Since 1965, when he exploded onto the charts with "Shotgun," saxophonist Junior Walker has represented the epitome of hard-driving soul exuberance. Walker was born in Arkansas but developed his musical talents in the rather unlikely setting of South Bend, Indiana, in the 50s. At age 16 he was discovered in Battle Creek, Michigan, by producer Harvey Fuqua, who eventually introduced him to Berry Gordy Jr. of Motown. Walker's music on the Motown Soul label--"(I'm a) Road Runner," "Hip City-Pt. 2," "Shoot Your Shot," among many others--provided a welcome counterpoint to the increasingly slick Motown output of the era. Walker's sound is little changed since the old days: it's still a fatback rhythm section buttressed by chunky guitar, with Walker's wailing sax and greasy, supple vocals out in front. Something of the uninhibited joy of a 60s-era soul celebration--when uplift was the order of the day and the camaraderie still mattered more than the clothes--is re-created every time this giant of soul music takes the stage. Tonight, B.L.U.E.S. Etcetera, 1124 W. Belmont; 525-8989.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Paul Natkin--Photo Reserve.