Monday, September 1, 2014

How Could I Be Anything But Happy on Day 10 - Southern Gospel Picnic

Yesterday was a day almost 10 years in the making. Chosen Few was the house gospel group for Silver Dollar City for a number of years. The group was my first introduction to Southern Gospel music. They left the City more than 10 years ago and were invited to come back for Southern Gospel Nights in Echo Hollow during their first years of touring full time. That’s how I started going to the event and got introduced to other gospel groups and this whole genre of Southern Gospel music. It had been almost 10 years since I had seen the group live in person since they left the road. But yesterday, that changed with a reunion worth waiting for!!

But first, we got out to the park for the morning worship service with Dennis Swanberg. He preached a great sermon on the importance of planting shade trees and leaving a legacy for others.

From there, I went to see the Skyline Boys. This was my first time to see this group. They sang mostly familiar songs like “I’ll Meet You in the Morning,” “The Lighthouse,” “Until the Storm Passes By” and “It’s Almost Over.” They ended with the always crowd-pleasing “Boundless Love.”

Then, it was reunion time. I definitely wasn’t the only one looking forward to this. I heard some people in line saying they had driven four hours just to see them. I’m pretty sure all three shows were near capacity. It was great to see the group’s reaction to the outpouring from the audience. They said they really had no idea what kind of response they would get. You could tell they were really humbled to see how much the audience loved seeing them back together!!

I went to all three of the their shows that afternoon. All three were a little different with a few repeats, but when you have waited almost 10 years to hear a group, you don’t mind hearing them sing favorites a few times.

They sang their songs like “Deliverance Has Come,” “I Am the Man,” “Just Because” and “Let Go and Let God.” It had been since January that the four guys, Ashley Ellison, Casey Ellison, Brian Arnold and Scott Fraker, had sung together and I’m not sure how long before that. But it was like they never stopped singing together full-time.

Brian is the songwriter of the group, and I love hearing them sing some of the songs that he had written, “The Little Things” and “I Will Carry On This Way.” Two of my favorites!!

Scott, the bass singer, was featured on “I’m the Biggest Fish in the Sea,” which is a kid’s song, but Brian said it was one of their most requested. It’s always been fun to see Scott sing this one live. However, my absolute favorite was hearing him sing “How Great Thou Art.” I’ve heard this song a lot in the past 11 days, but NO ONE does it better in my opinion. (Have a video I will upload later.) He shows off his four and a half octave vocal range. And 10 years later, it still gave me chills!!!

The last song they sang featured Casey and was “I Bowed on My Knees and Cried Holy.” I know this is a Michael English signature song, but Casey does an incredible job on this song!

I can’t begin to say how good it was to see these guys back singing together. Had it not been for them, I wouldn’t have been introduced to this music and there certainly would be no blog.

And then tonight in Echo Hollow was Dennis Swanberg and Jeff and Sheri Easter. Dennis did about 30 minutes of comedy before the music. He told the zipper story which is always hilarious!!

Jeff and Sheri kicked off the night with “Anything But Happy.” This was the first of many they sang from their latest project. They also sang “Sitting on Top of the World,” “I Know How It Feels to Survive” and “A Little Bit of Sunshine.”

Morgan sang both “Either Way” and “I Need You More Today.” The last one was one someone requested during the second half and it’s my favorite to hear her sing. Madison and Shannon sang “Letting Go” from their release together. It was so good to hear them sing on stage together!!

Jeff also pulled out a few of his country roots on the second half singing "I Like My Women on the Trashy Side" and "Mama Tried!" It was pretty funny! The first one was actually a request from an audience member!! Haha!

The second half was all requests and they sang "Roses Will Bloom Again," "Praise His Name" and "Going Away Party." They also of course sang "Thank You Lord." They pulled up a Silver Dollar City staff member to sing with them! It was great!! They ended the night with "I Won't Have to Worry Anymore," and Jeff pulled up a man to sing with him who requested the song!

It was an incredible night and day at Silver Dollar City, and after all that great music "how could I be anything but happy!"

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