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Unholy harmony: Secular gospel band spreads the love

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They have kicked Jesus out of the band.

A merry band of Williamsburg heathens are taking the gospel out of gospel music with their soulful, secular riff on the holy harmonies. Brother Joscephus and the Love Revolution, who will play at the Bell House on Feb. 13, are attempting to wrest the genre from its religious origins and make it accessible to all walks of life, said the group’s frontman.

“If you’re not down with the Jesus, the gospel music is pretty exclusionary I think,” said David Mendelsohn, who will take to the Bell House stage as Brother Joscephus. “I thought, why can’t music like this be a little more universal and just about love and that type of thing?”

Mendelsohn, who was raised in a Reform Jewish home, said the upbeat tone of the gospel tunes really jived with him, but the Christian message was a huge turn-off for someone just trying to have a good time — so he and his fellow funky secular humanists decided to set an all-inclusive message to the spiritual sounds they loved.

The profane performance group — which has a rotating cast of between 10 and 12 musical members, depending on what city they are in — will give a special holiday performance at the Saturday night show, which happens the night before Valentine’s Day and a few days after Fat Tuesday, adding some bonus New Orleans street music to its usual horn- and vocals-heavy music.

“It will be a true Mardi Gras–Valentine’s Day love fest,” said Mendelsohn.

The message of the anti-gospel group’s love revolution is one Mendelsohn hopes everyone can get on board with. The band is pedalling a secular kind of righteousness, he said, with the high calling of spreading the love.

“I think ‘righteous’ is a word that means being the best type of person you can be,” he said. “Being really good to other people is being righteous.”

Brother Joscephus and the Love Revolution at the Bell House [149 Seventh St. between Second and Third avenues in Gowanus, (718) 643–6510, www.thebellhouseny.com]. Feb. 13 at 9 pm. $12 ($10 in advance).

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at ahobbs@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8312.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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