by Ryan Snyder


Upcoming shows you should check out

THE END IS HERE FOR THE WAR MEMORIAL AUDITORIUMThe War Memorial Auditorium acquired a rather lackluster rep over the past few years, though not entirely for the wrong reasons. It’s easy to look past its drab, dated interior when the house lights are down, but its lack of amenities and character severely handcuff it in comparisons to regional rivals like the DPAC. Its floors are perpetually sticky because there are no cup holders, and you’ll get a bigger seat with a coach airline ticket. What it doesn’t lack, however, is history. The 55-year-old, 2460-capacity room has seen a lot. Johnny Cash played there around the release of Everybody Loves A Nut. David Bowie played it on the Diamond Dogs tour. The Rolling Stones stopped in on the Some Girls tour. It’s had James Brown and Ray Charles in their twilight, Erykah Badu slayed a crowd there late last year with Thundercat on bass, and Steely Dan and Crosby, Stills & Nash both played to near-sellouts in the past month. There are countless memories in its pages but this Friday, the book will close on the War Memorial as demolition plans will commence in October, but not before one funky farewell.

In a strange of fate, the War Memorial’s swan song will be sung by a group who got its start at nearly the exact same time. Not many acts can sing an R&B ballad like the O’Jays, and even fewer with as many years under their belts can bust a move like them either. Though they already had a handful of hits under their belt by the time disco rolled around, that era was where their bread was buttered, and naturally they still move like the band that bridged soul and disco should. Live, most of their material is drawn from So Full of Love, Identify Yourself, Family Reunion and Survival “” albums representing the reborn band’s commercial “” but they deliver it backed by a superlative 12-piece band, Eddie Levert’s voice the closest approximation to Cedric the Entertainer’s cussin’ preacher and Walter Williams the booming low end. If it has to go, the O’Jays aren’t a bad choice to sing it out. Tickets start at $45 and singer/songwriter Calvin Richardson will open.


Through his first five albums, Alamance County native and classically trained cellist-turned-guitarist Seth Walker has shown himself to be something of a rootsmusic chameleon.

After he moved to Austin, Texas 15 years ago to find his artistic niche, he developed the kind of style that prompted effusive praise from the likes of Delbert McClinton.

Since his debut almost 15 years ago Walker has dabbled in everything from hot blues and swing on 2009’s Leap of Faith to gritty, Southern soul on 2012’s Time Can Change. His brand new eighth record, Sky Still Blue, gets the numinous touch of the Wood Brothers, with production by Oliver

Wood and guest spots from multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix. In the end, it’s his leanest record to date, which is also perfectly in line with Walker’s take on the blues. He’s definitely a postmodernist; he eschews overworked flurries of contemporary blues in favor of the rustic, biting approach of old cats like Pee Wee Crayton or Freddie King, which he’ll bring to the Garage this Saturday night. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.


It’s been 13 years since Outkast performed in North Carolina and up until this year, it had also been about that long since anyone had seen Outkast on stage anywhere. In two weekends, that streak comes to an end with hip-hop’s greatest duo headlining Funk Fest in Charlotte, but after that, it’s entirely possible that an even longer one begins. From 2001 until the Coachella 2014 reunion, the idea of Andre “Andre 3000″ Benjamin and Antwan “Big Boi” Patton sharing a stage was a fantasy that over time, practically became myth. They were the narrators of the southern condition in 1998 and by 2008, they were the two guys with the best verses on the UGK video for “International Players Anthem”. Big Boi started making great Dirty South hip-hop with the Purple Ribbon All-Stars and okay pop rap as a solo artist, while Andre 3000 more or less became a hermit, only making the occasional guest appearance in weird spots, like that Devin the Dude track in 2007.

The fervor over their reunion, celebrating 20 years, was quickly doused by the cold water of reality, however, as the Coachella reunion was marked by an uneven performance and a crowd too young to really be nostalgic for the unforgiving, five-star brilliance of Aquemini. Though none were nearly as high profile as that first one back as headliners at Coachella, the gist was that Outkast’s shows got markedly better each time out, despite something persistently off about Andre’s body language. He hasn’t exactly been subtle about his personal reasons for the ever-expanding reunion tour. His stage attire has been a black jumpsuit with an everchanging message across the chest “” “Everything is temporary”, “Art or fart?”, etc. “” and a big red price tag that reads $old. Then, just this past week, a Jon Caramanica profile of Andre in the New York Times focused on his general state of restlessness “” the desire to just do something else. So when Outkast headlines Funk Fest at Charlotte’s Metrolina Expo this Friday night, there’s a good chance it will be a long, long time until the mercurial Three Stacks is in the mood to relive the past again.

Looking beyond the huge draw of Outkast, the Charlotte stop of the nomadic Funk Fest, which actually had a hold on the White Oak last summer but never consummated, offers so much more. It’s stacked with classic hip-hop, R&B and, of course, funk, calling itself a celebration of old school culture, which itself wears a variety of masks. Winston-Salem-born rapper B.O.B (a fitting precursor to ‘kast as there ever was) is the act most rooted in the present day, but Funk Fest’s strength is its balance of lighter faire on Friday, like skate party jams of Doug E. Fresh & the Get Fresh Crew and the Jay and Silent Bob-approved Morris Day & the Time, and the sheer righteous fury of Saturday’s lineup. LL Cool J has moved on from that Brad Paisley mistake and has a dynamite set with the incredible DJ Z-trip; Ice Cube is as OG as West Coast hip-hop gets; the Roots need no qualification; and Salt-N-Pepa are the best-selling female rap duo of all time. Funk Fest kicks off Friday, September 12 at 4 p.m., and tickets are $65 per day or $100 for the weekend. !