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The Sound

Local music, meet your Superfan

1/23/2013

Wendy Coon may be the Des Moines local music scene’s biggest follower, consumer and fan.

Wendy Coon may be the Des Moines local music scene’s biggest follower, consumer and fan.

Wendy Coon has probably been to more local shows than you. She didn’t start keeping track until June of last year, but from that point on, Coon hit up 264 shows in 2012. She’s been to 25 already this month.

“In 2010 I got divorced and really needed to find something to do with my time,” Coon said. “I started by running into Beau Nystrom’s band by chance at the State Fair Bud Tent on the first Sunday night (of the fair). I went out three or four more times during the fair and saw them play, and things went from there.”

Bands play because they love to play. The music is who they are. But don’t think for a minute that having a room full of people to play for isn’t part of the equation as well. And any time a band starts to see a familiar face or two, it means something else to them. It means that people aren’t just coming out to listen to them play, but that they’re coming back. The people who buy the merchandise and know the lyrics are the people who let a band know that it has made a genuine connection. And while each individual band may have more hardcore followers than Coon, there may not be anyone in the city who supports the whole scene quite as vehemently.

“Every band’s got their own vibe,” she said. “When a lot of people go to shows, the music is kind of in the background for them. But for me, the music is what I’m there for. Everything else comes second.”

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Coon is friends with many of the musicians she supports on Facebook, which is one of the major tools she uses to plot out her week.

“I get lots of invites, so I can plan around the invites.”

That planning leads to a weekly schedule that usually involves going out five to seven nights a week, often hitting two or three shows in the course of an evening.

“I tell people, ‘If I’m not working or sleeping, I’m out at a show,’ ” she said with a laugh. “Music for me is beyond just a passion. It’s a part of me.”

Music is also a support net for Coon. Listing off her favorite bands is just another way to list off her friends.                

“Music has been a part of my life all of my life,” she explained. “I tell all my band friends that my biggest regret is that I didn’t meet them any sooner than I did.”                

And for the people who Coon talks to who aren’t among her “band friends,” it doesn’t take long for them to discover where her true passions lay.                

“I play (local band’s) CDs in my car all the time. I’m always asking people if they’ve listened to Tony Bohnenkamp or Lesson7 or Chris Ranallo. I told Chris the other night, ‘I’m constantly plugging you guys.’ ”               

But as any local band knows, there are plenty of nights when Coon is in the minority. Getting people to check out a local band on a weeknight can be a difficult sell in this town, but Coon says that people are missing out.                

“There’s music out there for everyone. Every kind of genre. These guys are all so talented, they work so hard, they’re making CDs and a lot of them have extra jobs on top of music.”                

And what would she say to someone who hasn’t tried the local scene yet?                

“I’d tell them to just go out and support local music,” she said. “I’ll even go with them.” CV

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