Mark Simmet

Studio One Host

Senior Producer Mark Simmet began working at KUNI over 20 years ago.  In that time he has produced and hosted a long-running daily jazz program, as well as weekly blues and world music programs.  Mark also was a fill-in/substitute folk music host.  He has spent many years perfecting IPR's unique blend of musical styles as the host and producer of Studio One.  Mark also reviews all new submissions to IPR’s Studio One library, deciding on CD of The Week artists and maintaining reporting of music aired to record companies, promoters and trade publications.

Mark has a Bachelor’s Degree in Art from St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN, and finds that his creative skills are very applicable to his work sculpting Studio One.

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The Hold Steady formed in 2003, and from their first album right up to their latest, "Thrashing Thru The Passion," the band has remained true to a certain musical approach.  You could say that they've held steady with a sound that bridges indie rock and classic rock.

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Robert Randolph's career as a musician began by playing gospel music at the House of God church in Orange, New Jersey.  He plays pedal steel guitar, and many African-American Pentecostal churches refer to the instrument as "sacred steel."  In time, Randolph took his joyous music (inspired by bands like Earth, Wind & Fire and Sly & The Family Stone) out to clubs.  Robert Randolph and the Family Band includes members of his family that share the same background.

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Dude York are in the time-honored lineage of the three piece rock band- guitar, bass, drums.  Like Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Nirvana, Husker Du, Sleater-Kinney and many, many more.  It's a simple configuration of players that shows no sign of being played out.  The Seattle trio Dude York have been at it since 2012.  Their latest album is "Falling."

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Radiohead frontman and solo artist Thom Yorke specializes in turning angst into art.  A stressed out world turns to Yorke for catharsis and to experience the textural aural pleasures he comes up with on each new project.  His success is due in no small part to the fact that Yorke himself is often an anxious man, and he knows what it is he's conveying.

Madeleine King / IPR

Now celebrating its fifth birthday, Hinterland has grown into one of the largest music festivals in Iowa. The lineup this year was packed with Grammy winners and Grammy nominated artists who did not disappoint on stage. Like many other festival goers, we left feeling inspired to go home and shower off layers of sunscreen and bug spray. We also left with the desire to google the tour schedules of the acts we loved, so that we can see them again soon. 

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The Head and the Heart has been a band aware of the potential conflict between logic and love from the very beginning.  The group members met while performing at open mic nights in the Seattle area about ten years ago.  They were practically minded musicians, looking for a way to make a living that might involve music.  But starting a band, with all the uncertainties involved, is something you do for the love of it.

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A raconteur is a skillful storyteller.  The Raconteurs are a rock band, with roots in Detroit and currently based in Nashville.  As is the custom with rock 'n' roll, the story is told here not just with words but also with attitude and electric guitars.  Raconteurs co-founders Jack White and Brendan Benson play the guitars.  As the high profile frontman, White has the edge and charisma to get across the attitude.

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Hot Chip are not synth pop neophytes.  They've been performing and recording their distinctly British brand of indie and electronic dance music for around twenty years.  Main songwriters Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard have something to say about life and love on the new Hot Chip album "A Bath Full Of Ecstasy," and they would like you to consider their philosophical ruminations out there on the dance floor.

Our Favorite Acts From 80/35

Jul 16, 2019
Madeleine King / IPR

Another 80/35 has come and gone, and all that's left are the memories we made with other Serious Music People along the way. Just kidding, kind of. Now that we've all showered, packed away our gear and returned to the air conditioning, we asked Studio One Hosts Mark Simmet, Tony Dehner and Sydney Hauer to write about their favorite acts from 80/35 this weekend. 

The Black Keys Rock On

Jul 15, 2019
Alysse Gafkjen- facebook.com/theblackkeys

The phrase "highly anticipated" is often used to describe a new release by a band that hasn't been heard from in a while.  In the case of The Black Keys, it seems totally justified.  Their ninth studio album "Let's Rock" comes five years after their last one.  That's the longest they've ever gone between records, and it seems even longer considering the great success the band had with "Turn Blue" and the two albums before that one.

Prince At His Peak

Jul 8, 2019
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Prince had his greatest mainstream popularity in the 1980s.  It was the decade where each year brought more and seemingly greater music from the prodigiously talented songwriter and musician from Minneapolis.  Of course, Prince never stopped creating, working right up to his untimely death on April 21, 2016.  He reportedly left a huge amount of unreleased music in the vault.

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Since their beginnings over a dozen years ago, the Brooklyn band Yeasayer have been known for their arty experimentation.  For "Erotic Reruns," their fifth studio record, the weirdness has been reined in and the songcraft has been stepped up.  

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Mavis Staples will celebrate her 80th birthday on July 10, and she's excited about it.  Staples announced three special "Mavis & Friends" shows coming up this year in New York, Nashville and Los Angeles.  "I just wanted the world to know that I made it to 80!" she explained.  "I am letting my fans know that I'm over the hill but now I'm going over the mountain."

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The National mark twenty years as a band with their eighth full-length record "I Am Easy To Find," presenting the world with a quintessential National album that also manages to expand upon their music.  Known for the melancholy, dark and sometimes difficult nature of their songs, to fans of The National those songs are like anthems.  Not rousing, celebratory anthems, but anthems in the secondary sense of church music sung by a choir.

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Upon hearing the latest Foxygen record, "Seeing Other People," my first impression was that this was a full-length farewell from the duo.  From the record's title on down to the often vitriolic lyrics of the songs, it seemed like maybe two guys who started their band in high school fourteen years ago had finally had enough.  

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Brooklyn, New York based Big Thief recorded their third album "U.F.O.F." in rural western Washington.  The band set up in a large cabin-like room at Bear Creek Studios.  It's the kind of environment that seems an integral part of the recordings that make up the new record.

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For their fourth album, "Father Of The Bride," Vampire Weekend come across as a more mature band.  The record seems a bit more Americana and a bit less indie rock. 

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Tacocat is a quartet that makes fun music.  With a band name that's a palindrome, how could they not?  But making danceable punky pop music does not preclude them from delivering thoughtful lyrics that comment on our culture and world.

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After album themes that have included Goths, professional wrestling, fictional tarot cards and more, Mountain Goats songwriter and frontman John Darnielle now turns his attention to a Dungeons & Dragons inspired fantasy world.

IPR/Madeleine King

Des Moines' Parranderos Latin Combo pride themselves on helping to keep Latin music alive and diverse in Iowa and beyond.  Exploring musical styles such as salsa, cumbia and samba, PLC is a true crowd-pleaser.  The multi-member group made a return visit to Studio One Underground for a couple of sets in The Basement of the Des Moines Social Club on May 2, 2019.

Listen to the infectious music of Parranderos Latin Combo right here! 

IPR/Tony Dehner

The last time we had the band perform live on Studio One, John June Year were about to release their EP "Pop Sucker."  This time the band came to perform songs from their debut full-length album "Modern Motives."

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South Carolina's Shovels & Rope take a giant step forward on their new album "By Blood."  Built upon the duo's strong Americana foundation, it's a thoroughly satisfying contemporary rock and roll record.

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The latest album from Weyes Blood is "Titanic Rising," with dreamy and cinematic songs haunted by the fateful tale of that doomed ocean liner.

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Jenny Lewis has been making indie rock for more than twenty years now. Yes, she records for major label Warner Bros., but her approach and her many collaborators are firmly indie. 

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Much can be said about Andrew Bird:  a classically trained violinist, known for his whistling (as befits his actual name), he was in the indie-jazz band Squirrel Nut Zippers in the '90s, and has been releasing his own style of indie music since his band Bowl Of Fire and a solo career that began in 2003.  

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Karen O is a powerful (both visually and sonically) vocalist, and she has fronted the band Yeah Yeah Yeahs since 2000.  She has also done solo projects and collaborated with some interesting people, gravitating toward the artier side of indie rock.  Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse) has been a part of Gnarls Barkley, Broken Bells and Danger Doom, and has worked with many others as a respected producer, musician and songwriter.  Karen O and Danger Mouse met in 2007, discussed working together, and finally got serious about it in 2015.  The project has come to fruition with the new album "Lux P

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Julia Jacklin wears her heart on her sleeve all through the ten tracks on "Crushing", her second full-length album.  Sure, that's a cliche, but it's such a fitting way to describe the Australian artist's approach to her songs, and why they are so compelling.  Jacklin writes about heartbreak and infatuation, and as her record company explains, she keeps "her storytelling centered on bodies and crossed boundries and smothering closeness."  Plus, Julia Jacklin has a wonderful voice to deliver the intimate indie pop songs she writes.    

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If you saw Conor Oberst joining Phoebe Bridgers on stage last July at 80/35, maybe you thought it would be cool if those two were in a band together.  In that case, your wish has been granted in the form of Better Oblivion Community Center.  It's an unwieldy band name to be sure, and serves as the title of their debut album as well.  As a record, Better Oblivion Community Center loosely ties together ten songs having to do with a fictional dystopian wellness facility.  Oberst and Bridgers kept quiet about the album as they recorded it last year, surprise releasing it in early 2019.

IPR/Chris Fenton

The Cedar Rapids band In The Attic performed a live set in IPR's Cedar Falls studios on March 21.  The group talked about the various projects they are involved in, and played songs from their forthcoming new album.  With their two guitars, bass, drums plus electric violin lineup, In The Attic provided a great rock set for the Studio One Tracks audience.

You can hear the night's performance right here!

Iowa City's Mission Creek festival is coming up next week. This is a unique and annual spring event curated by a team of organizers and hosted in part by the 106-year-old Englert Theatre. The festival spans 6 days, and full festival passes are $250. Mission Creek also offers single show tickets. If you're making plans to attend or are thinking about it, here's who we wouldn't want to miss.

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