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Feature Story

Walking on sunshine!


Summer’s slate of outdoor live music has no shortage of music festival offerings, all within driving distance of Des Moines.

The 515 Alive fun has grown into one of the Midwest’s
biggest and best EDM and hip-hop festivals. Attendance in 2018 tallied more than 23,000 during the two-day event. 515 Alive is hosted at Water Works Park — 2201
George Flagg Parkway, Des Moines. Photo submitted

Woodstock. This summer marks the 50-year anniversary of 1969’smother-of-all music festivals. Hosted on a 600-acre dairy farmin upstate New York, the event somehow caught the proverbial lightning in a bottle and attracted upwards of 400,000 free birds from all corners of the country.

Woodstock’s reincarnation may or may not be cancelled — the lawyers were still haggling as CITYVIEW went to press — but whichever way the courts rule, Woodstock changed summer music concerts forever. Its legacy lives on every time live music is enjoyed outdoors alongside of other people under a clear blue sky. If you are wondering where you can find 1969-style fun without wandering too far away, CITYVIEW surveyed the within-driving distance action, and the following pages offer our considerable findings.

*NOTE: This summer’s playlist is packed with big-name local, regional and national bands. The following dates, times and other details are believed to be accurate, but be sure to check with each specific venue for confirmation. For more entertainment information, check all summer long.

Big Country Bash transforms from a one-weekend event into a series of big-name headliner shows. Clint Black leads the way on June 22 at the new Water Works Park Amphitheater. Photo submitted

CNA - Stop HIV Iowa

Big Country Bash Series

See dates below
Water Works Park Amphitheater
Ticket prices vary
Big Country Bash has evolved from a one-weekend affair into a summer-long series with multiple dates. Each of Big Country’s 2019 events is anchored by a country music powerhouse performing live at the new Water Works Park. Big Country Bash is billed as a family-fun atmosphere where all are welcome.
•June 22 Clint Black
•June 28 Brett Young
•July 18 Chase Rice
•Sept. 7 Cody Johnson and Mark Chesnutt
•Sept. 26 Maren Morris

Eli Young Band plays Nitefall on the River at Brenton Skating Plaza, Thursday, July 11, starting at 8 p.m. Photo submitted

Nitefall On The River

See dates below
Brenton Skating Plaza
Ticket prices vary
The city’s summer outdoor weekly music series has local music fans enjoying central Iowa evenings. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets for a relaxing or a romantic time under the stars. Music from a variety of genres fill the air at Nitefall on the River in 2019. The concerts will be held under the canopy at Brenton Skating Plaza in the Historic East Village.
•Tuesday, June 25 — 7 p.m. Lake Street Dive — $30-$35
•Tuesday, July 2 — 7 p.m. Fitz and The Tantrums — $30-$130
•Thursday, July 11 — 8 p.m. Eli Young Band — $20-$25
•Thursday, Aug. 8 — 7 p.m. Turnpike Troubadours — $30-$35
•Monday, Aug. 12 — 7 p.m. John Butler Trio — $40.25-$613
•Friday, Aug. 23 — 7 p.m. The Pork Tornadoes and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels — $20-$25

America’s River Festival

June 21-22
Port of Dubuque, Dubuque
Take me to the river. Put me in the… Music? America’s River Festival has again reeled in an assortment of big-name national acts. Country music and folks from around the country fill the Port of Dubuque for a one-of-a-kind experience that is now in its fifth year.
LINEUP: Elizabeth Mary, BlackHawk, Clint Black, Main Street Jazz Band, Pure Prairie League, Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives, Steve Miller Band


June 21-22
517 Park St., Sheldon
Ticket prices vary
A family-friendly weekend filled with worship, worship music, food, and other activities.
LINEUP: Newsboys, Skillet, Jeremy Camp, Zach Williams, Matt Maher, Plumb, We Are Messengers, I Am They and more

Iowa City Jazz Festival

July 5-7
Iowa City
Ticket prices vary
A three-day downtown music festival filled with live jazz performances, delicious dishes and fireworks. Billed as a weekend jazz extravaganza, this festival welcomes attendees to bring blankets, chairs or relax in the beverage garden. Musical performers are scheduled to play on four stages showcasing a variety of well-known jazz musicians and up-and-coming talents.
LINEUP: The Nayo Jones Experience, Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, Thumbscrew, Blake Shaw Quartet, United Jazz Ensemble, North Corridor Jazz All Stars, Sasha Berliner, Ryan Keberle, Craig Taborn’s Daylight Ghosts Quartet, Danilo Perez Trio with special guest Chris Potter, The George Jazz Trio, The Blake Shaw Big(ish) Band, The Dick Watson Trio, Brick Street Ramblers, Ritmocano, TheBad Plus

Mississippi Valley Blues Festival

July 5-6
Davenport – LeClaire Park
Ticket prices vary
Blues musicians celebrate their music while playing on the river.
LINEUP: Avey/Grouws Band, Heather Gillis, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Samantha Fish, Hal Reed and Mississippi Journey, Blues Rock-It, Robert Kimbrough Sr., Lizzie Neal, Victor Wainwright, Tab Benoit, North Mississippi All-Stars, Grand Avenue Ruckus, Nic Clark, Joe Marcinek, Ellis Kell Winter Blues All-Stars, David Berntson, Nic Clark

80/35 Music Festival brings a mix of local, regional and national bands to downtown Des Moines, July 12-13. The event has helped put Des Moines on the music map and offers a pay-to-see main stage as well as free stages. 80/35 draws an estimated 30,000 people and 2019 is its 12th year. Photo submitted

July 12-13
Western Gateway Park, Des Moines
Ticket prices start at $45
Where harmonies meet happiness. Mind-bending music, eye-popping art and summer fun have made 80/35 a central Iowa staple. Bringing what is arguably the most recognizable lineup of nationally known musical names to the area year after year, the Friday and Saturday two-day event features 40 acts playing on five different stages in downtown Des Moines. Now in its 12th year, 80/35 boasts 16 national and international acts in the ticketed area, plus the three free stages with another 30 musical performances, a kids zone, art installations and food and drink vendors. 80/35 is put on by the Des Moines Music Coalition.
LINEUP: Portugal. The Man, Elle King, Metric, MisterWives, Noname, Liz Phair, YUNGBLUD, Lissie, Murder By Death, Open Mike Eagle, XL (Sadat X and El Da Sensei) with DJ Kaos, The Beths, The Envy Corps, The Harmaleighs, And The Kids, Sidewalk Chalk, Dressy Bessy, Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal, DICKIE, Druids, MarKaus, Squirrel Flower, LAV.ISH, Crystal City, The Other Brothers, Hex Girls, Younger, Left Is West, Lady Revel, DJ Raj and Friends, Closed Format presents Disco Demolition, Queen Kenzie, COLDSAINT, EleanorGrace, Plumero, Greta and Adaline Akers, Jolie Seitz, Girls Rock! DSM, DMMC Summer Camps: Hip-Hop, DMMC Summer Camps: Rock

Camp Euforia

July 18-20
Jerry’s Farm, Lone Tree
Ticket prices vary
Three days of music, two nights of Eufórquestra, one amazing experience… Camp Euforia started in 2004 as Eufórquestra’s “Fan Appreciation Party.” Since then, the event has grown to be a full-blown music festival featuring 20-plus artists over three days on two stages. Surrounded three hundred and sixty degrees by farm fields that stretch to the horizon, this Iowa landscape features a unique and picturesque backdrop for a festival. Billed as Iowa’s premier independent music festival, the event focuses on showcasing and celebrating the local music scene and community, along with performers from across the country and Eufórquestra’s touring friends.
LINEUP: Eufórquestra (x2) feat, Kim Dawson, TAUK, Kung Fu, The Ghost of Paul Revere, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, Mungion, Old Salt Union, Miles Over Mountains, Sophistafunk, Heatbox, Aaron Kamm and The One Drops, Natty Nation, The Candymakers, Jaden Carlson Band, Winterland, The Dawn, The Beaker Brothers Band, Matt G Funkma$ter, Matt Woods, Camp Euforia All-Star Jam, Grosso Family Band, Baberhood Bluegrass Band, DJ Buddha, Dr Z’s Experiment, The Velies, Nikki Lunden, Illegal Smile, Scamper, Starship Pilgrims

CMA Jazz Festival

July 20
Hoyt Sherman Place
Reserved seating: ticket prices vary
The CMA Jazz Festival starts at 1 p.m. and offers an afternoon of free musical performances on the lawn and in the gallery at Hoyt Sherman Place. The Festival concludes with ticketed shows featuring the Connie Han Trio and the Bria Skonberg Quartet.
Free afternoon performances on the outdoor lawn:
•1 p.m. Valley Jazz Combo
•2 p.m. NOLA Jazz Band
•3 p.m. Mitch Towne Quartet
•4:45 p.m. John Kizilarmut Quartet
Free indoor shows at the gallery:
•1:30 p.m. Chris Merz Quartet
•2:45 p.m. John Krantz Duo
•4 p.m. Blake Shaw Quintet
Ticketed evening performances at the indoor theater:
•6:30 p.m. Connie Han Trio; Bria Skonberg Quartet

Guthrie’s River Ruckus

July 26-27
Guthrie County Fairgrounds, Guthrie Center
Ticket prices vary
The Ruckus enters year 11, and it is emerging as one of the best west-central Iowa country music festivals, located in-between Omaha and Des Moines, near the South Raccoon River. Ruckus fan favorite Chris Cagle emerges from retirement to headline the event one last time.
LINEUP: Cody Hicks, Tucker Beathard, Diamond Rio, Jeremy McComb, Ashley McBryde, Mitchell Tenpenny, Chris Cagle

Mississippi Valley Fair

July 30 – Aug. 4
Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, Davenport
Ticket prices vary
Chainsaw artists, alligator shows, carnival amenities, a grandstand and nationally renowned country musicians are all headed to the M-i-s-s-i-s-s-i-p-p-i… Valley Fair. Headliners include Brooks and Dunn, Jake Owen, Nickelback and Brad Paisley.
2019 Grandstand Entertainment:
• Tuesday: Dan + Shay
• Wednesday: Brooks and Dunn
• Thursday: Jake Owen
• Friday: Tesla
• Saturday: Nickelback
• Sunday: Brad Paisley

Hinterland Music Festival

Just south of Des Moines, Hinterland is a single-stage music
festival offering outdoor camping, music and fun, in the middle
of an Iowa cornfield. The easy-going atmosphere is scheduled for
Aug. 2-4 in St. Charles’ Avenue of the Saints Amphitheater.

Aug. 2-4
Avenue of the Saints Amphitheater,
3357 St. Charles Road, St. Charles
With unmatched offerings of outdoor camping, music and fun, Hinterland — a single-stage music festival held within the friendly confines of an Iowa cornfield — allows attendees access
to camping sites, ample sounds and an easygoing atmosphere.
LINEUP: Hozier, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Brandi Carlile, Kacey Musgraves, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Maggie Rogers, Hippo Campus, The Wood Brothers, Dawes, Jade Bird, Colter Wall, Brent Cobb, Keuning, The Dead South, The War and Treaty, Ron Gallo, Ruston Kelly, John Moreland, The Nude Party, The Maytags, Elizabeth Moen, Adam Bruce

Iowa State Fair

Grandstand Acts
Aug. 8-18
Ticket prices vary
The Iowa State Fair boasts a butter cow, a diverse assortment of foods on sticks, midway rides and carnival games, but if truth be told, nothing compares to the
fair’s music selection. The fair’s assortment of national acts is listed below. For a list of free shows, visit
• Thursday, Aug. 8 — 8 p.m. for King and Country with special guest Zach Williams, $45/$40/$35
• Friday, Aug. 9 — 8 p.m. The Chainsmokers, $80/$75/$70
• Saturday, Aug. 10 — 8 p.m. Slipknot, $60/$53/$43
• Sunday, Aug. 11 — 8 p.m. Zac Brown Band, $85/$75/$70
• Monday, Aug. 12 — 8 p.m. Toby Keith, $20/$45/$55/$60
• Tuesday, Aug. 13 — 8 p.m. Dan + Shay with special guest Carly Pearce — $47/$37/$27

• Wednesday, Aug. 14 — 8 p.m. Gabriel Fluffy Iglesias — $45/$37/$32
• Thursday, Aug. 15 — 8 p.m. Foreigner with special guest Night Ranger — $42/$32/$27
• Friday, Aug. 16 — 8 p.m. Luke Bryan “What Makes You Country” with special guest Jon Langston — $80/$75/$70
• Saturday, Aug. 17 — 8 p.m. Pentatonix The World Tour with special guest Rachel Platten — $50/$40/$35
• Sunday, Aug. 18 — 8 p.m. Hootie and the Blowfish, Group Therapy Tour with special guest Barenaked Ladies — $75/$65/$55

Okoboji Blue Water Festival

Aug. 10
Preservation Plaza, Arnolds Park
All day. All free. That is the motto for the Okoboji Blue Water Festival, aimed at raising public awareness of water quality issues in the Iowa Great Lakes and
beyond. The event features Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers along with Dave Mason in concert.

Glow Wild

Aug. 24, 4-10 p.m.
Jester Park Nature Center
Tickets: $15 (adults); $5 (children 3-17); ages 2 and younger are free…festival camping and tethered hot-air balloon rides are available for an additional fee.
Glow Wild benefits local conservation and outdoor recreation efforts. The outdoor event is family friendly and offers camping, hot-air balloon rides, possibly the
biggest bonfire you’ve ever seen, horse-drawn wagon rides, climbing, easy tunes and a plethora of other activities. Suede, a local Des Moines band, opens with a
mix of covers including rock, alternative, R and B, and country hits from the 1970s to the present. The Georgia Satellites headline Glow Wild. The Southern rock band from Atlanta is best known for its 1986 No. 2 single, “Keep Your Hands to Yourself.”

515 Alive

Aug. 16-17
Des Moines Water Works Park
Two-day passes start at $124.95
This is the 17th anniversary of 515 Alive. The fun began as a small local block party, but this has grown into one of the Midwest’s biggest and best EDM and hip-hop festivals. Attendance in 2018 tallied more than 23,000 during the two-day event. Is it the wildest weekend in Iowa? Maybe. But there is only one way to find out. The 515 Alive Music Festival is hosted at Water Works Park — 2201 George Flagg Parkway, Des Moines. The grounds cover nearly 1,500 acres, and the festival features dozens of national and regional bands on multiple stages.
HEADLINER LINEUP: Griz, Illenium, Wiz Khalifa, $uicideboy$, Playboi Carti, Hippie Sabotage, Flux Pavilion, Getter, Black Tiger Sex Machine, Whethan, Yung Gravy, plus special guest Lil Nas X

Exile Music Fest

Aug. 24
1514 Walnut St., Des Moines, Exile Brewing
$20 at the gate
Shut down Walnut Street in downtown Des Moines? Check. Put up a stage? Check. Blast off live tunes to pair with plenty of suds for beating the summer heat? Check. Since 2017, Exile Music Fest has been doing just that. This year the one-day, outdoor community party returns.
LINEUP: The Main Squeeze, Fruition, Kitchen Dwellers ♦

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