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Virtually Anywhere... AND Here concert series makes a comeback

Bryon Dudley
IPR Studio One
The Ames City Auditorium was built in the 1930s, as part of the Ames High School at the time, before being renovated, refurbished, and reopened in 1991 as part of the new Ames City Hall. It's home to the new concert series.

It was Friday night, and performer Ryne Doughty had warmed up the audience with a few songs. He was playing the kickoff of the Ames City Auditorium’s “Virtually Anywhere...AND Here” series, which will go until the end of March, with a strong, eclectic lineup in a beautiful theater.

Doughty paused, then said, “It’s good to see this series is back up and running. Like a lot of things out there, it’s great to see them back up and running.” The audience cheered, and then Doughty took us through a set of his original tunes that sounds classic and timeless, including cuts from his excellent new album, “Spring Has Sprung.”

The series was off to a great start indeed.

About Virtually Anywhere... AND Here

The Ames City Auditorium was built in the 1930s, as part of the Ames High School at the time, before being renovated, refurbished, and reopened in 1991 as part of the new Ames City Hall. The theater holds 881 people, and has hosted a dizzying list of events, from presidential candidates to Leo Kottke, dance troupes, lectures, on and on. But the venue never seemed to quite find its footing in the local events world as a regularly scheduled theater. The City of Ames hired Craig Kaufman in an attempt to change this. Kaufman, who has a background in theater, sound and lighting design, and technical management, was up for the challenge.

In 2018, he says, he had a conversation with a local artist, about how Ames doesn’t have a venue for musicians to play at that isn’t a bar or a coffee shop. He booked a series of shows featuring Iowa artists that was well received, and continued on in 2019 with another round. “Then,” he says with a laugh and a knowing eyeroll, “2020 happened.” With the pandemic effectively locking most live music venues down, Kaufman booked a series of Livestream shows, broadcast from the Auditorium. Kaufman manned the sound board, cut between cameras he had set up, and managed all the streaming aspects himself. Many of the shows can still be seen here.

For 2022, and audiences slowly returning to live music spaces, Kaufman has booked a series of events at the Auditorium that can be attended in person, or, for those who don’t feel safe doing that, most of the shows will also still be livestreamed. “We also wanted to present a broad range of artists and different genres on our stage,” Kaufman says. He worked with the Iowa Arts Council to locate emerging artists, looked at some Iowa staples, and found some up-and-comers. The result is the biggest, most ambitious lineup the Auditorium has presented to date, by far, according to Kaufman.

Upcoming concerts in the series

Here is a complete list of the Ames City Auditorium’s “Virtually Anywhere...AND Here” series. All shows start at 7 PM, and tickets are $5 unless otherwise specified:

-Feb. 18th - Allegra Hernandez - a guitar teacher from Des Moines who helps facilitate the School of Rock and Girls Rock! programs there, Allegra released an EP in the Spring of 2020 entitled Pearl, and is working on more music for another release in 2022.

-Feb. 25th - King Wylde - a high energy guitarist/singer-songwriter hailing from Ames. From truly electrifying his fans with stage presence, to playing aggressive guitar solos with his teeth, King Wylde is a must-see musician.

-March 1 - Hip Hop 101: This is a free event at the Great Hall at Iowa State. The History of Hip Hop Culture and Its Impact on Our World - Join ISU Lectures and The Ames City Auditorium for an interactive workshop featuring Aja Black and Big Samir from The Reminders. The duo will explore the influence of hip hop culture in our world and how they use music as their avenue of spreading love and positivity in the world.

-March 3 - Debarpan Dhar - Debarpan will play a mix of original and Indian traditional music performed entirely in Hindi and Bengali. Debarpan is trained in Indian Classical music and will be performing solo for this event.

-March 5 - The Reminders - The Reminders are a rare and remarkable musical duo seamlessly blending soulful sounds and roots music with insightful messages and thoughtful lyrics. They transcend the bounds of what is expected with their socially conscious and family-friendly music. Their unique mash-up of razor sharp rhymes, soulful vocals, and reggae-tinged beats form the perfect backdrop for their inspiring themes leaves a lasting impression on listeners.

The Reminders take their hip-hop foundation and move it beyond genre, time, and space to create a global musical experience that speaks to all those willing to participate.

-March 11 - Sara Routh - Routh is a Des Moines native who's traveled around the world bringing her music to audiences across the globe. Her engaging spirit on stage draws the listener to pause, sit, and emotionally experience each performance. Routh has won awards and accolades for her songwriting since 2006 and continues to develop new sounds throughout her musical journey. A strong vocal talent, Routh's ability to balance lyrics, sense of style and rhythm leaves her audiences wanting a return performance. She has been compared to the incredible talents of Ella Fitzgerald and Joni Mitchell. Routh is a musical force of nature who continues to embrace community and life, delivering relatable moments effectively through song.

Bryon Dudley has written about the Iowa music scene for the Des Moines Music Coalition, the Iowa Informer, Little Village, and now IPR Studio One (amongst others). He is passionate about Iowa music, and performs with his own bands: Strong Like Bear, Moonrabbit, Rockets of Desire and The Cherrypickers.