Mono // graphs: I Got Two Wings

(Mono // graphs is a short literary review that correlates to an artist on the latest Good Times! End Times! mix)

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The Rev. Utah Smith first made a name for himself in his local New Orleans Church of God in Christ in the late 1940s. By donning huge seraphic wings and running down the aisles, Rev. Utah would scream and strum his crude Gibson into the late hours of the night. He claimed that the Holy Ghost taught him to play electric “gittar” and while that may sound untenable, it’s pretty damn hard to disagree after hearing his rapturous calling card: “I Got Two Wings”. Soon enough his revival-sized performances were being covered by Newsweek and The New York Times and he hit the gospel circuit with the same wild abandon, even stealing the show at one of NYC’s Museum of Modern Art’s “Coffee Concerts”.

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With a church to run and a tour schedule to keep, Rev. Utah only cut three commercial recordings, all using his signature sound of rollicking-guitar-meets-freight-train-vocals-meets-congregational-hand-claps. The house of worship he resided over was aptly called the Two Wing Temple, complete with a cable-pulley system where he would fly back and forth in the air, summoning its 1,200 members to the skies. And just in case the music wasn’t curative enough, the Two Wing Temple is also where Rev. Utah claimed to heal everything from blindness to cancer. While it may seem like another bombastic claim, I once again would choose not to disagree with the man. If there ever was a showman/shaman for the great African-American scholar Lynn Abbott to write about, Rev. Utah Smith is it…and thank the good Lord he did. Replete with firsthand anecdotes and rare photos, I Got Two Wings also comes with a CD of the Reverend’s entire catalog, carefully assembled by CaseQuarter producer/Sinners Crossroad’s DJ, Kevin Nutt. So whether you believe in life on the other side or not, this book will surely take you on a sweaty, fluttering journey to the Promised Land.

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