)

I was proud though – we did get there on time! Yet, there was one slight issue…once in the lobby, my sister and I began talking with some friends (who will remain nameless) when all the sudden, the lobby was empty and the sound of music was coming out of the theatre doors – the morning session had started! So, we skedaddled on in where Greater Vision was singing When They Ring The Bells Of Heaven. As I mentioned in my last post, I was sitting in the 6th row from the front. My sister, however, was in the 3rd row – smack dab in the center of it too. Of course, everyone in the row had to stand to let her in, and GV just finished their song, what followed went something like this…

With his hand in his pocket, Gerald addressed my sister, “Hey! You’re late!…Well, you’ve missed the first three songs, but they are all on our new Cd, and I want you to go back to our table afterwards and get our CD…for $15.” (There was a pause here, where everyone giggled at his joke, and then he went on…) “Now, I see that I’ve embarrassed you…but thanks for showing up.”(Needless to say, EVERYONE in the building knew who my sister was after that!!!! LOL) GV sang Rodney’s new song No Longer Chained, and then Gerald told us about Chris’ first night back with GV when he returned to the group a few years ago. At that time, Tony Greene was still living, and was at that very concert date. As Gerald, Tony and some others were in the parking lot of the church, Tony requested a song, “Hallelujah Square.” BUT, he said it with such a thick accent that Gerald couldn’t understand him. Because Gerald didn’t recognize what he was saying, he just walked away “like any other good Baptist.” LOL Tony followed him and repeated the title. Gerald told him,“Tony, I don’t have a clue as to what you are saying.” Tony replied,“I want you to sing Hallelujah Square!”Finally, Gerald understood him and said,“But Tony, we don’t know that song. It is Chris’s first night back and we only know ten songs. We are not doing Hallelujah Square!” Tony patted his chest, “I have your check in my pocket.” Suddenly, Gerald said that he felt led to sing Hallelujah Square! They sang it that night and it went over fine. Afterwards, Gerald realized that Tony put them on the spot because he knew that the fans would love that song. So, that’s how they came to sing Hallelujah Square. (…and that IS a true story!!!) So true that Tony wanted Gerald to tell that story at his funeral and sing that song…which he did. So, Chris came and sang Hallelujah Square with Gerald accompanying him on piano and Rodney on bass. Continuing with a fast number, He’s Still Waiting By the Well followed. “How ‘bout it!” Gerald shouted in closing.

While they set up for Tim, Gerald let everyone know when Charles Stanley would be coming to speak. “Now, for this young lady who I picked on,” Gerald said picking up one of Stanley’s books titled How to Listen to God and speaking directly to her he shared that How To Listen To God was his favorite book, and how it changed his life. Lightening things up a little, he told her, “I’m going to rewrite one for you…How To Listen To Your Alarm Clock!” – and after all the teasing he reached down and gave her the book.

Tim and Tai Chi

Tim Lovelace came on next and so did the laughter. He began by letting everyone know that he and his wife are very involved in their daughter’s lives. So, when the girls showed an interest in gymnastics, Tim and a college student friend of his went down to one of the local gymnastics places and asked about their program. One of the instructors at the gym looked at Tim and asked how old he was, because he was sure that Tim knew nothing about gymnastics. First thing the instructor showed Tim and his friend was a pole with a rope on it. They teach the kids to climb up the rope, ring a bell, and climb back down – this was a special exercise they taught the kids. Then he asked Tim, “Did you have anything like that in the 60’s?” Tim said, “Yep, we had a rope over the river we climbed to get on the tree limb to jump in.”Then the teacher took them to a place where children were jumping on trampolines and told of the special exercises they did there. Once again, the instructor asked Tim if he had anything like that growing up in the 60’s. Tim said, “My parents had a king size bed!”Next, Tim was shown a demonstration of a special jump that strengthens muscles in the legs. The guy told Tim that he bet they didn’t have anything like that in the 60’s. Tim said, “That guy obviously never went berry picking where there were copperheads!” After doing a perfect demonstration of the jump, Tim told about one time he found a snake really close to where he was picking berries. He said, “I think I hold the Olympic record!”Next, they were taken to the balance beam, and the guy looked at Tim and said that he was pretty sure they didn’t have anything like a balance beam in the 60’s. Tim assured the man that, in fact, they did have something just like it – a log across the river! Well, they reached the end of their tour and their guide had one more thing to show Tim before they left…the tour guide was so sure that they didn’t have anything like this in the 1960s! It was Ty Chi! The man demonstrated it for Tim, and of course, Tim demonstrated it for us…though he made sure that he thought it looked really silly before he began. (It looked something like Yoga) When the guy finished his demonstration he asked, “Did you have anything like that in the 60’s?” Tim told him, “We had something better – barbed wire fence!” Then, he proceeded to show us what it looks like to go through a barbed wire fence. I have to admit – it looked identical! “I hit an electric wire once and that’s when I first began to stutter!” Tim announced. Then, he finished up his set with singing Don’t Sit In My My Pew. “Oh yeah – you guys are the best!”  Tim exclaimed after the song.

Legacy Five singing "Ask Me Why"

“Let’s hear it for Legacy Five!” Tim shouted, introducing Legacy Five. Their first track began to play…then suddenly stopped… Scott smiled at the minor technical difficulty and said, “That’s a good one too!” The correct track played I’ve Got A New Born Feeling, and was L5’s first official song. As everyone applauded at the end, Fowler walked over to Trey and said, “Good morning!” Yet, the audience replied to him! Scott turned to the audience, “Good morning to you too – but I was actually talking to him. You see, Trey usually gets up at the crack of noon!” The audience laughed at the play on words, then Scott continued, speaking to Trey, “So, are you awake?…The question really is, are your fingers awake?” Scott formally introduced Trey and advised him to play something the audience would recognize.If you’ve read other concert reviews on L5, I bet you know what happens next – Trey played a classical piece! Half way through Trey’s solo, Scott pointed his finger at him and asked, “Is that something they will recognize? There’s one thing you need to understand – don’t make your boss look like an idiot!” Howie clarified, “That’s my job!” So Trey continued with his sonata which led into Leaning On The Everlasting Arms. Much to L5’s delight, the audience responded by singing along and clapping.After that bit of fun, Scott turned to a more serious subject and updated the fans on how Patty and Hana were doing. “A lot of you heard about the incident that happened about 3 ½ years ago,” he began,“and how Patty came up to me at one of our events in Nashville and asked,“Why is everyone here so happy?’ She explained that she and her daughter were there on accident, how she didn’t understand all the music about Jesus and that she probably shouldn’t have been there because her husband was Muslim.” He continued sharing that after keeping in contact with them; 13 months ago Patty and her 12 year old daughter became Christians. “She found the ability to trust God,” Scott marveled,“and to trust people and ask why everyone was so happy. – This next song is the story of her life and answers that fundamental question.” Scott sang the ballad that is quickly rising on the charts for Legacy Five, but more importantly, is Patty’s story in song – Ask Me Why. When the music ended, the guys gathered towards the center of the stage and sang the chorus one more time accappella. But the story didn’t end there, Scott pulled out his phone and said, “If you’ll be patient with me, I want to share this with you.” It was an e-mail from one of Hana’s family members. This man explained that he grew up in a Muslim home, where everyone in his family was Muslim…that is, except for Hanna. Patty sent him a copy of the song Ask Me Why, and after hearing the lyrics, he believed. This man is searching for the truth – the kind that will fill that emptiness in his soul. Scott reminded us that,“Hearts are being softened that we thought were impossible to soften.” Turning to Trey he said, “Do ‘Palace’.” So, the guys sang Living In The Palace. “All right,” Scott exclaimed, excited about the track that followed, “If you are thankful for the change say, Amen!” I’m Thankful For the Change closed L5’s set.

Mark Trammell Quartet

Scott Fowler remained on stage to bring on the next group – The Mark Trammell Quartet. “Twenty two years ago I received a phone call at 8:30 in the morning from Glen Payne. He said, ‘Scott, Mark Trammell is leaving the Cats and recommended you…would you be interested in singing with the Cathedrals Quartet?’ Scott’s reply was yes! “That was 22 years ago,” Fowler stated,“and every time I see him I say, ‘Mark Trammell, thank you for quitting the Cathedral Quartet!’” MTQ opened with the ballad Gentle Shepherd and Old Convention song followed.“What a joy it is to be in Branson, Missouri today!” Mark said greeting everyone from stage. “Did you enjoy the ministry of Legacy 5?” he asked. Before going on with the program, Mark shared that being at Praisefest was like being at a homecoming – all of his favorite people were there. “Let me introduce the men to you,”said Mark before going into another song. He began with their tenor, Eric Phillips. Now, Eric was off the road for a little while, and during that time employed in law enforcement.Mark mentioned that the reason why it didn’t work out was that the police chief called him one day and said that he had to let him go. When Eric asked why, the Chief said, “You have successfully arrested everyone in the town – not that they did anything criminal …like laughing!” He claimed that Eric arrested all those in the town because they laughed at him. “Think about it,” Mark said, trying not to laugh himself, “What would you do if a tenor singer asked for your driver’s license?”Then he did a perfect, high-pitched, “May I see your driver’s license?”Everyone laughed at Mark’s animation. “Now,” Mark continued in his regular voice,“a bass singer would intimidate you, but not…(then he did it again) ‘May I see your driver’s license?’” And everyone laughed again!After a very positive introduction of the groups lead singer, Dustin Sweatman, Mark introduced Pat Barker. He began, “For eight years we were a perfectly happy trio, then, I had the crazy idea that I wanted a quartet.” He said that he didn’t just want any bass singer;he wanted just the right man, so they prayed about it. “God is not a bell hop or a dishwasher, He’s God.” Mark said, “We ought to treat Him like He’s God.”(Meaning that, He could do anything – like, send them just the right bass singer!) So they prayed for, in Marks words, “Someone tall, good looking, with a head full of hair, who still had his own teeth,… someone with a strong back, able to drive the bus, good family man…etc.” Mark turned to the audience and asked, “How many know that God doesn’t always answer your prayers exactly like you wanted?” LOL (Well Pat, Mark said it himself – good looking!) Pat sang the classic How Big Is God. Standing ovation and an encore! (…and the audience, obviously thought so too!) LOL Another great old song followed, called Echo’s From The Burning Bush. At the outset of the intro, Pat exclaimed,“I like this one!” After that convention song, Mark said, “You can tell by looking at me that I like older things…songs are one of those things. I want to do another one, it features our tenor singer, and now that he woke up …” And giving Eric a hard time about tenor singers singing before lunch, and how that’s difficult because they have to do things that are a “little difficult for a man to do,” he commented, “You have to be on the abnormal side to do it!” Mark added,“Which you have to be, to do what we do anyway.” Glory Road was that song, and Mark mentioned that they had quite a few requests for it. After the high part on the chorus, Mark stopped the music and said, “For some reason they liked that, do it again!”…so they did! Another encore and standing ovation was the result. “That’s so high only an airplane can hear it!” Mark exclaimed at the end. MTQ has been working on a new project in the studio, and Mark desperately wanted to do a song they were recording the week before. As he walked over to the piano he said, “Don’t worry, I don’t play.” Then, told us that Eric hates this song more than any other one he’s ever sang. As Mark was having fun with the mystery of it all, the other guys just stood there with perplexed looks on their faces trying to figure out what Mark was going to do. Finally, Dustin walked over and whispered something into Mark’s ear as he hit a chord. Mark looked at him and repeated the question Dustin asked, “What is it? – That’s the best part! You don’t know what’s coming! Off your cuff today!” Here, Mark gave a slightly sinister laugh, and then looked up at Pat. “What? You don’t know it? The first word is ‘guide,’ what do you mean you don’t know it – you’ve been a music minister for how many years?” The guys were trying so hard to discourage Mark from making them sing this song! Mark said,“C’mon, just one verse, we did it in the studio 25 times!” So, the hymn ended up singing was Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah. After they did the first verse flawlessly, Mark pushed them for the second verse. As he was telling them what the words were, Pat turned to the crowd with a dumbfounded look and asked, “Whence??? – you were the only one around in the KJV days!” Mark looked up to Pat, “You’re 38, right?” Pat confirmed his age with a nod of his head.“Well,” Mark went on, “If you want to make it to 39, you better hunker down!” So, they sang the second verse too, but then it was the guys turn to pull one over on Mark. They wanted to sing the third verse!As they stood around the keyboard talking amongst themselves, Dustin asked how the arrangement went. Mark replied that everyone sings in unison, except for Eric, he sings an octave higher. Eric looked a little confused still, so Pat sang the tenor part for Eric to hear with all the words! With a look of astonishment, Mark gazed at Pat, “Did you just sing the tenor part?” – Then added in the same tenor voice that Pat used, “May I see your driver’s license?” After some more goofing around, Mark turned to the crowd and said, “Pray for me, you don’t know what it’s like to travel with these idiots!” They sang the final verse – and did so quite nicely! Standing On The Solid Rock closed their set after an encore. As the audience shot up from their seats like pop-corn across the auditorium, Gerald ran out and played the piano for the encore. When Gerald asked the audience if they enjoyed MTQ – a loud throng of voices answered with shouts and screams for this fabulous quartet.

After a 20 minute intermission, Tim Lovelace came on stage and encouraged everyone to get back to their seats, and sang to those who already were. His new single, Side Effects,was the chosen song he performed. As the last few notes of the track played, Tim told everyone, “Ever since I got saved I have Peace, joy and happiness, and I don’t know about ya’ll, but I’m loving these salvation side effects!” Tim loves songwriting. One time he was in a studio with some other great musicians, and something went down, so they had to stop and wait for the problem to get fixed. While they were waiting, they were talking about their favorite kinds of music: some liked jazz, progressive, classical – but when it came to him, he said Convention Music. They guessed what that kind of music that was,“Amazing Grace?” asked one. He said, “No – shape notes.” They all looked at him like he had five heads! So, after that he went home and wrote Old Convention Song, and everyone told him that it would never get cut. Then, one day Roger Bennett called him and he heard Glen and George in the background laughing – they wanted to record Old Convention Song. That one instance opened up for Tim to write for other groups and now his music is published regularly. With that story, he introduced Remember The Music!

Remember the Music!!!

Chris, Scott, Mark, Glenn, and Gerald (who played piano) came out and began the Remember The Music program with Plan of Salvation. Masterbuilder followed featuring Mark Trammell. I love the bluesy feel to this song! “That is probably my favorite Trammel song,”Scott interjected after the number. Gerald added thoughtfully, “No one can do it like Mark.” Switching topics, Gerald spoke to the audience and said, “You would not know who any of us were if not for two old men named George and Glen.” Then began telling of the first time he met Glenn Dustin at a Gospel concert, and how when Glenn came up and introduced himself to Gerald, he had a high tenor voice. Just like Mark mimicked Eric, here, Gerald did Glenn in a high pitched squeal, “Hi! My name is Glenn Dustin.” (If you hadn’t guessed, Glenn was a young teen at the time!)The first time Gerald met Scott Fowler was when he was 17. “I remember that clearly,” Gerald reminisced, “Because he bought $75 worth of product…he saved up his lawn mowing money!” He met Chris at a Cathedral concert when he was 16. ( Chris even has a song on his i-pod of him singing with the Cats when he was 12 years old!) Gerald told the Cathedrals secret to success – “Not the great high endings of the songs…just great songs.”When Gerald traveled with the Cats, George would tell him the first song while walking out on stage, but it wasn’t always the song he thought it would be. Then the guys sang I Will Serve Thee Because I Love Thee. The last note was chilling! Mark grabbed Scott’s shoulder and gave him a good shake. Scott stepped up and shared what he loved most about that era which was – they didn’t sing with soundtracks and you could hear the words. “Speaking of words,” Gerald said, “what words do you want to hear next?” Scott repeated the question to himself and pondered it. Suddenly, he walked over to the keyboard where Gerald was and looked him straight in the eye and said, “I want to hear you say, ‘I love you’…they are the words I long to hear!” Scott pretended to sniffle. So, Gerald ignored him and said, “Let’s do the next song!” Scott laughed hard and walked back to his spot. Gerald called Scott on the carpet and questioned him as to why he did a song the previous night that he knew they had to do today. They only knew so many songs together ya know! Well, it didn’t stop them from singing it again! Boundless Love! Everyone screamed when they heard the title! It was a very well loved song at Praisefest! They even encored it and received a standing ovation!After everyone sat down, Gerald said that he loved being able to look back stage and see other singers listening to what they’re doing on stage, instead of talking or texting. As he looked behind the curtain just then, he saw Pat Barker, and stated how great it was to have two of the greatest bass singers together on one stage. “I can tell how happy Pat and I are to be here today.”Gerald called Pat out on stage to sing. He told a story for the next song, he said that it all began when GV was on their very first Singing At Sea Cruise. They were sitting on the deck one afternoon and the writer of this song came out and sat down at their table and said,“I just finished anew song and I want you guys to be the first ones to hear it.” He sang it for them right there and Gerald said, “We want to record it, put it on hold for us.”That phrase, “put on hold,” means DON’T LET ANYONE ELSE HEAR IT! Well, three months later he put the new Cathedrals CD in his CD player and what is the first song he hears? – the same one they were to record! “Needless to say,” Gerald said, “I haven’t spoken to that writer since.” LOL But, he agreed that it was a perfect song for the Cats, even though he really wanted to record that song. “When you hear the first two words you will know what it is,” Gerald teased, not telling the audience what the song was. Those first two words were this: “Is that…” and everyone knew it was Wedding music!“That’s good, isn’t it?” Gerald asked after the song finished, “Want to hear another one?” Gerald smiled, “We want to do something we haven’t done before…it’s risky….but you seem to be friendly to us, so….then Scott interrupted and said, “Someone sing my part.” Gerald exclaimed, “But you don’t even know what we’re going to do!” Scott replied, “If we haven’t done it before, I don’t want to do it!” LOL Well, the big mystery was this: Gerald wanted to take requests from the audience. Gerald asked the crowd what their favorite Cats song was, and if they knew it, they would do it. The first man who raised his hand requested Then Came The Morning. Gerald called for another request! The next one was a winner, Wonderful Grace Of Jesus. Gerald sang bass, Chris –tenor, Scott – lead and Mark – baritone. Now that was unique!!! They had time for one more and the row sitting behind me screamed out in one voice, “WE SHALL SEE JESUS!” Gerald put on a look of frustration and pleaded, “I said one and I’m getting fifteen at once!” He beckoned everyone to be quiet and pointed to a person in the crowd, “I want to get the mad lady in the orange shirt.” The lady yelled as loud as she could, “WE SHALL SEE JESUS, AMEN!” Matter of factly, Gerald said, “And we will.” Though he acted like he was going to take another request, they did We Shall See Jesus as their final song. Everyone was on their feet in no time!

Conclusion: Well, what can you say about a session like this? Leave a comment and let me know! For me, I’ll never forget it! All of my favorite groups in one place, great singing, good comedy, and oh yes, Gerald Wolfe picking on my sister – unforgettable! Though it was an early morning, it was one of the best Sings I’ve ever been too!

Singing "We Shall See Jesus!"

Author: lynnschronicles

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