The Freak Brothers
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The Freak Brothers

Band Hip Hop Funk


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The best kept secret in music


"Performers of the Year"

Performer of the Year
16.73% Freak Brothers*
11.82% Sirface*
11.27% Hoochie Mama Get-Down*
10.00% Go Dog Go*
9.64% homeless J
9.45% Matt Sturm
4.26% Tri State Killing Spree
3.45% Matt Taylor
1.82% Mike Conley
1.45% Brown Bottle Band, Definitely Gary, Nostalgia
1.27% Brother
1.09% Blue Moon Boys
0.91% CookiePuss, Hillbilly Casino

Others with Votes (more than one):
Second Sun, Sunny Taylor, Third Frame, Leeko, Nic Roulette, Wailhounds, Walkin' Papers, Andromeda, Borrowed Time Band, Chris & Paul, Edible, Francie Zucco, Jen Fisher, Kevin Hiatt, Kim Durr, Ty Causey

2002 Winner: Strut Train
2001 Winner: Wailhounds
2000 Winner: Strut Train
1999 Winner: Blue Moon Boys
1998 Winner: n/a
1997 Winner: n/a

They look like the front line of a football team. But they sound like the first line of a rolling street party. With an onslaught of brass and wind instruments, a funky rhythm section and mixture of singing and rapping, they command a stage like a Hummer in a parking lot. But unlike those nonsensical beasts that are more parody than useful, this powerhouse actually has a purpose. They're the Freak Brothers, and they took the Whammys by storm winning Performer of the Year, Best Funk Band, Best Live Band and Best Cover Band.

The Freak Brothers arrived at Columbia Street West in a couple of white stretch limos. Before the evening ended one of the limos and the Performer of the Year Whammy fell apart. The Freak Brothers are hoping the same thing doesn't happen to them.

Though together as the Freak Brothers for a mere three years, this band of brothers have played music together in one form or another for nearly a decade. And it shows.

Formed from members of Always in the Fridge and Strut Train, two popular bands in their own right, the Freak Brothers' genesis really began in high school in the mid-1990s.

"We all just grew up together," says bass player Adam Martin. "A lot of us went to North Side together. Dan (Mihuc) and Dana (Dancer) grew up together." Martin, Matt Cashdollar, Brandon Rentfrow, Adam Rudolph, and Dan Cappelli were in Always in the Fridge, and Cashdollar and Brian Osborne were with Strut Train.

The familial nature the Freak Brothers possess allows the music to move seamlessly from song to song and surrounds the band in an atmosphere of fun.

"We just play things we grew up listening to," Martin says. "Jazz, funk, Motown. Everybody in the band is heavily into jazz."

The jazz element gives the Freak Brothers a freewheeling sound with lots of room for improvisation and exploration. Songs blend together, dip and turn, and come out as something new. Martin says they're students of the swamp-jazz-jam school of New Orleans-based bands such as Galactic and the Neville Brothers.

"We don't talk much onstage," he says. "And we don't have a set list. We have a list of songs we want to play. How and when we get to them is what makes it fun. It's a game to see who calls out the next song."

Martin says the band never rehearses. Instead, they use gigs as a sort of practice session. It's a time to learn new songs and figure out ways to get through a night of playing without the music getting stale. And that requires a skill that is essential to any serious band - listening.

"That's the jam element of the band," he says. "We're all good listeners. You have to be. It makes it fun for us and hopefully fun for the audience. We aspire to keep having a good time."

Applied to songs by Earth Wind and Fire, the Sugar Hill Gang, the Delights and the Rolling Stones, the style is very appealing. And it's infectious. The Freak Brothers have amassed a loyal following of fans who make it to most of their gigs. You could call them Freak Heads, I guess. And the core of the Freak Heads is not just Fort Wayne. The band plays regularly in Indianapolis, Lansing, Flint, Traverse City.

"We've gotten asked back dozens of times," Martin says. "We have a strong fan base here, but we also have regulars in the other places we play. It really comes as a shock to us how big this thing's gotten. I think a lot of the band members don't know how many people like us."

And it comes as a shock to a lot of people that this is a Fort Wayne band, Martin adds. "People can't believe that we're all in our 20s and all from Fort Wayne," he says. "So we have a live CD we hand out at shows. It gives them a little proof ."

Martin says the Freak Brothers are working on a CD of originals and are trying to get a couple of websites up and running.

As for the Whammys, Martin says he and the others were caught off guard. "We were totally shocked," he says. "We went in not expecting to win anything. A lot of people told us, 'you're playing last. You must have won.' But we weren't so sure. We were more happy to play in front of a new audience."

Martin says some of his friends think winning Performer of the Year is a bad omen. Last year's winner, Strut Train, is no more. But that's okay.

Martin says the band has a philosophy. "The main goal of the band is to give people the opportunity the forget what's outside the club for a few hours. They can go back to that tomorrow." The philosophy seems to work for the audience. Here's hoping it works for the Freak Brothers as well.

- Whatzup Magazine 03/04/04


"Live at Columbia Street West"


Feeling a bit camera shy


"Funkier than James Brown's underwear," is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot when people talk about us. In a nutshell, The Freak Brothers is a group of top-notch instrumentalists and singers who are schooled in jazz but who have an incessant love of soul, funk, R&B and Hip Hop and an apparent inability to take themselves seriously.
The result is an infectious funk-laden rhythm you can't possibly resist moving to, a contagious sense of fun that you can't possibly deny, and a charisma that can only come from a group of musicians who feel completely comfortable in their element.
"We play clubs," says saxophonist Brandon Rentfrow, "and people come up to us, completely bewildered, saying things like, 'wow, you guys are a REAL band; what the hell are you playing here for?'
"Most bands that play as well as we do have moved to the corporate circuit because it pays them more. We'll do corporate gigs from time to time, and we'll perform our services beyond everyone's satisfaction, but there's an element to those kinds of engagements that stifles what's really unique and special about this band.
"Corporate functions naturally have rules of etuiquette and boundaries the guests can't cross, harmless as it may ultimately be to do so. We prefer to play clubs and festivals because they don't have those limitations. We aim to help people remember that it's okay to let go of your self-consciousness and just plain have a good time, and that you can do that without anyone getting hurt or feeling negatively.
"You can't really cut loose in front of your boss and the board of directors, but you can certainly do it in a club or a beer tent packed full of beautiful people who all came there wanting the same thing: the chance to be the person their regular lives won't let them be...joyous, enthusiastic, sexy, inspired,
"Those are feelings people crave, and once they feel them they want more. It becomes an addiction. That's what keeps people coming back for that particular brand of elation that only The Freak Brothers can provide.
"We want people to go home feeling like they've had an epiphany...feeling differently about how GOOD life can really be if you'll just let yourself go. Being at a Freak Brothers show proves that to people."