Chattanooga Now Tribute to 'The Genius'

Chattanooga Now Tribute to 'The Genius'

November 7th, 2013 by Barry Courter in Chattnow Music


* What: Soul Spectacular Tour: Karl Denson's Tiny Universe

presents a Ray Charles Boogaloo Dance Party

* When: 8 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 10

* Where: Track 29, 1400 Market St.

* Tickets: $15 in advance, $17 at the door

18 and over, ID required

* Phone: 423-521-2929

* Website:

Genius gets thrown around a lot when it comes to music, but only one guy is known as "The Genius" as opposed to "a genius."

Saxophonist Karl Denson has wanted to pay homage to "The Genius," Ray Charles, for many years, but didn't think he could handle the vocal part of the performance. Then he heard Zach Deputy do a couple of Charles' classics at a show in San Francisco and found out Deputy also was a big fan. Things started to fall into place.

A show was put together and tour dates were set and Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, along with special guests Zach Deputy & The Cosmic Horns, will present "A Ray Charles Boogaloo Dance Party" Sunday, Nov. 10, at Track 29. Denson said in a telephone interview that the show will consist of eight or 10 Tiny Universe numbers and a second set of Charles dance numbers and "a special treat."

"You've got to hear Zach play guitar. He's amazing."

For those unfamiliar with Deputy, he is of Puerto Rican, Irish, African, British, French and Cherokee heritage and he describes his music as "island-infused drum'n'bass gospel ninja soul."

Denson is known to local music fans for his shows here with Tiny Universe. Prior to that he toured with Lenny Kravitz and was a founder of The Greyboy Allstars. He is also a member of the dub rockers Slightly Stoopid.

Once it was decided to do the Charles tribute, Denson said he was a little intimidated, mostly because everyone he told about it perceived The Genius' music to be a little on the slow side, which is antithetical to Tiny Universe's dance persona.

"I went through his material and found stuff that was dancey," Denson said.

He also found a version of "Ring of Fire," the Johnny Cash classic, that he said was his biggest surprise of his hunt.

"We do a few other things like 'Busted' but his version of 'Ring of Fire' is super funky."

Denson said learning the songs weren't too much of a challenge because of their simplicity, which is part of their genius.

Charles earned his nickname for always seeming to know exactly what a song needed, and often it might be a simple moan, or a grunt, or single piano note.

"It doesn't always have to be complex," he said. "Sometimes, especially in pop music, the good stuff is very simple."

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfree or 423-757-6354.