Arts Desk

At Funkmnkyz Show, Fast Eddie’s Cracks Down on Rapping and Bandanas

D.C.-based hip-hop and rock fusion act Funkmnkyz was only a few songs into its gig at Centreville sports bar Fast Eddie’s last Friday night when something jarring happened: One of the restaurant's managers came onstage and told the band members they couldn't rap anymore. The instrumentalists could continue playing, but the vocalists had to stop.

"We’re a band who plays hip-hop," Funkmnkyz bassist Eric Dolinger says. "We've never had sung lyrics."

Dumbfounded, Funkmnkyz (whose name is pronounced "funkmonkeys") ended its set abruptly and left the venue.

"A lot of questions obviously were raised by that," Dolinger says. Was there some sort of miscommunication? Had Fast Eddies' management listened to Funkmnkyz’s music before it booked the band? "We gave them multiple YouTube and ReverbNation sites to listen to our music," Funkmnkyz's MC Quest says. "On their website and on other sites that promote Fast Eddie's as a venue to play at, all of these websites state they're an all-genre live-music venue."

Fast Eddie's typically hosts country acts and '80s hair-metal cover bands, but if it’s actually a rap-free venue, it certainly hasn't banned hip-hop from its downstairs space, where Quest said he heard a DJ playing rap music that was "10 times as vulgar" as anything Funkmnkyz was performing on Friday. Actually, Funkmnkyz makes a point to preach a positive message in its music. A sample of their lyrics: "Christian or Jew, Muslim too/Tom Cruise, Ellen D’s, or just be you."

"There’s a perception in the live-music community that hip-hop is bad for business or that it attracts an element that is not favorable," Dolinger says. "If you listen to our music, I think you'd be hard-pressed to hear our songs and then go out and do something unsavory as a result."

After Funkmnkyz was cut off, the incident got even stranger. Around the time the music stopped, Terence Nicholson of opening rock band Thaylobleu was approached by the same staff member, whom Nicholson says told him, "The owner is here, and he doesn't like bandanas." Nicholson respectfully removed his bandana, which he had worn earlier during his band's set without issue.

"If there was a dress code," Nicholson says, "we should have been informed when we walked in at 8 p.m. Not 12:30 a.m."

All five members of Thaylobleu are black, as are Quest and his fellow Funkmnkyz MC, Vice 17. Although he saw multiple black staffers working Fast Eddie’s that night, Quest feels that the band was singled out.

"They profiled us because myself and my frontman are lyricists," Quest says. "I felt like they put us in a certain atmosphere of what they thought rap sounded like or made people do." Even in a musical sense, Quest says, Funkmnkyz strays from traditional hip-hop, playing live instruments and fusing a number of genres including rock, funk, and metal.

The general manager of Fast Eddies' Centreville location, Rob Jirak, declined to comment. Another staffer reached by phone did the same, saying the occurrence was "just a business thing."

"I was not happy," says Mike Davis, who came out to Fast Eddie's with his fiancée and paid the $10 cover charge solely to support Funkmnkyz. "I couldn’t really figure out what was going on, why they were cut off."

Davis says he tried to get more information from the manager after the band stopped playing. When he asked to speak with the owner of Fast Eddie’s, he says the employee told him he couldn't do so.

Funkmnkyz won't be playing Fast Eddie's again anytime soon, but going forward the group hopes its message of positivity and unity will help dispel nasty stereotypes of hip-hop. "When you try to do something like that, you run into resistance like this," Dolinger says. "If they had let us finish our set and allowed us all to have a good time and leave a clean and well-paid establishment behind us, they might not feel that way the next time someone wants to do a hip-hop show there."

Funkmnkyz is just like any other band in the D.C. region, Quest says. "We’re just trying to play good music and have a good time doing it."

Photo of Funkmnkyz via Facebook

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  • jt

    Not shocked at all, it's Centreville...they make the rules up as they go along in VA

  • http://ZeptuneRecords.com Ian

    I knew Centreville was known for it's battlefields but really folks??

  • http://www,godisheus.com Old Man Vance

    Discrimination against a Cultural Expression in a business open to the Public is a...

    Civil Rights Issue.

    That's why you don't see DC's Monster and Better Quality Award winning Conscious Music Acts on the Big Stages in our Area.

    Read: GODISHEUS

  • Michael Reisinger

    Complete BS ! This extremely talented band of men have played some of the largest and most respected venues in the DMV as well as performing at one of radios largest gathering of bands HFstival ( twice )
    If there is one band in the Dc area that will get the big record deal it will be the Funkmnkyz, I hope that one day they get the opportunity to show the racist ass hole at Fast eddies that he blew the opportunity to have one of the biggest names in fusion music play his establishment. Best thing to do is spread the word about Fast eddies throughout the local music community in hopes that the brotherhood of musicians in the DMV and beyond refuse to support the owner the establishment and there racist ways

  • saywhat14

    Well said Michael Reisinger, that is exactly what they need to do, Shut them down.

  • thatsCrazy

    If anything... this is the best PR and exposure this band could have got. I have never heard of them before, but just went to check out their music after reading this article. An unfortunate incident at the time, but in the long run might be a great thing for them.

  • Jamal

    It's their business and their rules. Fast Eddies is free to decide who can play what at their venue. No one said they have to make good decisions.

    Put your big boy panties on and stop crying.

  • LOLOLOLOL

    Does anyone else find it disturbing that Jamal is writing about big boys in panties on the internet??!!?

    On another note - be careful what you wish for Jamal -- Funkmnkyz is known to wear on the edge attire during their shows!!

  • Suzanne

    Jamal -

    While I agree with you that it's their business and their rules, one would think that whoever is in charge of booking talent could have and should have listened to Funkmnkyz's music prior to booking them. And one would also think that the person in charge of booking would know whether or not the owner would like or approve of the music the band that has been booked performs. This wasn't an open mic performance. This was a booking.

    No one is saying that the venue doesn't have a right to decide what type of music they want to play or what bands they choose to or not to book. The point is pulling the plug in the beginning of their set was not only disrespectful to the fans that showed up and _paid_ to watch them play, but it was a disrespectful to the band that was booked and a waste of their time. Everyone was given the run around and no question as to why they were cut off were answered other than the owner didn't like the lyricists. Had Fast Eddie's done their research and in turn not booked Funkmnkyz, no one would need to put on their "big boy panties and stop crying."

    Next time, perhaps you should carefully read the article. You pretty much missed the whole point here.

  • Darryl

    That's good old Va for you....Damn Mike Davis u be every damn where huh...lol

  • Stephanie

    This is the worst well-run establishment I've been to in years. The word is the manager, Rob, is a horrible boss, leader, and organizer. He doesn't even tell his employers what they need to be doing...but best believe they'll get an earfull if suddenly what they're doing is somthing he DOESNT like. Thats what the turnover there is out of control ridiciulous; and thats why incidents like this keep coming up. How would this band know he didn't "like" bandanas. (Honestly??!?!) I've seen some country acts performing with them on and he didn't seem to mind one little bit. We all know whats going on here. Stay away from this place...poorly run operation and its really a shame, b/c it could be a really cool place.

  • Meranda

    So, I have previously worked at Fast Eddies in Centreville. I worked there for a year. I know for a fact that Rob is not a racist, in fact his wife is African! Rob does indeed run a tight ship, if you are not doing what your are supposed to you will hear about it, rightfully so. And the turnover is high at this establishment. While I worked there, many people were fired. Most of the people who were let go were either steeling or didn't show up regularly. Good riddance.
    I was not in the building when this show was going on, and I did not see what happened. The dress code is clearly stated in a sigh on the front door. Sometimes exceptions are made, but when the owner comes in and says something needs to change, then it changes immediately. The owner can make up any rules he wants with no warning and we all must carry them out. It is a privately owned place, that's just how it works. Its not Rob coming up with these rules so I am not sure why he is getting the blame for all this, he is just doing his job and protecting how the owner would like his establishment to be perceived in the eyes of the patrons.
    Fast Eddies in Centreville is an awesome venue for upcoming and established artist. They have a great sound system, dj booth, stage, lots of tables to enjoy, and a HUGE dance floor, oh yeah don't let me forget the mechanical bull. Not to mention you can smoke cigarettes inside in the underground... It is getting cold outside for those of you who are smokers, you may appreciate that. I would recommend the Centreville Fast Eddies for special occasions or just a fun night out. They always have entertainment!

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