Charles Walker Band: Neo-Funk for the Next Sunset

The Charles Walker Band brings an ever-evolving sound Thursday, July 16 to the Shryock Auditorium st
Leah Williams
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The Charles Walker Band brings an ever-evolving sound Thursday, July 16 to the Shryock Auditorium steps. The neo-funk sounds of this Milwaukee-based quintet are richly grounded in blues, yet Walker and his band dabble in the fusion of funk, rhythm and blues, and Motown.

Walker said he has been a student of music most of his life. He has played the saxophone since he was in sixth grade and continued training throughout college, participating in the prestigious University of Wisconsin Eau Claire jazz program.

The Charles Walker Band began in 2004 as a blues project. The group includes Walker on lead vocals, saxophone, and keyboards; Porsche Carmon on lead vocals and congas; Nasty Nate P. on guitar; the Sledgehammer on bass; and Melanie Means on drums.

Walker said the band has made a name for itself as a hardworking, high-energy group.

“It’s about getting out there and putting on a show, and making sure other people come out and enjoy it too,” Walker said.

Walker explained that growing up a music fan and listening to Motown and other influences has helped reshape the band as a neo-funk force.

“It has been an evolutionary process,” Walker said.

The Charles Walker Band received a Wisconsin Area Music Industry award in 2013 for Best Soul and Rhythm and Blues Act. That same year, the group’s music video— the sultry, derriere-appreciating “Soul Deep”— hit more than two-million views. The Charles Walker Band was also voted the number-one soul act in Wisconsin on Reverb Nation in 2013.

Capping off such a year was no easy feat, but the band’s eighth and latest recording, 2014’s Ghetto Prophet, is an eclectic thrill ride. The out-of-this-world horn section beckons to the dancer in us all.

In his band bio, Walker said of the EP, which was released on Ehlona Records: “‘One in a Million,’ where the title of the album comes from, tells the story we know can happen. That of the child who grows up impoverished and becomes something great. In this album, I again departed further in funk and Motown while remembering it’s 2015.”

Walker summed up his plans for the future by referencing a motto he and his bandmates see everytime they get together. It serves as a reminder of where they’ve been and where they’re going: “The Charles Walker Band is a household name loved by fifty-million people worldwide. We have been reinventing the game of soul music. We are a world-class act.”

It’s about music. It’s about reinventing soul. And it’s about gaining more fans each time they play.

“We have this saying on the wall in our practice space,” he said. “It’s kind of like our mantra as we go forward.”

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who: Charles Walker Band

what: Sunset Concerts (funk)

where: Steps of Shryock Auditorium


when: Thursday, July 16