The Tim Sturm Band may be bundled up in this file photo, but the group is heading for a warmer climate. Before they go, though, the band will perform one last concert Friday in Kenai.
Photo submitted by Danette Howla
Change is an important part of music. Those who don’t, feel stale after some point in their career.
But that’s not the case for the Tim Sturm Band. In fact, for them, change is inevitable especially in their direction.
The Kenai Peninsula-grown band is heading south to the Northwest to continue its musical career, but not before one last farewell performance. The musical foursome will play at 8 p.m. Friday at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium in Kenai.
Nelson Kempf, Tim Sturm, Joshua Northcutt and Keeley Boyle have grown up and grown musically together over the past two years. They have played to audiences statewide, rapidly developing their own sound, a blend of talents resulting in frequent use of those multihyphenated genre labels when trying to describe what they play.
When asked to describe the band’s style, Kempf said it’s folk-rock with a healthy respect for Americana, jazz and blues.
As the story goes, Kempf, the lead guitarist-vocalist and founder of the band, urged his best friend Sturm to learn the bass guitar in middle school, and therein lies the little known punk rock roots of the band.
Kempf’s edgy poetic lyrics and distinct sound on guitar are the vitality and voice of the band today. His energy drives the group. He is alive with art and dreams and worries and you can hear them in every song he writes.
Sturm did pick up the bass guitar. His serene demeanor while performing and steady hand on the bass accurately represents his off-stage persona. He brings to the group a grounded, unconditional support that the band relies upon both on and off stage.
He delights his band mates and audience with a well-timed easy smile and the well-played “scratch.”
A young man of few words, when asked about the last two years with the band, he is not at all glib. He describes it as a “great experience,” and the number one thing that kept him going throughout high school.
He eagerly anticipates what will undoubtedly be a lot of work, but also a great opportunity to “get out there and explore.”
Work is as common a thread in each of the band members’ dialogue, as is love of music. Regarding her expectations about what is to come, Keeley said she knows they’ll have to work hard. She doesn’t anticipate any magic or easy breaks, but she looks forward to the adventure of it.
“This is what I love. This is a part of me and I have to pursue it,” she said.
Boyle is the band’s yin spirit. She gives generously her warm voice, guitar stylings and unguarded, poetic musings on life and love. She captivates her audience with her delivery and presence, then shakes them back to the authentic substance that is the Tim Sturm Band with an unpretentious comment blurted out between songs.
Authenticity is important to these musicians. They describe themselves as an honest band with a broad enough repertoire to format their sets according to venue and audience. The band members are learning and adapting constantly.
Northcutt, a serious and dedicated music student, said it has been interesting going from the controlled, directed world of high school music to a place of independence. Working with the band has been a motivating, educational experience, he said.
His musical talents manifest themselves whether he’s playing the djembe, a full drums, accordion or harmonica. He’s got the mind of the professional musician approaching music technically and mechanically. But he has the soul of a rock star, not afraid to throw off his shirt in a fit of passion during the first song of the night.
As to the adventure ahead, he puts it simply: “I’d rather fail at this by 27 than be an old man regretting never having tried.”
And there should be no regrets given that the journey is every bit as important as the destination. Farewell Tim Sturm Band.
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