Another National Quartet Convention has come and gone. I got in at about 6:30 Friday evening, and in between getting settled, catching up with people in the exhibit hall, and listening to music, I had no time to blog! I encourage you to check out some of the other blogs for their take on Friday night’s music. However, I have some thoughts on things throughout Saturday, and some final thoughts about NQC 2011 as a whole:
1. The Dixie Melody Boys reunion was this year’s “moment.” Every year at NQC, there is a musical moment, be it in a showcase or evening performance, one song or an entire set, that stands out from everything else during the week as a meeting of both spirit and musical greatness. The twenty or so minutes of the Singing News Fan Awards Straw Poll showcase that were set aside to honor Ed O’Neal’s 50 years in Southern Gospel music were those that made up this year’s moment. Three songs, a presentation, a heartfelt testimony, and a powerful closing number; these ingredients made up the magic this time. I counted at least three standing ovations, though it may have been four; either way, I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen an audience respond so well at NQC.
“Antioch Church Choir” and “Good Old Boys” opened it up, and the former got the first ovation. “Ride That Glory Cloud” was absolutely electric, complete with a live band consisting of Eric Ollis on piano, Rodney Griffin on bass guitar, and a drummer whose name escapes me, and it was encored several times. I am usually not an emotional person, but I will admit that I teared up twice this week. Ed O’Neal’s comments that led into “The Call Is Still The Same” caused that second time. What a broken, heartfelt testimony. All that aside, the current lineup of the Dixie Melody Boys is the best they have had in years, hands down. They have a very powerful sound now.
2. The live band and Burman Porter’s rehire are the two best things to happen to the Dove Brothers. Seriously. Their set tonight flat-out rocked. When you can keep doing encores (venturing into four times) and it doesn’t get old, you’re doing it right. Porter’s delivery of “King Jesus” was, at the risk of wearing this adjective out, electric. The energy is back for the Dove Brothers, for sure.
3. Something felt different about NQC this year. Let me preface this by saying that I am very much a fan and supporter of Southern Gospel music. As a matter of fact, I’d love to be able to sing it full-time one day. That does not change the fact that overall, my impression of this year was kind of disconcerting. I don’t know if it was the fact that by the time I got there everyone was tired or what, but it just felt… empty this year. Like the buzz that usually accompanies this event was turned off this time around. I don’t believe I’m the only one who felt this way; comments I’ve seen and heard around our corners of the web and in person lead me to believe that everyone else felt this weird, void-like sensation as well. Will it be fixed for next year? We’ll see. Until then, we have another year of Southern Gospel to enjoy, so let’s get to it!