Fans get their KIX

May 24, 2003|By SCOTT BUTKI

Fans of former rock band KIX got a rare treat Friday night as two members of the locally based band joined Steve Whiteman, the band's former lead singer, on stage at The Maryland Theatre.

Whiteman, of Hagerstown, who was performing with his current band, Funny Money, said the show is as close as people will get to a reunion of KIX since one of the former members will no longer perform with him.

Funny Money normally performs about 50 percent songs written by Funny Money and 50 percent KIX songs, he said.

Funny Money was already booked to open for raunchy morning-show radio DJ Doug "Greaseman" Tracht at the theater when Whiteman suggested having KIX drummer Jimmy Chalfant and guitarist Ronnie Younkins join them on stage.


The three had performed together in Baltimore in recent months and KIX fans loved it, he said.

"The crowd was just blown away by it," he said.

As with the Hagerstown show, the audience was not told ahead of time that the two members would join him on stage but were teased with the promise of "special guests."

Whiteman said he decided to give fans at the Hagerstown show the added bonus of seeing three KIX bandmates playing together.

"It would be much cooler. It would be a huge treat," he said, adding that he hoped he didn't disappoint the fans.

After Funny Money played for about an hour, Whiteman announced his special guests, who joined him on stage while audience members stood and applauded, then danced to the songs.

At his urging, audience members sang along to some KIX songs, including "The Itch," "Sex" and "Midnite Dynamite."

One theater employee covered her ears during the show while another asked people to sit.

Shari Folger of Frederick, Md., said the band put on a great show.

"They were very good. Both bands were excellent," Chris Barriger of St. Mary's County, Md., said.

Barriger and Robbie Harper of Keymar, Md., said they had guessed before the show that the "special guests" would be the two other KIX members. It still was a great thrill to see them perform together, Harper said.

KIX disbanded in January 1996 after grunge became the hip new thing.

"The business had a new party and we were not invited," Whiteman said.

The long-haired band members decided they did not want to cut their hair, wear camouflage and look serious all the time, he said.

Whiteman started a side project, Funny Money, "which turned into a whole lot of fun."

KIX fans would attend his shows, and while he initially just played newer material he soon complied with their requests to perform some of the KIX songs, he said. He can't perform as KIX since he does not own the band name, but there is nothing stopping him from performing their songs, he said.

As its name implies, Funny Money is a more relaxed, enjoyable project than KIX was, he said.

Whiteman grew up near Keyser, W.Va. but moved to Hagerstown to join KIX in 1978 and has lived here ever since, he said.

In between weekend band gigs, he gives one-on-one vocal lessons in Baltimore and Harrisburg to people ranging from aspiring performers to people who just want to avoid embarrassing themselves singing at church, he said.

His involvement in the bands, especially when performing live, fills a need inside him: "I have an inner need to make a fool of myself."

His biggest influences are Aerosmith and the Stooges.

"Those are the ones I ripped off the most," he said.

He has no plans to stop performing anytime soon, especially since fans keep attending the shows.

"I still enjoy it ... and I don't see why I should stop," Whiteman said.

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