TRULY EXTRAORDINAIRE: Charles Bradley

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Onstage at Athens’ storied Georgia Theatre, the soul man brought it—and then some. Opening this evening was Tedo Stone.

TEXT & PHOTOS BY JOHN BOYDSTON

I had to go see this show – and was happy to make the drive to experience it at one of my favorite venues—The Georgia Theatre in Athens. Georgia’s own Tedo Stone was the opening act and is one of my favorite rising bands.  Tedo is the front guy with the great voice and songwriting chops.  This was a fun, intense performance of some new stuff.  He and his bandmates play like a fine road-tested rock machine.   Their Facebook page claims influences include T.Rex and Crazy Horse.   (No wonder I love ‘em.)   Besides Tedo, the band is Frank Keith IV on bass, Chris Mala drums, and Clay Houle on wailing guitar.  Check out the fantastic new record Marshes on the This Is American Music label. Stone can be found at his Bandcamp page as well.  (Stone is pictured below.)

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On to the headliner. This man is not a young man, and his rising fame has been a fairly recent thing, wowing crowds literally around the world with high profile shows at Coachella, Glastonbury, and Primavera Sound, not to mention SXSW.    His new LP is released this week, April 1, titled Changes on Daptone Records; it’s already streaming, so check his website for that too.  (The title track is a cover – not the Bowie “Changes” but the Black Sabbath song. It works.)  I’ve been wearing out his great 2013 release Victim of Love, also on Daptone, also highly recommended.  Man, can this guy let out a soul scream.  New songs already getting airplay on Little Steven’s Underground Garage channel on SiriusXM, because they play the good stuff.  He’d be at home on The Loft and Spectrum channels there as well. (I won’t do the whole bio write-up but all things Charles Bradley are at his official website.)

My appreciation for the soul greats was second-hand until way too late in life, meaning I mostly grew up listening to white rocker-crooners paying tribute.  Meh. My bad.  I’ve been making up for lost time of late, devouring all the Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and James Brown records I can find.  So along comes Charles Bradley, and suddenly it’s not a nostalgia thing anymore.  He is the real deal soul man like the greats who came before.  He is also a great; not a revivalist or a retro act paying tribute.

He’s Charles Bradley, and he’s bringing his world to new audiences, young kids especially, who will be experiencing this for the first time.   I didn’t check, but this show had to be sold out.  (Say what you will about Millennials, I think they rock, and always impress me with their open-mindedness about and appreciation for all musical genres.)

Bradley’s stage band is Brooklyn-based The Extraordinaires and they are:  Freddy DeBoe, Billy Aukstik, Mike Deller, Vince Chariot, Alex Chakour, Caito Sanchez, and Paul Shalda, who plays a great rhythm on the Rickenbacker and who so resembles the late Duane Allman that it was a bit disconcerting at times to glance over and see him there.   I would go see these guys alone playing instrumentals, given the chance.  Booker T & The MG’s groove action.

Bradley and the band are now on tour in Europe, but definitely hope for some more 2016 U.S. dates.

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