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SXSW 2016 sounds: from Charles Bradley soul to thrashy Diarrhea Planet

Margo Price
Margo Price

The music festival founded on the principal of discovery of the new and unknown is also about rediscovery and revival.

Wednesday night at the 30th annual South by Southwest Music Festival, audiences were treated to several sets from performers resurrecting the sounds and spirits of other eras.

Charles Bradley was one of those performers. A funk/soul/R&B singer from Florida, Bradley, 67, is riding a personal revival. A former James Brown impersonator who was discovered by the co-founder of Daptone Records, his music is steeped in the sounds of music from the 1960s and 1970s, from the heydays of soul and R&B, a mix of Brown, Otis Redding and other soul legends.

Bradley performed at Stubb’s Bar-B-Q restaurant as part of a showcase curated by National Pubic Radio, and he and his six-man band quickly shook, rattled and rolled a crowd that included hundreds of fans half his age and younger. His set included gritty, taproot horn-fed soul numbers like “Ain’t It A Sin,” a plea and a warning from a man who’s tired of being used.

Church broke out toward the end of his set, when Bradley paid tribute to his late mother with an emotional gospel-soul hymn that had him testifying about the afterlife. Bradley will perform at Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest in May. Don’t miss this chance to see this memorable performer.

Margo Price

A native of rural Illinois and the daughter of a prison guard, Price is a throwback to country queens like Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton, with tattoos and some hard stories to tell. She sang several songs from her upcoming full-length debut, “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter,” which is filled with stories from a hard-living woman with plenty of lessons and sorrows to write about, including the death of one of her twin sons.

Performing at Stubb’s in a denim mini-skirt and blouse with her hair piled high in a beehive, Price delivered a smoldering set of honky-tonk numbers about working women who put up with no-good men, the working-class life and drinking, like “Hurtin’ On the Bottle,” which had a Merle Haggard spirit to it. Her voice is powerful, agile and emotive, operatic and twangy at the same time. She is being hyped as a rising star, and Wednesday night she proved why.

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Chicano Batman

A name like that raises curiosity and expectations, but Chicano Batman makes music that is smooth and groovy, without much dare-devilry or mayhem. The four-piece from Los Angeles aroused some dancing during its set at Stubb’s. The band’s sound blends a mix of Brazilian and Latin sounds with soul, psychedelia and rock. On a couple of songs, they sounded like a mix of Santana and Vampire Weekend. Recommended for jam-band fans.

Diarrhea Planet

Yeah, I know. Nice name. They are an effusive band, especially when it comes to guitars. The six-piece rock/punk band from Nashville features four guitars (finally) and a rhythm section. Their late-night set at Bungalow showcased its stage show, which is manic and rowdy, and its music, which is high-speed and rudimentary, thrashy, power rock and pop, like a mix of the Ramones, Andrew W.K. and Kiss. They were memorable, and for more than just their sophomoric name.

Timothy Finn: 816-234-4781, @phinnagain

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