‘Old friends’ Bubonik Funk, Donnie Dies play first Boone show of the semester

Michael Bragg

High school rival bands Bubonik Funk and Donnie Dies performed at Legends on Sept. 11.

Though attendance was a modest 67 people on a rainy night, the show was a success because it allowed the two bands to play together in Boone for the first time this year, said Dylan Ellett, vocalist and keyboardist for Bubonik Funk. 

“We’re old friends,” Ellett said. “We try to play with each other as much as possible.”

Both Bubonik Funk and Donnie Dies formed at Charlotte Catholic High School in 2006.

The name Bubonik Funk came out of a conversation in a world history class at CCHS.

“We were in a history class studying the bubonic plague and we just decided to put ‘funk’ on the end,” Ellett said.

The name Donnie Dies came about in an even more arbitrary and roundabout fashion, but like Bubonik Funk, it stuck.

“Matt [Zutell] and Dries [Vandenberg] were talking back in high school and Matt was like, ‘We should name our band Danny Dies,’” said Jessie Vandenberg, sister of Donnie Dies’ lead guitarist Dries Vandenberg. “Dries said that’s weird because that’s our brother’s name, so they decided on Donnie. Really there’s no meaning behind it, unless Matt had one we don’t know about.”

Since their formation, the members of Bubonik Funk have stayed together, despite all attending different colleges.

“Being in a band like this with the same guys for eight years is a lot like being married,” Ellett said. “We’ve all matured. We kept getting better as musicians.”

Though none of the members of Bubonik Funk graduated from Appalachian State University, Boone is always a stop on their tour.

“The App crowd is way open-minded,” Ellett said. “We love playing there.”

Donnie Dies, on the other hand, is comprised entirely of Appalachian students and graduates. Four of the five current members formed the band at CCHS and then went on to Appalachian together. Mark Cichonski joined later in the band’s college years.

Both groups have established a following in the area and gained admiration from faculty and students.

“I consider Dries one of the premier guitarists in the whole area,” APPS Program Advisor Randy Kelly said.

Kelly blamed the low attendance for last week’s show on the brief storm that night.

“Rain hit right around the time people would start walking,” Kelly said.

Overall, the bands it did not seem to matter how many people attended.

“We put energy into a show whether there’s five people or 50 or 500,” Ellet said. “ For a Wednesday night, it was a blast.”

Story: EMMA SPECKMAN, A&E Reporter