NQC Day 2: Comments and Correspondence

After the opening we had on Monday night, I mentioned that the bar has been set high for the rest of the week. While I don’t personally believe that Tuesday night was as good as Monday night, there were some strong moments that I would like to share with you.

But before we get to that, we have a special treats. One of my readers is in attendance in “Lu-eh-vull”, and has offered to share a first-hand report of the festivities throughout the week. This isn’t his first time to NQC, but he hasn’t attended one since the late 1980s. I will intertwine some of his thoughts with mine as the week goes on. Let’s kick it off with some beginning thoughts upon his arrival.

This Minnesota man pulled into Louisville for NQC on Tuesday afternoon, and arrived at Freedom Hall about 4:00. We went immediately to the Exhibit Hall where there must be three or four hundred exhibitors. I’ll get an exact count tomorrow. Not only the singing groups have booths, including the Booth Bros!) but every aspect of the music business is there — sound equipment, backgrounds tracks (bought eight of them–hope my quartet likes them), and much more,etc. More on that later.

The food courts are handy and include beef, pork, chicken, and even rainbow trout and catfish! And, you can carry that stuff into the performance hall, which is good and bad. If you are hungry and don’t want to miss a group it’s good. It’s just not so good if your neighbor is hungry and doesn’t want to miss a group! There was a surprising amount of litter remaining in the hall at the end of tonight’s concert, especially considering the audience that’s assumed to be there.

My wife and I sat next to a couple of women from the Netherlands! They had discovered SG on the internet and knew as much about the personalities in the various groups as I did. While driving out, a couple from Moose Lake, MN, tapped on our car window after having seeing our MN license plates. He used to sing in a group called Heartsong. He said this was his 26th NQC! Wow! SG is more popular in MN than I thought!

Thanks Rich! By the way, if you bought the webcast this week and were online early enough, Rich even got to talk to Tim Lovelace on the Fan Cam!

After the normal opening ceremonies, which included the Fan Cam, some congregational singing, and a tribute to active and retired members of the military, Jeff and Sheri (or is it Shef and Jerry?) Easter opened up the evening concerts.

One thing that is kind of cool to see is when the NQC board has to find someone to fill in space on the schedule. Of course it’s not cool when someone can’t make it, but it is always interesting to see who they can find to fill in. Monday night, Jim and Melissa Brady were one of the highlights last night when they filled in for the Rick Webb Family, who was a last-minute cancellation due to illness in the family.

Last night, after Naomi & The Segos had to cancel (no reason given), the board decided to give the Jeff Sneed Family of Kentucky an opportunity to sing two songs on main stage. After singing “Victory is Sweet”, Jeff led into “Hallelujah Square” by dedicating the song to Naomi Sego.

After the Dixie Melody Boys sang their set, the Mark Trammell Quartet took the stage singing three songs from their brand new “Lifetime” album which I have yet to get my hands on. Grrr! Though I noticed that the ribbon boards at Freedom Hall simply said “Trammell Quartet,” I was assured by others more in the know than me that said no name change is in the works. It makes some sense with Nick’s addition though, doesn’t it?! They closed out their set with a fitting song for the evening, “Statue of Liberty.” This set was one of the best of the night, but more on that later.

The Bowling Family was up next, and delivered a strong set of their own. Mike then introduced his brother-in-law Jason Crabb, who always delivers a strong set of old classics with his own twist of them. I even learned a new word tonight during Jason’s time on stage, when he substituted out the word “cry” for the word “squall” (not “squawk”) at the end of “Sometimes I Cry”. As was discussed in the webcast chat, Jason Crabb is an acquired taste, but I’ve definitely acquired it! Here are Rich’s thoughts on the last two sets:

The Bowlings were just excellent and their lead’s singing reminded me to Jason Crabb. The women next to me from the Netherlands informed me that the two women in the Bowlings were from the Crabb family. Maybe that’s why he sounded like Jason Crabb.

Then Jason Crabb himself followed the Bowlings, and there was indeed a difference–not necessarily better, but different. Both are excellent stylists and singers. Surprisingly, nearly all of Jason’s set’s songs were jazz arrangements of hymns, very well done and accompanied by wonderful jazz intrumentalists on drums and keyboard.

Speaking of acquired tastes, the Primitive Quartet could probably be considered one as well, but that is one taste I have yet to acquire. I leave it to Rich to offer his thoughts.

This was my first time hearing the Primitives, a group from North Carolina. They are a very aptly named group for their sound was, in my opinion, straight out of the Appalation Mtns of Western NC. An unrefined sound that’s consistent with some culture of that area. (As a side note, I spent a winter in those same mountains a couple years ago and stumbled onto a church choir that had that same sound, a sound so strange to me that I inquired of someone what it was. The knowing response was simply: “That’s cultural.”

I wonder if there’s some correlation between what’s cultural and someone’s acquired taste. Just in my own personal case, using both the Primitives and Jason Crabb as examples, I think you could make a case that there is relation between the two.

In a preview and promotion for Wednesday’s Hymns of the Ages showcase, there were two performances and both stand out. First, both Greater Vision and Sisters joined together on a sextet rendition of “All Creatures of Our God and King,” a bit reminiscent of last year’s Brothers and Sisters moment. Then sisters-in-law Kim Hopper and TaRanda Greene, along with Kim Collingsworth on piano and singing alto, gave a thrilling performance of “There Is A Fountain.” both were very strong, and have me excited to see the showcase on the webcast, which starts at 11:00 am Minnesota time.

After Brian Free & Assurance took the stage, the popular Triumphant Quartet opened up with “Sweet, Sweet Spirit.” My correspondent Rich was very complimentary of their set as a whole, but had this to say about their opening number.

Sorry guys, but barbershoppers you are not.

Gold City and Greater Vision closed out the night with strong sets of their own. A couple of personal highlights were “I Have An Anchor” and “Lord of Life” for Gold City and “Champion of Love” and “I Know A Man Who Can” for Greater Vision.

Overall, I believe the strongest sets belonged to Mark Trammell Quartet and Jason Crabb, but the two songs in the Hymns of the Ages stole the show, and were my favorite songs of the night, along with Chris Allman singing “I Know A Man Who Can” and Pat Barker’s performance on “Wonderful Time Up There”.

While I still consider Monday night the better night from start to finish, Tuesday had some moments that you’ll want to watch over and over again if you purchased the webcast. Remarkably, everyone was about ten minutes ahead of schedule for the entire night. That usually doesn’t happen at NQC.

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