If you go

What: The Pamlico Sound 1st Anniversary Funkstravaganza with Kung Fu and Thurston Group

Where: The Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder, 303-443-3399

When: 9 p.m. Thursday

More info: pamlicoparty.com, foxtheatre.com

Don't call The Pamlico Sound a party band.

That's not to say you can't party with The Pamlico Sound. The band welcomes a good party. In the year since they came together, the funky, psychedelic group has become notorious for its monthly house parties, and even the formal shows inevitably take on a party feel. But whether the average concert-goer realizes it or not, what keeps people coming back for more is musicianship. Will Baumgartner leads the band on saxophones, flute, guitar and vocals, while the band's eight other members offer their talents on bass, guitar, drums, saxophones and vocals.

"It's been really exciting," he said. "Our first show was at George's next to the Boulder Theater, you know, that little tiny place. People just immediately liked us and caught on to the whole soul-funk-groove-psychedelic-trippy vibe."

Before that September, 2010 show, The Pamlico Sound started with a Craiglist ad. Baumgartner -- who's been on the Boulder music scene for 12 years -- posted a search for a rhythm section and found guitarist Neal Marks. The rest of the group came together through networking and word of mouth.

The first of the monthly house parties went down at frontman Baumgartner's place on the Hill last December. It was then, Baumgartner said, that "the buzz really started going." After the success of the first gig, the group started getting invites to play parties around the city, and from there, requests to play formal shows at spots like The Lazy Dog and The Bluebird Theater started coming in.


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But the parties didn't just serve as publicity. They became opportunities to work out material in a way the band might not be able to in a more planned, choreographed theater show.

"It's helped us work out our jam element. Even though we definitely are not -- and don't want to be considered -- a jam band. We're a funk-soul band that has this element of jam," Baumgartner said.

"We'll stretch out songs, get the audience involved in chants, go places we didn't expect to go with a song."

The Pamlico Sound plays the Fox Theatre tonight.
The Pamlico Sound plays the Fox Theatre tonight.

The Pamlico Sound released its first album this past July, but Baumgartner is sheepish about the group's first stab at recording. In fact, he hesitates to even call it an album.

"It's sort of a demo," he said. "It is our first CD, and it is good. People do like it. I just think we can do a lot better"

Whatever it's labeled, Roomful of Mittens represents an impressive effort. It was recorded in "just a few days" on a "minuscule budget." Baumgartner wrote most of the songs himself, but said he welcomes the "different personalities" that contributions from other band members can bring to the repertoire. Marks and trombonist Peter Osnes have each written a song, and bassist Will Robertson and vocalist Lauren Bacon are both working on material.

In the end, Baumgartner said, the band decided the recording was "good enough," but they didn't want to shoot for a massive commercial release or to try to have it reviewed.

Looking forward, The Pamlico Sound wants to start touring. The possibilities are limited right now because some of the members are students, so they're looking to play over spring break and summer vacation.

"If everything keeps going the way it's going, we're going to be in a really good position next fall," Baumgartner said. "What we want to do is we want to get ourselves recognized nationally."

The band is on the hunt for a booking agent to get the ball rolling, and Baumgartner has his sights set -- ambitiously, if distantly -- on someday playing in Europe.

"It's been a great year and it's super exciting to think: If we've come this far so fast, what's next?"