Taken With Take 6

By Jean Metcalfe

On August 6, in the sixth concert of The Lonesome Pine Specials Summer Festival 1989, six talented male singers who call themselves "Take 6" completely took the audience by storm.

From the moment the first member came onstage even the unitiated were well aware that they were going to be in for a special evening.

With the fog machines churning away, the brightly clad sextet came onto the nearly bare stage one by one and immediately fill it with the sounds of musical instruments that were supplied by their voices alone.

Each of the six talented performers has impressive credentials. Claude V. McKnight "The Odds Of Going to Heaven" -- "six to one," according to Take 6 -- was the first number, and it was excellent indeed.

Turning their backs to the audience, snapping their fingers and swaying back and forth, Take 6 entertained the full house with "Get Away Jordan," ("I want to cross over to see my Lord."),

There was a good rapport between Take 6 members and their audience. At their first opportunity they said that it was great to be in Louisville and asked the audience to give themselves a hand. "Hello, hello, one said. "We came here to have fun -- we're dressed for that, obviously."

"It's okay to say 'Praise the Lord' and "Hallelujah," one of the six said in an encouraging tone. "If you feel like doing the Arsenio Hall 'roo-roo-roo,' that's okay too."

"We bring you greetings from our beautiful little city down the road. It's called Nashville, Tennessee," he added. Continuing the patter, he said, "We're a little bit country; we're a little bit rock 'n' roll. Yeah, right!"

Their sense of humor continued to be exhibited when they asked the audience to "snap along" on the next number. "Whites on one and three -- blacks on three and four," they instructed. The snap-along number was a real treat as they introduced and featured each member of the group in "Introduction."

I hadn't noticed the pitch pipes until about the third number when I saw one member reach into three different pockets before coming up with the pipe that would get them started. (As a former barbershop singer, I never underestimate the dexterity and presence of mind needed to be the pitch pipe blower. I would never accept that task.)

A song about David and Goliath was just tremendous. (Thesaurus, don't let me down now. These guys can use up all the good adjectives!)

Employing humor to make a point without getting preachy, "David" said to "Goliath," I'm gonna give you a spanking." Take 6 tagged the number with this line: "Little David made a good shot," and they pointed their finger-guns into the audience.

"There is a quiet place, far from the rapid pace, where God can soothe my troubled mind." Thus began one of my favorite numbers of the evening. Another really nice line was "From this quiet place, I go prepared to face, a new day with love for all mankind." What glorious harmonies! I loved it, and I heard at least one "Amen" from somewhere in the crowd.

During their performance of "Mary Don't You Weep Don't You Moan" an avid fan in the front row was brought to the front of the stage and quite ably handled a solo part. He loved it and so did the audience. Oh, yes, there was participation by the entire audience on this one, with sections of them being assigned "Oh, Oh, Mary" and "Don't weep no more." Numerous times during the number -- and others -- squeals and other expressions of enjoyment could be heard in the audience.

After a brief pause to change tape -- there were no intermissions -- Take 6 came back and laid an anything-but-traditional version of "I'm Gonna Walk That Lonesome Valley." I liked their version; they really showed off their tremendous vocal ranges on this one.

"It's story time, boys and girls," the emcee-of-the-moment said. Adding, "It's the story of the crucifixion told from the devil's point of view," he continued. After introducing the characters in the mini-musical (Satan was hissed), they used modern-day jargon to relate how they "had a party."

"They brought beer, Jack Daniels and some pretzels" to celebrate the crucifixion, and "Grave" soon declared said, "That Jew's on ice." A well-written line in the "musical" came when someone declared that after the crucifixion it was "hard to pray." A cast member fired back, "May seem like that on Friday, but Sunday's on the way." When it was declared that Jesus was alive the audience cheered.

A good many of the audience recognized the opening sounds that heralded the performance of "Spread Love," and they leaped to their feet and began swaying and clapping. This went on and on and the cameras a lot of audience footage.

I do not believe that Take 6 would have had a prayer of getting out of Louisville without an encore number. They chose a great finale -- "This Time I Found A Gold Mine In You."

And the audience and anyone else who has been fortunate enough to experience the wonderful contemporary gospel sextet would say that they had found a gold mine of entertainment in Take 6. Amen!