Five Things You Can’t Miss At Bumbershoot: Charles Bradley (#1)
Who: Charles Bradley What: A soul legend in the making When: Monday September 5th at 5:45pm at the Fisher Green Lawn Why: Bradley’s debut full-length at 62 stands with the canon of classic soul. He’s never been to Seattle before and who knows when he’ll be back again.
Part of me just wants to put SEQUINED JUMPSUIT. Just like that, in all-caps and leave it at that. But that does Charles Bradley no justice and reminds me that which we joke about is often that which we feel the strongest for.
Though it’s true, the act I’m most excited to see at Bumbershoot, hands down, no questions asked, will very likely be in a sequined jumpsuit and it’s not Head Like a Kite. It’s Charles Bradley
At age 62, while most professions you’d be nearing retirement and in the music industry you’d usually be long gone unless you were of that rare “legend” status, Bradley is just getting his start, releasing his debut full length last year and with it already entering into legend status. No Time for Dreaming evokes the canon of classic soul: the sharp lens of Marvin Gaye’s social commentary, the sweet, sad, sexiness of relationships that Al Green sang of, the fiery stage performances, dance moves and jumpsuits of James Brown, the backing horns of Stax.
His original songs, like “The World Is Going Up (In Flames)” and “Why Is It So Hard,” sound like Classics, with a capital C. Not just because they could easily be of another era, a gem found in the used bins, but because they so ably speak to the life we’re living today, to the struggles we still face. Charles Bradley sings anthems whether they’re about how fucked up life is in America or making up your misbehavior’s to your lady. Bradley is a gifted story-teller in words and with his notes, each second of song is filled, if not over-flowing with, emotion. Bradley’s voice breaks and cracks, unable to bear the weight of what he is expressing, emotions he’s waited decades and decades to share.
A friend in San Francisco who caught Bradley at the Independent this Tuesday for the first time described it best, “The man sings like he’s just been set free.” And perhaps, at 62, long after most had written him off, a man who grew up on the streets and is now travelling the world singing his songs to sold out crowds, perhaps, that’s exactly what happened to Charles Bradley.
Here’s All of My Bumbershoot Unmissables: