Monday, February 20, 2017

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Sound Circuit

Daytrotter founder combining food and music for GAS Feed & Seed

2/1/2017

Sean-MoellerFor more than a decade, Sean Moeller has been one of the more prominent tastemakers in Iowa music. Moeller launched the website Daytrotter in 2006, featuring short sessions recorded in the Quad Cities by everyone from national acts like Norah Jones, Wilco and Glen Campbell to Iowa acts like Christopher the Conquered, Brooks Strause and William Elliott Whitmore.

In 2016, Moeller stepped away from Daytrotter to pursue new pursuits, such as this month’s GAS Feed & Seed happening Feb. 14-16 in downtown Davenport. In addition to acts like The Relationship (featuring Brian Bell of Weezer), Richard Edwards of Margot & The Nuclear So & So’s and Sir the Baptist, the festival will let Moeller expand his tastemaking powers to food, with intimate dinners where fans can break bread with musicians.

“It seemed like a fun way to let people get to know each other at the onset of it,” Moeller said. “The idea of having festival goers and performers dine and have some drinks together before they had seen them play yet seemed like a really fun ice breaker. It seems like a way to create fellowship and up the ante of someone’s experience with music.”

A decade with Daytrotter means Moeller has probably the most impressive list of musical contacts of any Iowan. Moeller said he didn’t have many of his target acts turn him down. Many are flying in for the show, while others ended up booking a tour around GAS.

Much like Daytrotter, GAS is a mix of names you might recognize and some that are likely completely unfamiliar. That’s by design. Someone might head out because they want to see the Weezer guy’s other band and get turned on to another act that will become their new favorite band.

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“I’m pretty picky about who I do shows with,” Moeller said. “It’s hard to get people to come out to shows, so I try to keep the level really high. It always annoys me when someone won’t give a band they don’t know a chance. I still have rock calendars from old Gabe’s shows in college, and it’s surprising to see a band like My Morning Jacket being the first of three bands at a show. But every band got started some way. I think this is a collection of bands that are going to amaze people a little bit. I’d say everyone on the lineup will surprise some people. It’s going to be fun.”

GAS is Moeller’s second festival. In 2016 GARP debuted at Maquoketa’s Codfish Hollow Barnstormers with Guided by Voices, The Rentals, Cory Chisel and many others. The festival will return in September of 2017. Moeller recently announced he’s opening a new bar in Davenport, Triple Crown Whiskey Bar & Raccoon Motel. It’s located in the former Musicians Union Local 67 headquarters and is expected to open on St. Patrick’s Day.

“It’s going to be an intimate kind of spot, probably a maximum of 80 or 100 people,” Moeller said. “The idea is to have something really special, intimate shows by big people that you wouldn’t have a chance to see in such a small room. Probably no advance ticket sales, just walk up.”

With GAS and his other projects, Moeller hopes to continue the work he started with Daytrotter: putting western Illinois and eastern Iowa on the musical map. With Daytrotter, he was able to get acts that were already driving through Iowa on Interstate 80 to stop to record a few songs. He’s been able to turn those connections into increased musical experiences in the state.

“I can’t count the number of times people stopped in for a session or were caught off guard by how great things are here. I think that can only filter into general feelings about this state. I hope that there’s a cumulative effect, with things like GAS, Maximum Ames, Wooly’s and 80/35 that make people reevaluate what they think about Iowa. The Midwest is my entire life, so it makes me proud to have the opportunity to open people’s eyes and make them reevaluate what they think about Iowa.” ♦

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