Heath Alan and Little BIG Fest12/2/2015
The Des Moines Music Coalition’s (DMMC) annual roots, blues and Americana celebration, Little BIG Fest, takes place this weekend. The past three years have seen the DMMC experiment with the festival’s makeup to make it a more enjoyable fan experience. This year, the festival makes a couple new changes. most notably dropping from three East Village venues to just one — Wooly’s — with the edition of three acts at Lefty’s.
This year also marks the first year of inclusion for two of Iowa’s most talented blues acts: Bob Pace and the Heath Alan Band. The former is seen weekly at Gas Lamp and Lefty’s, while the latter’s front man is seen virtually everywhere. In fact, if you have seen a blues act perform in the city, there is a very good chance you’ve heard Alan’s saxophone in the mix.
“I enjoy working with a lot of different musicians,” he said. “As a sax player, I get a lot of opportunities to help support the vision of other artists and groups. I dig finding out how I can best support a project in the studio or on stage.
“Leading a band is about realizing the musical vision,” he continued, discussing the differences between his two hats. “But it’s also about management of time and resources. I like both jobs. Being a band leader is a lot more work outside of just the creative aspect.”
One positive side effect of being regarded as one of the most talented horn players in the city is that you often have your pick of people to work with on your own projects. The Heath Alan Band is no different.
“Jon Locker, Sam Mogerman and Justin Appel are the rhythm section (and) we rotate a variety of soloists,” he explained. “I’m attracted to musicians that search for ways to make songs as good as they can be. I’m partial to improvisational players that can also serve the group by knowing what not to do.”
Besides Little BIG Fest, Alan has plans mapped out for the coming year, and fans can expect him to be just as busy as ever.
“A new collection of tunes will be released in the Spring,” he said. “I’m looking forward to a big Summer in 2016 with the band as well as a lot of side work.” CV