‘Picnic’ gives local groups exposure
BRANSON—The second annual Southern Gospel Picnic at Silver Dollar City can be viewed as a venue where some of the better quality groups both in and around Missouri can mingle with the giants of Southern Gospel music for a couple of weeks around Labor Day.
“I think it’s a good opportunity to showcase the regional quartets,” said Jonathan Edwards, baritone singer for the Lebanon-based Ascension Quartet and a member of Second Baptist Church, Springfield. “It’s nice to be a part of something that’s on a national scale, but it’s in your own backyard. We get to be a part of that, along with several other groups from around the area.”
The Ascension Quartet has been around since the mid-1970s. Owner Danny Parnell, who believes that members must first be called as ministers (not entertainers), is an Ascension Quartet original who still sings lead at times. The current group has been together for about 1½ years, with Parnell hand-picking each member. The group consists of: Edwards, from Springfield; Lead Jimmie Moore, from Crocker; High Tenor David Hartwell, from Elkland; Bass Dave Taylor, from Springfield; and Piano Player David Writer, from Harrison, Ark.
“He got the sound that he wanted,” said Edwards, describing how Parnell built the group. “He’s involved in every aspect of the quartet, from the picking of the music to the staging of things. He drives the bus and he keeps us in line.
“He’s not a pastor. He went one year to Bible college and then went to Missouri State. The Ascension Quartet is his ministry.”