Music News

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

John Darnielle grew up in Claremont, California, but at heart, he’s an Iowan. He pulls on the sense of community and a bit of nostalgia he observed while he was living in Colo in the 1990s in his new novel Universal Harvester.

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For the third year in a row, NPR invited unsigned musicians to enter to win a chance to perform at NPR's Tiny Desk in Washington, D.C., and tour the U.S. with NPR and sponsor Lagunitas.  The winner will be announced February 28.

We have been sharing the submitted YouTube videos of original songs from all of the Iowa entrants, with 30 shared so far.  Here is the final batch of 9 videos, submitted by you and your neighbors!  For the previous entrants, click on The B-Side link at the bottom of this post!

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NPR this year again invited unsigned musicians to enter the Tiny Desk Concert.  For the third year in a row, they are offering the chance to perform for NPR's Tiny Desk Concert in Washington, D.C., and to tour the U.S. with NPR and sponsor Lagunitas.

IPR/Al Schares

This is the third year in a row that NPR has invited unsigned musicians to enter the Tiny Desk Contest.   Currently, the judges are watching the submitted videos in search of the next great undiscovered artist to play at the Tiny Desk Concert in Washington, D.C., and tour the U.S. with NPR and sponsor Lagunitas.

IPR/Al Schares

For the third year in a row, NPR invited unsigned musicians to enter to win a chance to perform at NPR's Tiny Desk in Washington, D.C.  The entry period has now closed, and right now the judges are watching the submitted videos in search of the next great undiscovered artist to play at the Tiny Desk and tour the U.S. with NPR and sponser Lagunitas.

Effectively a "who's who" of the Iowa City bluegrass scene, this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend" features the classic, tight harmonies, deft picking, and quirky humor of Banjoy. 

Join host Ben Kieffer as he talks with the group- which consists of banjo legend Bob Black,  guitarists Kristie Black and Mark Wilson, and bassist Paul Wilson- about the many years of bluegrass they have under their belts. 

IPR/Tony Dehner

Wayne Coyne, best known as the leader of the long-running band The Flaming Lips, is having a busy year so far, and it's only February! The latest album from The Flaming Lips, Oczy Mlody, was released in January, with a tour beginning in March (including a stop in Des Moines in April). And now he has a traveling art exhibit entitled Works By Wayne Coyne Featuring King's Mouth, which will be on display at the Waterloo Center For The Arts now through April 23rd.

Michael Daugherty at http://michaeldaugherty.net

Hearty congratulations to Cedar Rapids native Michael Daugherty on winning not one but three Grammy Awards, for an album that includes a work written for Iowa and first broadcast on IPR. The album, Tales of Hemingway (Naxos 8.559798), won "Best Classical Compendium" for Daugherty and for the performers, the Nashville Symphony led by Giancarlo Guerrero.

UNI Museum/Jess Cruz

In the long history of rock and roll music, Iowa is, unfortunately, best known as the state where Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash. Of course, there’s much more to it than that. The UNI Museum’s exhibit Ballroom Bash: Iowa’s Rock n’ Roll Legacy shines a light on Iowa’s influence and importance in rock history. The exhibit has been on display at UNI’s Rod Library since August of 2016. It’s a collaboration between the UNI Museum and the Iowa Rock n’ Roll Music Association.

IPR/Tony Dehner

Mark your calendars. The third annual Hinterland music festival is happening August 4th-5th in St. Charles. The lineup has been announced, and it's terrific.

"We wanted to pick something a little bit different than what we did last year -  kind of bring out a different crowd, but also kind of accommodate the crowd we had curated here from the beginning," says Sam Summers, organizer for the festival. 

In 2007, I read that the "dispute about classical recording is whether it is dying or dead," but in 2016 it seemed as frisky as kids swarming a playground. So many albums came out that trying to winnow them to a "best-of-the-year" list could make you empathize with an Ivy League admissions officer. Yet the challenge didn't daunt hundreds of critics worldwide, and their choices were fascinating. In recent years I've been aggregating all the lists I could find into a "meta-list," and I wasn't ready to stop just yet, so ... welcome to IPR's 2016 Classical Mega-Meta-List!

Photo Courtesy of the Des Moines Metro Opera

The Des Moines Metro Opera opens its run of Soldier Songs this weekend at Camp Dodge in Johnston. It will be the first time an opera has been performed at an active military base. 

Michael Mayes, the operatic baritone who will be performing the one -man opera, says it's been a unique experience to be rehearsing a piece like Soldier Songs in front of active military service members. 

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer welcomes the signature pop melodies and tight harmonies of The Well Pennies to Iowa. 

The folk duo, who recently relocated from Los Angeles to Des Moines, earned national acclaim for their rendition of the classic Beatles tune "All My Loving," featured on a 2013 release called "Beatles Reimagined." 

Download the free podcast below to hear The Well Pennies play their Beatles takes and well-crafted original music that spans the length of their careers. 

In 2016, Berlin and Paris released Beethoven Symphony sets, but if you want classical music that hasn’t been recorded 100 times, you really ought to give Iowa a try. So when Charity Nebbe invited me to share favorite releases of 2016, I focused on our state. As I mentioned to Charity, Iowa orchestras do play awesome Beethoven (you can hear them on IPR's Symphonies of Iowa ), but in studio albums, Iowa musicians tend to explore roads less traveled.

Paul Sabin Photo

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer chats with Iowa music legend  and visual artist Tony Brown. 

Listen to and download the free podcast below to hear Brown impressive command of a wide-range of styles from old school Blues to R&B, Soul, Ska, Reggae, Jazz, Rock, Fold, Funk and Latin flavors. Plus, here incredible stories of Brown's childhood in Waterloo, as well as his experiences abroad. 

When you think of the state of Iowa, you might not initially find yourself thinking about its music scene or rich musical culture. But there is a growing diversity of sound in the state and a “special sauce” that makes the music that’s made here unique.

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Dave Zollo, Iowa City based artist and founder of Trailer Records; Luke Tweedy, owner of Flat Black Studios and Tim Hankewich of Orchestra Iowa about music in Iowa.

In this special, outdoor episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Iowa music greats David Zollo and William Elliott Whitmore join together to perform at IPR's second annual Great Iowa Potluck. 

Download the free podcast below to hear host Ben Kieffer chat with the pair about their storied music careers, their Iowa upbringings, and their new project Middle Western. 

Kari Bedford

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Illinois singer-songwriter Ben Bedford tells  host Ben Kieffer about the his background in history has shaped his songwriting. 

Listen in to the podcast below to hear tunes from Bedford's new album, "The Pilot and the Flying Machine.

Courtesy of Bob Dorr

Looking for the best of Blues in 2016? Bob Dorr, frontman for Bob Dorr and the Blue Band and host of Beatles Medley, Backtracks, and Blue Avenue on Iowa Public Radio, shares his thoughts on this year's releases.

Courtesy of Oleg Timofeyev

After listening through new Iowa classical music releases from 2016, Iowa Public Radio host Barney Sherman says that Iowa tends to excel in classical genres and ensemble types that are a off the beaten path and under performed  in major metropolitan areas.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Sherman about his favorite new Iowa classical music for 2016. During this hour, we also hear about some of best new folk music for 2016, curated by Karen Impola, host of Iowa Public Radio's The Folk Tree and University Concert.

IPR/Tony Dehner

We received around 1,800 albums this year, and we put just under 900 of those into rotation on IPR's Studio One. There's been so much incredible music released this year; it's impossible to get to all of it. Never fear! We've created a guide. 

Below, you'll find lists of favorites from 2016 from all three of IPR's Studio One Tracks hosts, alongside lists from IPR's Sean McClain and Clay Masters.

Iowa City folk rock group The Recliners channels recent Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan from The Java House stage in downtown Iowa City on this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend." 

Join the group in reminiscing on their favorite Dylan stories, moments, and most importantly, songs, by downloading the free podcast below. 

Matthew Coley

Holiday marimba music is here! Iowa Public Radio’s Performance Iowa is excited to present internationally acclaimed percussionist Matthew Coley’s Heartland Marimba Festival holiday program live from Studio One in Cedar Falls. His solo spectacular will feature beautiful holiday favorites that he has arranged for this tour. Check out this festive edition of Performance Iowa right here!

Todd Rosenberg, courtesy of Hancher

At its 1892 premiere, Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker went over like a stocking full of coal. St. Petersburg critics called it a "failed experiment" and "an insult." Only in Cold War America did it become the Christmas ballet, and while that process began in San Francisco, what made it a national tradition was a refugee who had danced the Nutcracker as a teenager in Russia, George Balanchine.

In this episode of Iowa Public Radio Studio One's "Java Blend," Iowa blues icon Kevin B.F. Burt stops by The Java House in downtown Iowa City to croon and belt his legendary tunes. 

Lend an ear to the podcast below to hear some of Burt's new works, as well as some searing covers of B.B. King, Bob Dylan, and more. 

CREDIT BY LOLWHYNOT3498 - OWN WORK, CC BY-SA 4.0, / Wikimedia

We're not sure what to call them - "long-forms"? "essays"? - but some IPR posts take extra time to explore the landscape of classical music and what it tells us about our world. IPR's new Classical Barn page lets you find these posts quickly and easily. Click on the link to explore for yourself!

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Des Moines powerhouse Bonne Finken trades laid back acoustic arrangements for grand, sprawling electronic tunes. 

Download the podcast below to hear host Ben Kieffer chat with Finken on her decision to go electronic. 

Dubuque trio Cranes and Vultures brings its eclectic take on folk and alt-country to The Java House in downtown Iowa City in this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend." 

Download and listen to the podcast below to hear the band chat with "Java Blend" host Ben Kieffer and play some of their intriguing, highly original tunes. 

In this boot-stompin' episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Iowa's old-time jazz group The Dandelion Stompers stopped by The Java House in downtown Iowa City- and the toes were tapping. 

Lend an ear to the downloadable podcast below for some jazz standards steeped in New Orleans tradition.

Iowa City's favorite bluesman, Kevin B.F. Burt, will take up a familiar role on the Java Blend stage for another electrifying performance of his award-winning roots and blues. 

Stop by The Java House in downtown Iowa City at 2 P.M. this Friday, November 4th, to hear the booming voice and distinct guitar playing that has cemented Burt as legend in blues music. 

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