Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise, with John McEuen and Jimmy Ibbotson, Sunday, March 19, as part of an E-Town taping at the Boulder Theater, has maintained a somewhat more than normal level of interest in the past few years, based as much on the mythology of the band's formation as on its self-titled debut, released in 1996. The story goes like this: The future members of the Surprise were hanging out in a recording studio when they heard Bradley busking soulfully below on a Detroit sidewalk. They invited the blind vocalist up, jammed with him, and soon began recording music that mated Bradley's Motownesque vocal stylings with the foursome's funk-and-rock sensibilities. On its new album, Time to Discover, the band sounds even groovier, even down-and-dirtier than before, employing electric pianos, B-3 organs, and a little disciplined wah-wah and church-choir backing vocals that elevate the Otis Redding-like reach of Bradley's voice. Attempting to fuse gospel, blues, Superfly, the Stones, the Black Crowes, and even white-boy rap (fellow Motor City dweller Kid Rock lends a restrained refrain to the album's opening track) is an endeavor that could easily skirt the overblown or excessive. The real surprise here, though, is that it works.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.