Thursday night, March 15, my church hosted the Crist Family in concert. It had been two years since we’d had them, so this was the first chance I’ve had to hear the material from their Oasis CD live and my first time to see them since the departure of Tom Joyce. The crowd was incredibly disappointing. I’d estimate at 100, maybe 125 if I were to be generous. Not sure what caused such a low turnout, we did nothing different than normal in promoting the concert. That being said, the Crist Family was very professional and sang just as hard for the 100 as they would have for 1000.
Here is their set list from the night:
- When I Get Carried Away
- I Believe He’s Coming Back
- My Oasis
- Joy’s Gonna Come
- He Is Amazing
- I Love Lovin’ Jesus
- His Strength Is Perfect
- I’ll Sing A New Song
- My Heart Knows
- The Rock
- Jesus Hold My Hand
- I Must Tell Jesus
- It’s Been A Journey
- Great Beyond
The concert started with a couple of well known SG classics, and though the crowd was sparse, it was readily apparent that those who were there were in good spirits and quickly became attuned to the group. One positive of the smaller crowd was that it led to a much more intimate feel that carried on throughout the evening. Breana Crist did a fine job on “My Oasis.” It’s a very soothing, smooth song that seems to be made for Bre’s voice. It has always been one of my favorite cuts on Oasis. Tami Starkel has a big, powerful lead voice, and “Joy’s Gonna Come” really gives her a chance to showcase some powerhouse vocals. It really gets the energy going in the crowd.
Highlight number one followed though, with the mellow, big band harmonies of “He Is Amazing.” The group did something unusual with this song, however, they started the song acappella. The first line is all the ladies unison, then the guys join for the second line, still in unison, then on the third line of the first verse the parts all split into some tight big band jazz harmonies. They muted the track until they hit the chorus. So we got the entire first verse, including the harmonic split and beyond acappella before kicking in the track for the chorus. When all those voices split into the 5 and 6 part harmonies with no accompaniment, it will send chills down your spine. Wow.
Another highlight followed right on the heels of “He Is Amazing”, and that was the next song “I Love Lovin’ Jesus.” To date, this is the highest charting single for the Crist Family, as it climbed all the way to #3. It’s a simple lyric, with a fairly simple (for the Crist Family, anyways) arrangement, but it’s a catchy tune, a memorable message, and a marketable sound. Jackie Crist really shines on it. Tami Starkel shared a powerful testimony of her struggle with epilepsy before singing their cover of Steven Curtis Chapman’s “His Strength Is Perfect.” It’s a moving performance that coincides with a touching testimony. Jackie Crist’s performance of “My Heart Knows” alongside of her dad and sister is also a highlight of their set.
During the intermission, the group introduced Tami and John Starkel’s son, Luke. Luke took his guitar to the front of the stage, sat on a stool and proceeded to sing a couple of songs that he had written. Luke’s style is much more contemporary oriented, but he is VERY talented. I thoroughly enjoyed both of the songs he performed, and his performance added even more variety in style to the Crist’s concert experience. GREAT job, Luke, and be watching out for this young man. He absolutely has a bright future ahead of him in Christian music.
After Luke’s mini-set, the group returned to the stage with “Jesus Hold My Hand.” The next major highlight of the evening came next. The group put their mics down, walked to the center of the auditorium, and sang their arrangement of “I Must Tell Jesus” acappella, and without any amplification. One thing I can brag about my church on is that the acoustics in our sanctuary are great, and this performance was an evidence of that fact. Wow. No stacks, no tracks, not even microphones, just pure, sweet harmony on a timeless hymn. My brother took a video of it. You will have to excuse my son climbing around to get a better look, he was captivated, and I hope mine and my wife’s heads aren’t too in the way.
The mood became quite reflective at this point, and after a testimony of the things that Rich and the group have been through, he pulled out one of their earlier songs, “It’s Been A Journey”, that they hadn’t performed in quite a while. It really fit the atmosphere at that point of the concert, and led wonderfully to an invitation. After the invitation, they closed with the upbeat “Great Beyond.”
It had been a couple of years since we’d had the Crist Family, they’d released two CDs and had the departure of Tom Joyce, but this group continues to grow and develop their niche in the Southern Gospel industry. Their harmony is terrific, their testimonies moving, and their concerts are always enjoyable. The Crist Family is one of the true rising stars in this genre, and for good reason. I hope they continue to push themselves musically, and through many discussions with Rich Crist, I’m confident that they will. He’s the only person I know with a more eclectic collection of music on his iPod than mine! Seriously, don’t miss the Crist Family if they are in your area, they are a great group with a great sound and a powerful message. You will be glad you went. Thanks guys for a terrific concert!