Charles Bradley (@Charles_Bradley) Brings Back The Soul With The Menahan Street Band (@MenahanStBand) #Bsmf13

Bands, entertainment, events, music

I discovered the Menahan Street Band in December, when I heard their first album Making The Road By Walking playing in Decatur CD in Decatur, Georgia, but Charles Bradley I had not heard about until a co-worker mentioned him to me after seeing his name on the Beale Street Music Festival line-up. YouTube clips convinced me that Bradley was not to be missed, and I was even more thrilled when I discovered that his backing band is none other than the aforementioned Menahan Street Band!
Charles Bradley is an exceptionally-gifted singer, whose life story is anything but pleasant. He ran away from home, went through the Job Corps program, spent a few years as a cook in Maine, hitchhiked across the country to the west coast, returned to New York, nearly died of an allergic reaction and woke up to the news that his brother had been murdered. But when the Menahan Street Band encountered him as a James Brown impersonator known as “Black Velvet”, a bond was quickly formed that led to the recording of his first album No Time For Dreaming on the Daptone Records label. A second album followed this year, Victim of Love.
The first thing I noticed at Bradley’s Beale Street Music Festival appearance was how tight the Menahan Street Band is. Everything from bass to drums to horns was perfectly together, as if someone were playing a recording. And Bradley has a first-rate voice, the kind of true soul singing that today’s youngsters just don’t seem to want to do. He came out on a Memphis-style ballad called “Crying in the Chapel” (but not the doo-wop standard tune of that name). It was an odd choice for his first number, although the Menahan band had warmed things up with a couple of instrumentals beforehand. During his half-hour or so set, Bradley ran through a number of tunes from both of his albums, and when he had finished, the crowd demanded an encore for nearly five minutes. Bradley and the Menahan Street Band returned, this time with Bradley elegantly attired in a red outfit, and they performed one final tune in which Bradley discussed diversity and the need for love regardless of color or other differences. It was an amazing way to close out the first night of Memphis In May.

A Quiet Easter Afternoon in Como

entertainment, events, Food, Gospel, music, Record Labels, Restaurant Reviews, Restaurants

After Easter morning services at my church, Easter Sunday proved to be dull indeed. I have no relatives in Memphis, my best friend had to work, and a lot of restaurants were closed. But I had seen on Facebook that Windy City Grille in Como, Mississippi would be open, and with evening church and choir practice canceled due to the holiday, I decided to drive down and have a leisurely lunch. Perhaps afterwards I could find a blues picnic, car show or something else to get into. I have to mention that Windy City Grille is an amazing restaurant with an incredible pizza recipe that is said to be similar to Uno’s in Chicago. Having never had Uno’s, I can’t say how Windy City compares, but it’s good enough that Memphis people used to occasionally make the drive to Como for it. More recently, a location has opened closer to Memphis in Hernando, and the food there is just as good, but I still prefer the Como location’s ambiance, and the town of Como itself. Next to the grille, I noticed a poster for a group called the Como Mamas, which I had never heard of until I was reading an article about Mississippi artists at South By Southwest. The three gospel singers are signed to Daptone Records, the same label that earlier had released the excellent Como Now compilation.
After lunch, I saw signs around the town of Como for a car show at a place called LP’s Ball Park, but try as I might, I could not find it. While trying to find it, I found something else, the beautiful Davis Chapel Church from 1851 on the Old Panola Road west of Sardis. When I finally stopped at the convenience store in Como and asked about the car show, I was told it had been postponed a week due to the weather. There was a Lightning Malcolm birthday party scheduled for 7 PM in Clarksdale, but that was still three hours away, and I couldn’t think of how I’d possibly kill three hours in Clarksdale on Easter Sunday. So I reluctantly drove on back to Memphis.