Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Iowa roots musicians to rally for Byron’s

The outside of Byron's Bar has a sign with its name and dancing bears.
Kendall Crawford
The future of Byron's in Pomeroy is up in the air after Pomeroy City Council demanded they furnish a building inspection last month. The Iowa Roots for Byron's benefit concert has been organized to help find Byron's a new home.

On Sunday, March 3, Iowa’s finest roots musicians are gathering at the historic Phillips Auditorium in Fort Dodge for a concert benefitting Byron’s, a legendary independent dive bar that hosts music in downtown Pomeroy.

For the last several weeks, we've been following along with what's been going on at Byron's, the beloved dive bar that hosts live bands in far Northwest Iowa.

“If you love live music, you’ve got to keep it going. There’s not that many venues in this state that provide live music, live music that people actually sit and listen to where it’s not background, it’s the main event,” Byron Stuart, owner of Byron’s, said. “I’m a little selfish because I want to keep it going."

Stuart is searching for a new Byron's locale because in January, Pomeroy City Council demanded that Byron’s, the last functioning business in downtown Pomeroy, furnish an inspection of its 150-year-old building. This seems to be much more about the building's actual condition than the city council coming after him, and Stuart has been asking the public for financial aid in acquiring a building that is up to code. He's appeared on KCCI 8, WHO 13 and on IPR's Talk of Iowa.

The next chapter in this story — local musician Chad Elliott has spearheaded the effort to organize a benefit concert for the venue.

a black and white photo of a man holding an acoustic guitar as he looks over his shoulder
Chad Elliott plays to the crowd at Byron's in Pomeroy.

“I had this date open up so I offered it to Chad Elliott, and I told him he could bring any friends he wanted along. The lineup of friends he’s come up with is just unbelievable,” Stuart said.

The local star-studded lineup for the fundraising concert happening at 3 p.m. on March 3 includes Grammy-winning Greg Brown as headliner, as well as Dave Moore, Dave Zollo, Joe and Vicki Price, David Huckfelt, Weary Ramblers (the duo of Chad Elliott and Kathryn Severing Fox), Todd Partridge and Jordan Messerole. The show will be hosted at the historic Phillips Auditorium in Fort Dodge.

T. Stuart purchased Byron’s’ current building in 1996 for $8,500. In the past 28 years, the bar and music venue has been home to countless concerts put on by dozens of local legends and fresh faces alike. Stuart acts as the owner and the mascot of the venue, donning his signature tie-dye t-shirts and decorating the place with Grateful Dead memorabilia. Byron's is known as one of the most iconic independent venues in Iowa for a reason — Stuart's dedication to hosting concerts of all kinds (and jam sessions) has made him a living legend in the local music scene.

The money raised by Iowa Roots for Byron's will aid Stuart in buying a new building to house his bar and music venue. Stuart said that he has already scoped out a few locations

The jeopardized future of Byron’s comes after a string of small local venue closures throughout the state, including Des Moines’ Gas Lamp in 2023, Vaudeville Mews in 2020, The Mill in Iowa City in 2020, Ames’ DG’s Tap House in 2019 and the Des Moines Social Club in 2019. Stuart and his supporters are committed to not letting Byron's fall to the same fate.

VIP tickets have already sold out for the Iowa Roots for Byron’s event, but general admission tickets are now available for $50 each on Eventbrite.

Cece Mitchell is a Music Producer for IPR