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Sounds of mariachi brings Denison community together

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

The Denison School District had a thriving band program, but there was one problem. Despite the large Latino population, few of these students participated in the band. That's why a decade ago, Denison Instrumental Music Instructor Ruben Newell and his colleague started a mariachi group.

Newell tells this story to Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe and is joined by student musician Adrian Velazquez-Nieto and Des Moines Register Iowa Columnist Courtney Crowder who wrote about how Denison is a shining example of how immigration can save shrinking Iowa towns.

Later, inspired to bring the music he loves to Iowa, Abe Goldstein founded the Jazz at Caspe Terrace in Waukee. He talks with Charity and they listen to clips from the upcoming act, Accordionist Eric Vloeimans and Trumpeter Will Holshouser, from their album Two for the Road.


  • Courtney Crowder, Iowa columnist, Des Moines Register
  • Ruben Newell, instrumental music director, Denison High School
  • Adrian Velazquez-Nieto, Denison High School senior, multi-instrumentalist
  • Abe Goldstien, founder of Jazz at Caspe Terrace, Des Moines Community Jazz Center executive officer
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Dani Gehr is a producer for River to River and Talk of Iowa. Dani came to Iowa from her hometown in the northwest suburbs of Chicago to attend Iowa State University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in journalism, international studies and French. Before coming to IPR, Dani covered local government in Story County for the Ames Tribune and Des Moines Register.