“When we first started we had a lot of different people come in and out of the group,” recalls Travis Palmer. “We tried to get different piano players and bass players, and nobody really stuck. So we called ourselves the Once In A Whiles, ’cause every once in a while the band shows up.”
Travis Palmer and Stu Wilson are the most consistent members of the Once In A Whiles —Wilson plays violin and Palmer handles guitar and vocals. The friendship came from one of those rare serendipitous Craigslist match-ups. “Travis was playing at Hophead, which is closed now, and he was trying to get someone to add to what he was doing,” says Wilson. The pair has played a few memorable gigs at Hophead, including multiple occasions where they showed up during another band’s sound check: “[The owner] double-booked us more than once. Sometimes he’d split the bill or just give us gas money and tell us to go home … Maybe that’s why he’s out of business.”
Other memorable gigs include an impromptu show as the backing band at a stand-up comedy night, where a few classic rock covers evolved into a “comedic jam sesh.” While their usual set list features Django-Reinhardt-inspired jazz numbers, Palmer and Wilson draw from their varied musical backgrounds to make unique arrangements. Palmer is currently enrolled in Cabrillo’s music program with a focus on piano composition, while Wilson is a retired physicist, who says that the profession is intrinsically related to his passion: “With physics, I can visually imagine how things are connected, and with violin strings, physics come into play and you just start getting a feel for how it all makes sense. Einstein played violin!”
Travis Palmer and The Once In a Whiles play a fundraiser for Soroptimist International of Watsonville on Saturday.
3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10. Seascape Golf Club, 610 Clubhouse Drive, Aptos. $75. 688-3213.