In many ways, Iowa City’s newest festival, Witching Hour, is a renaissance. After all, the festival celebrates the cultural exploration of the unknown in a time when many are turning away from the traditional American dream experience to lifestyles more sustainable and contributory.
In doing so, we are collectively seeking a more open cultural identity: one without discrimination of thought, with a search for understanding and a refocusing on the arts and culture which detail the lives we lead. We’re chipping away at it here in Des Moines, but with Iowa City’s strong cultural history, they’ve always been ahead of the curve.
Witching Hour collects artists and academics of all types into Iowa City’s downtown/campus area for two days of talks, performances, and demonstrations.read more
There has been somewhat of an ongoing discussion between those of us here at DSM Shows as to what roles surrounding cities play in your own music scene. Does a well-curated music festival a couple of hours away play a part in the quality of surrounding cities’ music culture? Or is the condition of a city’s music culture defined only by that which occurs inside the city lines?
I think it depends on the city. Des Moines is in a unique position due do its central location between a number of (once?) thriving metropolises. Growing up in central Iowa, driving to see live music was expected. In my teenage years, I probably saw as many shows at Gabe’s Oasis in Iowa City and the Sokol Underground in Omaha as I did at the Vaudeville Mews and The House of Bricks.
That’s not to mention the fact that Des Moines band’s are frequently invited to play shows in surrounding cities. Many locals played the Mission Creek Music Festival this year and numerous shows in places like Minneapolis, Omaha, and Chicago this year alone have featured some of our very own musicians in their lineups.
Perhaps it’s all a discussion of semantics. Local vs. regional. Either way, until Des Moines becomes a must-tour destination for artists, I’ll continue driving a couple of hours to see incredible, contemporary musicians with no complaints.read more
Quietly killing it up in Ames, Iowa, Workerbee Records has been a major contributor in the physical music realm of local music. In the past few year alone, the label has been responsible for a grip of excellent Iowa music compilations, as well as releases by local names like Nate Logsdon and Goldblums (among others).
Those busy bees always have something new in the works, and this time they’ve really stepped up their game with the Ugly Singles Club. Riding in the merchandising wake of things like albums on USB drives that could be worn as necklaces, Workerbee has tastefully announced a new line of buttons for your denim jacket, hat, backpack, etc.
Each button comes packaged with a download code for an otherwise unreleased EP or single. Then we can all wear our buttons and walk around and give each other nods of appreciation for supporting local music, big and small. Or you can just flip that shit on eBay for 400% profit. Supply and demand, bitches.
The Ugly Singles Club is kicking off March 25 with a release from France’s Double Cheese, and will be followed by something really grimy and good from our own The Vahnevants.read more
Long the torch-bearer for objectively supporting music of any and all genres, the Des Moines Social Club recently announced its new music series specifically curated to continue expanding their musical boundaries both figuratively and literally.
The series begins on Valentine’s Day with a lovely performance by Austin, TX based Swing-ers, The Hot Club of Cowtown. From there, it continues over the next few months with performances ranging from throat singing of Southern Russia to punk rock from Mongolia with some offerings of good ol’ American Jazz, Soul, and electronic music thrown into the mix to really round out the diverse roster of the first season of this new series simply called DMSC Presents.
It’s like all of the globe-trotting grandeur of a Civic Center season announcement scaled down to working class prices for the rest of us. Thanks DMSC. After all, if you have to live life landlocked, then you might as well try and bring the world to you.read more