Charles Bradley dazzled the crowd during his performance at the Daptone Super Soul Revue. Photo: Angela H. Brown
How did you hear about the band?
I first heard about Charles Bradley after he played The State Room in SLC last year. SLUG's former managing editor, Jeanette Moses, came in the office the next day exclaiming about his show the night before. At this time Bradley wasn't on my radar, although I was familiar with his label mates, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. For the next week, everywhere I went I ran into friends speaking about the Charles Bradley show. When I saw he was playing SXSW, I knew I couldn't miss him.
How was their stage presence?
I've been listing to a lot of Ike and Tina lately, and one of the records I've been spinning is their Live at Carnegie Hall. One of the reasons why I love the live recording is because it gives the younger generation a sense of what the '60s soul revue shows were like. Charles Bradley's show performance followed this old school format. A Master Of Ceremony came out and introduced the first act. Menahan Street Band (Bradley's 8-piece band) hit the stage warming up the crowd for a good 30 minutes. Next, one of Bradley's horn players annonuced that Charles Bradley was coming out. The first thing he did was proclaim his love for each and everyone of us. Bradley's stage presence radiated emotion, love, hardship, loss, and humanity's will to keep carryin' on. His dance moves, flashy costumes and soulful screams command everyone's attention.
If you could see this band perform with any other musical group, who would it be?
James Brown, the godfather of soul. I'd love to see James Brown command the Menahan Street Band. I can only imagine what amazing dance moves he could teach Charles Bradley … although Bradley does have many of his own awe-inspiring moves.
If you could make out with any instrument being played on stage, which one and why?
I'd make out with the trumpet, because it seems like it might be the easiest and most fun to tongue.
What was the best song they played?
"Why is it so Hard to Make it in America," was my favorite song they played. To fully illustrate his lyrics, at one point Bradley swung the mic stand onto his back and walked dramatically as if he was carrying the burdens of the world on his shoulders. Bradley's performance of his classic tune brought many audience members to tears and after the large cape cod I'd drank on an empty stomach, I, too, found myself wiping away a tear.