3 Dawgs and a Bone to celebrate UI professor’s retirement with fresh jazz

The local group will play original songs written by band member and University of Iowa professor Steve Grismore in a virtual concert on April 11 to celebrate his retirement.

Abby McCusker, Arts Reporter


Jazz takes on a whole new meaning when 3 Dawgs and a Bone take the stage. The band plays a combination of original tunes and altered jazz standards to give a fresh face to a classic genre. This weekend, the band will play a special concert to celebrate one of its member’s retirement from the University of Iowa — guitarist and UI Professor Steve Grismore.

The band, composed of Grismore on guitar, Scott Barnum on bass, James Dreier on drums, and Rich Medd on trombone will perform a live, virtual concert on April 11 at 7:30 p.m.

A professor within the jazz department, Grismore will retire from the UI at the end of the semester and wanted to commemorate his time with the university. The concert will feature originals written by Grismore that veer away from traditional jazz conventions.

A UI professor and band member, Dreier described Grismore’s music as untraditional, but “with a good vibe.”

“Steve likes to use a lot of effects and electronics on his guitar. So, there’ll be a lot of interesting sounds coming out of his guitar and interesting music,” Dreier said. “His music is wonderful and interesting and very different than what most people would think of if they’re thinking of jazz. It’s not what you would call standard jazz — I would call it sort of experimental electronic group improvisational jazz with a good groove.”

The band is allowed to invite a few people to be present during the performance, but a majority of the audience will tune in virtually to enjoy the music. Barnum said that not having an audience is strange because there isn’t the same level of human interaction.

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“There are just the people recording and us, basically the bare minimum with no audience,” Barnum said. “There’s a lack of social interaction with the audience. We can’t notice the clapping or listen to the audience. You’re just playing to a camera. It’s a different experience, mostly because of the lack of the audience.”

Grismore doesn’t change the way he views a virtual performance. He said he sees every concert the same way — the only thing that changes for him is the time restriction. Because the band includes an aerosol-producing trombone, they can only perform for 30 minutes, limits in compliance with the school’s COVID-19 guidelines.

“We play what we play and with all the craziness around that we just do what we do and if there are 15 or 20 people in the room, that’s great and we play for them,” Grismore said. “We say ‘hi’ to the folks online and we just go and pretend like it is a smaller than average concert and play a half-hour. In my mind, it doesn’t make me change too much but I’ll be glad when it (the pandemic) is over.”

The group plays around the Iowa City area and in neighboring states where they can get performance opportunities. Since the beginning of the pandemic, performance opportunities have ceased, leaving a void for the close-knit group, Dreier said. They have had to increase the number of rehearsals they have to make up for the lack of concerts they can perform.

“The biggest change has been no work and no opportunity to play so that has been pretty substantial,” Dreier said. “This group has played together for so long and we know each other so well that the familiarity comes back right away but there is no substitute for performing on a regular basis, it just gives you a different level of performance, and when you don’t have that opportunity, you suffer the effects of it.”

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