The sound

December 23, 2010


By Michael Swanger



Scenesters share their wishes for local music community in 2011


‘Tis the season for making wishes, so I thought it would be appropriate to poll a handful of local professionals who make their living in the music industry and ask them about their wishes for the Greater Des Moines music scene in 2011.

From wanting more clubs that support live music, to changing the public’s perception of “supporting” to “enjoying” local live music, to extending curfews for concert-going minors, the responses were as varied as the industries from which those who were polled work; including performers and business owners.

The most popular answer, not surprisingly, was to see more people support local live music. Here’s hoping that music fans heed the call in 2011.


James Biehn

Guitarist/teacher/owner of Central Iowa Music Lab

Wish: Musicians with a better understanding of music history

“So many of my students think that music started with Nirvana. Nothing against Nirvana, but find out what influenced Nirvana, then find out what influenced that band, etc. Your own music will have less ego about it when you realize that you’re participating in a years-old tradition, regardless of genre.”


Kathryn Dickel

Co-owner of Midwestix

Wish: Increased concert attendance

“We see so many great shows come through Midwestix that don’t get the crowd they deserve; Les Nubians at People’s Court comes to mind off the top of my head. Des Moines is actually getting a lot of amazing music. I hope the public will support it so our choices continue to grow. I’d also like to see a hip jazz series in this town; sleeper market here for that.”


Jill Haverkamp

Co-owner of On Pitch Media

Wish: More exposure for local musicians

“If the music community (fans, media, bands, promoters, venues) can shine a spotlight on local musicians, we can make others realize what they’re missing out on! More exposure will equate to more fans and a supportive scene.”


Rod Leaverton

Jazz guitarist/co-founder of Community Jazz Center

Wish: A change of view for the local scene

“I’m convinced that a community can only be further developed through selfless acts. We must distance ourselves from the notion that the music scene must be ‘supported’ (I think that’s unhealthy); rather, it should be ‘enjoyed.’ Accordingly, I would like to see more business people encouraged to volunteer their professional skills and time to help cultivate the local music scene. It’s in all our best interests.”


Jon Locker

Nadas bassist/Sonic Factory Studio owner, producer, engineer

Wish: The return of film tax credits

“That was one of the coolest things, plus it created so many job opportunities for musicians and other creative types. I mean, do you realize that towards the end of it, you could go downtown and see all kinds of action going on, on a Monday even? Come on newly elected leaders, fix it!”


Darren Matthews

Thankful Dirt singer-songwriter-guitarist

Wish: More fans at shows

“We have so many talented musicians in and around Des Moines. There is live music available in Des Moines almost every night of the week, and people complain that there is ‘nothing to do’ in Des Moines! I’ve seen many great local acts playing for an audience of five. There is so much going on here, covering all genres. It’s time people start taking notice of Iowa musicians-songwriters. If people don’t start supporting it more, it will eventually go away.”


Robby Michael

Country musician

Wish: More live music venues

“We have lost some great venues this year with Joker’s in Ankeny and Blues on Grand closing, and I’m sure I speak for all local musicians in saying they will be missed. Hopefully 2011 brings new life to the Des Moines music scene (and more venues).”


Bob Pace

Blues musician

Wish: More blues clubs

“The blues community needs new places to congregate, where old and new fans can come together and support our favorite music.”


Sam Summers

Concert promoter

Wish: Later curfews for minors

“I wish Des Moines was rational about curfews for minors in music venues; 9 p.m. on a weekend is the earliest in the country. It creates a ceiling on the Des Moines music scene.” CV


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