Cheeseballs milk disco culture
October 30, 2008
Some say they don’t like disco, but who doesn’t like cheese?
Funky Limberger, Justin Tillamook, Queso Fresco, Feta James and the rest of the Cheeseballs will fill the stage at the Freakers Ball inside the casino that, for one night, might be called MontBleuCheese.
Every night could look Halloween to the San Francisco-based band, which revels in disco songs from the 1970s.
“While disco was happening, you had all those people who hated it, but all those songs are classic songs, and people know the lyrics to them ” it’s nostalgia,” said Eric Cotton, aka “Funky Lim.”
Cotton thought it was unusual when he auditioned in 1999, the band asked him to sing “I Will Survive,” and “Let’s Get Physical,” songs that Gloria Gaynor and Olivia Newton John made famous.
Cotton not only passed the audition, he is now the longest-running member of the Cheeseballs, who started 15 years ago. He, in fact, now owns the business, which gives him the title of head cheese.
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Also a member of the reggae group Rock Steady Posse, Cotton is the male voice next to female singers Feta James and Tofurella.
“They are trained musicians, so they have great ears and sing great harmonies, so I’m really blessed,” Cotton said. “They are both good entertainers and are easy to look at.”
And for the women in the crowd, there’s percussionist Queso Fresco.
“He’s the beefcake,” Cotton joked. “He doesn’t have a real talent. He’s just tall and good-looking, so we put him up front.”
Justin Tillamook isn’t shy about interaction with, and even joining, the audience. The guitarist also is known as Danny Cheeseball and Cheesus Christ.
The rhythm section is bassist Mickey Gorgonzola, the newest Cheeseball, and drummer Kick Tha Flavr, who has played with Charlie Musselwhite and John Lee Hooker.
Keyboard player Stilton John knows “every song ever written,” which is a good thing considering the Cheeseballs have more than 150 songs from which to choose. Besides music from disco’s heyday, the Cheeseballs play pop songs from the ’80s, ’90s and today, plus dancehall reggae and early hip-hop.
“It depends on what people want to hear,” Cotton said. “We’re good at feeling out the crowd.”
Usually, the crowd likes to hear disco.
“The bottom line is they’re all great songs; that’s why they’ve survived the test of time,” Cotton said. “Get ready to have a good time.”
If you go
What: Freakers Ball
Who: the Cheeseballs
When: Doors open at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31
Where: MontBleu’s Convention Center, Blu Nightclub and Opal Ultra Lounge; costume contest, $10,000 in prizes
Tickets: $15 advance, $20 door