Amid all the hubbub over Amy Winehouse – and, to a lesser extent, the critical praise being showered on Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and Bettye LaVette – another terrific old-school R&B act has been a little overshadowed. I’m talking about the Dynamites, a young Nashville band playing behind a veteran soul-music frontman, Charles Walker. Billing their collaboration with the somewhat awkward group name The Dynamites Featuring Charles Walker, they released a really fun and funky record last year called Ka-Boom! I keep on comparing it to James Brown, just because it’s the easiest point of reference.
I missed a couple of Dynamites shows in Chicago last year, but was happy to make up for it with Saturday’s concert at Schubas. The opening act was the Soul Reys, who lived up to their name with groovy, guitar-driven instrumental soul. The Dynamites opened their set with a couple of instrumental songs, too, but then Walker, wearing a dapper suit, came up, and the stage belonged to him for the rest of the night. Walker can squeeze out those hoarse funky notes through his vocal cords like James Brown, but he also wowed everyone with a few of the night’s more delicate moments. Singing “Deeper, deeper, deeper,” his voice went higher into a beautiful falsetto, and as tight as the Dynamites sounded, Walker could have pulled off that moment a cappella. The Dynamites know how to groove, and a lot of the people in the crowd spent a good portion of the night dancing.