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Sound Stage

Des Moines from a distance

3/13/2013

Chad Taylor working hard on his “business trip.”

Chad Taylor working hard on his “business trip.”

I’ve been on vacation in Phoenix all week. So since I’ve been spending time in a strange city, I thought I’d take the opportunity to compare and contrast local music scenes. (Hello, IRS. Did I say “vacation?” I meant “business trip.”)

It’s not a matter of which scene is “better,” but rather a chance to look at what things we do well, and what ideas we can take to heart. For example, I went to four venues in the past week and never once did I pay a cover charge. I asked one local band member if they were being paid for his show, and he looked at me like I’d just belched in his face and asked him to name it.

“All the places in town pay their bands,” he said, once I’d explained myself. “Bands get a cut of the bar at the end of the night,” he continued, which seems to be an almost foreign concept in Iowa.

However, all in all, my trip has left me excited about the state of local music in central Iowa. The venues that I saw in Phoenix (population: 1.5 million) were remarkably similar to the best venues in Des Moines (population: 270,000). And the bands coming out of Des Moines are being heard: A quick and dirty poll found that local musicians in Phoenix were familiar with central Iowa acts like Superchief, Mumfords, Dead Horse Trauma and The River Monks.

The work being done in the capital city by venue owners, promoters like Metro Concerts Live and First Fleet Concerts, and entities like the Central Iowa Blues Society and the Des Moines Music Coalition has all combined to make the Des Moines scene a vibrant, positive place. We should be proud of the musicians, artists and venues in this fair city. Support local art everywhere you go. CV

Barmuda