Funk Nug is just the kind of thing that would grow out of the black gumbo of central Denton. The drum and bass funk duo came together after Bobby Ilami and Joe Gardner met through a mutual friend. Things clicked between the two music buffs, and two years ago the men formed a band.
"I had a house on Bernard Street and was jamming with all sorts of bands, and Joe was filling in with a bunch of bands," Ilami said. "Joe would show up for all these house parties and he'd come up and play. Finally, we put a band together."
Funk Nug is sort of a curiosity in a music town with bands that hit the stage with lots of musicians. RTB2, a popular Denton two-piece, earns lots of talk about the big sound-to-small-band ratio. Funk Nug can unload more sound that listeners might expect. Ilami is a technical funk drummer, moving both hands and feet at different tempos.
"After I'm done, I'm drenched in sweat," Ilami said.
Gardner keeps a lead line thumping, and sometimes plays the bass line with one hand and treble with the other, all on his bass guitar.
The band plays Saturday night at Hailey's Club, ending a month of Saturdays at the downtown bar.
The band's musical mission is to dance all over the funk music map. Ilami said the group has a blues funk set, a jazz funk set, a punk funk set and a set that mixes it all into a cocktail of beats and attitude. Ilami said the duo's music - and its upcoming recording - are a marriage of the musicians' passions.
"My musical tastes are super eclectic," Ilami said. "Joe leans toward punk funk. When we play, sometimes it's my job to sit back, play the tempo and let Joe go nuts. And then sometimes Joe will play the rhythm and I fill out the music with a lot of different sounds."
Ilami said the band has a bigger vision than churning out albums. They recently outfitted their studio with professional-grade recording software and equipment. They also launched Funknug Records, a production and recording company to promote music and visual artists exclusively from Denton.
Ilami said the business not only organizes shows and art exhibitions and records and mixes music, but also deliberately supports Denton businesses in doing all of those things. The bottom line for the business is affordability for artists, Ilami said.
Ilami is also an additional booking agent for Hailey's. He started finding substitutes for musicians who can't make local gigs - even on short notice.
The real joy is making music, he said, and starting a label that considers profits second to artistic enrichment and cohesion in the arts community.
Ilami wouldn't mind if Funknug Records grew.
"I'd love for Funknug to be known nationally," he said. "I'd love for people to be jealous that we serve only Denton artists."
Sounds like: Two funk-jazz guys who prefer to walk the tightrope - no net, thanks.
Details: Funk Nug plays at 11 p.m. Saturday at Hailey's Club, 122 W. Mulberry St. Cover is $5. Visit the band's website at www.funknug.com .