Credit: Cameron Crabtree

Santa Barbara’s Uncle Uncle kicks off their first tour at the Golden Bull in Oakland on May 7. The four members of this fledgling folk-rock group will take vacations from their full-time jobs to hit the road north, with additional gigs in Healdsburg, Portland, Eugene, and Santa Cruz. Before returning for a homecoming concert at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club in June, their last stop is at the Shabang Festival in San Luis Obispo. When I asked Uncle Uncle’s lead singer Kevin Cappon how it felt to take time off from work to work as a musician, he was genuinely confused. For Cappon and his bandmates, going on tour doesn’t feel like work. He told me, “It’s fun, and I get to spend time with my friends, making music.”

(L-R) Nick Fields, Dominick Burnham, Christian Edstrom, Kevin Cappon | Credit: Paul Otte

Formed back in 2017 in Santa Barbara, the band started as a duo with Cappon as the lead singer/guitarist and Dominick Burnham on the drums. Cappon met Burnham in college and knew him as the “the music guy.” Although Kevin himself hadn’t been part of a band in more than 10 years, he would regularly write lyrics for songs and come up with melodies as a hobby. One day, Cappon asked Burnham to jam and quickly realized their musical backgrounds complemented one another’s.

Both started playing at a young age: Cappon grew up on a ranch playing recreationally, while Burnham played music in school. Burnham elaborates, “I learned music through school — I was always in orchestras while moonlighting in rock bands. Connecting with Kev was special because he approached music in a lyrics-focused way, whereas I wasn’t from that world. With our unique backgrounds, we started to make music together.”

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It wasn’t long after a few jam sessions that they started recording their first EP together. Soon, they realized they wanted their live sound to expand, so they sought out Christian Edstrom, a Santa Barbara native and friend from UCSB, to join the band as a guitarist.

After six months of playing live shows with two guitarists and a drummer, they invited another fellow gaucho, Nick Fields, to join the band as a drummer. The band has consisted of Cappon (vocals and guitar), Burnham (bass), Edstrom (lead guitar), and Fields (drums) for four years now. Their sound is a mélange of beach vibes, and they say that some of their biggest musical influences are Neil Young, Parquet Courts, and Bob Dylan.

Cappon is the primary storyteller of the group. Although his personal life plays a role in his writing, he also has a pretty wild imagination, and he sings about things he has never done. Santa Barbara’s natural beauty also plays a role. Cappon wrote “Nira (I’m Alive)” after camping in Los Padres National Forest and “Island 73” about his time in Gaviota.

With three EPs released thus far — Say It (2018), Jawbone Wells (2019), and Prizefighter (2020) — Uncle Uncle will drop a full-length album at the end of this summer.

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