FIRST GOSPEL SING OF THE SEASON …”Dave Spiess and Bluegrass Praise” started off the Harrison Lake Gospel Sing for 2021 on June 6. Seated on the grass in front of the stage are Sonny Wyse and his son, 11 year old David Wyse with Harmonica. Up on stage from left to right are Spiess on the Banjo, Carol Mast with Mandolin, Rudy Mast on Guitar and Harmonica, Harold Bently on electric guitar and Bob Leidlein on electric fiddle. In the back was Tim Brown on Bass guitar. (PHOTOS BY REBECCA MILLER, STAFF)
By: Rebecca Miller
It may have been a really hot summer day, hitting 90 degrees earlier in the afternoon, but by 6 p.m. when the First Gospel Sing of the summer of 2021 began, there was a delightful cool breeze and the sun was blocked by some large clouds.
Cars were pulling in steadily from 5:15 until after the concert began. Many who have come for years have started choosing to park across the street and enjoy the shade provided by the large trees there.
Some wandered over to say hi to people they knew, chatting about how they made it through this past year and how good it was to be out and about.
The Gospel Sing is held every Sunday evening of the summer, with the first one this year being held on June 6. For 57 years these Sunday Gospel Sings have been wafting across Harrison Lake.
Many area folks make it a standard Sunday evening drive and event for the summer, bringing along a baggie of popcorn and a cold bottle of water. Some stay in their cars and blow the horn to indicate they liked a song.
A large number of yard chairs are hauled out of cars and set up in groups of friends or families, whether in the sun or in the shade. Even last year with the COVID pandemic pretty much shutting down everything, the organizers went ahead and held the Sunday evening gatherings during July and August.
It was outdoors and everyone felt safe and it gave them a fun thing to do at least once a week during the quarantine.
The featured group of the evening was Dave Spiess with a bunch of his musical friends, the Bluegrass Prairie. Over the coming weeks, folks can hear Gene Zeno on June 13; Harold Bently and Friends on June 20; Souls Harbor on June 27; The Buehrer Family on the Fourth of July; Trinity from VanWert on July 11; Bill and the Boys on July 18; Jerry Garcia on July 25; Restoration on August 1; Rick St. John Family on August 15; Bill Stuckey, Chuck Todd and Tom Clair on August 22 and wrap up the summer of music with The Steve Raymond Family on August 29th.
The group started with Will the Circle be Unbroken? Following a welcome from Dave Spiess. Off and on, in just the right places during the evening someone in the group blew a train whistle, which added a nice country touch.
For the gospel music lovers, the banjo picking was fun to hear. Spiess commented how amazing it is that in the old day before microphones some preachers would preach to crowds of ten thousand.
Sometimes the wind would blow the music east or west leaving those across the road under the trees without the ability to hear very much. Of course, I’ll Fly Away was on the list of songs to be sung.It almost seems like it wouldn’t be a Gospel Sing without that song being performed.
Some of the numbers were slow and thoughtful while others were real toe tappers, and almost always in the lead were the fiddle and the banjo.
“Ain’t gonna need this house no longer. I’m gettin’ ready to meet the saints.” “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.” “Are you washed in the Blood of the Lamb?” With a fiddle solo.
Cars streamed past all during the concert, some slowing down to see what was going on. Tractors and motorcycles also drove by, nodding at the “audience.” With the lovely cool breezes blowing through, the event lent itself to a time of rest and peace.
The evening always ends with the option to give in a free will offering. For more information, call Sherman and Linda Hathaway at 419-551-8311.
The Hathaways have been doing the scheduling ever since Pastor Joe Redmond passé away several years ago.
The location of the concerts is on the corner of Fulton Cty. Road 26-1 and Cty Road M. If it rains, the concerts will be held at the West Franklin Methodist Church on Williams County 21N, just up the road from Harrison Lake.