David Willis has the kind of voice that makes people stop and listen.
His vocals are simple. He doesn't scream or try for dramatics. He just leans into the microphone and sings, and listeners lean forward with him.
Willis is the lead singer for a new local band, Big Pants.
Colorado Mountain College students may have seen the band playing in the cafeteria or at campus events. Three of the four band members work at the college. But for those who rarely venture up Bob Adams Drive, the band is playing a gig off campus tonight.
Willis started working as the librarian at CMC in the summer of 2004. It wasn't long before he met Tommy Larson, student activities coordinator and adviser to the CMC Rock Star Club.
Larson invited Willis to play with him and the CMC food service general manager, Russell Funke.
When the three CMC staff members decided they wanted to form a band, they started looking for a drummer. They auditioned a few people but didn't find the right chemistry until Brett Johnson showed up in January.
Johnson came to Big Pants through Willis.
"We grew up in the same hometown (Champaign, Ill.) but never met each other until we got to Steamboat," Willis said.
Johnson didn't pick up a pair of drumsticks until he moved to Steamboat Springs four years ago and didn't get serious about playing until 1 1/2 years ago.
Any holes the band may have from inexperience, Larson said, are filled by Funke's guitar playing. Funke is a musical veteran.
"He's played on stages behind chicken wire," Larson said.
To date, Big Pants plays mostly cover songs, but its audience won't be hearing "Brown-Eyed Girl" or "All Along the Watchtower."
"We play the kind of songs that will make people say, 'Wow, I haven't heard that in a while,'" Larson said. At a Big Pants show, you might hear the Grateful Dead's "Franklin's Tower," The Meters' "Just Kissed my Baby" or Beck's "The Golden Age."
"Whatever we play, this show is going to be some good mud-season madness," Willis said.