The Handlebar has been home to many monumental sendoff shows for bands that have shaped the local music front for at least the last decade. A lot of these bands have a way of making a return to the Handlebar stage after time has passed, either in their original form, solo or in a number of spin-offs.
Now, it’s time to pass the whiskey, pull out all the stops and do it again, to the tune of Mi Capitan.
Chances are that if you are at least in your mid-20s, and frequented shows in your teenage years, you saw Mi Capitan during their early-2000s prime.
In 2005, The IN Music Awards recognized Mi Capitan for one of their signature tracks and fan favorite, “The Sound” coining it as, “A low-fi jam that sounds like old-school Pedro the Lion.”
The IN also summed up the band as follows:
“With the help of piano arrangements and coed vocal harmonies, this experimental band transcends any of the stereotypes that usually plague Christian bands.”
In 2006, it was their parting that made the paper: “Former twothirtyeight phenom, Chris Staples, will perform with his group Discover America as everyone bids a final adieu to IN Music Awards winner, Mi Capitan…at the Handlebar.”
Now, years later and for one night only, you get to see them in their original glory, as a four-piece comprised of Aaron Finlay, Giovanni Lugo, Ava (Quigley) Griffith and Brad Frick.
If these names sound familiar to you, it could be because the members have been involved with a number of other projects around town. Before Lugo relocated to Texas, you probably saw him on stage with Paloma. Prior to Griffith moving to New York City, you might remember her playing with Gileah and the Ghost Train. Meanwhile, Finlay and Frick have remained on the home front. When not playing cover gigs together, Finlay can be found working on his current project, Precubed, playing with Isle or spinning records at the Yard.
The IN caught up with Mi Capitan to hone in on the excitement that is building for this holiday show reunion.
IN: What have you guys (and girl) been up to?
GRIFFITH: Be sure to exaggerate my education from me getting my B.S. in biology to getting my Ph.D in biology
LUGO: Yeah. I’m an oilfield tycoon currently
GRIFFITH: I own real estate in New York City. I breed unicorns.
FINLAY: I’m Kanye West.
IN: Whose grandiose idea was this reunion?
LUGO: I don’t think it was ever so much a plan as much as a “hey we’re all actually going to be in town at the same time. So, do y’all want to play?”
The holidays are always about sentimentality and tradition. I’ve always managed to find myself with one group or another to play during the holidays at the Handlebar, or at least go to a show — just sitting back and catching up with everyone over a few PBRs.
IN: Do the songs require practice or are they coming back to you quickly?
GRIFFITH: Some songs have felt natural. Especially “Is That All,” “This is Only a Test” and “Meat Grinder.” It’s been really fun to feel the songs come back like it’s second nature.
FINLAY: I’m happy that I don’t have to remember chords. Just drums and harmonies.
IN: What do you consider to be your biggest hits/fan favorites that you’re most looking forward to playing ?
FINLAY: I think “The Sound” is one of the fan favorites. I’m looking forward to all of them really.
GRIFFITH: Me too. I think we picked all the best/most fun ones to play so it should be pleasing to most.
FRICK: I am so looking forward to playing with these guys again. As far as what songs I am looking forward to playing, all of them.
IN: Any covers in the mix? Britney Spears maybe?
GRIFFITH: We’ll save our covers for when we open up for Lady Gaga in outer space in 2015.
IN: Mi Capitan has previously been described as a music hug.
GRIFFITH: I would like to think our music is still a musical hug. It’s a comforting hug. There’s no judging, no motives. We’re all coming together to share the music again that made a small part of our lives special.
FINLAY: What she said.
IN: What are some of the greatest Mi Capitan memories that have stuck with you over time?
LUGO: So much has happened since that first show at First Assembly of God years ago with Starflyer 59. The band had rotating members, new faces, familiar ones, a huge cast of characters and even last minute special guests.
FINLAY: Most of the shows at the Church on 12th and Bayou: Starflyer 59, Unwed Sailor, Arkitekt, etc. The out of town shows with Denison Marrs, Discover America, The Party People and Moments In Grace. Super fun times. Holy Crap. We played with some great bands!
GRIFFITH: I have a lot of fond memories of our mini tours when we would all cram into my Ford Taurus and drive to Jacksonville. Also I enjoyed our acoustic shows at the pink house. That’s when we featured some covers. I love singing harmonies and those shows were great for that. Unfortunately loud shows drown out the vocals but they’re still a blast.
LUGO: The band and playing music in general is an interesting way for anyone to grow up, especially in a community like Pensacola. I think there are so many truths or at least lessons to try and figure out, a sense of identity, always questioning yourself and the kind of life you want to live.
IN: What would you say to new listeners?
GRIFFITH: To new Mi Capitan listeners: I don’t know why but this is a hard question to answer. If you’re a new listener, I really hope you have a good time and enjoy the music. If you don’t, then just be polite and lie and say you liked it anyways.
LUGO: As far as the show is concerned, I want people to have a great time, talk, catch up, listen, love it, hate it, critique, whatever. I am definitely not one to impose any rules. Ha. I am at the mercy of the gracious Handlebar.
FINLAY: I’m with Ava. Just have fun and enjoy the music. Be cool and stick around for the other awesome bands.
MI CAPITAN REUNION
WHAT: Mi Capitan with JPegasus, Acorns and Kent Stanton
WHEN: 9:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 27
WHERE: The Handlebar, 319 N. Tarragona St.