Monday, March 5, 2012

Keeping the Focus - Mark Trammell Quartet Concert Review

The Mark Trammell Quartet was in concert on Thursday in DeWitt, Ark. I have been anxious to hear the group in concert since Eric Phillips rejoined the group.  I had watched some of the clips on YouTube of their current lineup consisting of Mark Trammell, Eric Phillips, Dustin Sweatman and Pat Barker, and was very impressed. After seeing them in person last week, I think that the best is yet to come from the Mark Trammell Quartet.

The night started with “Gentle Shepherd.” Is it a new trend for groups starting with the slower songs? Seems to be recently in ones I have seen anyway. Again, it worked really well for the group. They started the concert with Mark playing the bass, and Dustin on the keyboard.

They reached a tender point in the song with just their voices and no instruments, and of course a cell phone rang. While I would have been tempted to laugh or make light of the moment, none of the guys did. A few corners of their mouths turned up, grinning about what happened, but they didn’t lose the moment of the song. It showed true professionalism, and that they didn’t want to lose the focus of the song.

They picked up the pace with the song, “Hallelujah, I’m Going Home.” Mark introduced the guys next. He talked about how Eric had been with the group before when they were a trio. He poked fun of the fact that he had been a police officer with his high voice.

Pat Barker was featured on “How Big Is God” next. This has become his signature song. He really shows the power and richness of his bass voice with this song. It was definitely one of my favorites of the night!

They sang “Echoes from the Burning Bush” next. Eric hit a nice high part, and Mark told him it was cute and said he should do it again. He did it again. The audience clapped, and Mark looked at Eric and told him they really liked that so he should do it again. And he did.

Mark set up the next song as being one of the most requested when Eric was with the group previously. He told the audience he was tired of the song, and if they never did it again, it would be too soon. But since people kept requesting it, they sang “Glory Road” next. Eric nailed the high part at the end. He proved that he lost nothing in this time away from singing full time and that he is sounding better than ever.

They then sang “Wedding Music,” and Dustin and Mark put their instruments up midway through the song. Next, Dustin took the lead with “Testimony.” This is such a great up-tempo song, and he does a great job singing it. The song definitely shows off what a great lead singer he is. This song started a run of several songs from their Testimony project.

“God Knows How Much Mercy I Need” was next which features Mark. Baritone singers in Southern Gospel don’t get better that Mark Trammell. I love the truths and message of this song.

The pace picked up again with “One Drop,” which was written by Dustin. He and Pat were featured on the verses.

The group brought new life to an old hymn with “How Long Has It Been.” Mark spoke after about what a sobering thought it was to really think about the words of the song what it meant. The last song before the break was “It’s Almost Over.”

After the offering, they talked about their product at the cruises they have coming up. This is when you really got to see the fun personalities of the group. Mark is not only one of the best singers in the industry, but also emcees. Mark talked about the Singing at Sea cruise and even though they just returned from this year’s, they were already taking reservations for Feb. 2013. He said if you love to eat and love the Lord then it’s the cruise for you. “You’ll grow in lard and in the Lord,” he said.

Mark mentioned that he had been doing “this” for 38 years. They all had been making jokes about his age and how long he had been singing. Pat joked he had been doing "this" for 38 years too. Mark asked what he had been doing for 38 years. Pat’s response was breathing. :)

On that note, they started back singing with “Blood Washed Band.” Then, they sang “That Day at Calvary.”

Mark said that the next song featured Pat. Pat piped up and said that he really liked this one. Mark looked at him and said that he didn’t even know what song it was. Pat replied it didn’t matter because if it featured him he liked it! “I Want to Know” started up.  This is another one of my favorites. All four put their all into it and tore the song up! Once they were done, Pat said, “Well, that’s enough.”

Pat then gave a short testimony about how we are all in need of God’s grace and mercy. He reminded the congregation that we don’t have to stray far from God or go off the deep end to be in need of God’s mercy. The “good ole boys” need God’s grace just as much.

They ended the night with their Calvary medley. This is a great arrangement of songs all about the cross. Even through the laughs and the jokes, which were plenty, you can tell this is the focus of their ministry. They all like to have a good time, but they make sure that it’s all about the cross and sharing the gospel.

If you get the chance to see the Mark Trammell Quartet in concert, you should definitely go! It was a night of great singing, laughs and most importantly the gospel. I only wish it had been a little longer! 

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