Thursday, November 17, 2016

Charles Walker Band Showcases Ghetto Prophet and Comes To Town

Did you ever have one of those jobs to do that you were actually looking forward to doing, but everything kept creeping into your way making it impossible to get the job done? That’s what’s been happening around here for the past several weeks.
A favorite rhythm and blues act, The Charles Walker Band, was heading to the area for only their second appearance and I wanted to write up an article about how good they were and review their last couple of releases, but every time I sat down to write, it just didn’t happen. So, like most of the term papers I wrote as an undergrad, I’m finally getting started at 2 a.m. the day that it’s due.
Sorry about that Charles Walker fans. Not to mention The Tin Pan that will be host to the group in just a few short hours.
The most recent release that I’ve been able to obtain is their 2014 EP, GHETTO PROPHET.  The five-song disc features four originals and a funky cover of Carly Jepson’s big hit Call Me Maybe. I’m not sure what the original decision process was in picking that number, but it did go a long way to show that a top band can mold almost any song to their style and breathe new life into it.
For this project, The Charles Walker Band is made up of a very tight quartet. Walker himself triples on keys, organ, and tenor saxophone; Porsche Carmon handles the lead and background vocals; Luther Tate plays bass; and Emmanuel Folkes plays drums and chimes. They had a little help from friends: Don Kennedy on guitar; Jeremiah Osei on clavinet and synth; and Ryan Shedimeyer on percussion.
The album kicks off with some high-energy funk and Carmon’s vocals. Can I Hide Love is one of those songs that makes it difficult to sit in your seat instead of getting up and moving on the dance floor. Walker delivers one of his trademark sax breaks and the song gets everything off to a great start.
Just when you think the band is going to slow things down with Got Me Sangin, they kick the tempo back up. So far the first couple of songs have a solid retro feel with dance grooves layered with a rhythm and blues approach. It’s also evident that this is a band that really needs an audience to reach its fullest potential.
One In A Million continues in that vein with some strong drum work laying down the backbone for Walker’s keys. Carmon has a great voice. Walker’s keys take on almost a new wave feel and Tate’s bass mixes well with Folkes’ drums to lay down a great foundation.
The band actually does slow things down for some old school soul on Blind Woman See. This is the portion of the album where you dream of holding that special someone just a little closer and stare into their eyes. It’s a beautiful song and one that is guaranteed to make you feel a little more in love than you were before.
Call Me Maybe just might be considered a strange song to include on the album, but Carmon’s sharp vocals and the retro feel the band provides makes it a completely different song. This is not just the pop hit that was on every Top 40 radio for month, it’s almost a complete reimagining of the tune.
The one drawback I see to Ghetto Prophet is that just when it really has you hooked, it stops. It’s just too short for a tight band such as this. I have to wonder what more the band might have had up it’s collective sleeve, but maybe a live appearance will answer that question.
I couldn’t begin to tell you what The Charles Walker Band has planned for their appearance at The Tin Pan. Recently, on Time For The Blues, we sampled a few songs not only from Ghetto Prophet but from their 2007 release The World And Things. I really enjoy their sound a lot – I’m a big fan of any kind of music with a deep soul and the two albums I’ve been fortunate enough to sample prove that they have an ample supply of soul from which to draw.

For more information, be sure to check out their website at http://www.walkerband.com/. And if you come to the show at the Tin Pan on November 17, be sure to stop by and say hi. I’ll be there with a passel of friends and there’s always room for one more!

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