Jun. 4—ALBA, Mo. — Some local musical talent will gather in a vacant lot adjacent to the Alba Christian Church to fill the air with tried-and-true Southern gospel music next Saturday.
But there's more to this than just listening to live music; there's a charitable benefit, as well. All proceeds will go to the Joplin-based Watered Gardens, to help fund their wide-ranging programs that directly aid homeless and disenfranchised people in the Joplin area, said Roger Hasselquist, minister of the Southwest Missouri church.
While the church has hosted at least one concert each year, "this is the first time we've done something like this," he said. "My wife and I have always seen their programs to be very supportive ... about a year and a half ago we had Travis Hurley (Watered Gardens director of advancement) give a program about their work here, so we've had a strong relationship with them."
Not only will Watered Gardens receive financial aid from donation pots located near the stage during the planned concert, but the concert itself will be a gift of sorts from the church to the small town of 500-plus residents.
"We felt like this was something that we could do to bring something (fun) to our community," he said. "This one will be special."
Such concerts are undeniable Southwest Missouri traditions — people gathering outside a church to listen to live music. These get-togethers stretch back for centuries. and over those many decades, Southern gospel music — sometimes referred to as "quartet music" — has evolved from "four men and a piano" to a complete bands praising God and his creation.
"I'm a great lover of Southern gospel music. I grew up listening to the The Blackwood Brothers (Quartet). My mother told me a story that when I was 5 years old she gave me the choice of having a birthday party with my friends or going to a Blackwood Brothers concert — and I chose the concert," Hasselquist said with a chuckle.
"As a Christian," he continued, "it's music that uplifts the Lord, so it's great."
The concert — planned from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 12 — will feature several well-known singing talents, including:
—Crusaders for Christ of Joplin. The group consists of three singers and four musicians and is known for its Southern gospel style of music — 4 p.m.
—Nathan Wehrman. A self-taught guitarist and songwriter, Wehrman uses his music to "give glory to God" — 4:45 p.m.
—Roger and Janine Hasselquist. — 5:30 p.m.
—Spring City Quartet. This talented group of four musicians hails from Spring City — 5:45 p.m.
—Duke Mason of Carl Junction. Known for his ability as an Elvis Presley tribute artist as well as his singing in country, gospel and classical rock music, Mason can also play the guitar, keyboards, bass and drums — 6:30 p.m.
Though there is no cost to attend and the concert is open to everyone, donation buckets will be set out to help Watered Gardens and their various ministries, Hasselquist said.
"This is an opportunity to enjoy good music while aiding work that provides positive results for the homeless in our area."
Because the concert is an outdoor event, people are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs or blankets. Hot dogs and chips will be made available by the church from 5 to 7 p.m.
Kevin McClintock is features editor for The Joplin Globe.