Sidecar Social Club performs music from another era, spiked with an attitude that is all now.
The band describes its influences as “speakeasy jazz to the bizarre cabarets of wartime Berlin, from the sounds of Latin American dance halls and the big band era to soulful R&B and fifties rock, with a number of infectious originals sprinkled in.”
Sidecar’s Aaron Bittikofer started playing the upright bass in college at Penn State. Except for a post-college sojourn with a jazz-inspired rock band, he’s been playing jazz ever since — more than 30 years.
“If you move to upright bass, you’re either going to play classical or jazz,” he said.
“It’s elegant — things that are elegant have a timeless appeal, like a black tuxedo or a black dress. Jazz is American classical music; that’s our contribution to the world. I wish it were embraced more, because it is truly an American art form.”
Other members of the band are Lisa Veronica Wood on vocals, Jim Crew on keyboard, F.O. Finch III on saxophone, and Ed Butler doing the honors on drums.
The musicians had played together in various groups for years before Sidecar’s first official rehearsal in 2012.
“One rehearsal happened, and when you’ve been playing enough years, you know when it’s right,” said Bittikofer. “We looked at each other at the end of the rehearsal, and said, ‘This is it; this is the band.’ We have a chemistry together that I haven’t had in any other band.”
Sidecar regularly plays at Irregardless Café and Humble Pie in Raleigh. At the latter, swing and ballroom dance clubs often show up to practice their moves.
“Our audience took to us right away, and we’ve been steadily building our audiences wherever we go,” said Bittikofer. “We’ve been really fortunate to be a danceable jazz group.”
The band also injects a modern twist into its performances with reworked songs from Wham!, Cake and Queens of the Stone Age. These unexpected compositions are fun for the band, says Bittikofer, and help them connect to all sorts of audiences.