By Erin J. Walter
Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 11, 2013
All around the park, bigger bands brought space-age light shows and teeth-rattling bass booms. But no one, I mean no one, brought the party today like hard-touring soul outfit The Dynamites & Charles Walker. On a small stage and up against the formidable likes of Vampire Weekend, Arctic Monkeys, and Wild Belle, the six-piece turned every single one of its focused listeners into a hip-shakin’, knee-wobblin’ old-school dance machine.
The throw-down started with just a few enthusiastic folks up front but gradually swelled to a mass of several hundred writhing, jerking, grooving bodies—young and old, all with grins of their faces. By the time the sun went down on The Dynamites’ 6:30 set, Walker’s blues bellow and occasionally staccato yelp had complete command of the crowd.
"Listen!" Walker sang with force. "You told me I’m the one. You told me it’s all right. You told me everything is out of sight." Murmurs of agreement wafted among the dancers, as though the song were written to describe the show itself.
Not unlike longtime friend Bettye LaVette, Charles Walker has a way of making his lyrics seem simultaneously classic and of the here-and-now—lines like, "I just wanna know the reason, baby, why you’re trying to find some tragedy," and "If I ever hurt you, you know I’ve hurt myself."
More than ably backed by The Dynamites on guitar, bass, drums, trumpet, and trombone, the white-shirted Walker was able to focus on his contagious moves, bending at the knees, gesturing to the crowd (many of whom were a fraction of his age), and instructing everyone repeatedly to "funk that party down."
And funk it down they did. As the band left the stage, the audience got props from The Dynamites, who have been across the world with Walker several times over in recent years. "Good job, y’all!" the guitarist called. "Y’all sing along better than Spain!"
The Dynamites & Charles Walker, ever tireless in their quest to "make the world a funkier place," are scheduled to play twice more in Austin in the next 24 hours: Hotel Vegas shortly before midnight tonight and Continental Club tomorrow night.