The talent: Nick Stika (guitar/vocals), Stu Mullins (keyboard/guitar/percussion), Jeff Musel (bass), Mike Roeder (drums)
The sound: Mostly classic and modern rock covers
The gigs: 4 to 8 p.m. Oct. 2 @ Oktoberfest at Millstream Brewery in Amana; 7 to 10 p.m. Oct. 3 @ John Ernest Vineyard, Tama
The rest of the story: www.dogsonskis.com
For 23 years Dogs on Skis has been providing the soundtrack for weddings, bars, parties, concerts and festivals in Eastern Iowa. And they have no plans to slow down anytime soon.
Primarily a rock group, Dogs on Skis prides itself on being able to play most anything the situation calls for. Classic or modern rock, Top 40, a little country if the situation demands it. Dogs on Skis is a veritable radio station of a band with two to three hundred songs at the ready.
Nick Stika, Stu Mullins, Jeff Musel and Mike Roeder have been covering top hits for a decade and friends even longer, and it’s the closeness of the group that gives them their longevity.
“We get along, we’re actually all friends,” Nick says.
“It’s like a marriage at our age,” Stu says. “What are you going to do, start over?”
“Our age” is in their late 40s and early 50s, though any of them could pass for a crew that doesn‘t put their gig money in their kids’ college funds.
“It does keep you young. It gives you a young mindset,” Stu says.
Ignoring any “old dogs, new tricks” jokes — tempting as they are — Dogs on Skis keeps on top of modern music, regularly adding new songs to their repertoire as they come out. (Ok, just one:“I guess you can teach an old dog new songs.”)
Dogs on Skis grew out of a pair of friends who played together in the 1970s who are no longer with the band. According to Nick, “It was kind of a midlife thing.”
The name came from, randomly enough, an old CNN advertisement that featured, what else, dogs on skis. Several members left for various reasons, but starting in 1999, the Dogs have kept a steady lineup.
That continuity has led to an astounding up tick in shows. The group plays around 50 shows a year, all in Eastern Iowa and many of them private.
Despite the name and the sometimes tongue-in-cheek Web site, Dogs on Skis takes their music seriously. Both Nick and Stu have side projects with other bands or solo acts, and Nick has been a full-time musician for the past two years.
“Music has that intimate emotion that you have to wrap around yourself or it doesn’t work,” Stu says.
How long they’ll keep playing Maroon 5 and Johnny Cash is anyone’s guess, but there’s no notion that the end is near.
“When one guy leaves, we’ll probably call it. It’s too ingrained,” Stu says. “We’ve had a good run.”