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.

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Blitzen Trapper have told different tales regarding the origin of their name, but the most plausible in the one about vocalist/guitarist Eric Earley's Junior High girlfriend.  She had a Trapper Keeper (loose-leaf binder) in school with pictures of Santa and his reindeer on it.  Her favorite reindeer was Blitzen.  Earley thought "hmmm, good name for my future band."  Actually, when the group began in Portland, Oregon in 2000 they had a totally different name- Garmonbozia.  By 2003 they had come to their senses and became Blitzen Trapper, self-releasing an album with that title.

IPR/Tony Dehner

On Nov. 17, Quad Cities singer-songwriter Lewis Knudsen and his band played a generous set of songs from Knudsen's new album The Way Of Most Resistance.  The four-piece group performed in IPR's Cedar Falls studios.  Knudsen talked about being a songwriter, the recording of the album, the stories behind some of the songs and more.  Enjoy a great set from Lewis Knudsen and his band!

As I was listening to the new Neon Indian record, VEGA INTL Night School, hearing track after track of sublime electronic dance music, I had the thought that this was the dance pop record every other dance pop oriented band was trying to make in 2015- in other words, the best one I've heard this year.  Neon Indian is Mexican-born Alan Palomo's band.  He moved to San Antonio, Texas as a child.  Palomo attended college in Denton, Texas, and Denton remains his home base.  He had already been writing and performing music in high school, under the name VEGA.

IPR/Tony Dehner

The Waterloo-based band Dylan Sires & Neighbors are in the process of recording their third full-length album.  The band played live for Studio One Tracks from the Basement venue of the Des Moines Social Club on Nov. 5, treating us to songs from that forthcoming album, plus, of course, DS & N favorites.  The three-piece group rocked the Basement in fine style- and you can hear it right here!

The British band New Order rose from the ashes of Joy Division in 1980, following the suicide of that band's lead singer, Ian Curtis.  The remaining members- Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris and Peter Hook added Gillian Gilbert to complete the lineup of New Order.  As time went on, band members have shifted a bit, and their new album is the first without founding member Peter Hook.   From the beginning, the group has combined post-punk and electronic dance music.  Their tenth studio album is titled Music Complete, and it's being hailed as "classic New Order."

Every Open Eye is the second studio album from the Scottish synthpop band CHVRCHES.  The band is decidedly synthpop, with all three members playing synths and samplers.  Lauren Mayberry is the lead vocalist, with Iain Cook and Martin Doherty also contributing vocals.  Cook also plays guitar and bass in the trio.  CHVRCHES formed in Glasgow in 2011, and they began generating buzz even before their debut full-length album dropped in 2013.  Two years after that very successful record comes the follow up album.

I'll be hosting the Saturday, Oct. 31st edition of Studio One Tracks.  Selecting music for the Halloween show is always a delight, and I think I've come up with a great playlist this year.  It's Studio One, so our approach is not to go in the direction of kitsch and novelty (not that there's anything wrong with that), but rather to present a typical mix of great music- with songs from the latest releases as well as favorites from the past.  For this show, the songs on my playlist all have some connection with Halloween.  Tune in Saturday night 7-10 pm!

The name "Gurf Morlix" is memorable, and if you've ever listened to alt-country ( a term frequently used to describe a certain type of roots-based singer/songwriter music, often emanating from Austin, Texas) you have probably come across that name.  Morlix began his career in music as a producer for some of the major figures in alt-country.  Only later did he begin to record his own songs.  His new record is Eatin' At Me, and I recently had the pleasure of talking with Gurf about that and much more.

Kurt Vile is a Pennsylvania native who began his musical career creating lo-fi home recordings in Philadelphia.  He worked with his friend Adam Granduciel, and the two of them would eventually form the band The War On Drugs.  Following the release of the debut album from The War On Drugs in 2008, Vile embarked on a solo career.  He has been consistently releasing his own music since then, and the new album b'lieve i'm goin down... is his 6th full-length album.  Vile plays guitar and banjo, along with piano and various keyboards on the record.

IPR/Tony Dehner

The Chicago-based power pop band Mooner are currently touring in support of their just released debut full length album, Masterpiece.  We were able to get the band into our Cedar Falls studios for a live set when they were in town for a show on Oct. 21.  Mooner have cited Big Star as a prime influence on their music, and one can certainly hear that in this live set.  In addition to their own music, the group played a cover song by another (pretty well known) Illinois band.  Check out their performance right here! 

IPR/Tony Dehner

The Iowa City band Crystal City performed live on Studio One Tracks on Oct. 20.  Dave Helmer (vocals/guitar), Sam Drella (vocals/trumpet/whistling), Dan Peterson (drums) and Randall Davis (bass) played a set that included songs from their full-length release Changeplus they treated us to some new songs. Crystal City began quiet and acoustic, and before long they hit full rock and roll mode.  Hear for yourself, right here!

IPR/Tony Dehner

Famed alt-country musician/vocalist, songwriter and producer Gurf Morlix is currently touring the country in support of his new album Eatin' At Me.  He stopped by IPR's Cedar Falls studios for an afternoon session on Oct. 20, playing a generous selection of songs, not all of which are on the new album.  Morlix and I also talked about his storied career and his views on a variety of subjects.  Have a listen to the songs and conversation right here!

IPR/Tony Dehner

Iowa native Julie Christensen has traveled far in her musical career since leaving her home state.  She returned to Iowa for some live dates that include her participation in this year's Folk Alliance Region Midwest conference in Iowa City (  Christensen and guitarist Chris Tench from her band Stone Cupid stopped by IPR's Cedar Falls studios on Oct. 19  for a live set that included many songs from Stone Cupid's upcoming new album, The Cardinal.  She also talked about her days with the band Divine Horsemen, singing with Leonard Cohen and much more.

As you can see in this photo, Beirut is a band.  As is often the case these days, Beirut began as a solo project, with teenage songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Zach Condon recording in his bedroom in his hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico.  When he was 17, Condon traveled to Europe with his older brother.  European music (from the Balkans and France, for example) and "world music" influences are characteristic of Beirut's particular brand of indie rock.  Beirut expanded to a band, with their first live performances in New York around the time of their debut album in 2006.

If you've listened to songs from the great Leonard Cohen album The Future, you've heard Iowa native Julie Christensen's wonderful vocal contributions on that record.  She also toured with Cohen, and can be heard on live Leonard Cohen recordings of that era.  Or maybe you recall Divine Horsemen, the post-punk/Americana-leaning rock band that Christensen co-fronted (with Chris D.) in the 1980's.  Perhaps you've heard Christensen's solo albums or her current band Stone Cupid.  Join me on Studio One Tracks on Monday, Oct.

Slow, deliberate tempos and minimalist arrangements.  Mystery, atmosphere and perhaps even  trance-inducement.  That's the music of Low.  Founding members Alan Sparhawk (guitar and vocals) and Mimi Parker (drums and vocals) began Low in Duluth, MN/Superior, WI in 1993.  Their debut album was released the following year, and with the new Ones and Sixes, Low is now up to their eleventh full-length studio release. The record was recorded at Justin Vernon's studio in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  Sparhawk and Parker are married with two children, and still live in Duluth.    

IPR/Mark Simmet

The Little Rock, Arkansas band Amasa Hines, a hit at the 80/35 Festival this past July, returned to Iowa Oct. 1 for a performance broadcast on Studio One Tracks.  They played two sets on the Kum & Go Theatre stage of the Des Moines Social Club.  Fusing their diverse influences into a musical blend they call "Psychedelic Afro-Futurism," Amasa Hines demonstrated their musical approach to a rapt audience in the theatre.  Their sets included songs from the band's debut album All The World There Is, with musical exploration a key component in their sound.

Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are The Black Keys, a band that continues to grow in popularity.  Meanwhile, Auerbach and Carney each find time to get involved in producing other artists, record solo albums and start up side projects.  For the latter, check out Blakroc, Drummer and The Rentals (not a start up, but an existing band Carney joined last year).  The latest side project is The Arcs.  The debut album Yours, Dreamily began as another Auerbach solo record.

Stuff Like That There is the 14th full-length album from Yo La Tengo, the pride of Hoboken, New Jersey!  Yo La Tengo easily fit into the indie rock category of "critical favorites/cult band."  Guitarist, keyboard player and vocalist Ira Kaplan and his wife Georgia Hubley (drums, keyboards, vocals) formed the band in 1984.  James McNew has been Yo La Tengo's bassist since 1992.  Guitarist Dave Schramm recently rejoined the band in time to participate in this new album.

The next Studio One Tracks live broadcast from the Des Moines Social Club is coming up this Thursday, Oct. 1, beginning at 7:00 pm.  We will be featuring a live performance from Amasa Hines, a six-piece band from Little Rock that has been creating a buzz not only in their home state of Arkansas, but nationwide.  You may have caught their excellent set at the 80/35 Festival this past July.  Amasa Hines will be back in Des Moines to play the Kum & Go Theatre at the Des Moines Social Club for this ticketed event.

Beach House are purveyors of dream pop- defined as moody and atmospheric music, with the focus on sonic textures, breathy vocals and introspective/existential lyrics.  The Baltimore band decided to simplify the arrangements of their songs for their fifth full-length record, Depression Cherry, getting back to the feel of their first two studio albums.  Beach House began in 2004 when Vassar College grad (and French-born) songwriter, vocalist and keyboard player Victoria Legrand met songwriter/guitarist Alex Scally in his native Baltimore.

IPR/Mark Simmet

Singer-songwriter Kate Kennedy performed for a receptive audience at the First United Methodist Church in Ames (her home base) on Sept. 12.  She was opening for The Mountain Goats at the Maximum Ames Music Festival event.  Kennedy has been writing songs for about eight years, and released her debut album in 2006.  She also released an album as Pennyhawk in 2009.  You can listen right here to Kate Kennedy live on Studio One Tracks!

IPR/Mark Simmet

Studio One Tracks featured a live performance from The Mountain Goats on Sept. 12.  It was the final show of a brief solo tour from Mountain Goats songwriter/vocalist/guitarist/pianist John Darnielle.  The Maximum Ames Music Festival headlining performance was very well received by an enthusiastic full house at the First United Methodist Church in Ames.  Many in the audience had come long distances to catch this intimate live set from The Mountain Goats.

Singer-songwriter Dan Bejar formed his band Destroyer in the mid-1990s in Vancouver, British Columbia.  He may or may not be amused by the fact that there are several other musical groups with the name "Destroyer." However, those are heavy metal and KISS tribute bands, so musically there can be no confusion with Bejar's indie rock sensibilities.  He is also known for his work with Vancouver's New Pornographers, which he joined after fronting Destroyer for a few years.  Bejar has continued writing, singing and playing with both bands.

IPR/Tony Dehner

On Sept. 3, the Waterloo-based power pop band TWINS played two energetic sets at the Kum & Go Theatre venue of the Des Moines Social Club.  Their sets included a generous selection of songs from their forthcoming third album, plus TWINS favorites and a great cover of a Nick Lowe song.  A good time was had by all, as they say, and you can hear what I mean when you listen to this podcast!

As I've been preparing for our Studio One Tracks live broadcast of The Mountain Goats this Saturday night (Sept. 12, beginning at 7:00 pm with opening act Kate Kennedy), I've come across many surprisingly varied ways that other writers have described John Darnielle's voice.  One of my favorites is from a Paste magazine scribe who wrote that The Mountain Goats' songs are "steadfastly proclaimed in (Darnielle's) geek who-lived-to-tell wail."  The writer liked  the singer's  voice, and so do I.

Lovers Know is the third full-length album from The Mynabirds, the band founded by singer-songwriter and keyboard player Laura Burhenn in 2009.  She had previously been one half of the Washington, D.C. duo Georgie James.  Burhenn signed to Saddle Creek Records and relocated to Omaha, Saddle Creek's home base.

Gabriella Porter/

Inara George is the daughter of the late Lowell George of the band Little Feat.  She had already performed and recorded on her own before forming the Los Angeles-based duo The Bird And The Bee with musician/producer Greg Kurstin in 2006.  The two share an appreciation for jazz standards, sophisticated dance music, and well-constructed pop songs.  In fact, their previous full-length release was an album of Hall & Oates covers.  The new Recreational Love follows five years later, with ten new ear-pleasing indie pop songs.

Blood is the second full-length album from Lianne La Havas.  La Havas was born in London to a Greek father and Jamaican mother and began singing at age seven.  Her father taught her piano and guitar basics, and she started writing songs at a young age.  La Havas signed to Warner Bros. Records in 2010, but took her time developing her skills before releasing any music.  Her debut album came out in 2012.  With the new follow-up record Blood, Lianne La Havas continues to write, sing and play smart, sophisticated songs in a jazzy neo-soul style.

IPR/Tony Dehner

Iowa native (from Allison) Miss Christine returned to the state for a string of live performances, including a set in IPR's Cedar Falls studios on Aug. 18.  The songwriter, vocalist and bassist is a graduate of Boston's Berklee College Of Music, and is now based in Nashville.  Miss Christine and her band played all the songs from the new EP Dichotomy plus much more, including a couple of well-done cover songs.  Have a listen!