A retro-funk show brings life to quiet Thursday morning
By Jordan Rowan
At 10:30 a.m. Thursday morning, the chatter of the Student Center was replaced by the Charles Walker Band from Milwaukee. As a part of the Coffee House Series, they brought their brand of funk and retro-R&B to the students of ARCC.
The band consists of Charles Walker on keys, saxophone and vocals, Porsche on vocals and bongos, Bryan Kennedy on bass guitar, Josh McHatten on drums, Nate Pflughoeft on guitar, and Jane Joyce on backup vocals.
The show started with a wailing guitar solo by Pflughoeft. The band was loose at first and the mic wasn’t turned up enough. As time went on they started to find the groove and the mic got proper volume, but they didn’t stray much further from the 70s funk artists they have been inspired by.
After the show, Walker said that his major influences are Prince, Sly & the Family Stone, and James Brown, but their sound was more of Earth, Wind, and Fire, yet less inspired.
Most of the set was originals from the band which, for the most part, move along the same beat. The clear highlight of the set was the Walker penned “Keep Takin.” Walker finally took vocal duties and the beat felt more soulful. Walker’s saxophone playing was incredible. His solo included him strolling through the crowd, sitting next to a student, and basically posing for pictures while he wowed the entire crowd.
Unfortunately, what surrounded it was generic funk music and an offbeat cover of “Call Me Maybe” where the song’s infectious hook was lost. The crowd only displayed interest when the playing was truly great, which meant Walker had to play the saxophone.
The entire show’s clear highlight was Walker’s saxophone. He said his major sax influence is a member of James Brown’s band named Maceo Parker, but there was more of John Coltrane and Bobby Keys in his playing. Walker could make a living just playing that saxophone.
After the show, Walker discussed his musical influences and thoughts on performing.
“When somebody does what they love and it’s how you feel, like this is what I’m supposed to be doing right now, there’s not another place I’d rather be,” said Walker.
The saxophone wasn’t his first love. When he was in 5th grade, what he really wanted to learn was the trombone.
“I had to take music, which was basically just singing. At the end of the year, they marched in different instruments. The 7th or 8th graders would come in with a flute, with a saxophone, with a trombone. And when the trombone player came in, I remember him playing and I was like ‘I want to play that, I want to play trombone.’ I wanted to play it so bad,” said Walker.
Following the advice of his band teacher, Walker reluctantly ended up picking up the saxophone. Because of that band teacher so many years ago, ARCC now got the chance to listen to Charles Walker serenade the morning with his trusted sax.