28 July 2010
PRAISE BAND – The Movie Elevating Entertainment – 105 minutes
As one grows older there is an increasing tendency to resent – and resist change. This tendency manifests itself among the older members of the Crossroad Community Church who, on learning that their Music Minister for the past thirty years has decided to retire, want to form a committee to appoint a replacement who will continue the same musical traditions that have been followed by their parents and grandparents before them. Led by the grouchy church treasurer, Wayne Wilson, (George Hamilton IV) , Pastor James Monroe, (Dana Bryan), faces something of a dilemma. On the one hand his congregation has shrunk and although he is not averse to change, he believes that, should he appoint a young Music Minister to form a modern Praise Band, he risks losing the older, more traditional members of his small congregation. Despite his misgivings he contacts a talented young singer and musician, Matt Young, (Adam Melton) to audition for him. Hugely impressed by this fervent young man, Pastor Monroe gives him the job but, as anticipated, the older members of the congregation, spurred on by Wayne Wilson, vote overwhelmingly against the appointment, until they hear Matt perform for them, after which the majority, excluding the biased Wayne, change their votes.
There are a number of interesting sub-plots which run parallel to the main story line through which Matt meets a number of disparate characters, Mark Lewis, (Rustin Rickets), a bass guitarist, whose wife is filing for divorce, Luke Daniels, (Dave Yelverton), a drummer, who, as a lecturer in Science, has always been something of an agnostic and John Collins, (Jeff Luckadoo), a vagrant who has been shunned by the world from the age of fourteen and who has never set foot inside a church in his life. It is the church – and the music, which draws them together. There is a subtle touch relating to their names, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – who collectively bring a new ‘gospel’ or ‘good news’ to a sceptical congregation. These four are later joined by Ginny Taylor, (Makenzie Little), a pianist and soulful singer, who also happens to be the granddaughter of the surly Wayne Wilson, and a black, female gospel quartet, Serenity, four sisters who have lost heart and are considering going their separate ways. It should be noted that although George Hamilton IV plays a significant role in the movie, he does not sing. How the newly formed Praise Band win the hearts of the congregation, reach out to the wider community and come to resolve their own problems, makes for a truly heart-warming movie. Based on a story by Josh Moody, it is Dave Moody who is responsible for the production and the music and he makes a fantastic job of both. A fine composer and vocalist, Dave can be heard on eight songs. It is the excellent singer/songwriter, Chad Pollard that is the singing voice of Matt Young, while Makenzie Little, Jeff Luckadoo and Serenity handle their own vocals. In all there are 17 songs in the movie, each one being either devotional, inspirational, confessional, making a supplication or seeking forgiveness. Most are original, vibrant, uplifting songs of praise and rejoicing until finally Wayne Wilson comes to realise that “It’s not about worship for us; it’s about worshiping God.”
PRAISE BAND – THE MOVIE is a heart warming, uplifting story punctuated by wonderful contemporary Christian music, yet it never gets ‘preachy’. It is the type of film which crosses all age ranges and can be viewed time and time again – and undoubtedly will. It was first released in the USA in 2008 but is now available in PAL format so it can be viewed in Britain and Europe. Retailing at £15 copies are available from: Sue Marshall, 3 Hamilton Drive, Edinburgh, EH15 1NP, UK
As a footnote, it is somewhat ironic that, although by the end of the movie, Wayne Wilson, (George Hamilton IV), is won over to the Praise Band style of contemporary music, he has just released an outstanding album titled GEORGE HAMILTON IV & FRIENDS – Old Fashioned Hymns and Gospel Songs For Those Who Miss Them!
This double CD, on the Lamon Record label will also be available through Sue Marshall.