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Documentary movie brings 40 years of Spencer Barnitz and the Spencer the Gardener band to the screen

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A documentary film about the iconic Santa Barbara musician Spencer Barnitz and the Spencer the Gardener Band will be featured in a debut Friday night at the New Vic theater in Santa Barbara.

Hello! Santa Barbara is producing films celebrating community heroes.

This film, "More Than Just a Party Band", is a full length film following the personal and professional journey of Barnitz. It starts when his young band the Tan signed with EMI records in June of 1984.

The story line includes the rising popularity of the group, a tragic accident, and the forming of Spencer the Gardener.  

The band is booked solid year-round including the highlight, the opening night of Old Spanish Days in August. That has brought out a large crowd of dancing fans in the outside space adjacent to the Pickle Room bar, on Canon Perdido St.

Beyond the shows, it is a compelling story of life, love, songwriting, medical challenges and thousands of dancing, happy fans.

Many friends and musicians are quoted in the film and clips go back to the very roots of this musical and life journey in Santa Barbara.

The producer is Emile Millar. It is written and directed by Robert Redfield. Barnitz was also a co-writer.

Redfield said, "yes. I did follow Spencer to a lot of performances. We also had a lot of time to dig deep to talk about his motivations his comebacks his loves and loves lost."

Barnitz is in the movie talking about lyrics and life. He says, " If I could just have you to hold on to. I could hold on. I still believe it." The explains,   "Of course I'm talking about a girl. Every song is about a girl."

For Redfield, "the bottom line is his shows and music are fun they are just fun. however there's also a side to it.   If you want to get into lyrics there's some deep stuff there and those came from life experience."

The documentary even has a clip from Good Morning America when the show visited Santa Barbara.
The announcer says, "people love your band.  It is the all time best party band." Spencer comes back with, "It's deeper than that though.     It's a profound party band.  It's a Latin big band spy movie set on a moody tropical beach."

As much as the band plays around Santa Barbara, it has a well-traveled route over the years to San Francisco where there was a time of many bookings.

Redfield said "he is part of the fabric of the community and he is authentic. I think that's one of the things people like about his performances.  He's real he is not trying to be anybody."

The Hello! Santa Barbara production has over 100 scenes,  interviews and performances."

While there will be some real time, personal feelings that come out in this film. There's also a storyline, still to be told. "I don't think I've written the most beautiful song I could write yet," Barnitz said walking away from the camera.

For more information go to: Hello! Santa Barbara

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Article Topic Follows: Lifestyle
Santa Barbara
Spencer Barnitz
Spencer the Gardner Band
Vic Theater

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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