The culmination of forty years chasing a musical dream, all the while holding down a day job and encountering hard luck break after hard luck break, Charles Bradley‘s No Time for Dreaming debut (out this year on Daptone), oozes with the kind of passion and soul that can only be earned. Bradley’s done some hard travellin’, and even aside from the music his is an inspiring story of perseverance and emotional fortitude. That real life experience is transformed into songs like “The World (Is Going Up in Flames)”, “Why Is It So Hard?,” and “Heartaches & Pain,” the last of which was inspired directly by the murder of Bradley’s brother. The record also feels like it makes a wider statement for troubled times, occasonally mingling the personal with the political in instances which bring to mind the likes of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Goin’ On and Curtis Mayfield’s Curtis.

We hear an inspired set from Bradley, backed by his Extraordinaires during this year’s MusicFest NW, and talk about his story, which includes an influential 1962 trip to the Apollo to see James Brown; as well as his connection with Daptone’s Gabriel Roth, who discovered Bradley in a club a few years back performing Godfather of Soul routines under the alter ego Black Velvet.


Recording engineer: Steven Kray, with technical assistance from Randy Layton and Jonathan Newsome
Editor: Jarratt Taylor
Videographers: Jarratt Taylor, Nate Sjol, Anthony Del Calzo
Photos: Inger Klekacz