SXSW Day 5: Raphael Saadiq, Head and the Heart, Charles Bradley

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I started the day by having breakfast with Raphael Saadiq at a Mexican restaurant and ended it watching Charles Bradley, who channeled both Al Green and James Brown in a rousing performance. So, it was a great day for authentic funk and soul. The good stuff.

Saadiq treated us to songs from his excellent new album “Stone Rollin” live on Morning Becomes Eclectic. We had a few visitors in the studio and everyone was floored. It was impossible not to move to that set of music and Saadiq is one of those musicians who plots out a new direction for his sound and then nails it so seamlessly.  On this album, it’s 60’s soul but with a bit more of a rock edge.

Joy Williams and John Paul White, the duo behind Civil Wars, stopped in and checked out a song before recording their own set for Chris Douridas. There’s something really fun about watching bands you love watching other bands you love!

We headed over to Filter Magazine’s showcase at Cedar Street for Phantogram, who did not disappoint, particularly stunning frontwoman Sarah Barthel. The crowd was so excited, singing along to tracks like “Mouthful of Diamonds” and “When I’m Small.

After a Thai iced coffee to boost my energy, I headed over to The Head and the Heart, by far my favorite discovery of the festival. I’d been hearing murmurings about them before I even got to Austin and the talk seemed to get louder and louder over the course of the week. By the time I saw them Friday night, it was clear they were one of the breakout bands this year and truly deserving of all praise. The harmonies were exquisite.

The Head and the Heart – Down in the Valley by subpop

I stuck around for Yellow Ostrich, who seem to have a lot of potential, before seeing a set that was so good, I just went home right afterwards because I knew I wouldn’t see anything else better that evening. It was Charles Bradley, a soul singer signed to Daptone Records (home of Sharon Jones) and backed by the Menahan Street Band. This man has LIVED and you can hear it in his voice. Check out the video below.

Only one day left – sad but a bit happy to give my ears a rest for a bit.