Mark Simmet

Studio One Host

Senior Producer Mark Simmet began working at KUNI over 20 years ago.  In that time he has produced and hosted a long-running daily jazz program, as well as weekly blues and world music programs.  Mark also was a fill-in/substitute folk music host.  He has spent many years perfecting IPR's unique blend of musical styles as the host and producer of Studio One.  Mark also reviews all new submissions to IPR’s Studio One library, deciding on CD of The Week artists and maintaining reporting of music aired to record companies, promoters and trade publications.

Mark has a Bachelor’s Degree in Art from St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN, and finds that his creative skills are very applicable to his work sculpting Studio One.

Ways to Connect

facebook.com/portugaltheman

Portugal. The Man founding members John Gourley and Zach Carothers met as high school students in Wasilla, Alaska.  They were originally in another band before starting Portugal. The Man in the early 2000's.  Band members came and went, the group relocated to Portland, Oregon, and their first full-length record came out in 2006.  Woodstock is the eighth album, inspired by the spirit of the original 1969 Woodstock Festival.

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The band Big Thief released their debut full-length record last year.  Masterpiece was well-received and audaciously titled for a first album.  Now comes the sophomore release, where it has come to be assumed that a band needs to show that the success of their debut wasn't some kind of fluke.  With Capacity, Big Thief have done just that.  Songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Adrianne Lenker continues to spellbind with her voice and personal lyrics.  Guitarist Buck Meek, bassist Max Oleartchik, and drummer James Krivchenia are the other players in Big Thief.

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Steve Earle had already been recording his songs for a few years before his breakthrough album, Guitar Town, was released in 1986.  In the thirty or so years since then, Earle has continued to be one of the most respected and reliable American songwriters and performers, as well as venturing into record producing, acting and non-song writing (a book of short stories, a novel and a play.)  He's been married several times, been through drug addiction and a drug treatment program, and has well-defined views on politics and social issues.

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Formed in Seattle in 2006, Fleet Foxes are all about finely-crafted folk rock, although these days a more accurate label might be "baroque pop."  Principal songwriter, guitarist and lead vocalist Robin Pecknold met guitarist Skyler Skjelset in high school.  Pecknold and Skjelset, along with Casey Curran (keyboards and mandolin) are the remaining founding members of Fleet Foxes.  Josh Tillman (better known these days as Father John Misty) is the most famous Fleet Foxes alumnus.

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Due to the great success of their band The Black Keys, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have been able to pursue a lot of other musical projects outside of that one.  Auerbach has worked as a producer for many other artists, established his own studio in Nashville (Easy Eye Sound), started his own record label (also Easy Eye Sound), and formed a whole other band (The Arcs) as a side project to The Black Keys.   He released his first "solo" album in 2009, with the follow-up to that release out now.

FACEBOOK.COM/LANDOFTALK

Canadian musician Elizabeth Powell began writing songs as a teenager in Ontario.  She met the other original members of Land Of Talk while she was studying jazz at Concordia University in Montreal.  The band released their first EP in 2006, followed by the debut Land Of Talk full-length album in 2008.  After one more album, the band went on hiatus in 2011.  After a few years of uncertainty and introspection, Powell is back with an appealing new Land Of talk record titled Life After Youth.  

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As an American roots musician and songwriter, St. Louis-based Pokey LaFarge has impeccable credentials. The Bloomington, Illinois-born LaFarge even earned his nickname honestly.  As a child, his mother would tell him to hurry up.  His banjo-playing grandfather gave him his first guitar and a tenor banjo.  Growing up, LaFarge was very interested in history and the classics of American literature.  He got into country blues artists like Skip James and Sleepy John Estes, as well as Jimmie Rodgers and bluegrass originator Bill Monroe.

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British musician and songwriter Damon Albarn (of the U.K. band Blur) started Gorillaz in 1998, in collaboration with comic book artist Jamie Hewlett.  Gorillaz is a cartoon, or virtual band.  Albarn and his crew write, play and sing the music behind the facade of the characters he and Hewlett created.   The 2001 debut album Gorillaz sold over seven million copies, and the group officially became the most successful virtual band ever- outselling other virtual bands like The Archies and Alvin & the Chipmunks.

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The new album from The Mountain Goats is titled Goths, inspired to a large extent by the band's love for bands of the post-punk era.  Bands like Siouxsie and The Banshees, The Cure, Bauhaus and Gene Loves Jezebel.  The previous Mountain Goats studio album Beat The Champ had songs that dealt with the professional wrestling circuit.  Just like the songs on that album, John Darnielle's lyrics on Goths go deeper than the ostensible subject matter.  Darnielle's words are smart and funny as usual, and definitely dominate the proceedings.

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San Fermin mastermind Ellis Ludwig-Leone studied composition at Yale.  While a student, he assisted famed composer Nico Muhly on some projects.  Ludwig-Leone had been in bands, but didn't really intend to make pop music after graduation.  He realized that he could combine his classical training with "pop songs," and set out to write the first San Fermin album in 2013.    Belong is album number three; with music, lyrics and arrangements written by Ludwig-Leone who leads the band as keyboard player.  Lead vocals are shared by Charlene Kaye and  Allen Tate.  

IPR/Tony Dehner

Des Moines-based Prairie Soul singer, songwriter and guitarist Adam Bruce played two sets of his compelling original songs on May 4, at the Basement venue of the Des Moines Social Club.  Adam Bruce was accompanied by his wife April Lynn, and the duo demonstrated some beautiful vocal harmonies.  The show was broadcast live as part of the Studio One Underground series.  

You can listen to both sets right here! 

IPR/Tony Dehner

On April 6, Bo Ramsey and Pieta Brown each played a live set for IPR's Studio One Underground series, at the Basement venue of the Des Moines Social Club.  It was a great night of music from these celebrated Iowa musicians, with Bo Ramsey drawing upon his deep catalog of songs for his set, and Pieta Brown (accompanied by Ramsey) showcasing her new album Postcards along with older favorites. 

Enjoy both sets! 

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Even after three years, it seems that the Baltimore-based band Future Islands can't be written about without mentioning their breakthrough live appearance on the David Letterman show in early 2014.  Their performance of "Seasons (Waiting on You)" on that show is closing in on 2,000,000 YouTube views.   Frontman Sam Herring's vocal intensity and energetic dance moves simply can't be denied.  Iowans could see this for themselves during Future Islands' exciting set at the Hinterland Festival in 2015.  The synthy dance party continues on the fifth Future Islands album, The Far Field.  

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The Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States is commonly considered to have lasted from the years 1947 to 1991.  The band Cold War Kids formed in southern California in 2004, so the group's members were indeed children during the final years of that span.  The band isn't particularly political, but on LA Divine, their sixth studio album, they have a lot to say about people and their conflicts.  And love as well.  While talking about the record, and the title song that didn't make the final cut, Cold War Kids' frontman Nathan Willett said:  "It's about supernatural lo

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According to the band's website:  "The New Pornographers are AC Newman and a group of ridiculously talented people uniquely equipped to realize his musical ambitions."  That sums it up pretty well.  Carl Newman wrote all of the songs on their fine new record Whiteout Conditions, ably supported by Neko Case, Kathryn Calder, Todd Fancey, John Collins, Blaine Thurier and Joe Seiders.  Dan Bejar decided to sit this one out.  Many of these people write songs and release records of their own.

facebook.com/spoontheband

Spoon have been a band since 1993, when Britt Daniel and Jim Eno left another Austin, Texas group (The Alien Beats) that they had been in together.  Soon they were releasing music, and by the time of their fourth full-length albumKill The Moonlight in 2002, Spoon began to be recognized as one of the best indie rock bands around.  Their reputation grew with each new release, and has continued up to the present with the new record, Hot Thoughts.  Britt Daniel is Spoon's frontman, singing lead vocals and playing guitar, bass and keyboards.

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Conor Oberst's latest record, Salutations, follows closely on the heels of last fall's Ruminations.  The songs from Ruminations were recorded solely by Oberst, accompanying himself on guitar and piano, over a two day period in his native Omaha.  Salutations is a full band recording, with those same ten songs plus seven more.  It's a generous selection of music, with Fleet Foxes and veteran drummer Jim Keltner joining Oberst for these spirited renditions. 

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James Mercer formed The Shins in 1996 as a side project.  At the time, Flake Music was Mercer's main band.  That band ended in 1999, and the first full-length record from The Shins came out in 2001.  The band became a critical and commercial success.  Following the third Shins album in 2007, Mercer broke up the original group, not returning (with The Shins) until five years later with a new record and a new lineup.  In between, he collaborated with Danger Mouse in Broken Bells.

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Since forming in Brooklyn in 2002, Dirty Projectors have had a lot of musicians pass through the ranks.  Over fifty players have been members of the band at one time or another, including Rostam Batmanglij and Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend.  In 2017, with the release of the eighth full-length album Dirty Projectors, frontman, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist David Longstreth is the only official band member.

IPR/Tony Dehner

The band Dickie performed a live set for Studio One Tracks in our Cedar Falls studios on March 23.  The three piece group consisting of Dick Prall on guitar and lead vocals, Kristina Priceman on violin and vocals, and drummer Tyler Stuck, played many of the songs from Dickie's self-titled debut album.  Iowa-born songwriter Dick Prall (currently based in Cedar Rapids) also added some of his older songs to the set.  

Have a listen to this appealing lineup of guitar, violin and drums right here, from Dickie!

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Pieta Brown wrote most of the songs on her new album Postcards while on the road.  Later, she sent acoustic, bare-bones tracks of the songs to artists like Mark Knopfler, Calexico, Mason Jennings, The Pines, David Lindley, and Carrie Rodriguez among others.  These were musical "postcards," and each musician was asked to reply by adding their own contribution to the song they received.  "Collaborating with other musicians and elevating a song beyond its outlines has become one of my favorite things about making music," says Pieta.

facebook.com/listentopieta

We have some great live sets coming up on Studio One Tracks in the next couple of months, both in IPR's Cedar Falls studios and at the Basement venue of the Des Moines Social Club!  

facebook.com/clapyourhandssayyeah

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is known for the internet buzz that surrounded the band early in its career, around the time of their 2005 debut album.  Music blogs and sites like Pitchfork effectively launched CYHSY, and of course raised expectations for each subsequent release.  When the group began in 2004 (based in Philadelphia and Brooklyn, N.Y.), they were an actual band.  Over time, members have gradually left, leaving only songwriter and lead vocalist Alec Ounsworth standing as the sole member of CYHSY.

facebook.com/jescahoopmusic

Jesca (originally "Jessica") Hoop has a great backstory.  She was born in Santa Rosa, California to a traditional Mormon family.  She grew up singing and harmonizing with her family on folk tunes and hymns.  Her parents separated when she was a teenager, and within a couple of years she had broken away from the Mormon faith.  She moved into the wilderness of Northern California and Wyoming, living off the grid in yurts and various primitive structures.  For a time, Hoop made a living in Arizona as a wilderness survival guide in a rehabilitation program for wayward teens.

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Ryan Adams fronted the alternative country band Whiskeytown from the mid to late 1990's.  He started his solo career in 2000, and he's released roughly an album a year since then.  The new one is Prisoner, Adams' first full-length since his track-for-track reimagining of Taylor Swift's 1989 album in 2015.  It's also his first release since his divorce was finalized last June.

dustinsmith.bandcamp.com

We've had some great live shows in recent months on Studio One Underground, live from The Basement venue of the Des Moines Social Club.  The Surf Zombies in January, The Max Wellman Quintet in February, and coming up this Thursday, March 2- Dustin Smith!  He's currently working on a full length Dustin Smith album with Logan Christian at Midday Studios for release later this year.  On Thursday night, Dustin and his band will treat us to all new material from this upcoming record.

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For the third year in a row, NPR invited unsigned musicians to enter to win a chance to perform at NPR's Tiny Desk in Washington, D.C., and tour the U.S. with NPR and sponsor Lagunitas.  The winner will be announced February 28.

We have been sharing the submitted YouTube videos of original songs from all of the Iowa entrants, with 30 shared so far.  Here is the final batch of 9 videos, submitted by you and your neighbors!  For the previous entrants, click on The B-Side link at the bottom of this post!

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California native Ty Segall is a songwriter, vocalist, producer and multi-instrumentalist.  The instrument he's best known for is guitar, with an approach that is mainly punk-leaning garage rock.  Segall has been in a lot    of bands, and when he's performing as Ty Segall he's backed by a shifting group of musicians with a band name that seems to change every few months.

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NPR this year again invited unsigned musicians to enter the Tiny Desk Concert.  For the third year in a row, they are offering the chance to perform for NPR's Tiny Desk Concert in Washington, D.C., and to tour the U.S. with NPR and sponsor Lagunitas.

IPR/Al Schares

This is the third year in a row that NPR has invited unsigned musicians to enter the Tiny Desk Contest.   Currently, the judges are watching the submitted videos in search of the next great undiscovered artist to play at the Tiny Desk Concert in Washington, D.C., and tour the U.S. with NPR and sponsor Lagunitas.

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