The last to know

A friend of mine and I were talking recently about the kinds of cultural or institutional obstacles within NQC that have caused it to become slightly stale, kept it from remaining more relevant instead of just the monolithic Thing that everyone does in sg. And it occurred to me that you don’t really hear any stories like the ones I’ve heard for years from sg old timers: about this or that group back in the day taking the NQC stage one night and such knocking the tops of everybody’s head off, not least of all because the group was unknown or thought to be small potatoes or whatever. When’s the last time that happened at NQC? I mean think about it? There was the Perrys last year, but they’ve been around for years. And the Crabbs received NQC attention only after they really became a pretty big phenomenon, and even still they often get stuck - as they did last year - with the last spot on Friday night when the only people left are diehards and the folks who are too exhausted to move until they absolutely have no other reason to stay. Or take LordSong or Triumphity … this year will be their first on the NQC mainstage. That’s great, but it shoulda happened the first year both groups came outta the gate … same thing with Mercy’s Mark and Mark Trammel’s outfit and SSQ back when they started out. This nonsense of not putting “new” groups on the mainstage is ridiculous. Top-tier groups like Mercy’s Mark or Lordsong or SSQ or Triumphity - who come out strong and attract a relatively large fan-base straightaway or show the promise to do so - belong in weekend lineups as soon as they start making a fulltime stand. Why pretend NQC is the Moose Lodge with a pecking order and a secret handshake that you can only EARN after years of slave labor on the road? My point: sure LordSong is on the program now, as is Triumphity (just as the Crabbs and SSQ and whoever else eventually got on the mainstage). But how long did it take and how begrudgingly was it finally done? There’s a difference, after all, between inviting me to your house and refusing to not let me in when I show up at the door. It doesn’t take a clinical psychologist or a mind-reader to sense NQC’s latent hostility toward these upstarts - and I suspect that the ticket-sales slump NQC is in now is at least in part due to some people getting fed up with the pettiness and sophomoric political antics and deciding to spend three days instead at something like Gaither’s Family Fest.It’s fair to ask, I think, in this environment, how long will groups continue to pay homage to NQC and treat it like the end-all if NQC is going to tromp all over that deference and generally strike a pose of imperiousness before the very groups it ought to be interested in collaborating with (instead of deigning to deal with). I don’t think anyone can say for sure, but we’ve already seen GVB and SSQ bail on NQC for all practical purposes. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Isaacs don’t follow suit soon. And I can also imagine a day some year not too far in the future when the Crabbs aren’t at NQC on a weekend. Why? Well, for starters it’s not like NQC’s wholehearted embrace of the Crabbs gave them their success, and the Crabbs seem to be - like SSQ - positioning themselves in a way that reduces their reliance on the traditional sg base that comprises the NQC audience. The Crabbs in particular have worked like dogs to get where they are largely by dint of their drive and audacity, and I’m confident they coulda done it without a single appearance on the NQC stage.

By virtue of its wait-and-see attitude, NQC has become the last to know about great talent. That’s what I was implying by my remark a few days ago about the real creative stuff in sg largely starting on the margins or in between the institutional poles of Gaither and NQC. Show me the next Martins or the next Crabbs or (or even the next L5 or Greater Vision for that matter) and then show me where they were on an NQC mainstage before anybody knew who they were, show me where that new group showed up one year and took the place by storm out of left or right field … Show me, that is, that NQC is visibly valuing new creativity even when it’s a risk to do so, … THEN there’ll be identifiable reasons to think NQC gets it, finally.

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