Sunday, May 22, 2022

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The Culture Buzz

Greetings, Cultural Catalysts:


From the beautiful MainFrame Studios Building at 900 Keosauqua Way in Des Moines, Iowa comes your Listener-supported Community Voice, the Award-Winning independent radio station KFMG-LP 98.9 FM, bringing you music, literature & cultural news from the American Heartland and beyond.
 John Busbee for The Culture Buzz
2014 Iowa Governor’s Award for Partnership & Collaboration in the Arts
Podcasts of past interviews may be found at and 

Quote of the Week

“It is an old saying, ‘A blow with a word strikes deeper than a blow with a sword.”
— Robert Burton (1577-1640) an English writer and fellow of Oxford University, best known for his encyclopedic book The Anatomy of Melancholy

Newsletter content:

  1. Guests on this week’s Wednesday edition
  2. Performance Arts (Greater Des Moines/Iowa)
  3. Visual Arts (Greater Des Moines/Iowa)
  4. Auditions and other Individual Enhancement Opportunities
  5. Planning ahead
  6. Author events (Greater Des Moines/Iowa)
  7. Best-sellers, life resource books, Greater Des Moines performing arts organizations, Central Iowa indie book stores, cultural exploration resources, health & welfare resources

Special Cultural Headline News:

CNA - Stop HIV Iowa
  • Iowa History Book Club begins anew
    Can’t wait to dig into history this year in the online #IowaHistory Book Club, starting Feb. 3 with Pulitzer Prize-winner Art Cullen from The Storm Lake Times and his book “Storm Lake: Change, Resilience, and Hope
  • Terrace Hill Partnership ramps up programming
    The Terrace Hill Partnership is proud to present distinguished speakers who will bring timely programs to Terrace Hill’s Drawing Room at 2:00 p.m. each Saturday in February, followed by tea and tasty treats. Tickets are $10 per program or $35 for a season pass. The speakers are donating their time and all proceeds will benefit the Terrace Hill gardens.
  • February 5
    Michael Egel, Des Moines Metro Opera
    Michael will discuss the Des Moines Metro Opera’s 50th anniversary and its new performance initiative designed to engage new audiences, promote collaborations, and focus on contemporary subject matter.
    Tickets and speaker bio:
  • February 12
    John Zickefoose, “Piety Hill” of Des Moines
    A famous cluster of churches once stood around St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral and the current location of the Principal Financial Group corporate campus. John will discuss this now-vanished part of the Des Moines landscape.
    Tickets and speaker bio:
  • February 19
    Kim Perez, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
    Kim Perez, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, will discuss her vision of the vibrant 14-acre public garden, which offers enduring guest experiences, transformative educational opportunities, and engages a wide range of communities.
    Tickets and speaker bio:
  • February 26
    Tara Gartin and Susan Maupin Schmid, creators of No Company for Christmas
    This artist and author duo will discuss the creative process of transforming Terrace Hill as a central character of the children’s story, No Company for Christmas, which debuted at the Christmas at Terrace Hill event in December.
    Tickets and speaker bios:

This week’s guests on The Culture Buzz –

  • 11:00 AM – Des Moines Performing Arts renews its Willis Broadway Series when Tootsie brings its brash, buoyant musical comedy brilliance to the Civic Center stage. Drew Becker radiates in the title role as his Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels performance leads a stellar Broadway magic troupe back to Des Moines. “…musical comedy heaven…” – Rolling Stone “…the most uproarious new musical in year!” – The Hollywood Reporter
  • 11:17 AM – Jill Wells is part of an elite group of artists selected as Fellows in the first Iowa Creative Incubator initiative at Mainframe Studios. Here Jill talks about her Incubator Project: Public Art Mentorship, where Jill will mentor a graduating high school student using public art and community engagement as her primary tools, while focusing on 3 primary skill-building objectives.
  • 11:29 AM – Sandra Mendelson returns with her second book, We Walk Beside Them, and shares expanded insights from her fascinating initial conversation. Sandra’s abilities to communicate with animals takes the reader on an illuminating journey to better understand our world of living creatures. “The animals are waiting for us to join them in co-creating a world that heals and thrives.” — Sandra Mendelson
  • 11:47 AM – New York Times bestselling author Fiona Davis delivers another historical novel rooted in the vibrancy of ‘if these walls could talk’ allure. The Frick mansion’s legacy provides the foundation for Fiona’s storytelling, as she deftly brings historical and ‘plausible history’ together in a rip-roaring great read. “The colliding narratives and comprehensive descriptions of the historic mansion make for Davis’s best work to date.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • 12:00 PM – With its story anchored in Black Hawk County, Iowa, Erin Young spins a masterful thriller with her debut, The Fields. Riley Fisher steps into our lives as an appealing protagonist, a recently promoted member of the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s office. She now has her hands full with a murder case that has personal ties. Erin’s writing captures the sights, sounds and essence of Iowa, giving her story a lush backdrop in which to develop. Look for future Riley Fisher stories, as the conversation in this interview may reveal.“impressive debut” – Mystery & Suspense “twist-riddled thriller” – Publishers Weekly
  • 12:15 PM – Ballet Des Moines Artist Director Tom Mattingly shares glimpses into the upcoming intimate, innovative performance experience, Love Flight. Performed in the cozy confines of the Stoner Theater at Des Moines Performing Arts, patrons will savor the immersive closeness of this trio of performances pieces Feb 2-4. “Ballet is for everyone,” Mattingly says. “That’s our mission—to bring ballet to Des Moines as a whole, no matter what the person’s experience or background.”
  • 12:31 PM – New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf anchors her thrillers in Iowa. She loves the variety, timelessness and elemental honesty of Iowa’s landscapes, cities and its people. Her new book, The Overnight Guest, is another brilliant psychological dive into a story that resonates with a special depth that will captivate its readers. Listen as Heather provides some interesting back story. “Weaving together three narratives in an explosive and shocking denouement, The Overnight Guest will have you glued to the page and leave you wanting more.” —Liv Constantine, international bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish
  • 12:45 PM – Appearance Wed Jan 24 at Beaverdale Books. Julie Stone writes a captivating relationship story with her new book, He’s with the Band. Sharing how this story developed, and giving glimpses into this wonderful winter read, Julie leads a lively conversation about this novel. “Julie Stone writes Rom-Coms with a more mature heroine, because Happily-Ever-Afters shouldn’t have an expiration date.”

Performance Arts

  1. Kate Goldman Children’s Theatre at the Des Moines Community PlayhouseDon’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! The Musical! opens Jan 7 and runs thru Jan 23. Adapted from his popular children’s book, Mo Willems adds a bevy of delightful songs to enhance this story.
  2. Temple Comedy Series (Des Moines Performing Arts). That Golden Girls Show! A Puppet Parody Jan 25-30. THAT GOLDEN GIRLS SHOW! is a brand-new show that parodies classic “Golden Girls” moments–with puppets!
  3. Des Moines Symphony. Immortal Beloved, Jan 29-20. “Ever thine. Ever mine. Ever ours.” So Beethoven closed a July 1812 letter to his “immortal beloved,” a woman whose identity has remained one of the great mysteries of classical music. Beethoven’s passionate love letters come alive in a musical celebration of great passion from Dobrinka Tabakova’s Dawn to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and more.
  4. Ballet Des Moines brings an exceptional experience to its audiences with LOVE FLIGHT: an intimate pairing of ballet and conversation. Join Ballet Des Moines Artistic Director Tom Mattingly and the dancers of Ballet Des Moines in the Stoner Theater for three variations on love — an excerpt from kiss, a pas de deux from Black Swan and a world premiere from Tom Mattingly. Audience members are invited to stay for a company Q&A following the performance. Feb 2, 3, 4 at 7:00 PM.
  5. Tallgrass Theatre Company. The Revolutionists Feb 4-20. Directed by Megan Helmers. Four beautiful, badass women lose their heads in this irreverent, girl-powered comedy set during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror.
  6. Des Moines Performing ArtsTootsie! Marks the return of the Willis Broadway Series. Call it “musical comedy heaven” (Rolling Stone). Call it “the most uproarious new musical in years!” (The Hollywood Reporter). Feb 8-13.
  7. Iowa Stage Theatre CompanyLong Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill. Feb 11 – 20. A play about addiction and the resulting dysfunction of the family, Eugene O’Neill’s autobiographical play Long Day’s Journey into Night is regarded as his finest work.
  8. Theatre Midwest. The next in their Fresh Produce concert reading series, Burst is another tantalizing offering to experience. “Being a tech visionary is a heavy load, and Sarah is the only one great enough to bear it.” Feb 12-13, 2022

Visual Arts

  1. Polk County Heritage GalleryDouble Exposure is open! Come and see the best that Iowa photographers have to offer. Visit the gallery Monday through Friday from 11:00 to 4:30! Thanks to Rachel Tone and Bob Tone for their tremendous act of service – they worked hard to hang the show beautifully! Due to the omicron surge, the awards ceremony has been postponed until Feb 24.
  2. Des Moines Art Center. Re-connect with old favorites on exhibit from their permanent collection. Explore the constantly changing exhibits, from staff-curated to international, always ready to stimulate the imagination and senses. Always open, always free (except holidays).
  3. Terrace Hill Opens for Tours, are available by reservation. Tours are at 10:30 and 12:00, Tuesday – Saturday. Please call 515-242-5841 to make a reservation.

 Auditions and other Individual Enhancement Opportunities

  1. RJF Creative (Robert John Ford). A workshop production of my new musical “Rolf(e)” will be held in two performances – 2:00pm and 7:30pm – on Saturday, April 16, 2022 at the State Historical Museum of Iowa’s auditorium* in Des Moines. The event is free and open to the public; the evening performance will also be live-streamed. You know him from “The Sound Of Music,” but how did a gazebo-dancing messenger boy become a member of the Nazi Youth movement during one fateful summer? Was he the villain or just a confused teenager? And exactly how do you spell his name? “Rolf(e)” tells the hilarious back-story of an unheralded and misunderstood hero who would do anything for love and the resistance. Combining music in the style of Rodgers & Hammerstein, the teen angst of “Spring Awakening,” the laughs of “The Book of Mormon,” and the bawdiness of “Cabaret,” “Rolf(e)” is a musical for the entire family… assuming the kids in the family have already figured out how to bypass any parental controls on their TVs and devices. Audition info, production updates, and ticket reservation procedures will be posted in January at Email questions to
  2. Ankeny Community Theatre. Auditions for Aura Feb 6 & 7, 2022 at 6:30 p.m.
    Aura runs Apr1-10, 2022
  3. Des Moines Community Playhouse. Pippi Longstocking the Musical Mon Feb 21, 6:00 pm. Performance Dates: Apr. 22-May. 08, 2022
  4. Tallgrass Theatre Company. Check their audition page regularly for upcoming opportunities.
  5. Theatre Midwest. Check their audition page regularly for upcoming opportunities at
  6. Class Act Productions (CAP) Theatre in Altoona is preparing to begin live performances again. Check out the audition/performance process information, and check this newsletter for specific information.
  7. Des Moines Young Artists Theatre. Check their audition page regularly for upcoming opportunities at

Planning ahead

Make plans, as these national shows may sell out quickly, or appeal to a bit of micro-traveling.

  1. Rain – A Tribute to the Beatles, Apr 2, 2022, presents The Best of Abbey Road Live
  2. Des Moines Performing Arts enthusiastically prepares for a 2022 filled with the Best of Broadway as the Willis Broadway Series returns to this revered Des Moines stage. Check out the upcoming lineup of Broadway’s best, and make plans.
  3. The Okoboji Writers’ Retreat – Sep 19-21, 2022. This has become the must-attend event for writers to learn and network.
  4. Now available, Susan Werner is offering her full catalog of albums, plus bonus tracks (demos and unreleased songs), and live concert video footage. A perfect gift for yourself, for Susan Werner fans, and anyone who simply savors the magic of one of America’s musical gems.

Between the covers — author events worth noting:

  1. Beaverdale Books – Jan 26 6:30 PM. Julie Stone, He’s with the Band
  2. Beaverdale Books – Feb 2, 6:30 PM. Heather Gudenkauf, The Overnight Guest
  3. Beaverdale Books – Feb 12, 1:00-3:00 PM. Local author fair. Details forthcoming

Beaverdale Books provides their Top Ten sellers list, updated each month. Updated hours: Sun/Mon: CLOSED; Tue — Fri: 10:00 — 5:30; Sat: 10:00 – 5:00, 515-279-5400.
Top Ten sellers in our store last month — see what everyone’s reading!

  1. Call Us What We Carry, Amanda Gorman
  2. Atlas of the Heart, Brene Brown
  3. Cy’s Perfect Day: The Iowa State Way, John Walters*
  4. The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, Nikole Hannah-Jones*
  5. The Lincoln Highway, Amor Towles
  6. Cloud Cuckoo Land, Anthony Doerr
  7. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse, Charlie Mackesy
  8. The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music, Dave Grohl
  9. The Sentence, Louise Erdrich
  10. Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves to Walk Outside, Nick Offerman

* Iowa author

Life Resource books worth your consideration:

  1. Becoming the Instrument: Lessons on Self Mastery from Music to Life is the masterful follow-up to Kenny Werner’s seminal Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within. The wisdom packed between the covers of this gem will enlighten each and every time you delve into it.
  2. The Exceptional Professional: What You Need to Know to Grow Your Career is an info-packed gem from Callista Gould. 
  3. Leveling the Paying Field: A Groundbreaking Approach to Achieving Fair Pay. Rick Gillis gives us the handbook for evaluating our worth and cashing in.

Check out The Culture Buzz’s insightful interviews for these and other authors’ interviews at

Performing Arts Organizations:
Please check in advance regarding any scheduled performances, exhibitions, museum visits, etc.

Greater Des Moines Independent Book Store Happenings:
The Culture Buzz shares many authors and their books with its audiences. We encourage you to visit your local independent book store regularly. The folks at these destination locations know books, and welcome the chance to help anyone connect with titles and subjects they seek. Check these sites, as their calendars are always filled with enticing activities and news.

  1. Beaverdale Books, Des Moines.
  2. Pageturners Bookstore, Indianola.
  3. Dog-eared Books, Ames.
  4. Artisan Gallery 218, 218-5th Street, Historic Valley Junction, West Des Moines (select author events),
  5. Read a Book Nook, Marshalltown.
  6. Book Vault, Oskaloosa.
  7. Prairie Lights Books & Cafe, Iowa City.

Cultural Exploration Resources:
The Culture Buzz will begin including carefully vetted but comprehensive listings where you can do some advance online exploration before scheduling destinations in the region. These are two great websites to know about:

  1. The Culture Buzz – John Busbee and associates encourage cultural adventures with a comprehensive overview of what The Culture Buzz delivers. Included is an archive library of favorite interviews.
  2. Center Stage – This Cityview monthly column provides insights into Central Iowa’s theatre. Distributed throughout the region and available online. Current column:
  3. Cityview – Central Iowa’s monthly printed and continually updated online resource to all things happening in your community, from arts & culture, to music, to civic and political discourse, to fascinating columnists and stories. Cityview is the reliable source for keeping you informed and engaged in the Greater Des Moines community and beyond.
  4. dsm Magazine – Central Iowa’s gateway to arts, culture and more in a stunning, visual format. dsm’s CultureCast podcast features interviews with cultural leaders, artists and musicians.
  5. ia Magazine – Built upon the success of its Central Iowa counterpart, this annual gem brings enticing cultural news from across the state.
  6. Art Beacon Des Moines is Central Iowa’s home for promoting the visual arts. Our calendar of events highlights exhibitions, art talks and calls for art. Subscribe to the Art Beacon Weekly, our online newsletter filled with links to the latest art happenings. Find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
  7. 900Views Podcast. An exploration of arts and community with Host Pat Boddy. Based out of Mainframe Studios in downtown Des Moines, 900Views provides a platform for glimpsing the creative work and lives of the Midwest’s cultural producers and influencers.
  8. Greater Des Moines Community Jazz Center is this region’s source for a decades-established advocacy group for jazz, and established jazz professionals guiding and nurturing next generations of jazz musicians and fans.
  9. Central Iowa Blues Society is the area’s connecting point for performance, presentations and education in the world of blues.
  10. Bryan Farland, for many years, single handedly puts together the most comprehensive list of live and streaming music in Iowa. Bryan reaches out two ways, and

Resources to help, support and guide during any challenges you or someone you care about may be experiencing:

  • COVID Iowa Recovery: 800-775-9276
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or
  • United Way 211: Dial 211, text ZIP code to 898211 or visit
  • CICIL: #CICILServes COVID-19 Hotline: (866) 44-CICIL
  • Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
  • LGBT National Youth Talkline: (800) 246-7743
  • LGBT National Talkline: (888) 843-4564
  • Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center:
  • Broadlawns 24/7 Crisis Team: (515) 282-5752
  • Your Life Iowa Help Line: (855) 581-8111
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 to be connected to crisis counseling
  • Online Mental Health Crisis Chat:
  • MercyOne Des Moines Behavioral Health Clinic: 515-643-9030.
  • Prelude Behavioral Services (substance treatment): 515-262-0349
  • Instead of 911 – Des Moines area
    Domestic Violence: 515.286.3600
       Polk County Crisis & Advocacy
    Poison Control: 800.222.1222
    Mental Health Crisis: 515.282.5752
       Broadlawns Crisis Team
    LGBTQ+ Abuse: 866.488.7386
    Sexual Assault: 515.243.7386
       Children & Families of Iowa
    Veteran Crisis: 800.273.8255 press1
       Veterans & Their Families Health Crisis Line
    Child Abuse/Neglect: 800.422.4453
       National US Child Abuse Hotline
    Animal Abuse/Neglect: 515.284.6905
       Des Moines Animal Control
    *open 24/7
    As always, I appreciate news and information from you out there in the cultural trenches and am ready and willing to pursue a story or interview to share with my audiences. ♦

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