The Purgatory Players at Strange Brew

Gospel Brunch with The Purgatory Players

Strange Brew, a South Austin coffee house tucked away on Manchaca, offers customers more than caffeine on Sunday mornings. Along with a cup of brew, music gets the coffee house’s patrons going, courtesy of The Purgatory Players’ weekly Gospel Brunch.

Strange Brew opened in 2010 and has built a reputation as a hot spot for java-seeking college students, but since the 2012 addition of an adjoined bar and music lounge, Strange Brew has become popular among live music fans as well.

Each Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., patrons purchase breakfast at the café counter and then make their way to seats around the stage. Against the red crushed velvet backdrop, The Purgatory Players, the creation of some of Austin’s most prolific musicians, make music, have a little fun, and promote a good cause.

All are welcome, and since admission is free to the public, those in the know come early to claim one of lounge’s 142 seats.

Austin musician Jeff Plankenhorn—who along with venue owner Scott Ward brought the concept of a weekly gospel brunch to Strange Brew—joins Jon Dee Graham, Conrad Choucroun, and “Scrappy” Jud Newcomb on stage. About ten other musicians and guests rotate in when core members are away on tour.

“A lot of us are really lucky to be able to play [professionally] most nights of the week with various different bands,” says Scrappy Jud. “[The gospel brunch] is a little different from a normal [nighttime] gig, but everyone’s drinking mimosas and having just as much fun. I always enjoy playing on this stage.”

Each gospel brunch is offered to patrons with no set cover charge, although band members do pass around a tip collection jar for the musicians and to raise money for the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas.

Typically, tips are divided equally, with the food bank receiving a band member’s share of the proceeds; but sometimes The Purgatory Players go all out, running canned food drives and presenting all donations to the food bank. During their week-long Thanksgiving food drive in 2012, the band raised $2,400 and gave 100 percent of the proceeds to the food bank.

“We decided early on that we wanted this to be mostly a charity gig,” says Scrappy Jud. “I think a lot of people like to start their Sundays doing this because you’re helping some people out and having some fun.”

For more information on The Purgatory Players, including directions to Strange Brew, scheduled band members, and videos of past performances, visit The Purgatory Players on Facebook.

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