The transition from playing backyard keggers to headlining a concert is a stereotype that’s too typical to describe a band’s musical progression. But such a timeline roughly resembles the path San Luis Obispo-based band Still Time has followed on its journey to prominence.
Originally formed in 2004, Still Time has since developed quite a following both in San Luis Obispo and the larger California community, and they did it “all through a grass roots and word of mouth process,” according to the band’s unofficial biography.
“It’s really pretty hard to not like their style,” English senior Fenton Taylor said. “Whether it was just them jamming at their house with people around, or their smaller shows at places like The Shack, there’ve always been people present to enjoy the music.”
They’re capable of getting everyone into it, which is how they’ve been able to branch out beyond the college party scene and get bigger shows.
The band has played venues throughout California, ranging from Sacramento to Hollywood and beyond, with bands such as Ziggy Marley, Steel Pulse, The Expendables and Pepper. They’ve also been featured prominently on San Luis Obispo radio stations New Rock 107.3 FM, and Coast 101.3 FM, as well as Santa Cruz radio station KPIG 107.5 FM.
The band has left an indelible mark on the San Luis Obispo music scene, largely due to its amiable musical tendencies and the energy they tend to imbibe the crowd with.
“They really bring an energy that’s hard to duplicate,” said Korie Newman, the booking/venue coordinator for Downtown Brewing Co. “Their positivity is really unparalleled. Even our staff looks forward to whenever they play, and they sometimes even fight among themselves over who gets to work those shows.
“They’re only one of two local bands that I can think of that have sold out the venue, and that says something in itself.”
Still Time released its first official album, “Stream of Consciousness,” last November and has since sold more than 1,000 copies through local distribution and on iTunes.
Paul Smith-Stewart, the band’s bassist and a jazz studies student at Cuesta College, commented that this show will consist of an entirely different set than the band’s album release party in November 2007, symbolic of the band’s gratitude to their loyal fan base.
“This is going to be an entirely different environment. You could’ve come to 10 of our prior shows, and you will still hear at least six songs you won’t recognize at this next show,” he said. “Our shows get out of hand a lot of time, but this show is going to forgo the party aspect of our band and be about listening to the music.”
“This is going to be a vibe that Downtown Brewing Co. has never seen before,” added Dan Curcio, the band’s vocalist and a guitarist. “It’s going to be a total living room vibe: lit candles, waitresses serving drinks, a couch on the stage. . We’re even going to bring our fabled marlin and some of our other renowned stage props.”
The band defined the style of this concert as “unplugged,” following in line with the series of concerts that MTV produced a number of years ago.
Opening for the band will be acoustic sets from Sam Sharp, of the local band Joose, and Joe Koenig. Still Time will also feature most of the guest musicians that were featured on their album, including pianist Jessie McGill and harmonica player “T-Bone Steak,” who also doubles as the band’s fly-fishing hero.
“He’s seriously the most prolific harmonica player that I’ve seen in my entire life,” Smith-Stewart said.
The band views this concert as a sort of turning point in the careers of its members, as Still Time will leave San Luis Obispo for the Bay Area some time this summer in pursuit of more exposure and coverage in a larger market.
“We’re looking at perhaps doing a concert like this back in San Luis Obispo once a year,” said John Vucinich, a mechanical engineering senior and the band’s drummer. “But with touring as we’re planning on doing, we’re definitely not going to be around the Central Coast area as much as everyone’s used to, so this is going to be a rare event.”
But they’ll still call San Luis Obispo home, Vucinich said.
“It’s really the sort of transition from being local college students to doing this music thing for a living,” remarked Chris Arntzen, one of the band’s guitarists and an electrical engineering graduate from Cal Poly, after a recent band practice. “We just want to forgo the cookie cutter, ‘go out and get a job’ mentality. We’re just going to put all on the line and see if we can make it as musicians.”
“There’s a substantial difference between being in a band and having a job and being able to pay the rent with music,” said Nick Bilich, an English senior and a guitarist. “It’s really the ultimate gratification that people will spend their money in order to support you and your music.
“Plus, we all like each other enough to live together and eat ramen for the next couple of years,” he added with a laugh.
“It’s really because we’ve been so well received outside of San Luis Obispo that we’re willing to do this,” Curcio said. “We’re thankful to our parents for not kicking us out over these past couple of years, but now it’s time to spread our wings and see if this gig can take us somewhere.”
The band’s enthusiasm for the upcoming show should only serve to illuminate how excited the members are as a whole to give their loyal Central Coast fan base a little taste of something it hasn’t had previously.
“The whole point of our music is variety and progression, and the diversity of musical influences that we draw from really allows that progression in the first place,” Smith-Stewart said. “This show is a sort of little sampler of where we’ve gone since the album release party. Neither we nor our fans would be satisfied with anything less.”
The band also wanted to emphasize the opportunity that such a unique setting in a traditionally “standing room only” venue presents for those looking to make up some lost ground from earlier in the month.
“If you totally blew it on Valentine’s Day, this is your chance to make it up at a sweet concert with candles and funny stage props,” Arntzen said with a laugh. “We’re going to be bringing our dog, and he might even crowd surf. In short, it’s going to be awesome.”
The Still Time Unplugged concert will take place Friday, with doors opening at 8 p.m. at Downtown Brewing Co. Tickets are $12 at the door, and the show is 21 and up.