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Dogs on Skis to perform at Friday Night Concert Series

BY CLAIRE DIETZ | AUGUST 28, 2014 5:00 AM

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As the summer winds down and school begins, a few aspects of Iowa City’s downtown nightlife are continue, including the Friday Night Concert series.

There has been a wide variety of bands that played this summer, including Winterland, Recliner, Shades of Blue, and many more. On Friday, Dogs on Skis — 2013 inductees into the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — will take the stage.

“This year’s schedule was fun because we mixed in some newer bands such as the Muckrockers with bands that have been around for a long time, such as Dogs on Skis,” said Lisa Barnes, the executive director of Summer of the Arts. ”The Friday Night Concert Series is one of the best examples of bringing together a very diverse audience in downtown Iowa City to experience the arts.”

Dogs on Skis came together in 1986 as a classic rock cover band. Current members Stu Mullins, Nick Stika, Jeff Musel, and Mike Roeder joined along the way, helping the band earn a reputation for high-energy dance numbers and vocal harmonies.

Since its first album in 1990, I Bark, Therefore I Am, the band members  said they have had success playing anywhere from 50 to 80 shows a year, mostly in the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids area, and they look forward to returning to the Pedestrian Mall.

“It’s been a few years since we’ve performed for the Friday Night Concert Series, so we’re excited,” Mullins said. “We’ll focus quite a bit on ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s material for this show: Cheap Trick, Dire Straits, Midnight Oil, Queen, REM, U2, the Cars, Tom Petty. We always like playing plenty of Beatles, so we’ll for sure do that.  And we’ll throw in some relatively current artists such as Weezer, Coldplay, Decemberists, and Lumineers.”

Despite a busy band schedule in the past few years, some of the members have found to time to pursue side projects. While bassist and lead vocalist Musel is working on his first solo project, guitarist and backup vocalist Stika has kept busy performing and promoting his solo CD, Big Ole Moon, as well as releasing his first novel, Bag of Knives.

Mullins —vocalist, keyboardist, guitarist, and percussionist — has released three CDs with the pop band Stickman, and he produced his first solo CD, Violet, in 2013. 

“That had always been one of my life goals,” he said. ”With the obligations of my career, family, and the bands, it took awhile to finish the CD, but it was very rewarding.”

Despite the band playing a wide variety of music, Dogs on Skis members said they try to read the audience and pull material on the fly often, making them a hit with local audiences.

“The goal of this festival has always been to showcase the best bands in Johnson County or with ties to Johnson County, and I think the committee does a great job,” Barnes said.

Like the other 13 Friday Night Concert Series performances this summer, the Dogs on Skis’ show will be free and open to all audiences, thanks to local sponsors.

“Because we don’t charge any ticket prices for our concerts, we rely on sponsorship and donations to fund our programming,” said Emily McMahon, the development director for the Summer of the Arts. “Sponsorship allows the company or organization to position itself as a supporter of the arts and receive lots of positive community visibility.”

Though they have played music for decades, the members of Dogs on Skis said they do not plan to slow down anytime soon, whether they’re having a beer named after them at Millstream Brewery or recording new albums.

“We are like family, enjoy our friendship, and, of course, making music, so I see us continuing for some time,” Mullins said.


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