Words by James O'Connor :: Live photos by Andy Wilson
The Dynamites Featuring Charles Walker :: 08.11.06 :: The Earl :: Atlanta, GA
As the music world embraces a soul-funk resurgence, The Dynamites Featuring Charles Walker are like cream rising to the top. Those hip to the Nashville-based band are catching the train early before they grab the attention of the masses as groups like Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Dynamites counterparts, have done.
Taking the stage at Atlanta's, The Earl and dressed to impress, The Dynamites kicked the night off blending a few hard hitting classics such as Dennis Coffey's "Scorpio" and James Brown's "Give It Up Or Turn It Loose" before introducing the man of the hour, Mr. Charles Walker. Like a preacher coming to spread the good word, Walker hit the stage wearing a shining white suit, geared-up and ready. And spread the good word he did. Almost in opposite fashion to some of his contemporaries whose voices have lost their former luster, Walker's seems to have improved. "I don't think it was polished enough when I was a young singer," he stated in a recent interview. Like a fine wine improving with age, he was able to sustain his vocal range and croon with the best of them.
Once Walker joined the rest of The Dynamites and addressed the crowd, the solidarity set in among the nine men on stage as they covered a song that Walker had recorded nearly forty years ago when he was with his former group, The Sidewinders. The song is called "Help Somebody," which guitarist Leo Black initiated with a killer wah-wah intro. As the band broke it down in the middle of the song, a soul clap spread like wildfire throughout the entire crowd, filling the venue with a raw energy, riding the wave of the 4/4 rhythm to which drummer Derrek Phillips fanned the flames.
Charles Walker by Andy Wilson
Though Walker undoubtedly was positioned center stage during the performance, Elder, the band leader, served as Walker's wing-man, giving Walker room to shine, yet still keeping the band tight. And while Walker has an unfounded track record of experience to keep the audience entertained, the band has plenty to showcase themselves. Almost like a funk dream team, Elder's role can be difficult to lead that many top notch professionals like B3 organ player Tyrone Dickerson, whose first gig out of college was touring with Curtis Mayfield for three years or Phillips, Charlie Hunter's former drummer. The Dynamites' horn section is nothing to be scoffed at either. As Walker opened up room for the horns to blow, it was interesting to see how the three-man horn section, which worked so well together as a unit, also had distinctive, different styles and influences that came out as they let their mojo get to work. Most noticeable was Chris West's apparent jazz influence as he melodically tore through his solo.
Perhaps my favorite interplay among the whole group was the dynamic between bass player Donnie Medallion and Dickerson on the B3. The boundaries and barriers between the two musicians' races and ages fell to the wayside, thanks to the momentous music. Almost as if it were a game of tag, the two played off each other beautifully, laying down rhythms and seemingly having a ball doing it. This was just another entertaining part of the overall experience of watching the Southeast's newest premier funk troupe.
The Dynamites Featuring Charles Walker by Andy Wilson
Other highlights of the night certainly included a cover of "Let A Woman Be A Woman and Let A Man Be A Man" by Dyke and the Blazers, during which one particular female in the audience was feeling extra frisky, nearly using her man's leg as a stripper pole. When Walker noticed the display in the front row, he reacted as any gentleman would by singing out to her, "Shake it woman!" Both songs from their only recording to date, a pressed red vinyl 45, "Slinky" and "Come On In" were noteworthy in the first set. As the band took a long break in which local Atlanta deep funk DJs Agent 45 and T1 spun similar sounds to complement the evening, the group returned refreshed and redressed to close the night out strong to the die-hards that stuck it out to the wee hours of the morning.
JamBase | Atlanta
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