Vienna/Budapest Pics
Mingus Big Band at the Jazz Standard

Charles Bradley Invokes James Brown at Hiro Ballroom

by Talia Page

Charles Bradley's story is an interesting one.  Born in Florida and raised in Brooklyn, Bradley fell on hard times repeatedly throughout the course of his 63 years, working as a chef in a mental hospital and suffering through the tragic murder of his brother in his mother's home. As a result, he was never fully able to pursue his lifelong passion for music.  After spending much of his life traveling to various cities and states across the country, Bradley finally got the attention of Gabriel Roth of Daptone Records when he performed his James Brown tribute act at Bedstuy's Tarheel Lounge in the early 2000s. Roth connected Bradley with Thomas Brenneck, guitarist for both the Budos Band and the Dap Kings, who helped Bradley record his debut LP, No Time For Dreaming, which landed on many of last year's best-of lists. 

Last night at Hiro Ballroom, Bradley revived his James Brown tribute as Black Velvet, backed by Jimmy Hill and the Allstarz Band.  With a clear passon for his idol, Bradley defied both age and gravity as he danced, bounced, and writhed like a man half his age through the Godfather's greatest hits.  During wardrobe changes, the audience was treated to a series of female vocalists performing Gladys Knight's "Midnight Train to Georgia", Beyonce's "Love on Top", and the late Etta James' "At Last," effectively covering the bases of the all-ages audience.

Bradley, who is gearing up for a worldwide tour with his Extraordinaries, is living proof that good things really do come to those who wait.