KEXP at SXSW, Day 2: Charles Bradley

photos by Jim Bennett

Like fellow Daptone signee Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley has traveled an unconventional road to success. Born in Florida but raised in Brooklyn, he spent most of his childhood on the streets. After seeing James Brown live at an early age, he decided he wanted to be a performer and struggled to keep bands together and find stages to perform on throughout the rest of life. After spending the majority of his life working as a chef everywhere from a mental hospital in Maine to Alaska to California, Bradley eventually he settled into working as a handyman back in Brooklyn, where he began to regularly put on James Brown-style performances in local clubs. Using the stage name Black Velvet, he was discovered by a Daptone representative and subsequently released a few singles with The Bullets, who later broke up to form The Budos Band. Bradley then teamed up with Thomas Brennick (a former member of The Bullets) to write and record the songs that would make up No Time For Dreaming, his debut album that was released earlier this year on Daptone Records subsidiary Dunham Records. No Time For Dreaming sees Bradley veering away from merely trying to imitate James Brown and coming into his own as a performer. He soulfully taps into the emotional weight of his own struggles and tribulations, such as his brother being murdered by his nephew shortly after Bradley moved back to Brooklyn, the event that partly served as the inspiration for the album’s single “The World (Is Going Up In Flames).”

Amid a string of shows at SXSW, Charles Bradley and The Menahan Street Band performed an inspired and blistering set of funk and soul on the floor of Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop. Check out the photos of this amazing session:

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One Comment

  1. DaveO
    Posted March 17, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Charles is the man.

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