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HOUSE OF BLUES Gospel brunch feeds soul, spirit with joyful song



Published: Sat, January 29, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Contemporary service provides tasty food and a sermon that entertains.

CLEVELAND -- Praise the Lord and pass the biscuits, the House of Blues Gospel Brunch is a belt-loosening affair that will lift the spirits and cleanse the soul.

From the moment you arrive in the friendly confines of the backwoods Cajun-decorated club, the long-standing dichotomy of spirituality and secular enjoyment -- a paradox of spirited behavior on Saturday evening followed by redemption come Sunday morning -- is palatable with a new day arising, bringing with it the smells of crispy bacon and fresh fruit and the sounds of Gospel musicians praising the Lord.

With two services at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. every Sunday in the House of Blues music hall, the Gospel Brunch lives up to the high standard of southern cuisine served at its adjacent restaurant with a massive buffet that ranges from a chef fixing made-to-order eggs and omelets and other sausage and gravy morning choices to a lunchtime station featuring Caesar salad, peel-and-eat shrimp, roasted turkey and beef. Naturally, a seemingly never-ending stream of mimosas, juice and coffee flows to your glass or cup.

While the food and venue speak for itself, it's the friendly and attentive wait staff, wearing stylish blue-collar work shirts, that truly transcend the Gospel Brunch experience from a run-of-the-mill breakfast buffet feel.

Let the rejoicing begin

The real entertainment gets started roughly 45 minutes after the buffet opens when the curtain rises and the rejoicing begins with Gospel Brunch host Tina Farmer. On a Sunday morning a few weeks ago, Farmer and local gospel act 1/2 Mile Home started the praising and hand clapping off in style with plenty of church staples and even original material.

Granted the entire presentation is steeped in Christianity. However, the House of Blues' mission statement "To celebrate the diversity and brotherhood of world culture" and "To promote racial and spiritual harmony through love, peace, truth, righteousness and nonviolence" is evident.

For open-minded non-Christians, the preaching on this particular Sunday felt more like entertainment than a fire and brimstone sermon.

While family friendly, the music can get loud -- after all, it is a concert venue -- leaving some young children in attendance holding their ears at first before becoming completely entranced in the onstage performance.

Suffice it to say, you've probably never been to a Sunday morning buffet that rocks, struts, exults and nourishes both your spirit and your stomach like the House of Blues' Gospel Brunch.




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