If you’ve been in SLO for the last four years, chances are you’ve seen this popular jazz group capture the attention of local audiences. Consisting entirely of Cal Poly students, The CEOs live up to their motto, “Jazz is our business.” Over the last few years, they’ve played at community businesses such as SloDoCo and Linnaea’s Café. Her Campus Cal Poly was lucky enough to chat with some of the members about their music and what’s in store for the future.
HCCP: First things first: who plays what in the band?
The CEOs: Kevin Church (Architectural Engineering): Bass Guitar/Vocals
Elliot Fiske (Computer Science): Piano
Thomas Steinke (Computer Science): Trombone
Alina Lusebrink (Materials Engineering): Percussion/Vocals
Burlie Fisher (Math): Trumpet
Alex Remiticado (Architectural Engineering): Drums
HCCP: How did The CEOs come to be?
CEOs: Thomas and Kevin met at the open mic during WOW in 2012 and decided to play together. Elliot was Thomas’ roommate, and he quickly joined the group. The three of them won Santa Lucia’s talent competition and made it to the final Inter-Housing Talent Competition for Open House. Kevin met Alina the afternoon of the competition and invited her to play with the group in finals, which we ended up winning.
After building that momentum at Cal Poly, we started playing gigs at private banquets and in coffee shops. We’ve also played for the San Luis Obispo swing-dancing community. It wasn’t until we were in our second year that we added drums and trumpet.
HCCP: What kind of music do you like to play?
CEOs: Our motto is “Jazz is our business.” So everything falls under the genre of ‘jazz.’ We play about 50% swing, 15% blues, 15% latin, 10% funk, 5% ballad, and 5% misc.
HCCP: How often do you perform? Do you ever travel to play gigs?
CEOs: The band started out at a few performances per quarter. We play anywhere from 0-3 gigs each week, depending on how much we can commit to. We’ve been invited to play at a couple of festivals during summer, but haven’t been able to make it since we all have our own summer schedules. We don’t really book out-of-town gigs; we mostly just play in the area: at local coffee shops, Farmer’s Market, SLODoCo, Giuseppe’s, and at dance events.
HCCP: What’s been your favorite memory with the CEOs?
CEOs: [Alina] My favorite memory was the day I joined the band. I randomly met Kevin while walking through Open House; he invited me to practice that afternoon, and by that evening I was a full-fledged band member and we had just won the talent competition! We got one of those giant cardboard checks and tried to use it at Ciao! The workers were not amused, but we all thought it was hilarious. The guys are also just super great: although they make terrible puns, they’re great at jazz, and I’ve loved hearing the sweet licks they’ve come up with over the years. They’re a creative bunch, and they’re constantly inspiring me to do better.
[Kevin] Oh there are so many great memories. I absolutely love looking back on the gigs when all of us were present. There would usually be a bunch of jokes thrown around, sloppy renditions of new songs, dancing (sometimes in doorways), and some of the most beautiful jazz happenings between solos that would never happen the same way again. I loved the last Linnaeas Cafe gig we played…. I think it was in 2015. We were all at different places mentally that busy week, but somehow pulled together a lovely night of music in my favorite local venue for a very big group of friends and family.
HCCP: Alina, Kevin, and Thomas are graduating this quarter. What are your hopes with the band’s future?
CEOs: We definitely hope the band can continue. We’ve had a lot of gigs over the past 4 years, and we seem to be hitting our peak right now. Many people, from dancers to restaurant-goers, enjoy our music, and we’d like to keep it going. Burlie, Elliot, and Alex will be continuing the band, whether under the same name or something slightly different, like the CFOs or IOUs or UFOs. Right now, we’re searching for a new bassist, horn player, and vocalist to replace the three graduates.
HCCP: What are your upcoming gigs?
CEOs: We’ve been playing biweekly at SLODoCo on Tuesdays, an event called “Jazz and Donuts.” Our final gig for that is coming up on November 29th. We also play at Giuseppe’s Cucina Rustica, generally on Thursday and Friday nights. We’re also hoping to play at Linnaea’s Cafe one last time since that’s where we got started.
You can keep up with The CEOs on Facebook!