Soul survivor Charles Bradley belts it out along with his Extraordinaries on the Jefferson stage this Friday. (Kisha Bari)
Stretching from Moore’s Creek to the foot of the Belmont Bridge, Monticello Road is only a mile long, but it has wound its way through all of Charlottesville’s long history. One of the first paths to meet with Three Notch’d Road, the well-worn route from Charlottesville to Richmond, it has seen everything from circus parades, which marched along it after unloading at the C&O rail depot, to the hooves of Teddy Roosevelt’s presidential cavalcade, which once pounded through on the way to Monticello.
Given that history, one might be tempted to dive headfirst into the road’s rich past. But for “Monticello Road,” an exhibition that opens Friday at The Bridge/Progressive Arts Initiative, local photographer Peter Krebs has focused instead on the present. “The best art defines a time and a place so strongly it lasts into posterity, but it can also serve a purpose right here and now,” Krebs wrote on monticelloroad.com, where he’s been sharing his explorations for the past couple of years.
As the culmination of those explorations, Krebs’ exhibition will feature an array of large prints, an 80-page catalog and a slide show featuring hundreds of local faces. He sees it not merely as a showcase of his own artistic expression, but as an engaging community-centric project that will bring people closer together. “When the exhibition takes place, they will see my impressions but the works will also be touchstones to provoke conversation, which is the glue that cements a community together,” he said. In addition to his own active photography, Krebs set up informal photo booths at places like La Taza, The Bridge and Spudnuts, inviting anyone to pose and walk away with their own prints.
Following Friday’s opening the exhibition will host a series of special events through the rest of the month. On Saturday, April 7 there will be a screening of Still Life With Donuts, a 2003 documentary about the Belmont neighborhood, followed by a Q&A with its filmmakers at Spudnuts, the famous donut joint that inspired the film’s title. Virginia Industries for the Blind will host an open house on April 12, and a neighborhood and community planning panel will convene on April 17 as part of National Architecture Week. Local residents will share memories and stories of Monticello Road and Belmont on April 22, and the exhibition will wrap up with an artist’s talk with Krebs and special guests on April 26.
“Why is it so hard to make it in America?” sings Charles Bradley on No Time For Dreaming, his 2011 debut album. That’s not an empty question, given the path that has taken him from Florida, where he lived with his grandmother until age 8, to the Jefferson Theater, where he’ll bring show-stopping soul music this Friday.
After moving to live with his mother in Brooklyn, Bradley had the life-changing experience of seeing James Brown at the Apollo Theater in 1962. That inspired him to begin imitating the Godfather of Soul, but it would still be many years before he would really be heard. Running away from home in his teens, he lived on the streets before settling in Maine and then, after another period on the road, in California.
Though he took the stage occasionally during those years, it wasn’t until Bradley returned to Brooklyn to care for his mother that he really found his voice. Performing as Black Velvet, a James Brown impersonator, Bradley caught the attention of Gabriel Roth, the co-founder of Daptone Records, the label of another neo-soul star, Sharon Jones. The excellent No Time For Dreaming soon followed, and Charles Bradley: Soul of America, a documentary that explores the singer’s long and bumpy path to musical success, premiered to much acclaim at the SXSW Film Festival in Texas last month.
Equal parts James Brown and Otis Redding, Bradley does justice to his nickname, “The Screaming Eagle of Soul,” and it’s inspiring to see such an amazing talent finally making it after so many years. We highly recommend heading to the Jefferson Friday night, where Bradley will be sharing the bill with another great Daptone Records act, The Budos Band. He might even treat you to his soul-injected covers of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” and Nirvana’s “Stay Away.”
Thank God It’s Fridays After Five
We’re always thrilled for the first Fridays After Five announcement of the year, as that means that summertime is just around the corner. Yesterday the nTelos Wireless Pavilion released the schedule for the first half of the long-running free concert series, and as usual there’s something for everybody. In addition to familiar standbys like Baaba Seth, Skip Castro, Indecision, Terri Allard, and the Chickenhead Blues Band, we’re also excited for Richmond’s No BS! Brass Band, which will bring its raucous brand of funk on April 27. Love Canon kicks off this summer’s series on April 20 with its irresistible explosion of bluegrass-style ’80s hits.