Anyway, that was then and this is now. I already had my share of vibes last night with DJ Premier. The production half of the former seminal hip-hop crew Gangstarr came down to my hometown for the Love Below, a clubnight concept dedicated to soul, funk and hip-hop. He came to lecture because he did almost as much talkin’ as spinnin' records. Telling about the music he listened to, when he was a kid, and asking a word up to pay respect to the origins of hip-hop. Luckily it wasn’t all about talkin’ but he also played lots of oldskool hip-hop and funk to illustrate his point.
Talking ‘bout oldskool funk. I still had to report about Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings and The Dynamites feat. Charles Walker. It seems that Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings are the most prominent forerunners of the so-called ‘Deep Funk’ movement. This soulrevival includes acts like Breakestra, Poets of Rhythm, New Mastersounds, Butos Band, The Dynamites and The Bamboos and why not… Amy Winehouse.
I read that this renewed mainstream interest for hard edged soul and gritty funk was coined Deep Funk by British DJ Keb Darge to give a catchy overall name to the little known funk music from the ‘60s and early ‘70s he spun as well as the newer recordings derived from that sound.
Deep Funk is pretty much more roots orientated and something more raw than the funk-inspired Salsoul and cosmic disco of the late ‘70s that I’ve been posting on this blog. Or as The Dynamites' bandleader Bill Elder puts it, 'We keep it in the swamp, and away from the spaceships.'
It’s probably soul music’s inherent authenticity that’s brings it back into the limelight. Every now and then, people get fed up with the plastic fabricated stuff record companies come up with and look back for something old and familiar but nevertheless real. If Charles Walker sings about doing his ‘Own Thing’ after years of slaving for ‘The Man’, he knows what he’s talking about because both Walker and Sharon Jones paid their dues in the chitlin’ circuit and in ‘shitty’ jobs before they got a better chance and a rightful place in the spotlight.
If you want to know more about Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings and how the band came about and wind up playin’ on the Winehouse album, you can watch this short but informative MTV documentary.
If you can’t get enough of it, you can watch Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings in their studios in Brooklyn working on their last album 100 Days 100 Nights.
Sharon Jones & The Dap-kings
Natural Born Lover
How Do I Let A Good Man Down
How Long Do I Have To Wait For You
My Man Is A Mean Man
100 Days 100 Nights
Butos Band – Chicago Falcon
Some members of The Dap-Kings also play in the Afrobeat band Antibalas and this Afro-soul band called Butos Band. The keyboard player from Antibalas/Dap-Kings turns out to be the guy behind the Ticklah project.
Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators – If This Ain’t Love (Don’t Know What Is) A rerun that fitts neatly in this set
The vintage style video for one of the first singles from their new album. I Came By To See What Condition My Condition Is In.
Now, lets talk about Charles Walker for a moment. Charles "Wigg" Walker is a soul veteran, having recorded many sides in the '60s and '70s for classic labels like Decca, Champion, and Chess. On the bio section on the Dynamites site it says that…
All this, combined with his Tennessee upbringing, made Walker a natural choice to be included in the Night Train to Nashville collection. After having seen a resurgence of interest in his career thanks to inclusion on the second volume of the Night Train To Nashville collections of Nashville-based soul and R&B, Charles began performing live in the Nashville area again which brought him to the attention of a hungry young band leader looking for an authentic voice to front a new funk band project called The Dynamites. The rest is history.
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. His recordings as "Little Charles & The Sidewinders" produced a cult following on the New York club scene and even on England's Northern Soul scene and earned Charles a spot in the footnotes of soul music history.
The Dynamites feat. Charles Walker
Way Down South