The full blast of a Katoomba winter westerly was rattling the windows. Dr Funkenstein tried to smile, and heard a disturbing cracking sound. Was it his teeth, or the long-unused muscles in his cheeks? He brooded before the fire; gulped his red wine without tasting it. Then his lady-love spun a Chuck Brown record, and a light-bulb exploded: the way out of Dr Funkenstein’s self-pitying funk was funk.
If he put the fun back into funk, perhaps he would one day learn to smile again. But the good doctor’s respect for African Americans, the originators of a century’s worth of popular music, meant that were he to invent a machine for making funk, it mustn’t churn out cheap covers of James Brown and Sly Stone. But funking up other music might be funny and funky. The doctor’s imagination – a usually dark and cheerless place – envisaged people from 18 to 80 laughing and dancing to a band called the Funk Klub. Now that might make him smile.
He instantly knew who could help bring this monster to life: Professor Steam Funk, with his low-emissions, steam-driven keyboards and mind-of-god ideas, and El Chapo Funquero, a refugee from the revenge of Mexico’s brutal drug cartels and dangerously funky bassist. The three disappeared into the Doctor’s underground laboratory, only emerging four months later when they had scientifically proven that anything from the Beatles to Gershwin, from the Game of Thrones theme to that of The Godfather could be funkified and fused into non-stop dance raves. To thicken the mix they kidnapped Brother Funk from a monastic order of guitarists. He could skank the legs off a possum at 20 paces, and convert country into funk just by playing some weird jazz chord on his trusty Telecaster.
Of course without singers they were like champagne without bubbles. Enter Mr Funk Buddy and Ms Dotti, whose crazy dance steps began to exercise Dr Funkenstein’s hardened smile muscles. Suddenly Kylie Minogue, Goran Bregovic, Portugal and Split Enz became long-lost musical siblings who incestuously funked together.
Finally they adopted stage alter egos: Ms Dotti’s was chorister/dancer Lee Louise; Mr Funk Buddy’s, actor, singer and clown supreme Andy McDonnell; Brother Funk’s, guitarist, singer and songwriter Craigus Readon; Professor Steam Funk’s, composer, writer and accordionist Nigel Glassey; El Chapo Funquero’s, bassist, guitarist and photographer Albert Van Gestal; Dr Funkenstein’s, dramatist, drummer and Walkley-winning Sydney Morning Herald writer John Shand.
The Funk Klub plays the Clarendon, Katoomba, on Saturday, January 11, supported by the exciting Safire Palms. Tickets ($10 plus b/f when applied) from clarendonguesthouse.com.au, facebook.com/funkklubband, Hairloom (Blackheath) and Elephant Bean Café (Katoomba).