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Local

No slowing down in sight for Dys Functional Gents

They call themselves Dys Functional Gents, but I don’t know, they seem pretty functional to me.

The Sterling-Rock Falls band is one of the hardest-working cover bands in the area, consistently playing shows all throughout the Sauk Valley.

Next up is a set from
9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday at Whiskey Barrel Saloon, 305 W. Second St., Rock Falls.

They play so many shows there that the band’s bassist Greg Berry, 45, says the Rock Falls bar is like home.

“I always look forward to playing at the Whiskey Barrel,” he said. “The crowd we have there is, oh, my God, I love every single one of them. They make us feel good, they make us feel appreciated.”

The rest of the band – Chris Blum (guitar), 43, Ryan Martinez (drums), 37, and Kevin Aguilar (vocals), 45 – agreed.

Blum said the band also loves playing at Bear’s Showtown USA in Lyndon.

“The people come out [at Bear’s],” Blum said. “They love live music. We love the people in Lyndon. They’re the best people to play for.”

The other band members said Blum helps keep the band moving – “He keeps us going, keeps me moving,” Martinez said – but it’s the connection between them all that fuels their fire to continue playing.

Dys Functional Gents started in 2014, but its members are no strangers.

“We’ve been in various bands together,” Blum said.

“Me and Chris and Kevin have all been in relative contact for the last 25, 30 years,” Berry said.

Martinez and Blum have been in bands together throughout the past 17 years, most recently in Pie Filler before Dys Functional Gents.

“We’ve got a history among us,” Blum said with a smile.

Aguilar, Berry and Blum went to Sterling High School, and Martinez went to Rock Falls High School. And, amazingly, the seeds of playing music were planted even before that.

Ryan’s dad, Ray Martinez, has been a drummer in local bands Puppet and Network.

“I actually started playing when I was 6,” Martinez said. “[My dad] didn’t teach me a whole lot, but I learned on my own by watching him. He was definitely a positive factor in learning to drum.”

It’s a family business for Blum, too.

“I’ve been playing for about 31 years,” Blum said.

He learned from his father, John Blum, who’s been in a bunch of local bands, he said.

“He started [to teach me], like with chords and scales, just kinda the basic stuff, and then said, ‘You’re on your own,’” Blum said.

Kevin has also been playing for more than
3 decades. He began as a bassist and singer for about 6 years, and then just went strictly to vocals.

Berry has been playing bass for 8 years and acknowledges he started a little later than most.

“I started out as a singer in ’09. Didn’t go very well for me,” he said with a laugh. “I changed over to bass in 2010. Chris gave me pointers here and there.”

Regardless of how long they’ve been playing individually, the band members have clearly been inspired by music throughout their entire lives.

The band cited classic rock icons such as AC/DC and Black Sabbath, and alternative and grunge bands such as Rage Against The Machine, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains as big inspirations. Megadeth and Van Halen were also mentioned.

Blum said Slash from Guns N’ Roses was one of his biggest inspirations on guitar. The band’s debut album had a huge affect on Martinez, too.

“I loved ‘Appetite for Destruction,’” he said. “I’d play that over and over and over and over again.”

These bands might give those unfamiliar with the band an idea of what to expect from Dys Functional Gents, but the band’s catalog is always changing.

The band has about 60 songs from classic rock to today’s rock hits that they can pull from at each show, and they continue to learn new songs.

In a relatively short amount of time, the band has built a healthy fanbase and that’s something they hope to continue to do this year.

“We’re basically just trying to fill every spot we can,” Martinez said. “And hopefully run into new fans.”

Even with all of the members being longtime weekend warriors, the band’s passion seems about as strong as it’s even been.

“We just loving playing for the people,” Blum said. “If they keep coming, we’re gonna keep playing.”

Berry echoed that, saying he has a hard time seeing Dys Functional Gents ending anytime soon.

“We have our problems, just like everyone else does. But we work through them, and we’re still together. We can still tolerate each other for more than 5 minutes,” he said, making the entire band laugh. “It just seems like Dys Funtional Gents will never die because we won’t let it die. … If it dies, it wasn’t because we weren’t trying hard enough.”

DYS FUNCTIONAL GENTS

Call 815-213-2525 for booking information or go to facebook.com/dysfunctionalgents to follow the band on Facebook.

FAVORITE SONGS TO PLAY

Kevin Aguilar (vocals): "Down on Me," by Jackyl

Greg Berry (bass): "Twilight Zone," by Golden Earing

Chris Blum (guitar): "Paralyzer," by Finger Eleven

Ryan Martinez (drums): "Water’s Edge," by Seven Mary Three

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