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Wendy Hull was Des Moines’ original music influencer

 Wendy Hull smiles at the camera wearing a blue t-shirt. Her blonde hair is worn down.
Hamilton's Funeral Home
Wendy Hull single-handedly managed the daily music blog "Wednesday's Notes" for 11 years, listing live shows and interviewing nearly 500 musicians from central Iowa.

Wendy Hull was Des Moines’ original music influencer. Reading through group comments on "Wednesday’s Notes" Facebook posts would tell you that many music-minded people shaped their after-work plans around Wendy’s recommendations, and for good reason. Her listings included some of the best of the central Iowa music scene.

On Monday, June 12, Gwendolyn (Wendy) Dorothy Hull Coon died due to an unexpected health issue; she had just celebrated her 52nd birthday June 4.

Because of her work on "Wednesday’s Notes," her Facebook blog, Wendy’s death thundered throughout the Des Moines music community: one that she had dedicated more than a decade to supporting.
"Wednesday's Notes:" an 11-year-old Facebook blog

"Wednesday’s Notes" is a daily roundup of live music events that Wendy cultivated entirely on her own. Posts range from pictures and videos of performances she attended, interviews (she conducted 479 of them) with local artists about upcoming projects or shows and personal anecdotes. The target audience? Anyone and everyone interested in how to support local live music in Des Moines. As Wendy made her way throughout the scene, often attending multiple shows in a single night, her follower count grew to include artists, music fans, small business owners and passers-through alike.

The blog was started on October 11, 2012. As Wendy told it in a 2018 Facebook post about the conception of "Wednesday’s Notes:" “I was starting to attend band shows in the Metro and making lots of new band friends and talking to people out at the shows. Some people had no idea where the live music was happening or what nights they could find band shows in the Metro. I concluded that this situation needed help. There was nothing social media-wise to provide this info. Along with a couple of friends who told me I'd be the perfect person to start this, I set out my own action plan.”

Alongside good friends she had made in the scene, and armed with a nickname (Wednesday) given to her by Des Moines musician Micah Wagner, "Wednesday’s Notes" was born. Today, it has more than 3,000 followers.

“My sister was so selfless in promoting what she had done. To us, it was just a simple blog,” Wendy’s younger sister, Ginger Lawshe, says. According to Lawshe, Wendy was just beginning to turn music promotion into something that could provide an income for her. At the time of her death, Wendy was actively booking shows for a handful of Des Moines venues, including The Stuffed Olive and The Pelican Post.

Wendy’s fierce dedication to the maintenance of "Wednesday’s Notes" earned her the Fan of the Year award in 2015 from the Des Moines Music Coalition (DMMC). A Facebook post from the DMMC announcing the award said of Wendy, “For a city’s music scene to really thrive it must be embraced by members of the community, and few fans have helped champion the scene in Des Moines better than Wendy Hull.”

While the award was well deserved, many might argue that it doesn’t come close to acknowledging how much Wendy truly did for the scene, not just because of her dedication to uplifting live events, but by uplifting the people behind them. This sentiment is echoed in the following quotes from just a few of the many folks Wendy touched in the Des Moines music scene.

“In this fast-paced technological world we live in, Wendy prioritized personal interaction and showed care and concern for others. She sought to know people in a real way and always had an encouraging word,” wrote "Wednesday’s Notes" admin and local musician Jason Kopischke via a Facebook memorial post.

 Wendy Hull smiles with Madison Ray at a music venue in Des Moines with brick walls. The graphic for the concert series Monday Night Live! is projected on the wall behind them.
Madison Ray
Madison Ray
Wendy Hull smiles with Madison Ray at xBk, a music venue in Des Moines, at Monday Night Live!, a weekly concert series featuring Iowa artists.

“Live music is driven by passion and community, and Wendy found a happy place in that. When she considered you a friend, she would give whatever she had to offer to support, uplift, encourage. And she was honest. While I’m hopeful that her example will be a beacon for others, I know people like Wendy are rare and truly special," wrote Des Moines musician and xBk staffer Madison Ray.

This deliberate and genuine care for people extended into a passion project that Wendy kept close to her heart: forging a path for musicians and music industry professionals to easily access healthcare in Des Moines.

“This is how selfless my sister is. My sister, unfortunately, has been in and out of jobs, where it was hard for her to get the healthcare she needed and that sort of thing for herself,” says Lawshe. “But she didn’t worry about herself, which she should have. She was so worried about the musicians that are out there that are trying to make a go of it so that they can get the prescriptions that they need or can go see a doctor. That was her ultimate goal and dream.”

Where did her love of music begin?

Going back, Wendy’s love of music began long before "Wednesday’s Notes" did. Born in Kirksville, MO, Wendy was a multi-instrumentalist since she was a kid. She participated in choir when she attended junior high and high school in Fort Madison, and also played french horn in marching band and concert band. She even stage-managed her high school’s swing choir. But her real love was piano.

According to Lawshe, Wendy began playing the piano when she was five. She played into her early adulthood, when she didn’t own a piano any longer. “I can’t tell you how many times she would play the piano all night long, to the point where my parents would fall asleep listening to her play the piano,” Lawshe recalls.

Aside from music, Wendy led a robust life filled with family, both natural and chosen. Lawshe recalls trying to get Wendy to play cards at their family gatherings. “She would always sit there and say she couldn’t play, she didn’t know how to play, but by George, when she got started, she would beat us,” Lawshe remembers. “She would just sit there and laugh and giggle.”

Wendy loved spending time with Lawshe’s dog, M.A.X., and doted on her only niece, Hannah, since Hannah was a baby. “She would bend over backwards for her niece,” Lawshe says. “She was always a nurturer. It didn’t matter who you were; she took care of everybody.”

Wendy was a devoted patron of the Valley Junction District and often visited her favorite shops there, including Sisters, MōMERE*, the local deli, and her favorite coffee shop, La Barista. She always remembered to ask about the people who ran the shops she loved so much.

Additionally, Wendy was a longtime and active member of Soteria Baptist Church in West Des Moines. She loved attending the small group and was known to help the church in every way she could.

Those who followed Wendy online also know about her love of writing. She often shared poems that she had written on her Facebook page. The last poem Wendy wrote was not shared online, but was shared with Iowa Public Radio by Lawshe.

 A poem as written by Wendy Hull.
Wendy Hull/Unpublished poem for Wednesday's Notes
A poem as written by Wendy Hull.

Nick Nystrom, a local musician and longtime friend of Wendy, assures folks that "Wednesday’s Notes" is continuing on. But now it will be managed by four people.

“I don’t know how one person did this,” says Nystrom, who is one of the four now crafting posts for the blog. “She’d work a full day and then come home and put together all the information, put it out on the page and go out and see one to many shows in one night. And do it all over again the next day.”

In the wake of her death, Wendy has inadvertently connected musicians and fans from across the scene. The comment sections on Wendy’s most recent posts are overflowing with memories shared by concert-goers who were strangers once, but not anymore. As memorial events in Wendy’s honor continue to pop up around town, it’s becoming apparent just how many lives she touched.

“In many ways, I wish my sister could have felt this before she passed away,” Lawshe says. “But in the end, not everybody realized what all she had done until this tragic thing had happened. Someone mentioned the other day that she was a legend. And I said, you know, she was a hometown legend and people are realizing that. To be honest, I’m truly humbled and in awe of my sister.”

A GoFundMe has been started to help Wendy’s family with memorial costs.

Wendy is survived by her father, David Hull (Carol); her sister, Ginger Lawshe (Robert); her niece, Hannah Wiley Lorenzo de Arteaga (Leber); her doggy nephew, M.A.X.; and several communities in Des Moines, who will miss her very much. She is preceded in death by her mother, Kathryn “Kathy” Hull; maternal uncle, and both maternal and paternal grandparents.