Start with old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll, stir in a little jazz and flavor it with some ska music.

    That combination describes the sound of The Mishaps, a Dodge City band made up of seven guys with an interest in ska — a Jamaican genre that combines elements of Caribbean mento music and calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues.
    Ska is characterized by a walking bass line accented with rhythms on the upbeat.
    The Mishaps enjoy mixing ska, jazz and rock because it gives them the freedom to come up with a unique sound, bass player Ben Hirschfeld said Friday.
    “For me, it’s kind of like soulful, and it just makes me feel good,” he said.
    The Mishaps are lead singer Alex Aldape, guitarist Darryn Graves, drummer Jeff Schnitker, Hirschfeld, trombonist/backup vocalist Ryan Keller, keyboardist/vocalist Brian Tiemeyer and saxophonist Chris Dutton.
    The Mishaps have spent the past two months rehearsing for their public debut, a triple bill with The Romantz and As the Day Dies.
    The bands will take the stage starting at 10 p.m. today at The Doctor’s Office, 113 Gunsmoke St. Admission is $5 at the door.
    Tiemeyer said he’s performed in public before, but he’s a little nervous about tonight’s show because he’s playing a different instrument now. But he’s also eager to share his band’s sound with an audience.
    “I’m looking forward to seeing a bunch of people that I’ve known for a long time, and I’m looking forward to people hearing our music,” he said in a phone interview. “And I’m looking forward to the feedback, too.”

Making music
    The Mishaps may be a new band, but it’s rooted in friendships that started in high school.
    Tiemeyer said everyone in The Mishaps -— except for saxophone player Chris Dutton — graduated from Dodge City High School. Hirschfeld was in the DCHS orchestra, and his friends Aldape, Tiemeyer, Keller and Graves were in the high school band.
    “I guess you could stay it all started in early high school,” Tiemeyer said. “Pretty much meeting each other through other contacts — just friends meeting friends, really.”    The friends started playing music together in 2001, united by their interest in ska. Tiemeyer learned to play the guitar around that time, and after he showed his friends what he could do, they decided to make music together.
    “I think our first band consisted of like three people — a guitar, a drum and a trumpet,” Tiemeyer said. “It was pretty terrible, but those are our roots.”
    He said Graves graduated from Dodge High in 2001, and Tiemeyer, Helfrich, Aldape and drummer Jeff Schnitker graduated two years later. Keller graduated in 2004.
    Some of the friends remained in Dodge City after graduating from high school, while others moved away.
    But the people who left town have either moved back to Dodge or are planning to return, and they decided to reunite with their friends and start a new band.
    The result: The Mishaps.
    “That’s pretty much what spurred it,” said Graves. “We’re all friends, and we’re musicians. And we’re all going through withdrawal from not playing music.”
    He said The Mishaps are focusing on cover songs now, but their ultimate goal is to begin writing and playing original songs.
‘That’s the
    Ask The Mishaps to describe why their sound appeals to them, and you’ll get six different answers.
    Keller, the trombone player, said ska is one of the few genres that allows him to play his instrument while jamming with a garage band.
    “I can’t play guitar,” he said. “God knows I can’t play drums. But you can sure play a horn, and I’ve seen some people say it (ska) is horn-driven.”
    Lead singer Aldape said he believed the trombone is the key to ska’s appeal.
    “The horn adds to the soul of it,” he said. “That’s the heartbeat, honestly. More than the drums, the horn is the backbone, I think, of ska music.”
    But Hirschfeld, the bass player, disagreed.
    “It’s all about the rhythm,” he said.
    Schnitker, the drummer, said he likes listening to older ska and reggae music, which were influenced by American jazz and rhythm and blues.
    “It comes full circle,” he said. “Everyone reflects off each other as they play and develop.”

Reach Eric Swanson at (620) 408-9917 or email him at