Robert Bradley’s Blackwater Surprise

It's easy to take pleasure from concerts by blues singer Robert Bradley and his Blackwater Surprise, comprising the remnants of Chicago alternative rock band Second Self. At the packed Troubadour in Los Angeles, the distinct group played a highly enjoyable set of fused blues-rock that brought clear joy to performers and audience alike.

With:
Band: Robert Bradley, Andrew Nehra, Michael Nehra, Jeff Fowlkes, Tim Diaz. Reviewed June 26, 2000.

It’s easy to take pleasure from concerts by blues singer Robert Bradley and his Blackwater Surprise, comprising the remnants of Chicago alternative rock band Second Self. At the packed Troubadour in Los Angeles, the distinct group played a highly enjoyable set of fused blues-rock that brought clear joy to performers and audience alike.

The smiling Bradley — a blind, Alabama-born singer — was escorted front and center by his wife, and then (without further physical assistance) led his eager young band through a baker’s dozen of songs from the group’s two RCA albums, including seven found on their excellent new release, “Time to Discover.”

The gospel-flavored “Light” (“Hold your head up high”) kicked off the low-dough show in splendid fashion, followed by the lascivious “Bellybone,” one of six from the group’s 1996 self-titled debut, a smoking tune that sounded akin to the Black Crowes.

Shades of R&B, hard rock, jazz and pop added further color to the hearty mix, as did new member Tim Diaz on keyboards and organ.

Bradley, 50 and outfitted at the sweaty Troub in black clothes and dark sunglasses, cuts a most compelling figure onstage, dancing about and pointing at unseen marks as he belts out his songs of heartache, struggle and hope.

“I ain’t talkin’ ’bout no Eminem or Kid Rock kind of love,” he assured the crowd after a moving version of “For the Night.”

During the soothing ballad “Baby,” Bradley was on his knees at stage’s edge, crying out his tale of obsession and desire. Other highlights of the 70-minute show included the propulsive “Higher,” before which Bradley gave a beer toast to Cali, and the two-guitar, Led Zep-influenced “Time to Discover.”

Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise

Troubadour; 450 capacity; $1.03

Production: Presented by Channel 103.1 FM.

Cast: Band: Robert Bradley, Andrew Nehra, Michael Nehra, Jeff Fowlkes, Tim Diaz. Reviewed June 26, 2000.

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