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Iowa Bands We’ve Discovered Through The NPR Tiny Desk Contest

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Meg Vogel
/
NPR
Bob Boilen of NPR Music is the founder of NPR Tiny Desk Concerts and the NPR Tiny Desk Contest.

The deadline to enter the NPR Tiny Desk Contest is April 27.  As of April 9, more than 30 Iowa artists have submitted entries!  A variety of styles and approaches are apparent from this year's crop of homegrown musicians.

Several of the entrants are bands and artists whose music we have played on our Studio One shows.  Some of them we have also featured in live performances on our airwaves.  Here are five 2020 Tiny Desk Contest videos from bands and artists that were new to me and that particularly caught my attention. 

Harper and Lee

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Harper and Lee are a married couple from Des Moines who have been playing together for just a few years.  Lee is the lead vocalist, also playing acoustic guitar, kickdrum and foot tambourine.  Harper plays lead guitar and sings.  I love the chill mood of this song.

Jake Schrodt and the Residuals

An appealing Americana sound from this trio led by songwriter and guitarist Jake Schrodt.  That desk is tiny indeed.  Schrodt made the wooden desk himself for the video!

The Sneezy Dollars

What's not to like when a band's instrumentation is banjo, trumpet, violin and double bass?  A cheery song from this Iowa City group, all about the terrors of advancing age.

Alyssah Zajac

And here's a timely song about staying at home, from this Fairfield singer-songwriter, which sounds like the musings of an old friend.  Zajac says she wrote it to soothe herself.

The Cardinal Sound

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The biggest band in my little survey is this self-described Jamgrass/Americana group from Des Moines.  Solid playing and some nice vocal harmonies!