Thursday, October 15, 2015

Cathedrals Family Reunion - Branson, MO - 2015

The Cathedrals Family Reunion event was exactly as advertised - a family reunion. I had the chance to attend one of the events in Branson, Missouri. The event includes Cathedrals alumni Mark Trammell, Gerald Wolfe, Scott Fowler, Danny Funderburk and Ernie Haase and their groups. The event also includes Pat Barker (formerly of Mark Trammell Quartet) on bass for most of the classic Cathedrals sets.

It was clear that this really was a family affair. These guys share a special bond, all having been a part of the Cathedrals. They picked on each other like family. They had no real set list, but listened to requests from the audience and from other members as to what to sing next. I'm sure each Cathedrals Family Reunion is a little different!

Since I didn't discover Southern Gospel and the Cathedrals until my teen years, I never got the chance to see them live in person. But I feel like this was the next best thing! It was clear that these men had the utmost respect for George Younce and Glen Payne. They recognized the impact on their lives and their careers. The weekend was really a tribute to them and their legacy in gospel music.

I'll be honest this is one of those events that I didn't bother taking detailed notes during for the blog. I just wanted to enjoy it. So you're just getting the high points of the weekend, but there are definitely plenty of those!

Friday night's session started with the five guys and all their groups on stage. They sang a couple and then each group had its own set. Since Dustin Doyle and his wife just had a new baby, Wayne Haun filled in at baritone Friday night for Ernie Haase and Signature Sound.

For the classic Cathedrals' part of the night, Scott, Ernie, Danny, Gerald, Mark and Pat gathered around the piano. No tracks, just Gerald on piano and Mark playing the bass guitar. I loved that they had a semi-plan, but really felt the crowd and weren't afraid to just call out songs. It was fun seeing all five guys interact and sing together. They sound incredible together!! It's good to see Pat Barker still a part of these events. People commented all weekend long how much he sounded like George!

Here are highlights I remember -
  • "Boundless Love"
  • "Champion of Love" - This was the grand finale with all the guys Friday night. Scott and Gerald split the verses. 
  • "Step Into the Water" - They almost sang this one twice! They started another song ("Boundless Love," I think) and Scott Fowler started singing the lyrics for "Step Into the Water." It definitely became the joke all weekend! Anytime they weren't sure what to sing next, Scott or one of the other guys would say, "Step Into the Water."
  • "Bloodwashed Band"
  • "Wedding Music"
I'm really not sure how to describe Saturday morning other than fun. Landon Beene of IMC Concerts said before it started that this was his favorite session of these events, and I can see why! I'm sure you never know exactly what will happen! 

They sang around the piano for about 30 minutes (the five guys and Pat on bass) and then told Cathedrals days stories. They let the audience request a few. So Pat had to sing "The Laughing Song." Someone also requested "Crimson River," which I was not familiar with. They all made it clear this was not one they had rehearsed, but still made it through a verse and chorus of the song! It was amazing to me how they remembered everything as they did especially with Gerald and Mark playing instruments. Once Gerald knew the key, he just took off. You forget what a great piano player he is sometimes, but I so impressed!

As I mentioned I wasn't well acquainted with the Cathedrals, but it was funny hearing several stories from the guys. I didn't know that Ernie Haase and Scott Fowler went to college together. And apparently Mark Trammell liked putting new members through an initiation process. Mark also told several stories of living on the same street as George and Roger Bennett. Ernie also told what it was like to go to George asking permission to marry his daughter. It was a great time with lots of laughs! They even let some audience members ask questions toward the end. 

It became a joke that weekend that Gerald Wolfe could tell exactly what day something happened. He knew date and day of the week for specific concerts and recordings. It really was amazing! The other guys were also taken a back by how good his memory was. Scott Fowler asked him what day he bought his first house, and he was stumped! Haha! So randomly the rest of the time, they would ask "When did you buy your first house?"

After the morning session, they had some memorabilia set up for us to look at and the last bus that the Cathedrals toured in that you could walk through.

Saturday night was similar to Friday night in that each group had its own set and then they had a "Cathedrals set." Danny Funderburk sang in the middle several songs solo between the four quartets. This was my first time hearing him live, but he's still got a great, strong tenor voice! 

Wayne Haun had to fly back to Nashville to prepare for the Dove Awards Saturday night, so Ernie had Scott Fowler fill in at baritone! It was fun watching Scott try to keep up with Signature Sound's choreography on "Glory to God in the Highest." He said after it was over that he got to fulfill two dreams that night, singing with Signature Sound and being on "Dancing With the Stars."

Here are highlights from Saturday - 
  • "This Old House" - For the most part, Pat pulled bass duty. They started the last half of the concert with this song with Paul Harkey, Matthew Fouch and Pat each taking a verse and trading off. 
  • "Yesterday" - This was just the five guys paying tribute to George. 
  • "Can He Could He Would He"
  • "Standing on Holy Ground"
  • "Sin Will Take You Farther" - Love hearing Mark on this song!
  • "Heavenly Parade" - Gerald said that he wanted to sing the bass part of this song. Pat tried to teach him how to "sell" the bass part. Hilarious!
  • "I Thirst"
  • "Search Me O God" - They started this with a clip of George and Glen. Then, the entire group of men from all the groups started singing. Incredible moment!
  • "Climbing Higher and Higher"
  • "We Shall See Jesus" - Probably the moment of the weekend!
This was such a great weekend of gospel music from the first note on Friday night to the very end on Saturday. I definitely recommend going if you get a chance. There are only a handful of these events left this year. I'm sure each event is a little different with the way things moved. The guys do a great job of reading the crowd and are willing to take requests from the audience! You won't regret attending one if you get a chance!

One last note - Roll Tide! I'm a huge Arkansas Razorback fan, but as promised, I said I'd give the Crimson Tide a shout out for beating the Hogs on Saturday, so there it is! 

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