This ain’t your grandma’s music.
Well actually, it kind of is.
Although jazz music might not be as popular as it was during the 1920s and ’30s, one local band is attempting to bridge a 90-year-old generation gap.
“We’re hoping to infuse hot jazz with a contemporary twist and bring in a younger fan base,” said lead guitarist and vocalist of the Red Skunk Jipzee Swing Band Molly Reeves. The band will perform at the Sea Pines Golf Resort in Los Osos July 2 as a part of the “Barefoot” Concerts on the Green summer series.
“We started doing the concert series two years ago,” said Rocky Setting, event coordinator and manager of the golf resort. The concerts become more popular every summer, attracting many families and college students, he said.
“It’s a family atmosphere,” Setting said, adding that concert admission is free for people of all ages.
Red Skunk Jipzee Swing Band started as a duet in 2005. Since then, the band has changed players and grown. As one of the original two band members, Molly Reeves has produced and managed the group for six years, maintaining a vision of uniqueness.
“I wanted to start a jazz band because nobody played it,” Reeves said.
The band has six players who stumbled upon jazz music in different ways: Reeves (guitar/vocals), Sam Boorman (guitar), Kenneth Davis (drums and percussion), Justin Au (trumpet), Pamela Sheffler (violin) and Jamie Mather (bass).
Reeves’ music career began in 2005 when she was sent to a summer jazz camp in Mammoth, California at the age of 12.
“I completely fell head over heels in love with jazz,” Reeves said. “Then it became a career.”
“Molly dragged me out there,” Boorman said. “I was resilient to go to jazz camp because I was a rocker.”
Sheffler, a psychology freshman, and Mather, a history junior, both attend Cal Poly full time while playing in the band.
Mather joined the band five months ago with a rockabilly background.
“I’m just new to all this jazz stuff,” he said. “But it’s absolutely amazing.”
Django Reinhardt, a pioneering virtuoso jazz guitarist and composer of the ’20s and ’30s is the band’s biggest influence and inspiration.
“Every gypsy jazz band wants to be Django Reinhardt,” Mather said.
Mather said Reinhardt was born as a gypsy in tent city and combined gypsy jazz with American jazz, “he is by far the most inspiring person to the Red Skunks.”
As the band manager, Reeves hopes to keep the band busy this year and is pleased with the success of the band.
“We’re all paying our bills off our music,” he said.
Setting chose the Red Skunk Jipzee Swing Band because he has heard them sing in the past. “I just like their music,” he said. “They came last year, and I’ll ask them to come next year too.”
Performing at family events is one of the many ways members of the Red Skunks are enlightening younger generations about jazz music.
“When I’m standing on stage, I see people of every age,” Boorman said. “Our music is ageless.”
In addition to the Red Skunks, The “Barefoot” concert series will feature a variety of bands this summer. Seven bands have already performed at the weekly concert series, and three bands will follow the Red Skunk Jipzee Swing Band. Two reggae bands, Shival Experience (July 9) and The Kicks (July 16), followed by rock and blues band Cadillac Angels (July 23) will conclude the summer series.
The Red Skunks Jipzee Swing Band will perform from 2 to 6 p.m. The band is also preparing to make more music videos and will go on tour at the end of July.