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Monday Night Live! inspires collaboration and community every Monday at xBk in Des Moines

Iowa Public Radio asked Scot Sutherland, the founder of the concert series "Monday Night Live!," to write about the year in presenting some of Iowa's most beloved singer/songwriters.

When I started Monday Night Live! in January 2017 at the Greenwood Lounge in Des Moines, I had no real expectations about how it would be received or even how long it would last. I did, however, know that there was - and is - an abundance of talent here in Iowa. In my 30 years as a touring musician, I have traveled the world and have played with some exceptional musicians, and Iowa is blessed with some of the best (in my own humble opinion). I wanted to play with some of these Iowa artists while presenting a unique showcase for the singer/songwriters and their music, some of whom I was finding out about just by word of mouth.

Throughout the years, Monday Night Live! has become somewhat of a community “hang” amongst the artists, musicians, and music-loving audience. I think that was my ultimate goal: to have a weekly gathering of folks who appreciate the art and community of music.

In March 2022, I moved the series to a new location that would be able to accommodate the growing audience we had fostered at the Greenwood. That venue is xBk in the Drake University area of Des Moines. xBk has a lot of useful multi-media options: a stage, lighting, live streaming, etc. It was a perfect location where I could see Monday Night Live! thrive and expand into something valuable for the artists and the arts community.

Russ Tomlinson sits at the drums at xBk in Des Moines.
Mark Lage
The B-side
Russ Tomlinson, the house drummer for Monday Night Live!

Partnering with my great and talented friends, Dave and Annie Ducharme-Jones and Russ Tomlinson, the four of us are Monday Night Live!

We put in a lot of hard work, learning the featured artist’s original material each and every week in order to bring the best performance to all of our supporters in attendance - whether in-house or on the livestream. Dave and Russ have been with me in the house band for a few years now, and we have an exceptional connection playing together. Annie has been there as well, providing beautiful lead and backing vocals.

Along with the new venue, another aspect of Monday Night Live! that I wanted to manifest was an interview segment during the show. I felt it would be important for the artists to have the opportunity to share their stories as well as the stories behind their music. A phenomenal and personable presence, I knew Annie would do an exceptional job connecting with and drawing out the best of our featured artists. She’s embraced this segment of our Monday Night Live! sessions, making it a highlight in the middle of our evenings. I am so grateful for all she, Dave, and Russ do to make Monday Night Live! happen, this truly has been a labor of love for all of us.

Dave and Anne Ducharme-Jones play guitar back to back in front of Tanner Taylor at xBk in Des Moines.
Mark Lage
The B-side
Anne and Dave Ducharme-Jones have had a large hand in producing, booking and backing musicians as a part of the Monday Night Live! concert series.

This past year has been a challenge, a joy, and an accomplishment, exceeding my expectations on every level. We’ve hosted a crop of homegrown Iowa artists, celebrating the breadth and depth of talent this state has to offer. We are looking forward to bringing in more of the younger artists on our radar who are also wanting to join the Monday Night Live community. I’m definitely planning on featuring some of our elite Iowa musical artists this coming year, as well as bringing back artists that we’ve already featured.

I’d like to thank those who have supported Monday Night Live! and extend an invitation to everyone else to come and check us out, whether in-person at xBk or through our livestream. I am excited about the future of Monday Night Live! and our plans to start incorporating and supporting visual artists from across Iowa as part of the experience.

Much love and thankfulness, and Happy New Year to all!

Iowa Public Radio is presenting the Monday Night Live! holiday special on Monday, Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. live on Studio One. Our weekend music show "All Access" is also presenting a special year-end broadcast with the best of the year's performances from the concert series. Tune in New Year's Eve at 1 p.m. to listen.

Scot Sutherland