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Iowa musicians showcase steel guitar and mentor in new documentary

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

A documentary making its Iowa premiere on September 10 spotlights a so-called "dying" instrument and a Cedar Falls man who engenders future generations of musicians.

That Thing That Sound explores the uncertain future of the steel guitar, an expensive and challenging instrument primarily played by older, white men. The film has been an eight-year labor of love for Nathan Emerson and Kelsey Hammer-Parks, who met under the tutelage of Cedar Falls steel guitar player Roger Miller.

Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with the filmmakers about their mission to introduce the instrument to a larger audience, and inspire current players to share their love of music with younger newcomers.

Later in the episode, the inaugural Storm Lake Proud Multicultural Festival takes place Saturday in the most ethnically diverse city in the state, as of the 2020 census. Fletcher Kucera of Storm Lake United talks about the entertainment and food planned as well as the unveiling of a mini-soccer pitch, the second built in northwest Iowa.

Nebbe also talks with Emilia Marroquin, a member of the Storm Lake Community School Board and 2022 inductee to the Iowa Latino Hall of Fame. She volunteers for the Storm Lake-based El Salvadoran youth dance group, KonKultura, which is performing at the festival.


  • Nathan Emerson, writer/filmmaker
  • Kelsey Hammer-Parks, writer/filmmaker
  • Fletcher Kucera, Storm Lake United marketing and activities director
  • Emilia Marroquin, Storm Lake resident
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Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Samantha McIntosh is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio. Prior to IPR, Samantha worked as a reporter for radio stations in southeast and west central Iowa under M&H Broadcasting, and before that she was a weekend music host for GO 96.3 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.