Again, adjusting the time on this blog as it is wickedly late! Tara and I drove back to the hotel together tonight. She came to my room to use the internet, and we were soon joined by her husband, Kyle, and friend, Aaron Crisler (who I actually met because of this blog!). Before long, we had an internet-cafe-chatting-fellowshipping party going on! It was great, but it makes this time of writing very late indeed!
Today feels like it was three days long, and I mean that in the best kind of way.
I really wanted to see some of the afternoon showcases today, since I missed them all yesterday. The early part of the afternoon was the Artist Spotlight Showcase, hosted by singers and songwriters, Mark Bishop and Phil Cross. Because they are writers, there was a lot of respect given to performers of original songs, which I really liked. They were both great hosts, very funny and natural.
A couple of the groups really stood out for me. Driven is a male quartet with strong vocals and a dynamic stage presence. The Schaffers entered the stage and immediately set a tone of worship. They did a great SG arrangement of the praise and worship song, "Amazing Love". It was really beautiful. And we were also treated to Canada's Double Portion. I don't know where they're based, but this family group travels both countries, singing with their 8 children! Their sound was great, and they played their own instruments too. Paula Stefanovich, who wrote the Hoppers' "Jerusalem", performed 2 songs and just about brought the house down. She was excellent!
We were also treated to a preview of Thursday's "Bluegrass Pickin' Jamboree" by Tim Lovelace and Zane King. They launched into a 2-man jam session, with Tim on harmonica, Zane on steel guitar, and both taking turns on the piano. It was awesome, and in the past year, I've totally fallen in love with the sound of steel guitar! I need to find a way to incorporate it into my album...
At 3:00, I joined Tara for an invitation-only event - a Southern Gospel Music Guild (SGMG) Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony. Joe Moscheo was an Imperial back in the day when they sang with Elvis. He's dedicated his life to the SG industry, and all the heavy-hitters turned out to honour him today. It was a lovely event, with genuine speeches, and a real spirit of generosity in the air. But it was also just amazing to look around the room and see the assembled crowd: the president of GMA, the president of Daywind, all the heads of the NQC, top industry agents and managers, and legendary singers and musicians like Les Beasley, Claude Hopper, and Ben Speer. It was humbling and inspiring, all in one spin.
Oh, and they had chocolate-covered strawberries too! I'd like to request them for my next award ceremony, please!
Tara's husband was away today, so I spent a good part of the afternoon helping her at her booth. I'm learning so much just by meeting artists and other industry people. It's great to see how things work, and how I can best prepare myself to take this next step into the industry.
At 5:00, I attended the Regional Artist Showcase to hear my friend, Wess Adams, sing. A little Stamps-Baxter crowd gathered at the back of the room to cheer him on! He sounded great, and it was a wonderful showcase. The regional showcases focus on people who are developing a name in their local area, so help draw in a crowd, they also have featured guest artists. The King's Heralds (who sang that great acapella number last night) and the Booth Brothers sang today, and both were excellent.
Supper was a whole experience in and of itself! Tara and I visited the food-court, where they had huge screens and a live-feed of the main stage concert. We sat with Timi and Ken Barnes of Best Southern Gospel internet radio, and Ginger and Jonathon Bond of the group, Young Harmony. It was all very cool and fun, til Jonathon asked if we'd tried the deep-fried Snickers bars. Yes, my friends, you read that right: deep-fried Snickers bars.
I had not tried this treat, but I am always up for a chocolate adventure. Some people at the table seemed more apprehensive. Jonathon took up the challenge, and came back with a round of bars for the table. The bar is put on a stick, like a corn dog, then wrapped in funnel-cake batter, deep-fried, and rolled in icing sugar. The bar melts, the nuts stay crunchy, and the nougat-stuff just gets gooey good. It's awesome! And dangerous! I may have to indulge again before the week is out. I know Dad and Gerald would love them, so maybe I'll have one for Dad, one for Gerald...
I finally got to start looking at some of the booths tonight. There are a lot of artists, ranging from Gaither favourites to local indie groups and soloists. I got to say a quick hello to several Stamps-Baxter friends, like Daryl Williams, and the Stutzmans (who are offering free massages at their booth!). There are also booths from management companies, radio stations, bus sellers, booking agencies, and Christian book stores. Lots of things to buy, but also lots of things to learn about the industry.
Oh, and I forgot to mention this last night, but in the main show, the Booth Brothers were accompanied by Roy Webb, formerly of Signature Sound. I saw Roy's booth tonight, and it seems that he's starting a solo minstry. He's so talented, and I think he'll do very well.
At 8:30, I ran over to Freedom Hall to catch the Melody Boys in their main stage performance. If you'll remember from this year's singing school, my friend, Scott Baker, now sings with this group. (Scott is my "I've Just Seen Jesus" duet partner.) The group did something different by ditching the tracks for tonight, and just performing with piano accompaniment. Given the overblown backing tracks of some groups, this was a welcome and effective choice. The blend was great, and the group managed the in-the-round stage very nicely. And, of course, it was just so amazing to see a friend on the main stage of NQC!
I didn't get to see a lot of the show tonight, but what I saw was great. The Reggie Sadler Family consists of a mom, a daughter, and a crazy-excited dad. Their sound was fantastic, and their presentation was so spirit-filled and fun. I also saw the McKameys. Again, a group I'd read about and only ever seen on TV. They are an NQC favourite, and the crowd just went wild for them.
I also saw the Greenes, who were simply amazing! They sang a new song, "God is Singing Over Me". The song itself is awesome, and they really pulled it out on the vocals. Some SG acts will coast through the song, and then put everything into a big, high ending. It's sort of cheating to try and get a good audience reaction. The Greenes don't need to cheat. They were commited from the first note, and it just built into a vocally challenging and emotionally satisfying climax. I was so impressed!
After a while, I headed back to Tara and the booth, were we ran into Ken and Timi (from the Snicker bar incident). They were doing 'liners' for their radio station. Liners are when you're listening to the radio and you hear, "Hi y'all! I'm Allison Lynn and you're listening to 91.1 Jazz FM". They've been playing Tara's music, so they got her to do one, and then Tara said they should get me to do one too. I gently reminded her of my as-of-yet-unrecorded album, and they said, "Record it now, and then send us the CD when it's ready". So tonight, I did my first bit of radio promotion for my CD! We all had fun with it, and it got a little silly, but it was all still amazingly cool to be doing this kind of stuff. This CD gets more real by the day.
We wrapped up the night with a little more booth-scouting, meeting people, and just winding down. Of course, then we came back here and got all wound up again. But there's a lot I want to do tomorrow, but it's 3:14 AM as I'm finishing this post. Probably time to wind down again...