Friday, June 12, 2009

The Golden Wings Quartet - Live from Muskegon Heights, MI (DVD)

The Golden Wings Quartet
Live from Muskegon Heights, MI

Gospel music in all its variations is a visual as well as auditory experience. With more groups offering DVDs as companions to their CD releases, members of the general public can see as well as hear many more examples of gospel music performance, complete with congregation/audience reactions and the essential interplay between artists and their fans....while sitting in a comfortable chair.

Here’s another example, this one from the quartet community. The Golden Wings Quartet of Tupelo, Mississippi took their show to the handsome, modern Muskegon Heights (MI) High School auditorium and captured the event on audio and video.

What the DVD captures that the CD cannot is the "church" atmosphere. As lead singer James Parks remarks during the program, “You know it wouldn’t be a video if we didn’t have church.” The effect of the music on the audience and artist is palpable after the quartet performs its popular “Keep Blessing Me,” and later after it completes its rousing “Keep Your Arm Around Me.” Audience members pop up out of their seats, hands waving in the air. Parks himself struggles to regain his composure. It takes a few minutes, but the group finally finishes the program with “Jesus Is On His Way.”

Another visual aspect of the Golden Wings’ performance is the difference in styles between lead singers Parks and Toby Coker. Parks is a laid-back vocalist, a teddy bear of a man like the flatfooted singer Lee Williams, although he demonstrates an old-school strut at one point, much to the delight of the crowd. Coker, on the other hand, is a thin, wiry, animated gentleman with quick reflexes. He has a signature stage walk, too, an exaggerated high step and kick that he pulls on every so often for effect. Both singers, in their own individual ways and mannerisms, connect with the audience.

The videography is excellent, and with the exception of some loss of volume between songs, the sound is mixed nicely. Guitarists Alton Hollis and Michael Penson contribute immensely to the program with their Howard Carroll-like curlicue riffs. The Golden Wings are stylish in their uniforms and it appears as if the audience is 90 percent female. The hour-long video captures the Golden Wings perfectly as they heat up a chilly Michigan evening.

Four of Five Stars

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