It’s Radical, baby

Bands are a rarity in today’s urban music scene, unless perhaps in the studio or on an award show. But Kelsy Davis and the Radical Soul — a five-piece band that has played Apache Cafe, Vinyl and other local spots — has been rolling along for over two years now. Fronted by keyboardist/vocalist Davis, the band takes pride in its eclectic sound. “It’s soul music, but its music and message has an edge to it,” explains Davis. “We can be kind of heavy sometimes so we just call it ‘radical soul,’ a mixture of soul, funk, some rock ‘n’ roll [and] blues.”

Group members hail from as wide a range as the sound sources. Davis, who has deep South Carolina roots, is from Atlanta; bass player Trey Gilbert claims Decatur and Atlanta; it’s Florida for guitarist Steve Lewis; Detroit for organist Anthony Perry; and Oakland for drummer Nick Williams. “It helps because each region, each city has its own sound,” says Williams, “So it’s like a melting pot that ended up in Atlanta.”

While the other members occasionally change on certain gigs, Davis and Williams, who met almost 10 years ago, are constants. “We’re like a two-man team,” says Williams, who is a former member of Sirius B, a group of musicians from Morehouse College who served as the early band for both India.Arie and Donnie.

For the group’s many popular compositions, Davis, whose voice resembles that of a backwoods, Southern preacher, has written the lyrics, and Williams, the music. Songs that have caught fire live include the rock-tinged “Rock the Machine” and “Medicine,” a hard-style love song akin to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.” The band would rather lead by following its muse than muse over what limitations to follow.

Kelsy Davis and the Radical Soul plays the National Black Arts Festival’s Underground Atlanta main stage Sat., July 17, noon.