Now, the term “gospel music” tends at first hearing to conjure up a certain range of sounds that, while soulful, doesn’t quite fall into the realm of the down-and-dirty. But if you think about all the great R & B singers from Aretha on down who emerged out of a gospel-immersed musical training, it’s not such a great leap of faith to imagine Lex Grey and the Urban Pioneers starring at this Sunday’s Gospel Brunch. Based on her live performances available for viewing on YouTube, Grey is the sort of tough sister you’d want to “have your back” if you were a battered woman. She might save your skin, if not your soul per se.
This Brooklyn-based singer’s stage persona has been likened to “Mae West on a Harley.” Her gritty voice and bluesy delivery are often compared to Janis Joplin, though other queens of “blue-eyed soul” like Ellen McIlwaine, Bonnie Bramlett and Joy of Cooking’s Terry Garthwaite also come to mind. This woman can wail, and her band can rock out for sure. I’d sit down to brunch with her any old time – especially when the buffet menu includes homestyle Southern treats like cornmeal-crusted catfish, shrimp and Andouille sausage jambalaya, Memphis-style barbecued chicken, yams with pecans and maple syrup and South Carolina grits in addition to standard brunch fare.
Between all this awesome food and a musical act that’s sure to wake you up no matter how late you stayed out on Saturday night, you’ll certainly get your money’s worth out of the $60 ticket. But more importantly, the proceeds all go toward Family’s Domestic Violence Services, which offer safety and the hope of a fresh start for people in our local communities who live in fear of domestic abuse. To order tickets, call (845) 331-7800, extension 127, or visit www.nycharities.org/events/EventLevels.aspx?ETID=3871. You can get more info about the event, and about all the important services provided by Family, at www.familyofwoodstockinc.org/logstock2011.html.