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House of Blues Gospel Brunch – a must-see!

Disclosure: We received comp tickets to attend this event.

I grew up with music as a very big part of my life. It was an essential part, in fact. My mom sang. I sang. Many members of my extended family sang or played instruments. I have such great memories of neighborhood jam sessions where my uncle played steel guitar, a cousin played fiddle my aunt played acoustic guitar, and another cousin played mandolin or banjo. It is part of who I am and maybe why I miss singing so much (enough to torture my friends regularly with karaoke, in fact).

You might not know this, but I grew up attending a small country church. So in addition to country music, bluegrass, and rock-n-roll, I had gospel. Lots of old-fashioned, southern-style, tap-your-toes gospel music. You name an old church hymn and I can probably sing it. (Old Rugged Cross? Check. Victory in Jesus? Check. Power in the Blood? Check.)

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Fast forward to now and one of the things I miss most is Sunday Church music. So when I heard House of Blues was promoting their Gospel Brunch, I just knew I had to check it out. I gathered up a few girlfriends and we went to HOB in downtown San Diego to see if it lived up to its reputation.

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(Melissa in front; Maggie, Debbie, Elizabeth, Rory, me; Abby had to leave & missed the photo)

I have to say, it totally did. The food (it is a brunch, after all) was great. It’s a buffet and there’s a lot of variety, with some good old southern food thrown in. We all had more than enough to eat.

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And the music. Oh, the music. It fed my soul, y’all. I needed that. Great choir, a little humor and fun thrown in, and the plenty of toe-tappin’ foot stompin’ music. They even pulled some people out of the audience to sing and each of them could sing crazy-good, too! Such a great way to spend a Sunday morning. Feed your stomach, then feed your soul.

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I highly recommend it and plan on taking the hubby back to see it with me. (It’s kid-friendly, but it depends on their age and how well they handle the crowd and noise. It gets a little rambunctious — in a good way.) It was a great time – and I think all of my girlfriends agreed!

Disclosure: We received complimentary tickets so we could attend Gospel Brunch. We were not required to write a review in any way, but I am doing so because I wanted to share my thoughts on it. All views are my own.

A review of Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender

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Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender
A Life in Pictures
by Sean O’Hagan
Publication Date: Oct. 16th, 2012

I recently received a review copy of the fantastic book pictured here. And I was super excited to see it arrive on my doorstep. Freddie Mercury is one of my favorite musical artists of all time. I grew up listening to Queen. One of the very first Homecoming games I ever went to had We Will Rock You as the theme. (I think we did We Are the Champions one year as well.) In fact, for many years I had the buttons they handed out with our mascot and the Homecoming theme written on it. Ahem. ANYWAY, did I mention how much I love Queen?

I have to admit that I had heard Bohemian Rhapsody for years and years. I liked it, of course, but I really got to know it all over again in Wayne’s World. Yep. I was in college (the first time) and a friend loved that movie so very much I think we watched it in the neighborhood of 25 times. Maybe more.

In the years to follow, I rediscovered so many Queen songs: You’re My Best Friend, Death on Two Legs, Killer Queen, Flash Gordon (yep, even saw the movie), I Want to Break Free, Another One Bites the Dust (ooh, wait, I think that was a Homecoming theme song, too!), Bicycle, Under Pressure, Fat Bottomed Girls…. Really, I could keep going.

When you first open the book, there’s a great history of Freddie Mercury and Queen. And I absolutely loved the section that talked about the amazing infectious qualities to Bohemian Rhapsody. (Another aside – I didn’t know who Scaramouche was until my college English Lit classes.) Some really good stuff.

And then, you reach the photos. So beautiful and touching. I was a little sad looking through them, it made me miss him and his music so much. But it is also a wonderful tribute to Freddie. There are some stunning photos in there, with bits and pieces of Freddie’s history woven throughout. I haven’t even gotten to the audio interviews yet, I’ve been so lost in the photographs.

If you are a fan of Freddie Mercury and / or Queen, I think you’ll really enjoy this book. It’s still sitting on my desk, waiting for me to flip through it again. It’s definitely a keeper.

[I have one very small quibble - the descriptions next to the photos are in a fairly small print. As my eyes get older (hey, I'm not OLD, old, but still, the 40 bus is about to hit me, okay?) I find it harder to read really small print. We're talking smaller than normal book print. So grab your reading glasses - you might need them. Not that we fans of Freddie are aging or anything. Not at all.]

For days after I first cracked it open, I thought about how much Queen’s music has been a part of my life. I even listened to a playlist that Sondra set up on Spotify, and fired up their rotation on my iPod. Bittersweet, but beautiful. As one of my friends commented on my photo of the book when I posted it to Facebook:

“Greatest Rock Voice Ever”

I think that says it all.

Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher, Insight Editions. Opinions are my own. Book link uses my Amazon affiliate account.