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Adventure To A Festival At A Recording Studio August 14

FlatBlackStudio
Flat Black Studios is located in Lone Tree, just south of Iowa City in Johnson County.

After taking last year off, the Grey Area Music Festival is resurfacing as a one day event on Saturday, August 14 in Lone Tree at Flat Black Studios.

The idea to get a bunch of creatives who have collaborated together for one big reunion isn’t novel, but it does take a special kind of person to actually execute on the idea.

Cue Luke Tweedy, who owns and operates Flat Black Studios in Lone Tree. He is the organizer behind Grey Area Music Festival, an event hosted on a property that might be one of Eastern Iowa’s best-kept secrets.

Grey Area Acreage is just down the road from Jerry’s Farm for those familiar with Camp Euforia and houses a matte black barn that Tweedy renovated himself into a recording studio. Starting in 2017, he began hosting bands who had recorded music in his space for a two-day concert where camping and parking were free. He called it Grey Area and donated the profits from the ticket sales to local non-profits.

Lineups of Grey Area’s past have featured Elizabeth Moen, William Elliot Whitmore, and James Tutson and the Rollback, among others. The event went on hiatus like everything else in 2020, and this year, Tweedy is back with a one-day event.

“This year, we’re starting music at one in the afternoon. If you’ve listened to these bands before, this is where they are making their records. The stage is literally attached to the studio,” Tweedy told IPR's Tony Dehner. “It’ll probably end around midnight. We aren’t going too late into the night. In years past, we’ve done a two-day thing, but with COVID this year, we wanted to test the waters and are slimming it back to a one-day event.”

The lineup features a wide variety of genres, ranging from Americana to rock to what Tweedy calls "stoner doom stuff." Much to our delight, Karen Meat, a duo based in Iowa City, is returning for the fourth year.

“Karen Meat is there every year because Dana, who is in Karen Meat, works at the studio. We’re focused on artists that record at the studio, and artists who are around the Iowa City area,” Tweedy said.

Masks are optional but not mandatory. He’s allowing camping on the property, will be hosting a bonfire, and has cleared land on the acreage for parking.

Because Tweedy only books bands that have recorded there, the fest itself has a special kind of energy. Tony Dehner asked him what he’s most excited about this year’s bill other than the fact that it would just be a return to live music at his property.

“Being a studio engineer, I’ve got pretty broad taste. So I like every act that’s on the bill. Selfishly, I’m excited to play music. I’m one of the acts that’s on the bill this year. Dead Rider is one of my favorite bands. I just love those guys. I never got to see Telekinetic Yeti live, so I’m excited to see Twin Wizard live. I’m really excited to see Condor and Jaybird. I’ve only listened to them. Every other band that’s on the bill I’ve seen before, but even if I’ve seen 15 times, that’s special too. It’s like seeing an old friend.”

Tickets are for sale for $30 and can be purchased through Little Village Tickets.