Dogs on Skis
2013 - Band
Band Members: Stu Mullins, Nick Stika, Jeff Musel, Mike Roeder, Mike Simpson, Bruce Vander Schel,
James Clancy, Pat Heffron, Rich Webster
Thanks go to original member, Mike Simpson, and long-time friend of the band, Tim Dickens, for coming up with the name, Dogs on Skis. The band’s first name, The Clancy-Simpson Group fell away after a “Name the Band” party. Inspired by a film clip from a popular CNN segment featured a poodle on water skis, Dickens followed-up by making t-shirts with the name Dogs On Skis – The Clancy/Simpson Group. After he and some friends wore these shirts at the band’s first public show, soon the group was known only as Dogs On Skis.
It was 1986 when Mike Simpson and Jim Clancy, two veteran Iowa City area musicians who played together in many bands, came off of the road and wanted to keep performing. Tight musicianship and layered vocal harmonies were the priority for the group that would cover classic rock dance music and current top 40 hits. The band’s original lineup had Simpson on drums, Clancy on keyboards and rhythm guitar, Bruce Vander Schel on lead guitar, Rich Webster on keyboards and rhythm guitar, and Ty Montgomery on bass guitar. Montgomery left the band soon after it formed and was replaced by Pat Heffron.
Popularity for Dogs on Skis grew in 1988, and the band played area summer festivals and street dances, including the Czech Village Street Dances and ‘The World’s Biggest Beach Party’ at “No Wa-Wa Beach,” a cornfield converted beach near Williamsburg, Iowa. As demand for their time also grew, Clancy stepped away and Mullins won the job as keyboardist/vocalist. Webster left in 1989 and Nick Stika became lead/rhythm guitarist/vocalist. In 1990, during the recording of the album I Bark, Therefore, I Am, Heffron left and Jeff Musel became the new bassist/vocalist. The album includes tracks by both bassists.
1994 saw the Country/Western boom, and Stika, Musel and Vander Schel formed a country band called Bandolero. While Bandolero played mostly country, the band ended up being ‘Dogs On Skis with cowboy hats’. Some former members, including Webster and Clancy, came back to do some ‘reunion’ shows in 1995. Dogs On Skis played primarily summer events while Bandolero played bars and dance halls the rest of the year.
The line-up for Dogs On Skis changed several times during 1998-1999. Clancy replaced Mullins and keyboardist/saxophonist Denny Lodin replaced Vander Schel. When Simpson, Clancy and Lodin left, Mullins and Vander Schel rejoined with Mike Roeder on drums. Since Vander Schel’s last show on New Years Eve 1999, the band’s lineup has been steady with these members:
Stu Mullins splits his duties between lead and backing vocals, keyboards, rhythm guitar and auxiliary percussion. He shares his creative time with his other band Stickman, and released his first solo album "Violet" in 2013. Mullins is the director of a youth center in Iowa City and also works as a music producer and engineer.
Jeff Musel is the bassist and one of the lead vocalists. He spent several years at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles working as a sound technician and is credited as assistant engineer on albums by musical luminaries Yes and Bob Dylan. Musel is the manager of the West Music store in Marion.
Mike Roeder plays drums and contributes some lead and backup vocals. He started playing music in his early teens and is a 40 year veteran, playing around the country and in Las Vegas. He’s also recorded on several projects in Los Angeles.
Nick Stika plays lead and rhythm guitar and sings lead and backup vocals. He performs solo acoustic shows at many local music venues around the area. He released an album of original songs called Big Ol’ Moon and is working on a follow-up. In 2008, he released his first novel Bag Of Knives, a rock & roll mystery, and is currently writing a second.
Demand for the band nearly 27 years after its inception continues, and 2012 was the biggest year in Dogs On Skis history with the band playing nearly 80 shows.