Local band adds some ‘pop’ to jazz sound of yesteryear
by Bobbie Katz
The Shaun DeGraff Band may be a Prohibition Era-style band, but those at The Sand Dollar Lounge on Spring Mountain Road June 21 surely will find the evening anything but dry. In fact, the joint will be jumping as folks drink in something different being offered for their consumption, starting with the band’s unique combining of the ultimate popular song list of today with a reimagined acoustic vintage sound. Carrying the look and feel of the era all the way through with 1920s costumes and microphones, DeGraff and company fully depict his motto, “Everything new just got old again.” “For the last three years, we’ve been doing nothing but private and corporate gigs,” DeGraff said. “So this is special. What we’ve been doing is really fresh. We take pop songs and rearrange them to make them sound entirely different. It is the vibe that changes, while the melody and lyrics remain the same. “Our sound is almost like a circus jazz feel. We make up beats. We take our style from a lot of different places and genres — the 1930s Harlem sound, Chicago blues, New Orleans’ Bourbon Street. We’re trying to put the fun back into jazz, which has gotten a reputation for being sleepy and serious.” A cover band until now, the group just recorded its first EP, Gypsy Nation. DeGraff previously released four full-length CDs as a solo artist. “We’ll be debuting the EP and celebrating my birthday at The Sand Dollar. We’ll be doing three sets with songs from the Backstreet Boys, to R. Kelly, to Radiohead,” he added. DeGraff, who is from Las Vegas, is the band’s main vocalist and master of ceremonies, and he also plays the piano. Beginning in 2006, he performed the dueling piano show at New York-New York hotel-casino for eight years. He formed The Shaun DeGraff Band in 2013, which started modestly as a trio doing little gigs around town, with DeGraff singing and playing the piano and banjo. Today, DeGraff performs solo, with his quartet, or with his seven-piece band that includes a female vocalist and a horn section. At the upcoming Sand Dollar show, Degraff and his seven-piece band, which features San Lemos on saxophone and vocals, Andrew Boostrom on trombone and lead vocals, and Sean Carbone on banjo, will perform because he feels it’s the best way to showcase it. “We’re just a bunch of guys who don’t take ourselves too seriously,” DeGraff summed up. Bet your bottom Sand Dollar, it will be a high-energy toast to a jazzy Wednesday night.