KWC Student and Band Bring New Sound to Local Scene

Funkystra will perform at 9 p.m. on April 12 at the Miller House.

Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013 12:00 am

By Angela Oliver Messenger-Inquirer Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer

Kris Eans' face reddened and his cheeks swelled and he blew the trumpet part of Miles Davis' "All Blues" Wednesday night.

He was rehearsing with the other members of Funkystra. Though the band is just more than a month old, it has begun to make its way onto the Owensboro music scene.

"From the first beat, we gelled right away," said Eans of the group's first rehearsal together in mid-February.

Their first show as a group was early in March at a celebration at the Miller House.

"We walked in thinking of being conservative, but we decided to hit it pretty hard, do something different," Eans said. "The crowd seemed to enjoy us, so we're glad we stuck to what we love."

The band has since been added to the Miller House's live music rotation. They will also perform on the courtyard stage at Friday After 5 on June 21. They are also scheduled for the courtyard later in the summer, though the date is tentative, Eans said.

Funkystra will return to the Miller House from 9 p.m. to midnight on April 12. They will perform in the Spirits Lounge on the bottom level. It is at 301 E. Fifth St. There is no cover charge.

Eans, an Owensboro native, recently moved back to the city after years of solo and group musical careers, most recently in Louisville. He also performed in clubs and on cruise ships. He headed the forming of the band in January.

Like him, drummer Chasen Little also moved back recently after years working with gospel, pop and other artists from Nashville to Houston.

Brad Hammack, the bass guitarist from Madisonville, and Jeremy Stephens, the keyboardist, have known each other for about 15 years. They both studied music at Murray State University and went on to teach music on all grade levels, amid professional performances.

"We have different experiences, but our chemistry is great because we love the same styles of music," Stephens said. "They're competency level is higher than anyone I've ever played with so I really respect these guys."

In a rock-, bluegrass- and country-heavy market, the men decided to focus on a blend of genres not common among local bands.

Their renditions blend funk, blues, jazz, soul and rhythm and blues with a tinge of gospel, thanks to Little's background in church.

"We went for a new flavor," Eans said. "It's very groove-oriented."

The men are also a part of the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra's 2nd St. Band, of which Eans recently became director.

They will continue to play with the band and will also serve as a chamber band.

"In discussions Kris and I had months ago, we worked on developing a second group that could snag more gigs than the large band," said David Goodwin, the OSO education director and librarian, and former director of 2nd St. Band. "Also, it could travel across many genres while 2nd St. is mostly swing."

Though Funkystra has taken off pretty quickly, the members said they anticipate a lot of growth. They include original music in their sets and plan to record their original songs and cover songs. They also hope tour opportunities will arise.

But for the men, two of them husbands and fathers, the band is mainly about self-expression.

"Music is the one thing I use to get things out in a way that I can't put into words," Hammack said.

"It's like having a conversation with four people at once," Stephens said. "Different things are going on, different sounds and notes, but somehow everyone is on the same page and it comes out beautifully."

Image & article courtesy
Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer

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