Charles Bradley is performing at The Bluebird this Sunday, February 19 courtesy of Spirit of ’68 Promotions, it’s guaranteed to be a good time.
I can hardly contain my excitement with the knowledge that in barely 48 hours, Charles Bradley “The Screaming Eagle of Soul”, will be on stage in Bloomington for a second time. As if the brief set he performed last year opening for The Budos Band wasn’t amazing enough, Sunday night’s headlining set at The Bluebird should be nothing short of life-changing. I can still remember watching the 63-year-old take to the stage and own it like a king; every heartfelt note sung, every tilt and swivel of the microphone stand was watched in admiration as the entire audience stood in awe with the same thought, ‘We are in the presence of a living legend.’ He sang with such passion for every word, he looked straight out into the audience as if he was singing to each and every one of us, and even shed a few tears as the set came to an end. It was an unforgettable performance that left me feeling overwhelmed with compassion and amazement.
Bradley’s debut album No Time For Dreaming hit the market in early 2011 from funk revival label Daptone Records with just enough time for Bradley to tour the album and make a well-received appearance at SXSW. Word quickly spread about the soulful gentleman with the style of James Brown, songwriting of Al Green, and a voice that can make a person stop and stand in awe. At his age, you’d think he’d be crazy for going all out for a career in music when most people his age are settling in for retirement, but music has been his dream, and after a long, hard life of close calls and setbacks, when opportunity came around, Bradley grabbed tight and is showing no signs of letting go.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Charles Bradley or are still unsure if you will be attending, I’ll fill you in with the details you need to know.
1. Charles Bradley is not a ‘throwback’, he’s the real deal
It’s always fun to see people ‘kick it old school’ and show their appreciation for classic music. We see it all the time in music trends, bands that love the old styles so they want to keep it going in the modern era. Charles Bradley was born in Gainesville, Florida in 1948, and raised in the streets of Brooklyn. He’s traveled across America, been near death, lost loved ones. The songs he sings are genuine, and the emotion he portrays is real. Inspired by James Brown in 1962, his music sounds similar to that style, because that is the music that opened his world toward a love of music.
Which brings me to my next point…
2. Charles Bradley is NOT James Brown
Yes, I know that James Brown passed away five years ago, but when I say this it is in reference to seeing Bradley perform last year. Numerous drunken twenty-somethings (mostly male) in the crowd at the Bluebird kept yelling things like “James Brown Lives, James Brown, What??” every time a song ended. Yes, Charles Bradley was inspired by James Brown. Yes, Charles Bradley has performed as a James Brown cover act for years under the moniker “Black Velvet”. But right now, is Charles Bradley’s time to let his own talent and music shine. Please don’t mistake that if you are in a crowd, and although he doesn’t mind that people love the comparison, show this man the respect he deserves and let him hear you calling his name and his songs out in the crowd.
3. Age is nothing but a number.
I know this for a fact, because my own grandparents are in their seventies and I still don’t think of them as ‘old’. They work, travel, and live their daily lives like any other person in this world. The same goes especially for Charles Bradley; he is not to be underestimated due to age. Watch the man in any performance, he moves, shakes, and hollers like ‘old age’ is still quite some time down the road. You will be entertained and dancing throughout the entire performance.
4. Charles Bradley is Gracious
It’s not uncommon to see Bradley stop and take in the sounds and sights of living his dream. I saw him look out into the crowd many times last year with this gaze and smile as if acknowledging that it all seemed an unbelievable dream, and then realizing it was all real, the packed venue, the band playing his songs behind him, and the microphone just waiting for him to get back and sing another tune. He talks to his audience and thanks them for spending their evening with him. It’s a polite thing to do, but it’s also because he knows how fleeting life can be, and chooses to appreciate these moments as if it could all change tomorrow.
5. Charles Bradley is more than just soul music
Charles Bradley is a multi-dimensional artist. Soul music may be his heartfelt ‘bread and butter’, but he knows how to rock out. With the talented musicians of the Daptone family to back him up, Bradley can take songs from anything from folk to grunge and make them into tasty funkified delights. Try out his versions of “Heart of Gold” (Neil Young) and “Stay Away” (Nirvana).
Tickets are still available for the February 19, 2012 performance at The Bluebird (216 N Walnut) in Bloomington. Get yours here and enjoy an evening with the ‘Screaming Eagle of Soul”. Doors open at 8:00 PM