Funk Fest Charlotte 2017
Funk Fest Charlotte 2017
Photos by: Nathan Leslie and Jimmy Warsham
The Summer may be moving towards a close, but the festival season is still in full force. Going strong after 20 years, Funk Fest brought their next leg of the tour to Charlotte this weekend. Their motto on their website rings true: “Good Music. Good People. Good Times.” This show certainly lived up to their promise. The lineup representing in Charlotte was Eryka Badu, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Bobby Brown, Doug E. Fresh, Goodie Mob, and Jagged Edge.
We also got the pleasure of some local talent as well as some of the best DJs around keeping the crowd hyped during the transitions of the artists. My main man DJ Dr. Doom kicked off the day spinning some Old School hits as the crowd made their way into the venue. Dr. Doom kept the crowd going all night. He also shared the stage with DJ SNS and Traci Steele who get their shot in the turntables.
Some of our local urban/pop divas got a chance to show off their stuff as well. Dressed all in white, WEAREV4 rocked the house with one of their songs and ground-shaking dance moves.
“Janelle Gee,” “DK,” and “K.Riss” represented the ladies in the absence of one of their members, Frenchiee. I had a chance to see the ladies last year at the Break Dancing Convention in Uptown Charlotte. Sexy and talented, these women bring it every time I have seen them perform. Volume 4 has become a staple of the Charlotte music scene.
Since the late 90s, Jagged Edge has been bringing hits to their fans. As soon as the guys hit the stage, the ladies in the crowd got on their feet and started grooving. Smooth and stylish, the guys alternate harmonies with their lead vocals. It was obvious that everyone was feeling their groove.
As Jagged Edge made their way off stage, the crowd was getting ready for another of Atlanta’s finest to hit the stage, Goodie Mob, the original “Dirty South” crew. As the guys came out, the crowd went nuts when Cee-lo emerged from the side. The guys played 40 minutes of all their hits.
Later, the group came out and sat in the seats and watched Bobby Brown perform and took some selfies with the fans. Needless to say, there was big crowd around them. I am sure the security staff wasn’t too excited about that, but it was all in good fun.
Up next was a man who needs no introduction. The Dick Clark of Hip Hop. The World’s Greatest Entertainer. The Human Beat Box. Doug E. Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew were in the house. Rolling with Chill Will and Barry B after all these years, Doug E.and Crew can still get the crowd going just like they did back in the 80s. As some of the originators of Hip Hop, it was amazing to see these guys perform.
Without these innovators, there may have never been a movement of Hip Hop artists that followed. They paved the way for everyone that came after them. Doug E. moved along the edge of the stage, side to side, as close as he could to the crowd without getting off the stage, always maintaining eye contact with the crowd. A man of smiles, he took everyone back with some old school tv show theme songs.
That took me back to my youth as well. I can still remember sitting down and watching shows like The Jeffersons and singing along with the theme song. Everyone in the crowd was the same way, and they sang in unison. That was a fun and nostalgic moment for everyone there, and of course, we got to see the amazing beatbox pioneer do his thing.
Don’t Be Cruel was one of my favorite albums from front to back. I think I listened to the cassette (hopefully some of you know what that is) until I wore the tape out. Bobby emerged with the same swagger he had back in 1998. Boston cap sitting high on his head, glasses slipping down on the bridge of his nose, he eyed the crowd, and gave them that new jack smirk. He sang some of the old favorites, “Don’t Be Cruel,” “On Our Own,” Every Little Step,” and “Good Enough.”
I still remember the rap breakdown in “Don’t Be Cruel,” and I haven’t heard the song in who knows how many years. In a weird moment, Bobby asked the crowd if they wanted him to leave. It sounded like they were screaming yes, but surely they were mistaken. He said fine and said I’ll leave and headed off the stage. Soon enough, he spun around and came back to finish the set.
I’m not sure what happened there, but it was odd for sure. Bobby doesn’t move as well as he once did, but he is still the King of the Stage.
You know when they name a stretch of highway after you, you must be someone special. Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds not only has a road named after him, but he also has been nominated or won about every award that is out there.
Seeing him perform live, it is no wonder why as he gave us a taste of his silky smooth vocals and heartfelt lyrics. He came out to “The Cool in You,” and slid into “Every Time I Think of You” and “Whip Appeal.”
The highlight of the evening was when Babyface played a medley of some of the songs he had worked on over the years with various artists.
“Rock Steady,” Can’t Stop,” “Two Occasion,” and a special set with Bobby Brown, who came back on stage to do a duet on “Don’t Be Cruel,” Rock Wit Ya,” Every Little Step,” and “Tenderoni.”
He ended the show by running down the ramp into the crowd. He made his way all the way around the seated area running through the seats and shaking as many hands as he could. A random guy came up to me and said, “Babyface is amazing.” Very cool way to end his set.
It took about an hour to change out the stage between Babyface and Eryka Badu’s set. She got on about 10:35 and came onstage clad in a big black hat adorned with a gold pyramid-ish looking attachment on top. Eryka has very intense eyes, wild at times, hypnotic at others.
It is hard to take your eyes off her. She did finally encourage the people in the front row to get up and stand by the stage.
She said it was bothering her with no one standing down there. I wasn’t sure how long she was going to be able to play since it was a late start, but she kept playing until about 11:30. The house light came up about 11:15, and she kept going. She finished off her song at 11:30 and turned and walked off stage.
I guess if we went any longer, there would fines and things to deal with. The crowd was left wanting more. As we walked out I could hear everyone talking about wanting her to keep playing.
Saturday was a hot summer day, not only because of the temperature but from the show that the promoters put on. They did an amazing job in a very complex set of many moving parts. Moving people and gear on and off stage. Getting the sound to work. Were there a few glitches? Yes. Did it impact the people who came? No. One of Charlotte’s rising pop artists, Sheri B. was down front during the show. I asked her how she felt about the day. She said, “The show was amazing, the crowd was phenomenal, and I got to see my favorite childhood group, Jagged Edge.” She was right, everyone did a great job, and everyone in attendance loved the show.
See full gallery of Funkfest 2017 by Jimmy Warsham
See full gallery of Funkfest 2017 by Natahan Leslie (NSL Media)