The sound

April 21, 2011 |

By Michael Swanger


Local music scene welcomes new jazz center, rooftop patio and rock club


Significant changes to the local live music scene continue to unfold as Drake University unveils a jazz center; a downtown rock club builds a rooftop patio; and another celebrates its grand opening. Read on.


Turner Jazz Center


What Jazz at Lincoln Center is to New York City, the Turner Jazz Center could be to Des Moines if all goes as planned.

While Drake University’s new state-of-the-art facility will be used primarily by faculty and students, a professor of jazz studies and trumpet says it will host public concerts and become a home base for the new Turner Center Jazz Orchestra.

“ Our vision for the space was for it to be a multi-purpose facility and a jazz club. We want it to be a focal point for the community,” Andrew Classen said. “The acoustics are perfectly designed for big band jazz and the club will hold 70 to 90 people with table seating. The stage is beautiful, and we have a built-in sound system that includes a 40-channel, Pro Tools board and an isolation room, making it the biggest and best recording studio in Des Moines.”

Construction of the Turner Jazz Center was funded by a $1.5 million grant by former McDonald’s Corp. CEO Fred Turner in memory of his wife, Patty Turner. The couple met while they were students at Drake during the 1950s and shared a passion for jazz.

On Thursday, April 21 at 7:30 p.m., the Turner Jazz Center Orchestra will perform a concert entitled “Cornfed Jazz: Music of Iowa Composers” at its new home. Tickets are $7 in advance through the Drake box office.

'The Rooftop' at House of Bricks


When J.C. Wilson opened the House of Bricks in the East Village six years ago, he knew eventually that he would have to replace its rooftop, but it wasn’t until last year that his business partner suggested that they add a patio to the project so customers could enjoy meals with a birds-eye view of downtown.

“ People like being outdoors during the summer,” said Wilson, 51. “We knew we had to re-roof it, so why not add a patio? It’s a way to push the food and drink side of what we do.”

Wilson said construction of “The Rooftop” could begin this week depending on the weather and that he hopes to have it completed in four months. He intends to serve food and drinks on The Rooftop but not live music.

“ We’ll just have background music up there,” he said. “But we hope that as we draw people here to eat that our show attendance will increase, too.

“ It’s going to be a comfortable escape on summer nights.”


The Gas Lamp fires up


In January, we broke the news that co-owners Frankie Farrell, Ryan Flattery and James Wilson would soon be opening The Gas Lamp, Des Moines’ newest live music club, located at the former site of Blues on Grand. A tour of the building revealed an 18-foot-high, tin-plated ceiling, large storefront windows, a brick facade behind the bar and increased sight lines. After four months of extensive renovations, The Gas Lamp will fire up on Friday, April 22 with a performance by Mike Zito at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $10.

Like Blues on Grand, The Gas Lamp will host a weekly, Friday after-work release show by Sumpin’ Doo from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. beginning May 6; and a Thursday night jam hosted by Janey Hooper and Scott Long, beginning May 12. Admission is $4.

Other scheduled shows include Tribe of Lions on April 29 (free) and T.S.O.L. with Shot Baker on May 15 ($12 through Midwestix).

In addition to live music, Farrell said that his father, Tommy Farrell, will provide catering of Vienna hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches. Bar hours will be daily from lunchtime until 2 a.m.

“ It’s going to be a unique spot,” Farrell said. CV


caption: A view from The Rooftop at House of Bricks and of the new Turner Jazz Center at Drake University.