Monday, November 3, 2008
Concert Review: The Whisnants @ Hyland Heights Baptist Church 11/1/2008
The crowd was small but that did not kill the enthusiasm of the few that gathered to see the Whisnants Saturday night. This concert was one of many put on by the Patrick Henry Boys and Girls Plantation based in Brookneal, VA. The Plantation has a great ministry to kids ages 6-17 that have been in dysfunctional families of all kinds, where those families are not able to meet the children’s needs any longer. The boys and girls come to learn skills that will teach them to survive in the real world and more importantly the gospel is shared with each one on a daily basis. If you would like more information on the Patrick Henry Boys and Girls Plantation you can go to http://www.patrickhenry.org to find out more information.
The concert was to benefit the home. A love offering was taken right before the intermission that went to Patrick Henry Boys and Girls Plantation. For anyone being around southern gospel for any length of time will recognize some of their many #1 songs. I am not as familiar with the group as a whole so some of my song titles may be a little off. To start out the night, Jason Watson, executive director of the plantation introduced the group. The group hit the ground running with no looking back.
The group started off the night singing two songs right off the bat without talking. The first one I believe was called The Only One There Is referring to the empty tomb of Jesus followed by He’s Guiding Me. The running theme of the night seemed to be burdens and valleys. We all have valleys that we have to endure at some time in our lives. When we go through these times, we have songs that are there to uplift us and encourage us. Susan Whisnunt talked about troubles that we all go through at some time or another. She pointed out the only difference between them and the crowd was they were holding the microphones. She encouraged everyone to take their burdens and Nail It To The Cross. This was encored by Eric playing a slowed down version on the piano with the group singing the chorus and then going into Oh How I Love Jesus. The audience was encouraged to sing along with them.
Next the group turned a 180 and did the very upbeat Next Time You See Me which was encored as well after a great crowd response. They kept it going with the classic I’ll Live In Glory. That was followed by the group intros done by Jeff Whisnunt. He first introduced pianist Eric Ollis whom he compared to Otis on the Andy Griffith show. Eric stood up and stuck out his stomach to make the comparison even more real. Next in line was Aaron who is a natural born northerner. Jeff joked about trying to convert him into a redneck and teaching him to say his words correctly like “ain’t” “ustacould” and “Git-r-done!” I think it is finally starting to work for them. Next in line was Susan. She was introduced as a very awarded singer but liked to sing songs like Nail It To The Cross because of the message in the song. Susan then talked about their two kids Austin and Ethan. Austin sang a song which was a crowd pleaser but was hard on the musically sensitive ears.
Susan continued to talk after that number about being in Dollywood recently. Coming back they had already seen snow and that put them in the mood to sing some Christmas songs. After asking the crowd if it was OK, she said off the cuff she wanted to do a couple things. They did an off the cuff Acappella Acappella version of Angels We Have Heard On High and an orchestrated version of Come On Ring Those Bells.
Again the subject of trials came up and Susan talked about Jeff’s dad that had just been diagnosed with cancer. He will be going to be at Duke and staying for 5 weeks taking radiation treatments. Even though we know what we may want God knows better and we need to wait for A Greater Yes.
After A Greater Yes, Jeff talks about how the Whisnunts choose their songs. Sometimes you have those songs that are put off even though they have been written by great song writers. For one reason or another, they just don’t fit. Kyla Rowland’s The Past is a Promise was exactly that song. The group put it off for 9 years before recording it. Lastly before taking a short intermission the group sang A New Day Dawning.
After a short intermission Jason Watson came back up and talked about how the concert had already been a blessing to him, especially the song A Greater Yes. He has gone through some health issues and asked God to take them away but God has chosen not to so he is waiting on a greater yes. The Whisnunts were introduced again and they took the stage with The Other Side of Grace which was followed by He Knows My Name.
Part of many groups show today will include a request section. Someone in the crowd had requested that the group do Beulah Land. In another impromptu moment, Aaron and Eric did Beulah Land with the rest of the group joining on the chorus. This was followed by He Bled, He Died, He Rose. Next Susan asked who would lift up Jason and the boys from the Plantation in prayer as they go through their valleys. After a show of hands the group sang Even In The Valley which was followed by the congregation singing God Is So Good. An invitation was given right before singing I Believe He’s Coming Back Like He Said.
Overall the concert was good. A bunch of well known songs and an enthusiastic crowd, even though they were small, makes for a great night of southern gospel music.