Saturday, September 22, 2007

Liberty in the heartland

Hey, don't forget Liberty is going to be back in the Midwest next week. Come see us if you get a chance. I'd like to see a lot of you guys that I don't get to touch base with on a regular basis. Here's the schedule:

Sunday, 9/23: Copper Hill, VA (Painter Tabernacle; 6:00 PM)
Monday, 9/24: Covington, KY (Central Church of the Nazarene; 7:00 PM)
Tuesday, 9/25: Fortville, IN (Church of the Nazarene; 7:00 PM)
Wednesday, 9/26: Pekin, IL (First Church of the Nazarene; 7:00 PM)

Our website has all the address details:

Friday, September 21, 2007

NQC from my perspective

Here is my belated overview of my short time at NQC:

After driving throughout the night following our Wednesday evening concert in Inman, KS, we arrived in Louisville at about 1:30 PM. By the time we parked the bus, showered, and started the long trek toward Freedom Hall it was about 2:15 PM. We were fortunate to get into the Instrumentalists Jam Session, hosted by Tim Lovelace. Those musicians are awesome! The highlight for me was the privilege to hear Earl Scruggs play live. He's the one who composed and played the Beverly Hillbillies Theme Song. He can pick a banjo like no one else.

After the showcase, Royce took off to try to find a rental car. In the meantime, Doran, Dan, Jim Elkins (Doran's father-in-law), and I wandered around the exhibition center. We heard some music playing and walked into one of the regional artist showcases. Phil Cross saw us from the front (he was emceeing the showcase) and motioned for us to come up front. By the time it was over Phil, Jeff Chapman (bass for Kingdom Heirs), Doran, and I sang Wedding Music for everybody. That was a lot of fun, even if I never heard the baritone part (Doran was playing, not singing). My 2 minutes of fame at NQC.

I spent most of the time meandering through the exhibit halls checking out what everyone had to offer. This was my first visit to NQC and here is my initial impression: it's a flea market with a lot of CDs for sale. Some of the booths were pretty hokey in my humble opinion. I would focus on the music industry if I was in charge and get rid of all the book dealers, clothing booths, candlemakers, and jewelry salesmen. It was a little over the top.

I enjoyed the awards show. Since I've already commented on that I'll leave it alone, except to comment that they did a good job of keeping it moving. They avoided, for the most part, the corny schtik that really isn't even funny. Overall, I was impressed. The sound was very good in the nose-bleed sections where we sat, but a little muddy in the lower sections.

Favorite Set: Mark Lowry and Lordsong (Friday evening)
This was probably the best set that I've ever been privileged to witness. Lordsong's vocals are incredible! Most of their songs were done without the stacks that overshadow other groups performances. They were on pitch perfectly. Their version of O Happy Day (they did both songs that share that title) was awesome! I just couldn't stop grinning. Mark Lowry was his usual masterful self in communicating his point with humor. After hearing a lot of corny one-liners, his jokes were refreshing and brought out the big laughs. Their set was definitely worth the price of admission.

Favorite Performers: Booth Brothers
The Booth Brothers are definitely at the top of the SG field right now. They consistently delivered. And based on the crowd's reaction, they agree with my assessment. Michael Booth is the best emcee in the biz and his crazy sense of humor coupled with his talent for playing off of a comment or situation kept you on the edge of your seat. Right now, they are my favorite SG group.

Favorite Quartet: Brian Free & Assurance
These guys are getting better and better. Their new bass fits their sound perfectly. They outshone established giants such as Legacy Five, Gold City, and Kingdom Heirs in their sets. They combine fantastic arrangements with an exciting presentation that wows the listener. I'll say it again, Bill Shivers is the most underrated lead singing in the industry. Go buy their new CD, "Real Faith", and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Favorite "New" Group: Hope's Call
I know that this group has been around for a few years, but this was the first time I had heard them perform. I was very impressed! I now can see what the buzz has been about.

Favorite Showcase: Jim Cymbala & The Brooklyn Tabernacle Singers/Mike Speck's Choral Extravaganza (tie)
We thought that the Cymbala showcase started later than it did, so we got in for the last part of it. However, it was awesome! Jim has a God-given gift for communicating the Word. He just makes it come alive. I left the showcase feeling like I had been to church. I also loved the choral showcase. Mike Speck led an ensemble made up of members from 3 or 4 church choirs. He previewed new choral arrangements from his newest book. It was another one of those worship experiences. I've enjoyed leading and singing his choral music for the last 10 years, so it was a privilege to see this live. I kept on thinking to myself, "Garen Wolf would love this!"

Favorite Convention Food: The Kentucky Barbeque Sandwich
No competition here. We really need to get this one at Fresno.

Favorite New Song: It Means Just What It Says, Greater Vision
Simple lyrics, catchy tune, incredible message. Listen for it on radio. Gerald said that they're going to release this one. I can't stop humming the tune. Rodney did it again.

It was a blast to see so many people that I haven't touched base with for a while (in addition to all of our quartet buddies): Cheryl and Susan Bailey, Jonathan and Karen Walden, Chad, Valerie, and Christopher Winter, Tim LeBeau, Josh Arnett, Brent Vernon (yes, Brent Vernon; surprised me too), and a lot of other people who aren't coming to my mind right now.

Lots of fun. Hopefully, we'll do it again next year.

For a detailed overview of NQC, visit: