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Des Moines Music Coalition Revives Gross Domestic Product

Janet Eckles
Kaleena performing at the 2017 Gross Domestic Product festival.

The Des Moines Music Coalition, the not-for-profit that curates 80/35, is trying to breathe new life into another event called Gross Domestic Product

GDP is happening this weekend, Nov. 23, featuring exclusively Iowa bands and musicians at Vaudeville Mews and the 4th Street Theatre. 

“I thought it was necessary to have something that celebrates our unique talent and variety in Des Moines,” says Jordan Mayland, program coordinator for the DMMC. 

He hopes the festival will “help spotlight new artists and established musicians that we’re already proud of and hopefully integrate some younger bands into the music scene.”

The event was born in 2006, concurrently with another festival called Little Big Fest. While GDP focused on alternative and indie rock, Little Big Fest was curated for country and Americana fans.

Credit Brooke Billick
Dan Tedesco

In the following years, more local festivals appeared in Des Moines and the surrounding areas, so the DMMC decided to end both GDP and Little Big Fest.

Now, Mayland feels the time is right to bring them back and combine them into one event.

In an effort to feature more of the diversity you find across the Iowa music scene, GDP will devote a portion of the festival to area hip-hop artists. There will also be an after party at Vaudeville Mews with DJs and EDM.

“It’s hard to ignore what is happening and what is important to the culture of Des Moines music,” says Mayland. “Variety is the name of the game.”

Mayland also mentions several high school age musicians on the lineup, including singer-songwriter EleanorGrace, the band Plumero, and the duo Joely Seitz and Carson Chivers.

“Our goal is to give them some opportunities to get on stage, and introduce a crowd to some new faces as well,” he says.

Greg Wheeler is performing this year with his band The Polygamist Mall Cops. Their sound is heavily influenced by classic garage and punk rock and some other heavier music. Wheeler says events like GDP are a great chance for Iowa musicians to celebrate each other and to fill the gap left by the relative lack of touring bands in the area.

Credit Michael Watson
Greg Wheeler and The Polygamist Mall Cops

“I’ve always thought the local music in Iowa is so good because you don’t get as many touring acts,” says Wheeler. “It’s kind of like ‘we need to go make this happen ourselves.’”

Dan Tedesco will perform at the 4th Street Theatre stage alongside the more Americana-leaning artists on the GDP lineup. He’s lived in Des Moines since 2014 and is looking forward to the musical variety at GDP.

“Any time you can be exposed to new music and different styles and sounds and performers, it can only be a positive thing,” says Tedesco. “It’s important to motivate yourself to not just be respectful, but to really engage with it and find something to connect with inside of those performances and different styles of music.”

All-access passes for Gross Domestic Product can be purchased in advance, with individual passes available at the door on Saturday. Ticket sales for Gross Domestic Product will benefit DMMC music programs that happen throughout the year.