When: Thu., April 21, 9 p.m. 2011
In 1962, when Charles Bradley was 14 years old, his sister took him to hear James Brown at the Apollo. The show made a big impression on him, but it would be decades before he'd be able to show the world just how big. In the intervening years, Bradley moved around the country, making a living as a cook and devoting his spare hours to music; he eventually developed a James Brown tribute act where he called himself "Black Velvet." He lived in the Bay Area for 20 years but in 1995 moved back to New York, where in 2000 Gabriel Roth—brain trust and main producer of Daptone Records—caught his act at the Tar-Heel Lounge. Bradley was in particularly low spirits because his brother had recently been shot and killed, and Roth was just the man to help him ease his pain with music. Roth introduced him to guitarist Thomas Brenneck, who enlisted Bradley to work in his funk band the Bullets; Brenneck went on to form the Budos Band, and his friendship with Bradley led the singer to a collaboration with a similarly eclectic instrumental funk group, the Menahan Street Band. Earlier this year Daptone subsidiary Dunham Records released No Time for Dreaming, Bradley's long-overdue debut, where the influence of prefunk James Brown rubs shoulders with traces of Bobby Womack (though Bradley has a much raspier voice). In "Heartaches and Pain" Bradley's lyrics recall the death of his brother, and "Why Is It So Hard?" is a musical travelogue of his struggles. It's knockout record, one my favorites of 2011, and yet another A&R coup for Roth—after Sharon Jones and Lee Fields, Bradley is the third veteran singer he's rescued from certain oblivion. For his Chicago debut Bradley will be backed by members of the Budos Band and the Menahan Street Band. —Peter Margasak
Price: Sold out; 17+.