John Pemble

Arts and Culture Reporter

John Pemble is the Arts and Culture reporter at Iowa Public Radio. In 1989, John began his Iowa Public Radio career in Fort Dodge as a program host for jazz, classical, and contemporary instrumental music programs. He joined Iowa Public Radio’s news department in 2008 to produce arts and culture stories.

John spent ten years as an adjunct professor for Iowa Central Community College’s broadcasting department teaching production and operations classes.

John's favorite public radio program is Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.

In two thousand seven the movie "Sixteen to Life" was filmed in the Clayton county town McGregor by Los Angeles based director Becky Smith. Smith is an Iowa native and spent a lot of time this month attending screenings of her film across the state. This weekend her film was shown for the first time in her hometown of Okoboji.

Last week Jazz bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding started a worldwide tour for her new album Chamber Music Society. It’s receiving high praise from critics including the jazz magazine Downbeat where Spalding is featured on this month’s cover. One of her first tour stops took her to Des Moines this weekend where hours before her evening concert Iowa Public Radio’s John Pemble found her writing new music.

Next month the Harvester Artspace lofts will open in Council Bluffs and by the end of the year thirty six units will house artists in a live / work environment. It's one of a few dozen artist lofts in the country overseen by Artspace a non profit real estate developer based in Minnesota. Tonight, the public gets their first look at the New Harvester lofts. It's part of an effort in Council Bluffs to use art to stimulate the economy and move the city forward.

Some college kids spend their summers working a part time job, an internship, or going back home to relax but some choose to spend every day of the summer committing to a rigorous training and performance environment. This is the life of a drum and bugle corps member rehearsing and competing across the country from Memorial day through the middle of August. Last night six world class drum and bugle corps competed in West Des Moines including the Colts from Dubuque.

Recording music is often a long process. It's not unusual for each song to have multiple takes, edits, and mixes taking weeks to complete. But a small studio in the Quad Cities keeps the recording process quick and simple and has gained a national reputation.

Yesterday was first day for the third annual 80/35 two day music festival. 17,000 went downtown Des Moines to hear twenty bands on three stages including last night’s headliner Spoon a group that has gained wide popularity in the indy rock and mainstream music world. Hours before Spoon played Iowa Public Radio’s John Pemble talks with Spoon’s lead singer Britt Daniel about how the band’s independent sound is doing well with large audiences across the country.

Tonight when the Des Moines Metro Opera begins its new season it will be the first time a production is directed by someone other than Doctor Robert Larsen. Since he founded the organization in nineteen seventy three Larsen has overseen nearly every aspect of the Des Moines Metro Opera but this year he decided to significantly reduce his role as sole leader.

Leslie Hall is an artist who defies description. When she was a senior at Ames High School she amassed flamboyant sweaters decorated with shiny rhinestones. In 2002 Hall launched an online picture gallery featuring her favorite gem sweaters and quickly gained a large following of fans. Five years ago Hall released her first hip hop music album where she raps about her gem sweaters and her love of do it yourself crafts. She also published several music videos on the Internet many of which have been viewed over one hundred thousand times.

Cedar Rapids- classical music ensemble Orchestra Iowa has several education programs to teach children the basics of classical music. One of these outreach programs, the Pied Pieper series, introduces preschool-aged children to the sound of each section of the orchestra. The season’s series concluded over the weekend as the bass section played popular and classical music for the next generation of classical music listeners.

Today in the Iowa City area there are at least nine theater ensembles and most of them are amateur groups lacking a permanent space to perform. Iowa City's newest theater group Red Door Ensemble debuted this spring and is trying to stand out in an already crowded theater scene.

Roller derby started in the thirties as a contact sport of women skaters engaging in extreme rivalry and outrageous behavior. Ten years ago a new kind of roller derby started with an emphasis on competition & athleticism. Today there are more than five hundred roller derby teams and eight of them are in Iowa including the new team the Des Moines Derby Dames. Their first home game happens tomorrow night.

Christopher O’Riley is an internationally renowned classical music pianist whose career includes profiling young performers on National Public Radio’s classical music program "From The Top". This weekend O’Riley was the Des Moines Symphony’s guest artist. His performance featured George Gershwin’s well known work "Rhapsody in Blue" and modern music of the band Radiohead

Edward Hopper’s oil paintings feature scenes of emotionally detached New Yorkers in metropolitan environments where the viewer is often forced to fill in the dramatic blanks as to what his subjects are doing. The most famous of which is "Nighthawks", depicting three customers at a late night diner. The early 20th century American artist frequently depicted women in his paintings that some say are vulnerable scenarios.

Internationally-acclaimed vocalist Simon Estes has performed in opera houses and concert halls around the world. But the Centerville native is taking on a tour that in some ways will be his most ambitious. Estes will perform in every Iowa county to raise college scholarship funds for high school students. Friday night his ninety nine county tour started in Franklin county where he sang with high school students and community choirs to a sold out auditorium.