Tuesday, February 8, 2011


As many of you know, I am a proud member of a Boston "vocal band," a.k.a. non-collegiate adult a cappella group. Yes, I'm even cooler than you thought. When I joined this group back in March 2009, the group had four members (2 guys , 2 girls) and was called Downtown Crossing. Downtown Crossing had existed for some unknown number of years and performed a few regular high-profile gigs (like the Boston AIDS walk) and the occasional private event. However, not long after I joined, 2 of the 4 of us left, and a bunch of new folks came in. And something we all agreed on was that our name kind of sucked. I mean, Downtown Crossing is like my least favorite area in Boston. It's such an eyesore. It brings to mind fast food chains, a urine-soaked T stop, and the sad, gutted remains of the original Filene's Basement.

Filene, I'm glad you're not alive to see this.

So we came up (or, really the friend of a member came up) with a new name: Funkin' A!

The exclamation is part of the name, which will become relevant in a moment.

Funkin' A! is ridiculous, but so is singing a cappella when you're a grown-up. At least with a tongue-and-cheek name, it's clear that we're in on the joke. And let's be real, it's not like people were clamoring to hire us when we were Downtown Crossing.

Now, fast forward to January 2011. Funkin' A! has done a handful of legit gigs, at venues like Harper's Ferry (R.I.P.) and All Asia. We are seven members strong. Our visual blend is excellent (i.e. we're good-looking). We have a functional website, a solid repertoire of more than dozen songs, and a Facebook fan page. Then we received this e-mail:

Hello guys and girls.
My name is Kyle Fitzpatrick. I am the singer/guitarist and primary songwriter of Funkin' A...we have been together using the name "Funkin' A" for 2 years now. Im sending a friendly message telling you I have had this name Trademarked. I have had the official certificate for the past two months. I have known of your existence for a while now, but thought you guys might realize that we did have it first and we play very often. Our website will be up soon. We are going to be recording an album that will be on iTunes in the next few months and your name must change. We will likely come to play Boston. We are completely prepared to take this to the next step if you guys do not comply. Its a great name, and we had it first. I expect to hear back in a timely response, or you will hear from our lawyers.

Kyle Fitzpatrick
Funkin' A

Friendly message? Seemed a little douchey to us. And honestly, how serious can the band be if they don't even have a website? This photo accompanied the e-mail, further convincing us of the ass-itude of Mr. Fitzpatrick, who has yet to master how to flip an image in Photoshop. (That's probably next on the agenda, after setting up a website and leading his Funkin' A incarnation, which happens to be a Long Island-based jam band, to superstardom.)

I mean, he has a goatee and is wearing some kind of beret/beanie chapeau. COME ON.

We composed a polite response to Mr. FitzP, explaining that we hardly pose a threat and hey, isn't the world big enough for two bands with the same silly name? We have no iTunes aspirations. We will never perform outside of Boston. It's unlikely our respective "fans" will ever get confused. And besides, our name has an awesome/hilarious/ironic exclamation point after it. TOTALLY DIFFERENT.

Kyle wrote back a nastier missive than the first one, still threatening legal action and still demonstrating an ignorance of when to use apostrophes. Our group has reached a consensus that if this dude really wants to shell out a grand to pay a lawyer to send us a cease and desist letter, well, let him do that. His money to waste as he pleases. We are doing funking nothing until a certified letter arrives. This is assuming Kyle's crack legal team (apparently he has "lawyers" plural) can even find a physical address for us. Good luck with that, Kyle.

In the meantime, we are considering the following possible names:
1) The Kyle Fitzpatricks
2) Fun$kin' A!!!!!!!!
3) Funkin' B
4) Fuckin' A (though we'd probably lose the AIDS Walk gig)

Finally, for your reading pleasure, I give you Funkin' A's sentence-fragment-infested bio, in which I have highlighted what I believe to be the most mock-able elements:

"Funkin' A is a cognitive ensemble driven by the perpetual quest to rock the funk out. From Long Island, NY - absorbing themselves in as many different styles of music as they can to fuel their diversity....striving to be open vessels to the ever-evolving new possibilities in this musical universe. The band took shape in Jan. 2009. Each musician had been in different projects and various outfits. They are now eclectic groove conductors. Diverse, catchy rhythms...unique songs.. They are not your average band....Come see Funkin' A."

It's true, they are not your average band, excuse me, "cognitive ensemble." They are much, much worse. I would say that if you're in the New York area, avoid this group like the plague, but I don't have to. Unless you're in Patchogue or Amagansett, NY, Funkin' A won't be playing at a venue near you anytime soon.

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