The Dynamites Feat. Charles Walker
Earlier this year at Bluesfest, I’m skulking around backstage looking for interviews to bulk out my review, something solid and meaningful, something to fill the void and make the garbled prose I’ve penned thus far a little more exciting, for wont of a better word. You’d think, given the strength of the lineup, that I wouldn’t need to do much to make it exciting, but I’m hardly getting offered face-time with Sir Bob or Mr King, so I need something big and ungainly, a bit of a booster I guess.
As there’s no one currently playing who I want to see, I continue skulking and my languid persistence eventually pays off as I get offered the only spot with the master of funk, the high priest of the groove, Mr. George Clinton himself, which is indeed an exciting and terrifying prospect all at once – I eventually get ushered into the presence of funk royalty (I’ve actually met him before, he was in his underwear at the time which is another story for another time) and man, it’s funky and crusty, just like I knew it would be. We talk about fishing and playing four-hour sets. I have my interesting interview.
I go and see him and Parliament Funkadelic play later that night and I dig those heavy grooves, and I know who’s got the funk, this man does, as did many like him, cats that aren’t around any more, certainly not around in the sense of being able to get up there, spark up a fatty and groove for over three hours – none that you could think of, anyway.
Well, I’ve found one, and not just me, but the world at large, and they found him around six years ago – or perhaps rediscovered is a better term. Charles Walker is his name, and he was there when the funk was just getting heavy, when the soul actually had soul, when it was sweaty and hot, back in the day. Now, Walker fronts The Dynamites, he’s their missing link to the music of the past, and these cats can cook, as they’ve shown the world over, particularly right here where people embrace this old style sound wrought for the NOW, as band leader and guitarist Bill Elder told me via email last month.
We’ll be seeing you guys over here again this month, which I think will be the third time in 18 months – you’ve certainly hit a chord with Australian audiences.
Elder, aka Leo Black: And vice versa. We love coming to Australia more than anywhere. It was a great feeling stepping on [stage at] the Peats Ridge Festival [in 2010] and hearing the whole audience singing ‘Do The Right Thing.’ I knew we were mates for life then.
I imagine Australia isn’t the only place which has taken to you so well – where else are people embracing your new take on these old sounds?
Europe has also been a great home away from home for us. We’ve done eight or nine trips over there since the fall of 2007, and there’s always some amazing stuff happening on those tours. Some dues-paying gigs as well, but nobody escapes that. We’re very fortunate to have audiences in all these extraordinary places that dig what we’re doing. And it certainly affects our creative output, too. We’re writing our third record right now and there’ve already been multiple instances of, “Oh they’re going to dig this in Australia!” And then we REALLY go with whatever idea it was that led to that.
The Dynamites formed back in 2006, initially for a one-off gig. Elder is a student of the funk and the soul that came out of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, and so putting a band together for a local funk/soul night was a serious exercise for him. The only thing he needed then, was a vocalist who could carry it off, who could take this on and bring it like he meant it – enter Charles Walker. That one-off night went so well, the band is still going, two albums in along with fans the world over. The funk is back.
Samuel J. Fell