Most Memphians don't think of Nashville as having a booming soul scene, but as the group Charles Walker & the Dynamites attest, the town's legacy is more than just twangy country tunes.
"The history of Memphis soul music is a big deal to the band, and we've looked at Memphis from the get-go as a second market," says Doyle Davis, owner of Nashville record store Grimey's and an ardent supporter of the Dynamites.
This Friday, June 29th, the group will roll into The Hi-Tone Café for a release party for Kaboom!, their debut album, released on Outta Sight Records, which is co-owned by Davis and the Dynamites' founder/guitarist Bill Elder, aka Leo Black.
"We had to get the CD out for Bonnaroo," Davis says, noting that the Dynamites played the East Tennessee music festival on June 16th:
"It was awesome. The Dynamites were on one of the small stages, but they packed in over 1,000 people. There were kids up front dancing up a storm and screaming, 'Who are you?' Charles kept screaming back, 'I'm Charles Walker, and these are the Dynamites!' It was the most enthusiastic crowd we've ever had, and the band ended up throwing away their set lists, because Charles took it and ran."
Kaboom! features 10 show-stopping, James Brown-styled funk numbers, ranging from the propulsive "Body Snatcher" to the deep groove "Killin' It." The album has already garnered a distribution deal for Outta Sight with RED, which has placed it in mom-and-pop record stores and at national chains such as Barnes & Noble and Borders and online stores such as Amazon, iTunes, and Miles of Music.
"We pressed 5,000 copies to start with, which is our break-even point," Davis explains. "We put this record out with the hopes that we can make some money and put it back into the label. Daptone (the Brooklyn-based label that's home to Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings) has been a huge inspiration for us. We see ourselves as the Southeastern complement to what they're doing."
Locally, the explosive Kaboom! is available at several stores, or you can pick up a copy at the Hi-Tone on Friday night. Memphis DJs Buck Wilders and The Hook-Up will open the show, which costs $8 in advance or $10 at the door. For more information, go to www.MySpace.com/TheDynamitesBand.
"You have to use your imagination to tap into what really went on, and that's what I like about rock-and-roll."
So says local filmmaker John Michael McCarthy, best known for films such as Teenage Tupelo, E*vis Meets the Beat*les, and The Sore Losers.
This summer marks the 30th anniversary of Elvis' death, but right now, all McCarthy can talk about is David Bowie.
"I'm looking for anybody who has stories about Bowie in Memphis," McCarthy says. "His second Ziggy Stardust show in America took place at Ellis Auditorium in September 1972. The next year, he did Aladdin Sane at the Coliseum. And back in '72, he visited Dolph Smith at the Memphis College of Art and bought some work from him.
McCarthy's new Bowie-esque band, Fingers Like Saturn, will make its debut at The Madison Flame on Friday, June 29th, with openers The Limes and Sector Zero.
Although most people on the Midtown scene know McCarthy primarily as a filmmaker, the Tupelo native made his local debut 23 years ago as a guitarist in the punk group Distemper.
"I'm just lucky that all of these talented people help me with my crazy ideas," he says of Fingers Like Saturn, which features Jonathan Wires, Susie Hendrix, Jonathan Kirkscey, Steve Selvidge, Cori Dials, and George Takaeda, McCarthy's former musical partner in Distemper and its follow-up, The Rockroaches.
"When I saw Cori sing in her group The Splints and talked with George, whom I haven't played with in 15 years, it was like the planets lined up," McCarthy says.
Playing the Madison Flame, site of the old Antenna club, also makes sense, he says, citing the 1986 date when Distemper played the club's first all-ages show and the numerous gigs that the Rockroaches performed there.
"My new songs," McCarthy says, "are like short stories. They're tightly structured glam pop songs about the South in a 'what if Bowie came from Mississippi?' kind of way.
"I think it's interesting that with most bands in town, there's no front person. I don't want to be the front person myself. I like being behind the scenes or to a little left of the scene. Cori has the charisma to do it: She doesn't just sing songs. She invades space."
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