Praise the Lord … 

and This Sausage Gravy

No matter how white or white-haired the crowd at The Ironhorse Restaurant in Ashland last Saturday, they clapped and moved like a black Baptist church as best they could. There weren't any "amens!" heard from the audience, but judging by their participation and smiles, they're now converts to the church of Bubba Johnson.

Johnson, a native of Hanover County, was performing at the restaurant's first-ever gospel brunch. Six-top tables encouraged strangers to sit together, and The Ironhorse nicely matched the food to the music: heavy Southern specialties such as biscuits and sausage gravy, pork chops and baked chicken.

For a brunch, it was surprising to see only one egg dish, a frittata. The two large pork chops smothered in onions made the chicken breast option look skimpy, but plates were clean all around, and some people left with to-go boxes.

The food was good, but the entertainment was the main attraction. Johnson, along with four backup singers, a percussionist and a keyboardist, performed for about an hour. Johnson skillfully worked the crowd with familiar material ("Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" and "This Little Light of Mine"), stroking their egos — "You sure this ain't the Ironhorse Baptist Church?" — and cracking jokes — "I thought so until I saw a Bloody Mary."

His stage presence was matched by his talent. The band was just raw enough to seem straight from the church and polished enough to deliver a tight performance.

Johnson began singing in church when he was 17 and still sings at several area churches. He retired early from his state job to pursue his dream. He's self-released two albums and is working on a third.

A high point of the show occurred when the backup singers each picked a table and coached diners to chime in during a group song, Johnson playfully scolding a late table and cheering a loud one. The show made at least one churchgoer wish her church were as much fun. S

Another gospel brunch with Bubba Johnson takes place Saturday, Feb. 24, at 11 a.m. at The Ironhorse in Ashland. Tickets, which include the meal, a beverage and the performance, are $25 per person. Reservations required, 752-6410.

Click here for more Food & Drink

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

  • Re: Go North

    • Completely left out Zorba's which is right next to Dot's and across from the Mill???…

    • on July 2, 2014
  • Re: All Things Unequal

    • Received some of the best service I've ever had in richmond the other night, no…

    • on June 27, 2014
  • Re: Incomplete Pass

    • This place is terrible. One commenter has noticed something that is easily verifiable: some of…

    • on June 27, 2014
  • More »
  • Facebook Recommendations

    Latest in Food and Drink

    • Not-So-Secret Ingredient

      FOOD REVIEW: With a few tweaks, North Side’s Omega Grecian Grill would leave lasting memories.
      • Jul 8, 2014
    • Altered States

      Food Review: Chef MaMusu brings her comforting, hybrid take on West African cuisine to Forest Hill Avenue.
      • Jul 1, 2014
    • In the Blood

      These Richmond families know a thing or two about running a bar.
      • Jun 24, 2014
    • More »

    Copyright © 2014 Style Weekly
    Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
    All rights reserved
    Powered by Foundation