The Dynamites featuring Charles Walker
Friday · Shake It Records (6 p.m. start) and Southgate House (10 p.m. start)
Soul music flourished in a number of cities around the country in the '60s, and they all had their part to play in the genre's evolution. The Funk roar of New York, the raw Soul/Pop bounce of Detroit, the charged Blues of Memphis, the R&B swing of Philadelphia, the joyous Southern romp of New Orleans and the sizzling synthesis of Chicago all served to spread the gospel of Soul to the world at large.
One of the genre's most visceral and spine-tingling branches is Deep Funk, an elemental spin on Soul that emphasizes its gritty, raw-boned simplicity over flashy and over-produced dance Soul. It is the Deep Funk side of the equation that guitarist/songwriter/producer Bill Elder (known in many musical circles as Leo Black) wanted to explore when he formed the Dynamites a few short years ago. What he lacked was a vibrant frontman/vocalist to bring it all into focus, and that's when he discovered Charles Walker.
Walker's club work in New York in the '60s with his outfit Little Charles and the Sidewinders made him a minor legend and eventually led the Tennessee native to be included in the Country Music Hall of Fame's Night Train to Nashville exhibit some 40 years later. Dynamites manager Doyle Davis heard about Walker's exploits through the exhibit's curator and recognized that the still-active singer would be the perfect complement to the sound that Elder was painstakingly attempting to assemble.
The wisdom of the decision to bring Walker in to front the Dynamites is all over the group's debut album, Kaboom!, released this past summer to overwhelmingly positive reviews. The infectious Jazz/Funk instrumental intro of "Body Snatcher," packed with Horny Horns jump, heart-stopping bass and slinky Hammond B3, is a mere prelude to the smoking Soul that erupts when Walker pours his bourbon-honey vocals over the proceedings, particularly on the blistering "Own Thing" and the smoldering post-Katrina ode "Way Down South."
Attention James Brown/Funkadelic/Wilson Pickett fans: Charles Walker and the Dynamites supercharge the Funk of the '70s to a fever point that even an emergency room doctor couldn't ice down.
The Cliks with The Cult and Action Action
Saturday · Bogart's
The mark of fame is truly ambiguous. For musicians, often a bold, sacrosanct event scratches an indelible mark upon them, elucidating the fact that they have surmounted obscurity and are indeed established in the music industry's wearisome and coveted pedigree. John Cusack said it best in High Fidelity with his brilliant analogy between break-ups, Vietnam and Nirvana: there are some things you'll never get over.
For The Cliks, the Torontonian all-girl band freshly featured on NPR's Morning Edition for their new album Snakehouse, that moment was during a recent tour with the '80s Technicolor tempest, Cyndi Lauper. After seeing The Cliks perform for the first time, Lauper announced emphatically, "You guys fucking rock!," thus cementing their fame forever.
The Cliks stand out for a few reasons. Their sound and lyrics consistently draw comparisons to early Pretenders: primal, personal and laden with a tangible taste of duality. Perhaps this is because the lead singer of the all-female quartet, Lucas Silveira, no longer identifies himself as a female. Silveira is a female-to-male transgender. But he believes that fact shouldn't effect the music.
"The fact that I'm transgendered comes secondary," Silveira says. People are often curious, but Silveira says it doesn't bother him.
Silveira has had several surgeries and is in the process of fully transitioning into a new male body. However, a part of Silveira hasn't changed: his singing voice.
"I decided to not go through with that part of transitioning, because it will effect my voice," said Silveria.
He would have to re-train himself to use his vocal chords and the risk of losing his singing ability would be high. And he is unwilling to compromise the music for the sake of a deep, brusque voice.
Maybe the mark of fame is irrelevant. Maybe there should be a concentration upon the criteria of a real artist. The willingness to sacrifice for your art would be the first step. (Ryan McLendon)
Hank Williams III and Assjack with Rev. Horton Heat and Nashville Pussy
Tuesday · Bogart's
Geneticists say that family characteristics will often skip a generation, but Shelton Hank Williams, better known as Hank III (per his tattoo), has drawn equally from his impossibly famous and infinitely talented forefathers while forging his own astonishingly unique identity.
From his iconic grandfather, Hank Williams, Hank III has absorbed a devotional love of traditional Country music, from hillbilly howl to honky tonk swing to chicken-wire roadhouse stomp. From his diverse father, Hank Williams Jr., he's inherited impeccable Southern boogie Rock chops, fried up in a mess of Country greens and served up hot and thick. And from his own singular musical upbringing, Hank III has folded in unlikely shavings of Punk and Metal for an abrasive but oddly appropriate counterpoint.
But don't let Hank III's penchant for coloring way outside of the music business' lines mislead you into thinking he's a who-gives-a-shit rebel for its own sake. Hank III is among the last of a dying breed in American music: an honest to God original.
Hank III generally divides his time between the Damn Band, which is his pure Country outlet, and Assjack, which is his frenzied angst Rock outfit. He also plays bass with Superjoint Ritual, the raging Metal assemblage fronted by ex-Pantera guitarist Phil Anselmo (Hank III is currently working on a DVD project; check hank3.com to see how you may be able to contribute visuals to the footage).
On headlining tours, Hank III offers up the Damn Band as openers and plays the kind of Country music that would have poured out of an AM radio in the '50s, then warns Country fans to clear out at intermission before the air raid Rock of Assjack fills the club. Although Hank III has a brand new Country album waiting in the wings (Damn Right, Rebel Proud, originally due in December but now pushed to 2008), his upcoming circuit is strictly with Assjack, rounding out a bill with Reverend Horton Heat and Nashville Pussy.
Like everything that Hank does, he goes his own way and invites you to join with open ears, open minds and open containers. (BB)