|Photo by Anita Schlank|
That last one is always important to me…
The night of August 1st, they had in one of my favorite bands, The Charles Walker Band from Milwaukee. The band started out as a blues band, but over the years they have morphed into a soul and funk band primarily, but as they proved on a couple of occasions during their portion of the show, they could play the blues with the best of them. Those two songs, an original called Keep Takin’ and a cover of Robert Johnson’s Blues In My Passway, both rocked the house – and while few purists would have recognized or condoned their funky version of Johnson’s classic – the audience loved it, and that’s the true test of a band.
I caught the CWB sometime back when they played The Tin Pan for the first time. It was an intimate audience with maybe 20 people in attendance. In fact, I understand that it was a very strong possibility that the show would be canceled. Fortunately, the management decided to go on with the show despite the small crowd, and the band pulled out everything they had and played like they were in front of 20,000 rather than 20.
I appreciated that. They gave their all, and I was so impressed that I talked them up to just about every person I saw. Got thrown off a couple of buses for talking to people, but that’s life.
The CWB is a trio, with a drummer, a lead singer who is also an occasional bass player and percussionist, and a keyboard artist, saxophone wizard, and singer. Together these three people make the sound of a dozen and they keep the high energy going from the first note to the last.
Walker holds down the keys and while he is no slouch on them, he’s an amazing sax player who has an insane ability to work a crowd into a frenzy as he moves around the stage sharing his skills with every portion of the audience. He just might work his way into the audience and serenade some of the more enthusiastic patrons.
Porsche Carmon handles most of the lead vocals, plays a little bass, and even turns in some good congas on When Doves Cry. She is a wonderful performer who could light up a city with her smile and she seems to be constantly connecting with members of the audience.
Emmanuel Folkes is the drummer and he handles funk and soul with ease. He delivered a killer drum solo during Stones In My Passway that I know Robert Johnson didn’t include in the original.
Opening the show was the Richmond-based soul jazz band, The Analogue Republic. Fronted by Gary Titi on guitar, the other members of this tight trio are Jeff Westervelt on bass and Kevin Gaines on drums. They ripped through about a dozen songs including a wild version of The Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction. I have been away from the local jazz scene for far too long – I enjoyed their set very much and found myself getting lost in their music.
The Analogue Republic was a great fit for the sounds of The Charles Walker Band. Whoever put together this double feature did a great job.
Even after four appearances in Richmond, the CWB is still building an audience. I know they made a few fans tonight at the Tin Pan and hopefully when they return, there will be more people in attendance. Maybe a line of people out the door and snaking through the parking lot.
THAT would be fitting for the hardest working band in show biz…