The first full day of the National Quartet Convention has come and gone. The event actually started on Sunday night, but Monday was the first day with events from morning until nearly 11:00 PM.
This morning, the town of Pigeon Forge and NQC announced the event will remain at the same location at least through 2031.
There were various showcases today, but I did not attend any of those. We had a late lunch/early supper at Tony Gore’s BBQ in Sevierville around 3:30 PM, and then we arrived at the LeConte Centre around 4:45 PM. That gave us some time to walk through the exhibits in the halls and speak to a few people before the main concert started at 5:30 PM. I did not make it around to all the booths, however. I spend most of my time in the concert hall.
Attendance is down a good bit from previous years. I’m not so sure that ticket sales are down that much. It’s more likely that many people simply opted not to attend despite already having bought tickets. Some sections closer to the center than mine had entire rows empty, for example, and I know those tickets were already sold when I was allowed to select mine. Hopefully, 2022 will see Covid brought under control, and crowds will return to the near sellouts on Monday night and complete sellouts later in the week as in years past.
The Dixie Melody Boys were on first tonight. I got a bit of a personal thrill at the end of their set when emcee Josh Franks brought out a copy of the book that I co-wrote with DMB owner Ed O’Neal and told the crowd a bit about it. For a brief second or two, the camera caught my name and displayed it on the big screen! :)
The Chuck Wagon Gang was up next. This was my first time to hear them since former Florida Boys/Freedom Trio/Dixie Melody Boys singer Josh Garner joined the group. They did their Bewley Mills Flour radio program with some added humor by Garner, then concluded with a great song called “The Record Book.”
Other groups performing tonight included:
Jordan’s Bridge – sang one song and left the crowd really wanting more
Mark Bishop – at first I thought his set lacked his usual energy, but he was just pacing himself. Bishop delivered a powerful finish
The Whisnants – they presented a solid set
Karen Peck & New River – “The God I Serve” is a great song; I really enjoyed their version of “Ain’t No Grave,” too
Tribute – one of the highlights of the night, concluding with the ever-popular “I Call It Home;” new bass vocalist Ian Owens is a good fit.
Down East Boys – Similar to Ian Owens with Tribute, Alex Utech promises to be a great potentially long-time hire for the bass position with the Down East Boys
Phillips & Banks – the winners from the showcase earlier in the day got to sing one song on the main stage, and we could understand why they were selected after hearing it
Sunday Drive – like Jordan’s Bridge, Sunday Drive only sang one song…I don’t entirely understand the logic of NQC on this programming choice. If a group is good enough to sing one song, they should be good enough to have a 10-minute slot. If they’re not, they shouldn’t be on main stage at all.
Kingdom Heirs – the new song with the 3 Heath Brothers is a big hit; Jeff Chapman was in great voice tonight
Lynda Randle – by having two musicians and bringing The Chitans onstage to back her up, Randle kept her solo performance interesting…going back to Mark Bishop for a moment, I was a bit surprised he had no musicians given that his brand new album is filled with unusual instruments
Jim & Melissa Brady – I missed most of their set, but caught about a song and a half…I heard part of one song with Melissa playing piano and Jim singing solo, and that combo sounded fantastic. The orchestration was overbearing on their last track, though.
Old Paths – these guys have a great sound and worked hard to engage the crowd
Legacy Five – ever since they added Lee Black and Bryan Walker, Legacy Five has delivered a polished sound. “Gentle Shepherd,” “I Believe The Book,” and “What Kind Of Man,” were all home runs.
Best overall sets of the evening: Karen Peck & New River, Tribute, Kingdom Heirs, and Legacy Five
Tomorrow I plan to attend the SGMA Hall Of Fame Induction showcase as well as the evening concerts.
I am posting a few photos on my Facebook page each night. With the new seating arrangement and where I ended up after buying my tickets, I don’t have a clear view of the stage, so the photos are of the big screen directly in front of me. I then have to correct the angle since I’m a little off center, and the colors aren’t always true given the lighting. At any rate, click HERE to check my Facebook page if you want to see some of those photos…I’ll continue to add more on Tuesday and Wednesday.