The square is where … it’s at

The square is where … it’s at

Downtown program is like ‘recess’ for adults

By Justin Kreitzer

Photo: [l to r] Charles Walker and Porsche Carmon of The Charles Walker band wil perform for The Square is Where on July 12; photo credit: Artaska Roberts

The Square Is Where is a free entertainment program held at Courthouse Square, presented by the Downtown Dayton Partnership and Montgomery County. It runs every weekday during lunchtime from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. all summer long and provides an exciting way to break up the monotony of the workday, while also showcasing what downtown Dayton businesses have to offer. Some of Dayton’s beloved food vendors – Pizza Factory and JC Concessions – and food trucks – McNasty’s and Fressa – are on site offering great lunch options along with Snowie on hand to provide cool treats. In addition, fun games like cornhole and a giant mat for nearly life-sized chess and checkers are offered so you can blow off some steam and enjoy the sunshine.  It’s like recess for adults.

One of the main attractions is the live music that is offered each day with a different musical performance by a diverse variety of performers including, jazz, folk, pop and rock.

This upcoming week is Jazz Week at The Square Is Where, and it will offer a different jazz-influenced musical performance each day. Dayton’s Patricia Berg and her soothing jazz vocal style will start the week off Monday, July 8. On Tuesday, Dayton’s young jazz group The Odyssey will take spectators on a musical trip. The John Slate Organ Trio with special guest Grant Koeller will take the stage Wednesday and Dayton’s Little Giant featuring jazz composer Tim Jennens will perform Thursday. Closing out the week Friday is The Charles Walker Band, a Milwaukee-based group led by saxophonist/keyboardist Charles Walker and the soulful voice of Porsche Carmon.

In anticipation of their performance on the square, Charles Walker took the time for an interview, giving insight into the band’s influences and what to expect from their live show.

Over the course of seven albums and over nine years as a band, your sound has evolved from a more blues-oriented sound to a funk-based soulful, pop-leaning sound. 

Well, the evolution of our sound has had lots of influences. When Porsche came into the band, her background was much more soul. For me, I’ve always listened to great folks like James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye. Our latest album, Relentless, really reveals how much soul and gospel has affected me and Porsche, but most of our music gets our fans up and dancing, which is what they came to do. – Charles Walker

Who are some of your influences and who would you most like to collaborate with? 

My biggest influences are Prince, Stevie Wonder, Maceo Parker, Tower of Power, Earth Wind & Fire and Marvin Gaye. But as far as saxophone players go, I love John Coltrane, Stan Getz, Lester Young and Dexter Gordon. If I could collaborate with anyone, it would be Stevie Wonder. He knows how to write music that reaches across musical genres and touch peoples’ lives. – CW

Vocalist Porsche Carmon was born in Columbus, Ohio so this will be like a homecoming show for her. Have you ever played in Dayton? 

We have been playing in Dayton for over a year now at the Trolley Stop and one of the organizers of The Square is Where caught our show and booked us after seeing it. – CW

What can we expect from your live show?

We are a high-energy band. There’s lots of interaction between Porsche and I and the music will have folks up and dancing. We have a deep passion for our music, our performance and the crowds that come to see us and that’s evident in every moment we’re on stage. We hope you’re ready for us Dayton, because we’re ready for you! – CW

 

The Dayton City Paper also spoke with David O’Connell of The Odyssey ahead of their upcoming performance.

Who are some of your influences and who would you most like to collaborate with? 

We are all heavily influenced by the greats of the Jazz era, including Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker. Outside of traditional jazz, we all listen to a plethora of diverse styles including hip-hop, classic rock, traditional Brazilian music, progressive rock and Philip Glass. We would love to work with great artists like Robert Glasper, Frank Ocean [and] Ben Folds. We love music that progresses music. – David O’Connell

How would you describe your sound to someone who is planning to take in your show at Courthouse Square?

We have a complex sound. So, I would say it sounds like classic jazz played in the 21st century, with all of the 21st century musical and cultural influences. – DO

Do you play any original music or just jazz standards?

We tend to do a little bit of both. We have an original album, Terrapin Village, which will be for sale at our show. However we still play plenty of jazz standards. We don’t like to play jazz standards how they were played originally; we typically throw in twists and arrange them differently. – DO

What does the future hold for The Odyssey?  

We aren’t sure what is in store. We are all pretty young, and are all planning to study music in college. We’re focusing on the present, playing as much as we can and using this group to help us all collectively become better at music. – DO


For more information about The Square Is Where and a list of upcoming events, please visit downtown-dayton.org.

Reach DCP freelance writer Justin Kreitzer at JustinKreitzer@DaytonCityPaper.com.


 


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