Music » Critics' Picks

Diplomats of Solid Sound

10 p.m. Friday, October 24. The Gramophone, 4243 Manchester Avenue.



When it comes to the soul revival of the last decade, critical caveats about "purism" and "studiousness" are as useful as chopsticks at a chicken shack. Nitpicking the Dap-Kings, the Dynamites or even Amy Winehouse for emulating the gold standards of James Brown, the Funk Brothers or Martha Reeves may be fair; nitpicking, however, is never funky. From Iowa City of all places, the Diplomats of Solid Sound have tapped into the soul-power surge, first as groove instrumentalists in the tradition of the MGs and the Bar-Kays, and more recently as girl-group devotees fronted by singers Sarah Cram, Kathy Ruestow, and Abbie Sawyer (a.k.a. the Diplomettes). Expect sharp horn charts, grinding organ fills, mischievous original material and rhythms that put the smackdown on skeptics and put genuine grease to the retro griddle.