NQC 10: On magic memories
The spirit mostly seemed to keep its own counsel apart from me on this final night of NQC 10, save for some lovely moments in Stan Whitmire’s accompaniment of Chris Allman on “Blessed Assurance.” Tonight was a marked improvement over last night, but that only meant that things were mostly serviceable and ordinary, though I admittedly arrived late and left early.
In my perch tonight, my mind keep wandering - and I didn’t bother trying to stop it - and so I let myself start thinking back to some of my earliest experiences at NQC, in the early 1990s. I remember that effusive woman who used to sit on the front row and dance and clap and wear outrageous homemade superfan tshirts. And then there was the old preacher lady who used to shuffle up to the stage stairs and grab aholt of Connie Hopper and Peg McKamey with one hand and wave her bible with the other while beckoning the heavenly to host to descend in a language only she and God seemed to understand.
I was musing on this stuff more or less free associatively, and what to my wandering mind should appear, but this message from a dear friend, with whom I’ve been commiserating via email on and off all weekend and whose mind and memory seem to running in a similar direction. It captured much more comprehensively the drift of my own thoughts and so I offer it as a far a more fitting commentary on this evening, this weekend, my experience, than anything I’d have to say at the moment.
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My version of NQC has been listening to Solid Gospel, commenting on your board for change, and then wishing I had turned the radio off earlier than I did. Maybe I’ll drive up next year, maybe I won’t. In the meantime, I was thinking about the moments that stand out to me from years and years of attending NQC.
I remember the Talley’s doing “Triumphantly, The Church Will Rise.” I thought the
Lord was coming back in the middle of the song because I was caught up.
I remember the year the Talley’s started a set with, “Love Will.” I’d never heard those percussive sounds on a recording in my life. Ever. I was blown away.
Remember when the little old lady would take her Bible down by the stage every time Connie Hopper was on stage? Such a sweet soul.
Then there was the year the Hoppers brought in the Music City Mass Choir. I believe they did “Mention My Name,” but I can’t swear to it. Regardless, my memory of it is what matters.
The Cathedrals. Every single time they sang, the merchandise area emptied. There was a sound–a blend–that has never been duplicated. There was also a brand of class that I cannot articulate which went away with them.
Remember when the Nelons’ debuted the video to, “Famine in Their Land?” So cutting edge.
Oh, the year the McGruders tore the place apart with the live band.
I remember the first time the Vocal Band came back. It was electric.
What about the big Amy Lambert debut with the Greenes? She nailed it, too.
These are just a few of the things that I personally think of as ‘worth the trip’ events. And, when I turned off the radio last night, these are the moments I went back to. The truth is, after eavesdropping this week, of all the years of eavesdropping and of showing up, I really needed to remember, this year more than any, that there was a magic that brought me here in the first place.