NQC 2015: Monday, September 28-Thursday, October 1

NQC 2015: Monday, September 28-Thursday, October 1

I wanted to report from NQC each day, but my internet connection was limited. I am back at home now, so here goes…

Monday, September 28
MUSIC: On the main stage Monday evening at the National Quartet Convention, I heard Legacy Five, Jeff & Sheri Easter, the Diplomats, Jim Brady Trio, Freedom Quartet, the Whisnants, the Old Paths, the Hoppers, the Kingdom Heirs, Karen Peck & New River, Gold City plus a bit of one song by Tribute. I missed Wilburn & Wilburn, Renaissance, Triumphant and the Mylon Hayes Family. Jonathan and Jordan Wilburn were capable hosts who filled gaps and introduced groups throughout the six hour event.

The most interesting change-up of the evening was hearing Brian Alvey singing the lead part originally recorded by Arthur Rice on “The Rock’s Between The Hard Place And You.” Alvey maintained the feel of Rice’s delivery, but also made it his own.

Karen Peck & New River also had an impressive set as they introduced their new vocalist, Ricky Braddy, to the NQC audience. They also showed a short video telling the story of Ricky Gooch (Karen’s husband) who has been through a bout with cancer since last year’s NQC.

TECHNICAL OBSERVATIONS: Attendance appeared to be down from Monday night in 2014, but that wasn’t the big stink of the day. Although I didn’t attend, several people mentioned that the afternoon artist showcase at the food court was a big mess. There weren’t enough seats to accommodate the number of people who wanted to attend. Addressing the crowd at the evening concert, Clarke Beasley promised they would have more chairs in place before Tuesday aftenoon. He said attendance at the off-site location in 2014 had been much lower, so they were pleasantly surprised by the turnout for the showcases this year.

Tuesday, September 29
MUSIC: On Tuesday at the main stage, I heard sets by the Mark Trammell Quartet, the Nelons, Triumphant, the Lesters, the Dixie Echoes, Mark Bishop & Forget The Sea, Greater Vision, the Kingsmen and the Talleys. The hosts this evening were Phil and Phillip Collingsworth.

Everyone who heard the set by the Nelons at NQC now realizes that both of Kelly Nelon’s daughters are outstanding singers. We already knew about Amber. Tonight, Autumn was featured on two songs back-to-back, and she more than exceeded expectations.

By far, the most unusual set belonged to Mark Bishop. He performed with his daughters and a live band called Forget The Sea. They made me think of a church youth band. The talent is there, but it’s still raw. They’re in the process of figuring out their sound. One song featured a simple “na-na” sing-along bit like you might hear at a big summer concert festival. The crowd at NQC wasn’t sure how to take them. Mark Bishop is at the same time the front-man for the group, but he’s also the “odd man,” image-wise. Because he is already a well-known performer, it does make sense for him to be involved as his daughters and son-in-law launch a new career. I don’t see really picture him continuing front and center for the long-term in this style, however.

TECHNICAL OBSERVATIONS: I walked by the Food Court on Tuesday evening and saw that tables had been removed from the area in front of the stage to make way for more seats at the afternoon Artist Showcases. Some tables were relocated to a hall so folks would still have a spot to sit when they ate.

Attendance at the main concert was more than Monday, but nowhere close to 2014’s Tuesday night sellout. I’d estimate there were 8500-9000 in attendance.

Wednesday, September 30
MUSIC:  I attended the Cathedrals Reunion Showcase on Wednesday afternoon. It featured members of Greater Vision, Legacy Five, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound and the Mark Tramell Quartet as well as Danny Funderburk and Pat Barker.

I was glad they spent most of the time singing songs rather than showing video clips. Near the end of the concert, footage from the Cathedrals Farewell video was synced with the singers on stage as they performed “We Shall See Jesus.” Another bit was included earlier from the same video featuring Glen and George talking while seated on the steps of the Ryman stage. Going in, I thought they might overdo it with vintage video footage, but this was just the right amount.

Funderburk, Barker, Gerald Wolfe, Mark Trammell, Ernie Haase & Scott Fowler performed classic songs for the lion’s share of the 1 1/2 hour showcase. The other singers in the groups I mentioned only sang for a song or two during the opening and closing minutes. The showcase included many songs I expected to hear like “Somebody Touched Me,” “Champion Of Love,” “Master Builder,” etc. They also performed some I didnt expect like “Echoes From The Burning Bush.”

The crowd for the showcase looked to be about the same as Sunday night’s bonus concert; I’d guess there were 3500 people there.

The group traveling with me opted not to stay for the Fan Awards showcase that followed the Cathedrals Reunion showcase. I didn’t argue in favor of staying. While I’m always interested in finding out who won after the fact, those acceptance speeches tend to sound like a broken record after I hear two or three of them.

At the evening concert, I heard sets by the Jim Brady Trio, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, the Primitives, the Talleys, Gold City, the Erwins, Legacy Five, the Browders, the LeFevre Quartet, the Hoppers, the Dixie Melody Boys, Jason Crabb, the Allen Family and the Booth Brothers.

Gerald Wolfe and Jason Crabb were the hosts and rather disappointing in their roles for the evening. An early joke where Gerald asked Jason if he’d heard Greater Vision’s new CD, and Jason coming up with answers for Gerald’s probing questions to determine if he’d really heard the CD was funny at first, but it got less funny as they milked it over the next four hours. Between every set, it was “Have you heard my new CD?” “What’s your favorite song?” and on and on.

Thankfully, the music between the failed comedy was great. When the LeFevre Quartet had finished singing, I heard a fellow behind me telling someone sitting by him that they were the best group of the night. They were definitely in my top two or three as well.

The Booth Brothers impressed me with their unique take on “Happy Rhythm.” I thought it was fitting that they devoted their set to the late great Mosie Lister by restricting their set-list to songs he had written.

TECHNICAL OBSERVATIONS: Again, the overall attendance did not appear to be a complete sellout to match the 2014 numbers, but numbers did look to be up over Tuesday. Just looking around the room, I’d guess there were 9500 or so.

Thursday, October 1
MUSIC: The “Matinee Extravaganza” pretty much featured the cream of the crop from the week. If you could only afford one show in 2015, this was the one to see. Performers included the Booth Brothers, the Collingsworth Family, Gordon Mote, Greater Vision, Hoppers, Jason Crabb, Jim Brady Trio, Kingdom Heirs, Mark Trammell Quartet and Allison Durham Speer.

The showcase was scheduled to last three hours, but ended up going for an extra thirty minutes. Gordon Mote and Gerald Wolfe were the hosts. Wolfe went back to mentioning his new CD a few times trying to extend a by now unfunny joke that still got a few sympathetic laughs from the crowd, but he didn’t overdo it this time. Overall, this was a fantastic showcase. Allison Durham Speer stole the show with her humor. Mote matched her wit with his routine playing “Mary Had A Little Lamb” in various church denomination styles. Several groups repeated songs they had sung earlier in the week, but I didn’t mind hearing them again.

TECHNICAL OBSERVATIONS: As we were leaving after the showcase, we passed through the food court where the free Artist Showcase was being held. Even with the added chairs in that space, there were probably 200 people standing in the back of the room who had no place to sit. It will be interesting to see if/how the NQC board addresses this issue in 2016.

David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. He is the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music and the owner of both SGHistory.com and MusicScribe.com. David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

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  1. Darrell
    Reply October 02, 12:18 #1 Darrell

    “While I’m always interested in finding out who won after the fact, those acceptance speeches tend to sound like a broken record after I hear two or three of them……….” I could have told you in advance who was going to win probably 80% of the major awards. But that’s another discussion for another day. :-)

    • David Bruce Murray
      Reply October 02, 16:51 David Bruce Murray Author

      Favorite Baritone was up for grabs after Jim Brady left the Booth Brothers. It had been automatic for a few years.

      Favorite Alto switches more than any of them here lately.

      Aside from that, Favorite Song is an interesting category and of course, the Favorite NEW categories are always different.

      Otherwise, it’s rather predictable.

      Here’s the full list…quick copy and paste. I didn’t go to the trouble of editing out all the “and the winner is” phrases:

      And the winner for Favorite Bass Singer is…Eric Bennett

      And the winner for Favorite Young Artist is…Trey Ivey

      And the winner for Favorite Soloist is…Ivan Parker

      And the winner for Favorite Male Singer is…Ronnie Booth

      And the winner for Favorite Baritone Singer is…Mark Trammell

      And the winner for Favorite Alto Singer is…Connie Hopper

      And the winner for Favorite Lead Singer is…Ronnie Booth

      And the winner for Favorite Band is…Kingdom Heirs Band

      And the winner for Favorite Tenor is…Michael Booth

      And the winner for Favorite Mixed Group is…The Collingsworth Family

      And the winner for Favorite Trio is…Booth Brothers

      And the winner for Favorite Musician is…Kim Collingsworth

      And the winner for Favorite Female Singer is…Kim Hopper

      And the winner for Favorite Soprano Singer is…Kim Hopper

      And the winner for Favorite Non-Performing Songwriter is…Dianne Wilkinson

      And the winner for Favorite Songwriter is…Rodney Griffin

      And the winner for Favorite Traditional Quartet is…Triumphant Quartet

      And the winner for Favorite Album is…”Awesome God” – Triumphant Quartet

      And the winner for Favorite Song is…”For All He’s Done” – Greater Vision

      And the winner for Favorite Artist is…Booth Brothers

      And the winner for Favorite Small Market DJ is…John Whisnant

      And the winner for Favorite New Soloist is…Pat Barker

      And the winner for Favorite Medium Market DJ is…Lottie Squires

      And the winner for Favorite New Trio is…The Jim Brady Trio

      And the winner for Favorite Large Market DJ is…Daniel Britt

      And the winner for Favorite New Mixed Group is…The Erwins

      And the winner for Favorite New Traditional Quartet is…(tie) The Carolina Boys/Freedom Quartet

      • Darrell
        Reply October 03, 23:07 Darrell

        Never thought about Jim Brady not being a baritone singer now that he has his own group. I guess he would be considered a lead singer? of course Mark Trammell sings a lot of lead in his group.

  2. Ed Adams
    Reply October 02, 14:17 #2 Ed Adams

    I like that you honestly critique the convention. I wish you went into much more depth.

    • David Bruce Murray
      Reply October 02, 16:54 David Bruce Murray Author

      Thank you, Ed. Giving an honest evaluation is our trademark here at MusicScribe.com.

      I could go into more detail, but I’m not sure how many people would read it. Due to the internet access issue I had while in Pigeon Forge, I wasn’t able to report each night as I would have liked to do. I decided to put everything in one article and give a broad overview of the week.

      I’d be happy to try to answer any questions you might have about the week.

  3. Ann Staley
    Reply November 02, 19:15 #3 Ann Staley

    Reading these comments to see how the convention works. Interested in going in 2016 for the first time. Do you have something showing who is appearing when? Do you buy separate tickets or is there a discount if you get just one in case you want to see all you can?
    It looks like it’s all at LeConte now? Basically will appreciate any info that would help me have the best experience since I may only be able to attend once.
    Thank you.

    • David Bruce Murray
      Reply November 02, 19:29 David Bruce Murray Author

      You can purchase individual tickets for evening concerts and afternoon showcases. Certain afternoon showcases are free.

      They typically announce the slate of performers several months out, but the 2016 line-up is not posted yet. You can get details at the NQC website. http://www.natqc.com.

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