Jazz the Dog is the name of a new band in Santa Cruz. Jazz is also literally the name of a dog—guitarist Rick Zeek’s dog, in fact. Unfortunately, she passed away. But he commemorated her by getting her stuffed, and now you can see her at every Jazz the Dog show, set up on stage while the band plays.
“She’s our mascot,” says band founder Rhan Wilson. “Half the people think it’s the coolest thing in the world, and they want to ask all kinds of questions. And the other half of the people just think it’s the weirdest thing, and they’re horrified by it. So that’s kind of fun.”
The band is new, but Wilson, Zeek, and Patti Maxine have been playing music together through various projects. They played together for Wilson’s “Altared Christmas” shows, where he’d take popular Christmas tunes and play them in minor keys or other offbeat alterations. Sometimes they’d play a show billed as Rhan and Friends, or Patti and Friends, or whatever name they came up with.
“It gets confusing,” Wilson says. “Jazz the Dog is … well, you remember it. Everybody has remembered this name. It’s kind of hard to forget it, and then you have a dog there. It’s the same kind of music, but we’re trying to come up with a way for people to remember who we are and have fun with it.”
The band’s set features a combo of Zeek’s original tunes, which are in the realm of Americana, and covers that have been altered by Wilson, much like he does for the “Altared Christmas” shows. There’s also a high probability that the band will improv and change things up at the show depending on the crowd that night.
“I’ll rearrange them and slow them down, or make them a Bossa Nova beat, or put them in a minor key. They’re not all rearranged. We don’t go for a note-for-note replication,” Wilson says. “We’re trying to be original about everything we do. I want them to know that we are creating whatever we’re doing that night.”
INFO: 5 p.m. Friday, March 23. Michael’s on Main, 2591 S Main St., Soquel. Free. 479-9777.