Audience members knew from the start that this concert would be different.
Instead of beginning the Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver show by bringing out the legendary bluegrass band, concertgoers were given an acting lesson of sorts.
They were instructed to give a thunderous round of applause with cheering and whistling, as if the band already had come out on stage.
After that, it was a more tepid round of applause, then a standing ovation, then a warm and fuzzy moment of looking up at the stage adoringly with a hint of a smile and head nods.
All the while, the stage sat empty in front of a church backdrop.
But the jam-packed audience at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts had no problem performing theatrics. They had not only signed up for a gospel bluegrass concert, but also a live DVD recording (audience reactions are typically recorded in advance).
As the crowd tapped their toes and sang along with Lawson and his band throughout the night, a camera swung over their heads and along the aisles.
The cameras weren’t much of a distraction, though, with all eyes glued to the impressive performance of six very talented men: Lawson (mandolin, guitar, vocals), Dale Perry (banjo, vocals), Jason Barie (fiddle), Josh Swift (Dobro, vocals), Jason Leek (bass, vocals), Corey Hensley (guitar, vocals),
Lawson, in a sparkling blue sequined jacket and bright green boots, joked endlessly with the audience and fellow bandmates.
“I apologize for the glare,” said Lawson, referring to his sparkly coat. “I hope I don’t blind you.”
Later, fiddler Jason Barie strutted on stage with a pink sequined jacket, directly challenging Lawson. After pointing to the “Hot Stuff” emblazoned across the back, Lawson kicked him off the stage, with the punch line, “Hot Stuff has left the building.”
With a plethora of jokes and stories in between, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver delivered a crowd-pleasing performance, with music ranging from lively bluegrass tunes to equally compelling a cappella harmonies.
While Lawson has weaved in and out of gospel recordings over the course of his bluegrass career, the night was solely devoted to songs with Christian themes.
And the audience approved. Concertgoers embraced the solemn and uplifting words, interjecting shouts of “Amen” into a few of the songs.
True to the movie recording process, the concert had to be interrupted a couple of times for multiple takes.
A booming voice from above instructed the band to start the song over, and Lawson quipped, “I’m just hoping he won’t hit us with a lightning bolt,” garnering one of many laughs from the audience that night.
All jokes aside, Lawson stressed that the aim of his music was to somehow, somewhere uplift listeners and bring them a little closer to God.
Lyrics from the night included this one, intended to provoke some thought, “This life has many choices, eternity has two.”