‘More Than Just a Party Band’ premieres May 20. | Credit: Courtesy

After an enticing short teaser at November’s Hello Santa Barbara! concert and documentary filming event — featuring Independent writers Matt Kettmann and Josef Woodard, among others, opining about the enduring appeal of Santa Barbara–based musician Spencer Barnitz — tickets for the world premiere of More Than Just a Party Band are now on sale. The event takes place at the New Vic Theater on Saturday, May 20, at 7:30 p.m. and director/writer Robert Redfield said he’s looking forward to being able to share the film, especially after the fall preview.

“I couldn’t believe the crowd’s excitement. But it’s really no surprise. I mean, the crowd loves him,” said Redfield. “Hopefully people who know Spencer at a pretty good level will learn something from the film. And I think they will, because even his sister said she has.”

Spencer’s sister Liz Barnitz, who performs as part of the band Spencer the Gardener, is one of the dozens of recognizable friends, neighbors, and musicians who join Spencer in telling the story of his music and its inspirations against a backdrop of his life in Santa Barbara, London, Peru, and Mexico.

While the film has obvious appeal for Spencer’s legions of local fans, Redfield is planning to submit it to festivals and believes it also has some universal appeal. The feedback he’s gotten supports that theory. “There’s lots of documentaries that are local, just as long as the story themes are somewhat universal, and understandable by people. Defining your own success as an artist — that’s a pretty universal theme. And that’s definitely one of the takeaways from More Than Just a Party Band.”

The film is one of three parts of a project envisioned by Emile Millar and his Hello Santa Barbara! production group. Also part of the package was the sold-out concert at the Lobero last November and a new Spencer the Gardener album, which will have its own after-party/listening party at Scarlett Begonia (next door to the theater) after the film premiere. 

“I’ve always wanted to work with Spencer; make a big, lush record; and really blow his fans away with his new material,” said Millar, who produced both the film and the album. “But before I pitched him the idea, I realized, here’s an artist with a 40-year career and a life story filled with fun, youth, success, bad luck, happiness, heartbreak, and dedication — all the components of a great documentary film, so we made an album AND a movie AND sold out the Lobero — it was crazy, but worth it. I’m very proud of this and the team that made it all happen.”

Following the screening of the 80-minute film will be a short Q&A session with the director and producer. Tickets are now on sale at bit.ly/3oQwmlV. View the film’s trailer at morethanjustapartybandfilm.com.


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