Zakk Jones, the university’s big band director, assistant professor of music and head of the guitar program and Jazz Studies, will play with the band “Doc Robinson” on Dec. 8 at Newport Music Hall.
Jones is an alumnae who is now a professor at the university. In 2015, he graduated from the university with a bachelor’s of music in jazz studies, and, in 2022, Jones received a master of music in jazz studies from Bowling Green State University.
Jones is involved in Doc Robinson, a band whose genre of music is what the band members like to describe as “backyard barbecue break-up music.” Jones is one of several band members to graduate from the university.
“In other ways to put it, it’s a mix of. . . classic ‘70s folk rock, also some indie pop and just straight up rock and roll,” Jones said. “The name of the band kind of comes from Dr. Dog and Smokey Robinson.”
“Through Capital, I’ve met all these Doc Rob guys in the scene,” Jones said. “I started getting calls to sub with them then over the years they asked me to be in it full time.”
Locally, we’ve played all the spots like Woodlands and A&R bar. . . and we’ve sold [out] A&R bar twice. That’s like a 400 [person] cap room. And so for us, we’re really trying to figure out. . . next logical step for a big room, big headlining show, and we played the Newport twice as an opener for Caamp. We thought, ‘Well, it’s a big jump, because it’s like a 900 [person] cap, but I think we’re gonna do the Newport,’” Jones said.
Jones began playing music when he was six years old. He started to create melodies by ear on his grandparents’ piano, leading them to sign him up for piano lessons.
“. . . I’ve been pretty much hooked ever since,” said Jones.
When Jones was 11, he began listening to classic rock bands like Aerosmith, Van Halen and Metallica and decided he wanted to set piano aside and learn guitar.
“. . . I was convinced I needed a guitar in my hands, so I could play that music, and I just felt really gravitated toward it,” he said.
He started gigging when he was playing in high school rock bands. Once he got to college, he “quickly” found his group of people that were on the same page musically and formed the “Wakefield Quartet,” moving away from rock to a more sophisticated type of music and transitioning into jazz.
“We kind of sucked, but we. . . put ourselves out there. We got some music and did some recordings in the studios and started booking gigs, and ever since that it’s just been a combination of what I call sideperson work where people call me to be in their bands, either full-time or part-time or just for one gig.”
Jones is interested in expanding his horizons outside of general gigs and is working on his personal work.
“I’m very much interested in putting myself out there with my own stuff. . . I have The Zakk Jones Trio, and I play once a month at Ginger Rabbit, which is a jazz venue in town, and I’m working on getting my first European tour next summer,” Jones said.
Jones describes the trio as “a guitar trio format, but we play all types of songs.”
Make sure to listen to Doc Robinson and The Zakk Jones Trio to learn more about Jones’ musical stylings and check out Doc Robinson at Newport Music Hall on Dec. 8.