By Josette Keelor - email@example.com
STRASBURG -- When his band broke up in the '90s, lead singer Steve Whiteman, of Hagerstown, Md., kept his passion for music alive by teaching voice and guitar in Baltimore and Harrisburg, Pa. Then a friend came to him in 1996 wondering if he would be interested in starting a new band -- one that would not only include songs from the first band, but also eventually resurrect it.
Whiteman, now lead singer of both bands -- KIX and Funny Money -- said yes, and on Saturday will perform with Funny Money at the Strasburg Theater.
The band has played at Sweet Caroline's in Winchester but has never played in Strasburg, Whiteman, 53, said by phone recently.
"I hear it's very nice though," he said.
He expects a large turnout of KIX fans, who have helped Funny Money concerts sell out ever since the band formed and included the songs of its predecessor in its lineup.
"We went through a hell of a ride here," he said.
KIX, a heavy metal, hard rock band, began in Hagerstown in 1977. Whiteman joined the band after a couple of other lead singers didn't work out. Whiteman, founding member Ronnie "10/10" Younkins, Jimmy "Chocolate" Chalfant, Brian "Damage" Forsythe and Mark Schenker are still members.
Whiteman, Chalfant on drums and Schenker on bass are also members of Funny Money, along with Dean Cramer on guitar.
"I still like to bounce around," Whiteman said.
It seems to work out well.
Funny Money is booked in Virginia and Maryland in February, and KIX tours New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania in March. The two bands trade off their concert lineups, making it possible for both to continue at a steady pace. It also helps accommodate Forsythe, who lives in California. Cramer and Schenker live in Northern Virginia, and Chalfant lives in Hagerstown.
Fans at the Strasburg Theater can expect a collection of well-known KIX songs, and some new ones by Funny Money, Whiteman said.
"We do a mix," he said. "We're currently playing a couple new songs in our show."
Whiteman writes many of the songs himself, along with Rob Galpin and Schenker.
Funny Money's most recent CD, "Stick It!," was released in 2006. The band is working on another for the near future.
Whiteman, who still teaches voice and guitar, became interested in music when he saw the Beatles perform on "The Ed Sullivan Show."
"I was hooked," he said, laughing that the reference gives away his age. Originally from Piedmont, W.Va., he received a drum set when he was 8 years old, and he's been playing ever since.
"I still play ... when I write I like to play," he said. "I try to play everything I can get my hands on actually."
He's been playing with bands since he was 14. KIX heard of him and invited him to switch off with their drummer/singer. He soon earned the spot.
The music business is difficult to break into, he said, especially these days.
"A lot of people don't realize the amount of work it takes a new band to get recognized," he said. He feels bands don't have the same opportunities to get noticed anymore, with fewer places to play.
Back then, KIX just played every venue they could.
"When we weren't playing, we were practicing," he said. Then Atlantic Records signed them.
With the nearly 14-year-old band Funny Money under his belt, and KIX, now going on 22 years, Whiteman has no plans to quit the business anytime soon.
"I live in the now," he said, explaining that he does not make long-term plans. "I don't worry about it."
He thanks all of the fans for their years of support and enjoys the music while it's playing. Looking back on his career he cannot choose a favorite moment -- there have been too many.
"I could write a book," he said, and does not reject the chance that he will someday. "I never say never."
Funny Money will perform at the Strasburg Theater on Saturday at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $13 at the door. For tickets or more information, call the theater at 465-1777 or visit www.strasburgtheater.com.