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Funkadesi puts the funk in cultural music

Chicago-based band Funkadesi is performing for the public and hosting a workshop for a room full of first graders. Their public performance is Friday in the Holmes Theatre. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Before they take the stage at Detroit Lakes’ Historic Holmes Theatre Friday night for a 7:30 p.m. concert, the Chicago-based world music band known as Funkadesi will be facing what may be a far tougher audience: A room full of first-graders.

The band members will be conducting a music workshop that morning at the theater for about 350 first-graders from Detroit Lakes and Pelican Rapids, as part of the schools’ cultural collaborative efforts.

“Funkadesi will work with the students on patterns in music, with different rhythms from different types of cultures,” said Becky Mitchell, arts outreach and marketing director for the theater, adding, “It will be a blast.”

Funkadesi’s founder, Rahul Sharma, says the workshop “will focus a lot on the drumming traditions of different cultures from around the world.”

The group will follow up the workshop with an hour-long lecture-demonstration that Sharma says will “showcase how Indian and Caribbean and Latin rhythms blend together.”

The group will also “get the audience involved and make it interactive,” he added.

Though the evening performance will be in more of a traditional, sit-down concert format, Sharma noted that “we still want people getting up and dancing and enjoying themselves.”

The band’s name, like its sound, is a unique blend of different cultures: An amalgamation of George Clinton’s Parliament Funkadelic and the Pakistani word “desi,” which means “one from our country.”

“We’re blending not just styles, but languages in our music… and we do it in a way that is fun and exciting,” Sharma explained, noting that besides using between 8-10 different instruments, the group also features two lead singers — one Indian, one Jamaican.

“We come from many different walks of life, but many of us are activists, educators and healers,” Sharma said. “I myself am a clinical psychologist, specializing in multicultural psychology.

“I’m very interested in using music as a way to connect with each other, learn about each other and impart certain values, such as self-respect, understanding and regard for people,” he added.

The group’s music is a combination of traditional favorites from their varied cultural backgrounds, to original music that they write and perform themselves.

“We might have some members that contribute a little more than others to the writing, but we like to get everyone involved in creating our music at some level,” Sharma said.

Tickets for Friday night’s show are $18 for adults, $9 for students, and can be purchased online at, by calling 218-844-7469 or by visiting the Holmes Box Office at 806 Summit Ave.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454