Potbelly victorious in Battle of the Bands

Members of up-and-coming band Potbelly are still reeling over their Nov. 12 victory in the UVM Battle of the Bands. Potbelly is a five-piece jazz/funk outfit featuring sophomore Connor Rowntree on bass, sophomore Mike Membrino on keys, sophomore Tim Jebb on the saxophone, first year Ryan Pugliares on guitar and sophomore Dan Crespo on drums. The band began to take form just last year with Pugliares and two UVM students, who have since left UVM and the band. Crespo joined up when he was called in to play with them for a radio show, though he had never before played with the other musicians. “It was really exciting,” Crespo said. “I just wanted to keep going and play more concerts.” Though two of the original members are no longer involved, Potbelly continues to play and build their sound, having found new band members through the UVM music program. “I met Connor through the UVM Pep Band,” Crespo said.   “Then we picked up Mike and Tim through Big Band jazz and we all just hit it off,” Pugliares added. Though Crespo and Pugliares are not music majors themselves, both take playing seriously, especially after their recent victory. “I don’t know what I’m doing,” Pugliares said.  “You could say it’s a hobby I guess, but I see it as something I could do for the rest of my life, if at all possible.” The band is starting to consider the possibility of becoming something bigger. “We didn’t take it as seriously as we could have before,” Crespo said. “Now we know, if we really work hard and get our names out there, hell, maybe we could go somewhere.” Though Crespo and Pugliares both admit they were terribly anxious about the Battle of the Bands finals, they did not let their nerves show. “[I] always get nervous before a show,” Pugliares said. “[I] don’t eat all day, mope around, then right before the show it just translates into this crazy energy.” Both Crespo and Pugliares express a deep fascination with the funky jazz style they produce. “There’s just so much to it,” Pugliares said. “It’s so much more involved than other genres.  I’ve learned so much through the band; they’re all incredible musicians as far as I’m concerned.” “The style of music we play — you never really know what’s coming next,” Crespo said. “[I’m] just playing from the heart.” As reactions show, these musicians are not alone in their appreciation of their musical direction. “The crowd was just amazing,” Crespo said of the finals.  “It’s so cool to look out and see all those you know and love, and so many you don’t know, really enjoying it.” The musicians say they’ll be hitting the studio to start recording as soon as possible, and hope to start booking shows more regularly.  Regardless, you can see them on stage at Springfest 2011.