PHOTO: Stagecraft teacher Eric Richardson poses with his band Funk.Defied, which has performed at many popular venues including the California State Fair.
By Max Davis-Housefield,
On a wild night in 2012, future Davis High stagecraft teacher Eric Richardson and his band Funk.Defied performed for a packed crowd in Sacramento’s Old Ironsides bar. The night was their biggest show yet, and had “lots of good energy,” said Richardson, who now manages DHS’s Brunelle Theater. Music has always been a very essential part of Richardson’s life but despite his job title, he never really had the same connection to theater.
“I wasn’t a total theater geek or anything,” Richardson said. However, playing trumpet in the orchestra pit of his high school stage gave him a different perspective. His school band provided the music for the musicals, and this provided Richardson the chance to see what went on behind the curtain.
As a student at UC Davis, Richardson took a job as part of the stage crew. In 2002, a few years after his college graduation, Richardson returned to UCD as part of the team to open the new Mondavi Center. “I kind of never stopped [working with stagecraft],” Richardson said.
Last year, he left the Mondavi to run the Brunelle theater. Teaching was not in his job description, but he was soon asked to co-teach the stagecraft class. Richardson had never taught in a classroom setting before, but he thought it “was a pretty cool challenge.”
In a normal year, stagecraft students would be working in the shop, designing and constructing sets for an upcoming performance. “[It’s] a hands-on class,” Richardson said.
However, teaching over Zoom has a new set of rules. Richardson has done demonstrations from the shop, but overall the class will have to be more theoretical.
Playing with his band over Zoom is not really a possibility. However, he is still able to practice with his wife, who has been a part of his bands for nearly 10 years. Richardson plays the bass, among other instruments, while his wife sings.
Richardson’s first band Funk.Defied played at wineries, weddings, and even the state fair. It was “a phenomenally successful, wildly popular band,” according to bandmate Sid Akbar.
One of their most successful gigs was a show at the Old Ironsides bar. Normally, they could expect 20-40 people to show up, but that night close to 150 people crowded in to see the band play.
While the band’s name has changed a handful of times over the years, it has always included this core group of dedicated friends. Richardson’s energetic leadership has kept everyone going.
“He’s just a sweet, happy-go-lucky guy,” Akbar said.