Charles Bradley, Raphael Saadiq Bring Sweet Soul Sounds To SXSW 2011

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Charles Bradley SXSW

Charles Bradley at Stubb's (photo by Kurt Wolff)

Thursday saw two rock-solid artists dig deep into vintage soul sounds during sets at South By Southwest. But don’t think it was retro: [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Raphael Saadiq[/lastfm] was a nonstop whirlwind of on-stage energy, and was backed by one of the finest bands this side of the Dap Kings; while 62-year-old “newcomer” [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Charles Bradley[/lastfm] channeled [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]James Brown[/lastfm] in a sweaty, emotionally filled live performance at the Spinner showcase that felt as raw and unvarnished as anything at this year’s festival so far.

Bradley may not be a young man anymore, but that didn’t stopped him from enjoying the spotlight after years of obscurity. He just released his debut album, and during his showcase set on the big stage at Stubb’s Thursday night, he brought a huge range of emotion front and center–pain, anger, joy, love, lust–all in a performance that couldn’t help but mark him as a modern-day James Brown. I can’t imagine him arguing with that.

Raphael Saadiq at SXSW (photo by Kurt Wolff)

Raphael Saadiq at SXSW (photo by Kurt Wolff)

Saadiq is another artist giving classic R&B sounds a fresh update, as he’s been proving on his solo albums since his days with the vocal group Tony! Toni! Tone! He’s a knockout performer with unbound stage energy and a band that knows what it means to work together. Fresh off his GRAMMY performance with Mick Jagger, he was in Austin to support his new album Stone Rollin’.

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