by Ryan Snyder

Upcoming shows you should check out


There’s no surer sign that warm weather has arrived in the Piedmont than Tax Day, but after Tax Day the surest sign is the opening day of the spring Shakori Hill Grassroots Festival, starting this Thursday and running through Sunday. Possibly the best thing about this low-key shindig is its accessibility; preparations, entry, navigation and exiting are not the taxing ordeals that they are with larger festivals. It’s an hour from the Triad, an easy (and beautiful) drive, parking is cheap and the stages aren’t football fields apart. Oh, and the music! There are typically a handful of large-ish draws, rounded out by a handful of imaginative national and local undercard picks whose multiple sets provide deeper understanding into who they are as a band while giving the festival itself opportunities for unique programming. Case in point: Durham-based jazz/hip-hop outfit the Beast, whose Friday night closing set on the main stage will give a look at the big band they brought to Duke University’s Music in the Garden Series last year. That string- and horn-supplemented arrangement lends incredible depth to their Dead Prez-meets-Digable Planets oeuvre, but their Sunday set with Latin jazz chanteuse Yomira John will completely rearrange that dynamic. Certainly, festival staples Donna the Buffalo are pacesetters in that regard, with two sets alongside zydeco master Preston Frank, solo sets by Tara and Jeb, and a grand finale with Greg Humphreys and Friends, but once in a while it’s the one-offs that make it most worth the trip for a night. This year, legendary Zimbabwean singer Oliver Mtukudzi’s Saturday night set with his band the Black Spirits is worth the trip alone, his nearly 40-year recording career propelled by his mastery of African folk guitar styles and his gorgeous, raspy baritone voice. On the rare occasion that Shakori gets a little weird, it goes full hog with a band like D&D Sluggers, whose brand of 8-bit garage pop is worthy as much for the awesomely nostalgic references they couch in their infectious hooks as much as the strange groove every track is painted with. Four-day passes are available at the gate for $110, along with single-day passes for each day.


Every office has one: that person who comes in one day and won’t stop talking about this hilarious kid they saw reenacting a Star Wars fight scene on Tom Bergeron’s “America’s Funniest Home Videos” — in 2013. Never mind the video has been viewed by everyone with an internet connection since 2002, parodied in popular culture ad nauseum and pretty much necessitated the definition for the term “viral video.” That same person also really likes KC & the Sunshine Band. That’s not to say that Star Wars Kid is still not worth a chuckle, or that one cannot shake the titular booty to Harry Wayne Casey, it’s just that time-plus-use wears out the novelty for all but the most undiscerning. Casey undeniably was the author of a sound that defined pop music in the late ’70s, but there was a good reason that popular culture spent most of the ’90s trying to disown it. KC & the Sunshine Band will perform at the Carolina Theatre on Thursday for their second annual Command Performance, with tickets available for $75 for the concert only, $150 for the cocktail party package, and $250 for the dinner gala plus concert, and the show starts at 8:30 p.m.