Partial Lineups Announced For Nitefall on the River and Ankeny Unplugged

Two summer concert series have announced partial lineups, and they are pretty okay, so I thought I would share.

The first is the annual Nitefall on the River which is one of the more famous concert series in the state. Every year, Simon Estes Amphitheater hosts many well known and legendary National, International and Iowa acts. This year is no exception and here are the early details:

Sat., May 26 – Hairball – Doors 7pm, Show 8pm – $20/25

Fri., June 1 – The Nadas w/ Steve Poltz – Doors 7pm, Show 8pm – $15/20

Tues., June 12 – Jimmy Cliff – Doors 6pm, Show 7pm – $30/35

Wed., June 20 – Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers w/ Cornmeal – Doors 6pm, Show 7pm – $25/30

Thurs., July 5 – Yonder Mountain String Band – Doors 7pm, Show 8pm – $20/25

Thurs., July 26 – BoDeans – Doors 6pm, Show 7pm – $15

Advance tickets are on sale on Friday, April 20 at 10am at Tickets will also be on sale at Wooly’s (504 E. Locust St.) with no service fees.

I’m personally most excited for Jimmy Cliff. I caught about ten minutes of his set at Lollapalooza in 2010 and it blew me away. I am excited to get the chance to rectify my mistake.

Also, don’t sleep on Bruce Hornsby. While the name may elicit groans from some people because of his Adult Contemporary status, he is actually a very gifted singer and songwriter.

For more info head to

The other series that released at least a partial list of bands is the now annual Ankeny Unplugged. Sponsored by the Ankeny Jaycees and held in Wagner Park in ,um, Ankney obviously, this features many of the best Iowa has to offer in an outdoor, acoustic setting. This years announced bands are:

Christopher the Conquered & His Black Gold Brass Band
Fierce Bad Rabbit
Patrick Tape Fleming (of Poison Control Center)
Elizabeth Arynn
James Biehn
The New Bodies
The Host Country

Readers of this site will know where my tastes lie, but it will also give me a good chance to see some acts I am less than familiar with, like Fierce Bad Rabbits and The Host Country. Should be a heck of a time.

Head to

Your Complete GDP Song of the Day-ish

I figured to make it a little easier, I would catalog all of the GDP bands songs of the day into one post. Yes, I stole this idea from Des Moines Music Coalition’s website. What of it?

The Beatnicks

Unknown Component

The White Elephant


Hath No Fury


Trouble Lights

Christopher the Conquered & His Balck Gold Brass Band

The River Monks


And here is the schedule:

6:00 – Unknown Component
7:00 – The White Elephant
8:00 – The Beatnicks
9:15 – Hath No Fury
10:45 – Mumford’s

6:30 – Trouble Lights
7:30 – Tires
8:30 – Love Songs for Lonely Monsters
10:00 – The River Monks
11:30 – Christopher the Conquered & His Black Gold Brass Band

If you are planning on going, you should by tickets now at because you save $5. So, buy tickets now.

Your Weekend To Do List!

An oldie, but a goodie.

Last week I wrote a weekend guide with pictures of my kid, and like a whole lot of you read it. I mean like two and a half times my previous best day and four times my usual audience. My hope is that it wasn’t just pictures of the best looking kid in the world that brought you here. If it was, my hope is that most of you also went to some of the shows I posted about, like you’re supposed to. This weekend there are three big ones.

Fine, I will post one more picture.

Rampage Jackson chain

Des Moines Social Club Presents: Subjective Vaudeville w/Trouble Lights, Jordan Mayland, Comedian Ben Gran and The Flying Eagles Acrobalance Troupe – Vaudeville Mews – 4/13 10pm

Remember that video I posted when I debuted this blog and again when I did a preview for Trouble Lights at GDP?

You know, this one:

Well, I get the honor to present to you Trouble Lights’ Des Moines debut. They promise a very special show, and well if you watch that video, you know what they’re capable of. If it was just them, well, it would make the show a can’t miss. However, Jordan Mayland, from Tires, Keepers of the Carpet, Mantis Pincers, Nuclear Rodeo, Volcano Boys, The Wheelers (and I’m sure a bunch more) will play a solo show. He’s awesome. I mean, look at that list of bands he’s partially responsible for. Also, a funny comedian and some people doing cool acrobat stuff. Neat.

Oh, and I guess I will be the host for this show, which could be a train-wreck considering how little I like being in front of crowds and the fact that I’m a little sick. So, come say “hi” and maybe bring me some cough drops and words of encouragement.

Gross Domestic Product – Hotel Fort Des Moines – 6pm>

I have pretty much been pushing this show from day one of this blog, so I feel I may have said enough. Hopefully, I will see you there. If you are new here, scroll through the archives or click here for the official preview at DMMC’s website. I contributed to some of that, if you’re a Murphy Completist (which I know you are).

Ragged Blade Band w/ Ladysoal – 8pm Gas Lamp 4/14

Last week, I forgot a lot of cool shows. That’s just how busy a weekend it was. One of those was a particularly egregious error of not including my sometimes stomping grounds of the Des Moines Social Club and their awesome rock and fashion show featuring one of the most talented bands in the world, Ladysoal. So, I will remedy that by saying if you don’t want to go to GDP for whatever reason, then you should head to Gas Lamp to see Ladysoal open for St. Louis’ Ragged Blade Band. Should be an awesome show.

So there you have it. Once again, I have planned your weekend. You’re welcome.

Fine, one more:

Back, by popular demand.

Road Trip Wednesday – Lollapalooza

There is an unfortunate truth in life that there is shit you want to do and shit you have to do. If you’re lucky the shit you have to do will allow you to do the shit you want to do. The last two years I have been lucky enough to go to this festival and had just the time of my life both times. This year looks to be no exception. While I’m not sold on the headliners, the middle and lower tiers of bands are just incredible. From Sigur Ros on down to JEFF The Brotherhood way down towards the bottom, there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of slack. It will make conflicts tough and going from stage to stage even tougher.

Unfortunately for me this year, the shit I have to do does not allow me to do the shit I want to do as I just don’t have the financial ability to pay for two tickets, four nights of a hotel and food and other essentials items (read: whiskey). In fact, just before the lineup dropped, I had to make the uncomfortable decision to cancel the hotel I had already paid for (for a full refund, luckily). So, I need you all to go in my place. Go and drink in the breathy gibberish of Sigur Ros. Go and dance to the excitable gibberish of Die Antwoord. Go and feel the synth power drench your soul with M83. Go and shout lines from Community to Childish Gambino (might I suggest “He’s like if God spilled a person”.) Go and smash some heads to JEFF. Go and swoon over Sharon Van Etten. Go. Just don’t pay any attention to me if you do go as I sit in the corner and pout and curse the mistakes I’ve made in life.

Go here for the full lineup. Hrrumph.

GDP Song of the Day-ish – Unknown Component – The Weather is Our Disguise

Gross Domestic Product is just around the corner, April 14 (THIS SATURDAY) to be exact, and I thought to help promote it a little, I would feature a song from one of the bands each day-ish. I probably won’t do it everyday (or week as it turns out *sigh*), thus the -ish. For more info on GDP visit the Facebook Event Page or Des Moines Music Coalition’s website

I like being in public and I like being around people, but I do my best work when I am allowed to just be by myself and focus. To paraphrase George Bluth, Sr, there is beauty in being alone. I assume Keith Lynch feels the same way. His band, Unknown Component, has released 9 albums and have been one of the most familiar names on the live Des Moines and Iowa City circuits. He is the heart, soul, brain, voice and well, everything behind Unknown Component. In fact, he is Unknown Component. He makes all of the sounds himself. Every lyric, every instrument, all the editing and layering and production. All Lynch. This wouldn’t be so impressive if the song was crap, but well. It ain’t.

Lynch uses all the sounds at his disposal to produce some indie pop magic. The stringed instruments blend in well with the somewhat echoed, Dylan-esque vocals. As the song progresses, the drums pick up and hit incredibly hard for how smoothly the rest of the song flows. It is an interesting dichotomy between the beauty of what I believe is a cello or perhaps even (or maybe also) violin, the bedded piano and the background effects and the savagery of the drums. It is quite an interesting mix. Live, Unknown Component tends to turn more acoustic, but it will be interesting to see exactly how he presents this and other songs in a setting like GDP. Regardless of how it comes across live. I’m certain it will be interesting.

Holy Buckets, There’s A Ton of Good Shows This Weekend

There's a tiger back there. Just trust me.

See that picture? That is my daughter. She is two years old. She is named for a Pogues song, not a Styx song. This picture is her at the Blank Park Zoo. She had a blast. Here she is feeding some goats.

And here she is after some large horse like creature whose name I never caught licked her face.

Okay, I’ll get to the point. I really wanted to try to get to as many of these shows as I could. But I work retail, so that means two things: I don’t have Saturday off and I don’t have a ton of money. I hamstrung myself even more by buying a ticket to the zoo and a stuffed sea lion for my daughter which I could’ve used for say, a cover charge (a choice I will make 100 out of 100 times. I loves you Iowa music, but c’mon). So, now I have to be even more picky on what show I want to try and go to, instead of trying to get to as many as I could. But you, you didn’t take a two year old to the zoo today and you likely don’t work retail. I know it is a gross generalization, but I think it is a safe one. You likely have some more free time and some additional disposable income, an even worse assumption, but don’t argue with me on this. So, try to get to as many parts of these shows as you can. Treat it like an out of nowhere, multi-venue festival.


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Tonight! Murder By Death – Vaudeville Mews

I mentioned it earlier, but I just found out some disturbing news, so it is imperative that you get to the show tonight. It turns out that Murder By Death were robbed last night while in Fargo. This is true, it was on their Facebook, go look for yourself. They lost a computer with some priceless demos on them, a passport and a chunk of money. So, it is imperative that you get to the show tonight, because it sucks that musicians of this caliber are now penniless and without some very hard to replace stuff (okay, it sucks for almost anyone). So, you should go and you should buy a t-shirt and whatever commemorative merchandise they have available.

Also, Derek Lambert and the Prairie Fires and GDP Band (holy shit, I need to do a GDP Song of the Day at some point this week, huh?) The River Monks open. So tickets to a great show, a new shirt, maybe a button or magnet = money well fucking spent.

Road Trip uh Thursday, I Guess – Cloud Nothings – Schubas Tavern – Chicago – 4/6

I like Chicago. Every time I go, I wonder what it would be like to live there. I think of all the things there is to do and how there would never be a dull moment. It is always a case of being blinded by vacation, I’m sure, because I never think of things like how much more expensive it would be or having to deal with traffic. Plus, there is something, I dunno, boring about just having all these bands presented to you all the time. I mean look at all of these choices. There are like six shows I could have picked for this day alone. But Cloud Nothings is where I would end up, especially since I won’t see them at Lollapalooza (although, in theory I would live in Chicago, I could go to Pitchfork, too, since I don’t have to pay for a hotel.) Awesome punk/garage band with some of the early 2000’s rock mixed in. Also, it has an early spot on my albums of the year list, and I’m not sure it is going to fall off.

But I like living in Des Moines. I’m not going to pretend it is without fault, it would be nice if there were more 24 hour food options and I wish more people walked places so I don’t feel like I’m some sort of hoodlum for being on the street, but what I like is that when a cool band does show up, like tonight Murder By Death at Vaudeville Mews, it feels like a big deal. If Murder By Death was playing Chicago on the same day as all these other cool bands, I would likely skip it, which would suck, but in Des Moines, it is an event. Also, I don’t think I would know as much about the local scene in Chicago, since I would be busy going to all the national shows, so I kind of feel like I’d have less civic pride. So, yeah I think I made the right choice by living here. Also, the Cubs suck.

Oberhofer at M-shop – 3/31

Aren’t going to make it Iowa City tomorrow? It’s okay, I understand, I guess. Did you get tickets to Young the Giant and Grouplove before they sold out at People’s? You didn’t!? Well, you’re in luck. The M Shop in Ames hosts one the brightest emerging stars in the world. Go here for details .

Brad Oberhofer is the writer and genius behind the multi-instrumental, art house pop outfit Oberhofer. The sound is jaunty and fun., It dances from classical piano to guitar to electronic without even breaking a sweat. This will be a ton of fun. But whatever you do, remember to go see some live music this weekend. There are lots of choices.

Site related stuff, I feel like I neglected the old girl this week. My duties at our local sporting goods retailer and with DMMC kind of took up the bulk of my time. I will be back Monday with some stuff, probably, and Tuesday the 80/35 lineup drops, so I will have some things to say about that too, I’m sure. Ta ta.

GDP Song of the Day-ish – The White Elephant – Airplane

Gross Domestic Product is just around the corner, April 14 to be exact, and I thought to help promote it a little, I would feature a song from one of the bands each day-ish. I probably won’t do it everyday, thus the -ish. For more info on GDP visit the Facebook Event Page or Des Moines Music Coalition’s website

This was one of two acts that I wasn’t even slightly familiar with coming in to this year’s GDP. I will get to the other very soon, I’m sure (spoiler alert: It’s The Beatnicks). With as much focus as I have on Iowa music, you’d think there wouldn’t be a single band that I don’t at least have a passing knowledge, let alone two that are featured at arguably Iowa’s biggest showcase for local talent. I think that just speaks to how much is actually going on in our state.

Every year, Joe Lawler writes a music award column for Des Moines Register’s Juice. Its is fun and local artists get some exposure (both musically and the artist who creates the awards). Well anyway, this year they released a reader’s choice category and the voting is here . On that list, there are a ton of acts that I’ve never heard of. I am a guy who spends a large amount of time studying Iowa music, and I still only knew maybe half.

I think it is a testament to this town, this state even as to just how much talent we have. And with the amount of acts sharing members, that list shows just how hard working this scene is. It is a full time job at this point for me to just kind of keep up, so just the vastness of our area is a little Carl Sagan level mind-numbing.

As for The White Elephant, I liked it. I thought it had a hard rock sound with a southern rock vibe. On Facebook they call themselves “swamprock”, and that seems very spot on. The sound is dirty and garage, but the vocals are crisp and bright. It reminds me of a swap in fact. Lots of beauty hidden among the grime and muck.

And now I realized that I spent nearly no time talking about the music. I promise I will do The White Elephant again. For now, go listen to their EP here.