Sound and visions: Anglican church hosts lively gospel concert

The Visions Country Gospel group brought a joyful noise to Stettler last week, delighting an audience

From left

From left

The Visions Country Gospel group brought a joyful noise to Stettler last week, delighting an audience at St. George’s Anglican Church with its takes on old-time favourites.

About 100 people attended the concert presented at the church on Friday, Feb. 27, featuring the three-piece gospel group based in Red Deer.

The group performed a two-hour show, delivering the songs with a wink and a smile, and seasoning them with their own brand of humour.

Keyboard player Jim Escott said the band has been active for about 15 years with various singers and musicians, and has recorded a total of seven albums, using their music to convey a gospel message.

“We have a whole lot of fun,” he said, adding, “We minister through the music . . . We practise and preach God’s Word.”

Escott, who accompanied the songs with lively piano arrangements, was joined on stage by bassist Ted Hiscock and guitarist Brian Snow, playing and singing in harmony.

During the first set, the group appeared on stage dressed head to toe in black, playing their instruments as they sang.

Following the intermission, they returned for a second set, singing along to recorded music.

Their repertoire included many old gospel favourites, including “I Saw The Light,” “I’m Using My Bible for a Road Map,” and “There’s Power in the Blood.”

Frequently, the audience was invited to join in the singing, with Escott noting jovially, “The louder you sing, the better we sound.”

The second half of the show saw more gospel tunes like “In the Garden” and “Victory in Jesus,” interspersed with lighter fare like Ray Stevens’ “The Mississippi Squirrel Revival.” (Escott said the band always gets permission from the venue before playing the latter song, which tells the story of the titular rodent being let loose in the fictional “First Self-Righteous Church.”)

At one point, Snow left the stage and returned dressed as a farmer, doing his impression of Walter Brennan and performing the song “What Would You Do (If Jesus Came to Your House).”

Rev. Carolyn Langford, who serves the Anglican congregation as minister, was briefly invited on stage to join the band at the concert’s conclusion.

She said she enjoyed having the chance to “go back to old times” through their music.

The band will return to Stettler on June 10 as they kick off a brief tour that will take them out to Manitou Lake, Sask. A free-will offering will be taken at that show.

Other recent church events have included the annual Shrove Tuesday pancake supper held on Tuesday, Feb. 17, drawing around 120 people.

The event has run for more than 40 years and is traditionally organized by the men of the church, who prepare the food and serve the guests. A busy kitchen crew kept the pancakes and sausages coming for close to two hours. For more information on the group, visit visionscountrygospel.com.