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As Deep Ellum regains its footing, one of the bands that gave the district its funky vibe in the '90s is doing the same. Fever in the Funkhouse brought an eclectic sonic mix and legions of fans to each gig back in those golden days. Now, they're hoping to bring them back, and win some more.
In 1988, Fever in the Funkhouse introduced fusions of country, funk, pop, jazz and rock to stages like Club Dada. The original line-up of Nikos Brisco, Jim Holbrook, Chris Claridy and Bryan Wakeland led a charge of local bands that cherished originality over pandering party tunes.
After flirting with major-label dotted lines and even landing a DOMA for Best Overall Act in 1991, the band called it quits in 1994. In 2008, a new version of the band featuring a couple original members performed a handful of shows. While Kenny Withrow and Dave Prez filled in admirably, the group seemed to collectively understand that the original configuration was its greatest.
"I never wanted the band to break up to begin with," admits drummer Wakeland, who's also spent time in Tripping Daisy and the Polyphonic Spree. "I loved playing with Kenny and Dave and what they brought to us, but deep down it was always going to be more special with the original members."
One has to wonder why a reunion is even necessary. Each member has become a respected veteran of North Texas music in other acts, and Poor David's Pub, where the Dallas show will be held, isn't exactly going to offer a financial windfall. As it turns out, the group is simply capitalizing on impeccable timing and the desire to jam together a bit more.
"The motivation for this reunion is a beautiful moment in time where life, scheduling and fate have put us in a place where we can again create music for our loyal fans and for ourselves," says Brisco, the outfit's lead singer. "We have tried to keep it simple and get back to some of the original routines that worked for us in the past, as well as testing new ways to help us grow further as a band."
Creating music for loyal fans is a sensible goal, given that the group is still glowing from a successful 2010 Kickstarter campaign. In the span of 45 days, more than $16,000 was raised to help the band fund the production of their first proper album. Aside from the cash flow, feelings of validation have inspired the players on a new level. With the new record on the way, the band has no intention of living in the past, musically speaking. Bassist Holbrook waxes philosophical about it.
"Although Fever has a general idea about how we write and create, one of the most inspiring aspects to me is our open desire to explore new things," he says. "I suppose our musical terrain is based on finding new musical terrain."