The Dynamites feat Charles Walker
If the first attention-grabbing horn lines of The Dynamites album Kaboom! evoke a dramatic curtain call from a late ‘60s funk concert at the Apollo Theater, it’s no accident. After all, that’s exactly where Charles Walker, the band’s singer and front man, first cut his teeth as a performer. When the revolutionary ‘new bag’ now known as funk first made the scene, Walker was right there in the thick of it, opening for the likes of James Brown, Etta James, and Wilson Pickett, and imbibing himself in a cultural movement’s genesis. Walker deserves his due after decades as an unsung musical hero. He first became a professional entertainer in his native Nashville in the late 1950s, recording with hit producer Ted Jarrett and appearing nightly at the New Era Club, one of the South’s leading black nightclubs. Walker spent most of the 1960s and ‘70s in New York, performing frequently at the Apollo Theater and Small’s Paradise when the original funk scene coalesced. Fronting various bands, including the criminally underrated Little Charles & the Sidewinders, Walker released singles for Chess, Decca, and a number of smaller labels. The records failed to hit the big time but their quality endured and are now prized among collectors. After the recordings gained notice in Europe’s Northern Soul scene, Walker found steady solo work overseas, and he lived in England and Spain before returning to Music City in the 1990s. “Listening to Charles Walker & The Dynamites immediately whisked me back to Small’s Paradise,1964. It’s so wonderful to hear Charles’ voice is as strong as ever.” – Bettye LaVette If this all sounds retro, think again. The Dynamites are far from being alone in their second millennium pursuit of rekindling funk’s original flames. A renaissance of funk and soul is snatching up listeners from coast to coast and beyond. As the NY Times article “What’s Going On? Everything Soul is New Again,” from February 2007 says loud and clear; soul music is making a formidable comeback. “More than at any time in recent memory, soul music’s pressing syncopation and stirring hollers are churning within the popular mainstream.” A furious and unrelenting barrage of stripped-down, rhythmic R&B and swinging soul, Kaboom! is the aptly titled full-length debut by Nashville funk band The Dynamites. Bill Elder (a.k.a. Leo Black) is the troupe’s founder, bandleader, guitarist, primary composer, arranger, and producer. He’s the one keeping everything so damn tight here. But he insists that it is, not he, but his lead singer who is given special billing in the group’s name: The Dynamites featuring Charles Walker. For soul veteran Walker, finding songwriter Bill Elder has been an epiphany. More importantly, he’s found in Elder a songwriter that writes for his voice. This stands in sharp contrast to the days when he was asked to record songs whether they inspired him or not. “I didn’t have the songs that I felt were right for me. Now I can pick and choose the songs I want to do. When I was with Chess and Decca I did what they wanted me to do.” The result being that Walker is more relaxed and at ease in the studio. “I feel so confident now. I can remember being under so much pressure to try and get a hit record. Now I’m just in there doing what I like to do.” The Dynamites reignited Walker’s spark and pushed the versatile vocalist to sing the hardest, grittiest funk he’s ever made. The band’s dynamic live show has already gained them opening slots for Galactic and Widespread Panic as well as appearances at Bonnaroo and the Austin City Limits festival. Critical acclaim for Kaboom! continues to pour in. The fuse is lit and The Dynamites are set to explode! Kaboom! is available on Outta Sight Records, which is distributed by Sony/RED and marketed by Thirty Tigers. It’s available nationally at all finer independent record stores and some chains; iTunes and most digital delivery services; and from mail order specialists such as Amazon and Dusty Groove.