The outcome of several 2 a.m. shifts at St. Mark’s adoration chapel surprised Benjamin Brekke.
Like many people, Brekke found comfort and peace during his weekly hour with Jesus, but he also found a challenge. God questioned Brekke, “What are you going to do with the talents I have given you?”
Brekke knew that music was the talent God was calling him to use. Music had been a hobby for Brekke since he began playing guitar and writing songs in high school. He was shy about performing in front of others, but did a few small gigs in college.
After college, Brekke experienced writer’s block. For two years, the music left him. The song ideas were gone and his creativity was fading, but adoration provided a spark. It began to reboot Brekke’s faith life, and the music began to flow again. He wanted a forum to share his new music and to inspire other Catholic musicians.
After several months of personal discernment and with encouragement from family and friends, Brekke found his answer: St. Mark’s Acoustic Café, a quarterly showcase of local, Catholic-inspired musicians in a casual coffeehouse setting.
Giving glory to God
Brekke, father of two young girls, described the Acoustic Café as a way for Catholic musicians to express and inspire creativity.
Since its first event in October 2012, 14 musicians have performed an eclectic mix of music in St. Mark’s Carolyn Hall. An average of 100 people attend each session for music, refreshments, board games and fellowship.
Brian Kusek, a frequent Acoustic Café performer and full-time musician, described his music as a story of his faith and who he is as a Christian. “I aspire to write songs that reflect where I’ve come from and where I’m going,” Kusek said. “I hope my music inspires a genuine dialogue about truth.”
Kusek appreciates the help and inspiration from fellow performers like Luke Spehar, who sings at local churches and universities.
Spehar was featured in a 2011 Catholic Spirit article about his brother, Navy Seal Nicholas Spehar, who died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Spehar will perform at the next Acoustic Café Jan. 11. (See sidebar for more details.)
“I try to write songs that give glory to God,” Kusek said. “The Acoustic Café allows me to spend time with others who are trying to do the same thing.”
The sense of community at the Acoustic Café extends beyond the musicians to the members of the parish and the entire archdiocese.
Pianist David Kolar, the Acoustic Café’s sound man, said “the events offer solid, faith-centered music and provide a way for people to connect outside of church in a way that is casual and social.”
St. Mark’s pastor, Father Humberto Palomino, said he also appreciates the way the Acoustic Café creates community: “The Lord is helping bring the community at large together to celebrate our Catholic faith through music. I truly believe that apostolates like this help us to focus in Christ, especially in the Eucharist.”
St. Mark’s Acoustic Cafe sponsors quarterly performances featuring five 30-minute sets with local, Catholic-inspired musicians. For more information about St. Mark’s Acoustic Café, email email@example.com or visit SaintMarksAcousticCafe on Facebook.
Attend the Acoustic Café
The eclectic lineup for the sixth installment of the café includes a jazz trio, banjolele, tuba, trumpet, guitar, piano and ukulele. All are welcome. The $5 admission fee includes music, refreshments and board games.
Featured artists include:
- Rachel Crooks
- Luke Spehar
- David Kolar
- Benjamin Brekke
- Mitch Mueller
- Oliver Blackstone
Interested in performing? The Acoustic Café welcomes all Catholic-inspired musicians or spoken-word artists whose performances would complement the coffeehouse setting. The stage can accommodate solo artists or small ensembles. Musicians should have enough material for a 30-miniute set.
For more information, email benjaminlee firstname.lastname@example.org.