The sound

July 14, 2011 |

by Michael Swanger


Dave Moore (left) performs Friday, July 15 at 7 p.m. at The Lighthouse Concert Series at West Des Moines Christian Church, founded by Scott Stilwell (right — photo by Michael Swanger). Admission is $10. Visit
The Lighthouse Concert Series offers acclaimed artists at affordable prices


As a musician, concert promoter and music director, Scott Stilwell has a good understanding of the music business from both sides of the stage. He also understands that during tough economic times, discretionary funds for entertainment are among the first things to get cut from a family's budget. So when he founded The Lighthouse Concert Series at the West Des Moines Christian Church, which launched last month, he wanted to provide music fans of all ages the opportunity to see acclaimed artists at an affordable price, vowing to keep admission prices at $5 or $10.

"We want to make it affordable for everyone to experience live music. A family of four can see a Lighthouse show for what it would cost one person to see a show at most places," Stilwell said.

The monthly concert series, co-sponsored Grounds For Celebration, features a mix of national and Iowa folk, blues, alt-country, reggae and pop acts that Stilwell hopes will appeal to a variety of music fans. In addition to Dave Moore's ($10) performance there on Friday, July 15 at 7 p.m. in the church's outdoor courtyard, Stilwell has booked shows by award-winning national acts like Dennis Warner (Aug. 12), Roots Rock Society (Sept. 11), Kim Richey (Oct. 21) and Tom Kimmel (Nov. 11).

"We're already booked through 2012. It's amazing how many people wanted to come back and play at the church," Stilwell said.

Stilwell, who serves as director of music and fine arts at West Des Moines Christian Church, operated a similar concert series there from 2000 to 2007 that was known as The Lighthouse Coffeehouse. Over the years, it hosted performances by secular artists like John Gorka, Guy Davis and Patty Larkin.

"The Lighthouse Concert Series is a retooled version of The Lighthouse Coffeehouse. The church had a good reputation for hosting concerts so it seemed like a natural thing for us to host shows again," Stilwell said. "We know it might take some time to build it up again, but we know we have a good thing and that we're providing music fans another option."

The new series boasts three performance spaces including an outdoor courtyard, a coffeehouse (fellowship hall) and 500-seat sanctuary. All shows feature general admission seating, and tickets will be sold only at the door.

"We're trying to make this more about the music than the venue," Stilwell said. "We're not creating a party atmosphere with drink specials; we're presenting a listening environment with some of the finest music in the area that you can bring your family to."

This weekend's show marks the return of a renowned Iowa artist who performed at the church's previous concert series.

"It doesn't get a whole lot better than Dave Moore," said Stilwell. "His musical style is such that he doesn't have to pretend to be something or somebody else, whether he's working on a house or playing guitar. He's one of the most genuine artists I've ever known." CV



2011-2012 Lighthouse Lineup


Dave Moore (folk, blues) — July 15, 7 p.m., $10

Dennis Warner (folk) — Aug. 12, 7 p.m., $10

Roots Rock Society (reggae) — Sept. 11, 6 p.m., FREE

Bill Riley Talent Showcase — Oct. 14, 7 p.m., $5

Kim Richey (alt-country) — Oct. 21, 7 p.m., $10

Tom Kimmel (singer-songwriter) — Nov. 11, 7 p.m., $10

Lighthouse Christmas Show (Christmas Fun) — Dec. 9, 7 p.m., $5

January Jam! (soup supper, music) — Jan. 13, 2012, 7 p.m., $5

Lightswitch (Christian rock) — Feb. 17, 2012, 7 p.m., $10

Kate Campbell (singer-songwriter) — March 9, 2012, 7 p.m., $10

Doug and Telisha Williams (alt-country) — April 13, 2012, 7 p.m., $10

Big Joe and Jen (Americana) — May 11, 2012, 7 p.m., $5

Ronny Cox (singer-songwriter) — June 8, 2012, 7 p.m., $10

Chuck Pyle (zen cowboy) — July 13, 2012, 7 p.m., $10