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“I’m really what you call a soul singer,” says Charles Walker. He might as well add “well-traveled” to that description: Walker got his recording start with Ted Jarrett in Nashville (Charles Walker & the Daffodils’ “No Fool No More” can be found on Volume 2 of the Music City R&B set Night Train to Nashville) before moving to New York. Walker eventually relocated, living in England and Spain for the late ’80s and early ’90s.
He returned to Nashville a dozen years ago and has stayed put ever since, but he still has plenty of trans-Atlantic connections: British label Zane released his most recent album, Number by Heart. And while it has a Reading address, it has a Muscle Shoals heart. Bookended by the tormented, self-penned title track and an appropriately down-and-almost-out reading of the Penn-Oldham classic “It Tears Me Up,” Number by Heart was a ’60s Southern soul record that just happened to be recorded in 2003.
The Dynamites, on the other hand, are really what you call a funk band. When Dynamites founder Bill Elder (aka Leo Black) was trying to get a horn-heavy, Famous Flames-styled group together, he was looking for that something extra out in front. It turned out that a well-traveled soul singer was what he was after. Kaboom!, credited to “The Dynamites featuring Charles Walker,” is all about what happens when an eight-piece funk juggernaut meets a commanding soul singer: Frenzied workouts alternate with soul ballads, offering something of a breathless rollercoaster.
“They play deep funk, which goes back to the era of Lee Dorsey and all those guys, while Number by Heart is like ’60s and ’70s soul from Memphis or one of those places,” says Walker. “With the Dynamites, I put the soul into it, and I let the band put the funk into it.”
The Dynamites featuring Charles Walker will be at Hideaway BBQ Thursday, Aug. 30. The music starts at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door.