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/futureislandsmusic

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.

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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.

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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!  

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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.

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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.

IPR/Al Schares

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.  The entry period has now closed, and right now the judges are watching the submitted videos in search of the next great undiscovered artist to play at the Tiny Desk and tour the U.S. with NPR and sponser Lagunitas.

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Woods formed in Brooklyn in 2005, and have been steadily releasing their music on Woodsist Records, the Brooklyn-based label founded by band frontman Jeremy Earl.  Their latest record, however, is on Jack White's Third Man Records.  Woods Live At Third Man Records is part of an on-going series of full-length albums recorded in front of an audience in The Blue Room venue of Third Man Records in Nashville.  The albums are released on vinyl only.

IPR/Tony Dehner

Wayne Coyne, best known as the leader of the long-running band The Flaming Lips, is having a busy year so far, and it's only February! The latest album from The Flaming Lips, Oczy Mlody, was released in January, with a tour beginning in March (including a stop in Des Moines in April). And now he has a traveling art exhibit entitled Works By Wayne Coyne Featuring King's Mouth, which will be on display at the Waterloo Center For The Arts now through April 23rd.

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Toronto native Katie Stelmanis is classically trained (she began performing at the age of ten in the Canadian Children's Opera Chorus), and had been writing and performing music for several years before the band now known as Austra came into being in 2009.  Stelmanis released her debut album under her own name in 2008, then decided that a band name would be better.  In time, "Austra" was settled upon, referring not only to the mythological Latvian goddess of light, but also Stelmanis' own middle name.  Future Politics is the third full-length album from the indie synthpop group.

IPR/Tony Dehner

Mark your calendars. The third annual Hinterland music festival is happening August 4th-5th in St. Charles. The lineup has been announced, and it's terrific.

"We wanted to pick something a little bit different than what we did last year -  kind of bring out a different crowd, but also kind of accommodate the crowd we had curated here from the beginning," says Sam Summers, organizer for the festival. 

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The XX formed in London in 2005, and released their debut album in 2009.  That record was a critical and commercial success (eventually winning the UK Mercury Prize for best album) and The XX have continued their forward momentum to this day.  The trio's third full-length record, I See You, was highly anticipated by fans waiting four years since the last album, although they did have the solo release from group member Jamie XX (Jamie Smith) to tide them over.

IPR/Tony Dehner

The Studio One Underground Series continued on Feb. 2, with a live broadcast of The Max Wellman Quintet from The Basement venue of The Des Moines Social Club.  Wellman sang a variety of classics from the Great American Songbook, accompanied by Damani Phillips, Benjamin Oliver Poppen, Steve Charlson and Ron Roberts.  Max Wellman was in fine form, backed by this group of skilled jazz musicians for two sets.

Listen to the Max Wellman Quintet right here!

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Jonathan Rado and Sam France formed Foxygen in 2005, while the two Californians were still in high school. From the beginning the duo have been influenced by the avant-garde and psychedelia, but they also have an affintiy for late 1960s/early 1970s classic rock and songcraft.  Foxygen's sprawling 2014 album, ...And Star Power, contained some nice Todd Rundgrenesque tracks, but also found the band indulging their experimental side a bit too much.  For their latest release, Hang, Rado and France are still eccentric and experimental, but much more focused.

facebook.com/flaminglips

The Flaming Lips have been bringing their psychedelically-informed sound to listeners for over 30 years.  They have established themselves as a must-see live act (did I see you at the Gentlemen of the Road tour, Waverly, summer 2015?)  On record, Wayne Coyne and company have been as creative, experimental and out-there as anyone, but they have also recorded music that is melodic, accessible and song-oriented.  The Soft Bulletin (1999) and Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (2002) are in that vein, and remain the go-to Flaming Lips albums for many fans.

facebook.com/kaiserchiefs

Kaiser Chiefs are a fine example of a band that is very popular in their native England, yet remain marginally known  in the United States.  They formed in Leeds under the name Parva in 2000.  After one album, and the usual record label intrigues, Parva re-invented themselves as Kaiser Chiefs in 2003.  The name is derived from the Kaizer Chiefs, a South African football team.  The original lineup of the band has stayed nearly intact, with only the founding drummer being replaced a few years ago.

facebook.com/drdog

Dr. Dog have been playing and recording their folk-rock/baroque pop music since around the turn of the century, when they began as a local band in the Philadelphia area.  Late in 2016 they dropped a surprise album titled Abandoned Mansion.  In the band's own words:  "Its a mood record...Nothing too jamming or atonal.   No blips or bloops or anything else that might unsettle you...We did a song a day for two weeks.  And, almost everything is tracked live...Thematically, this is Dr. Dog meat and potatoes.  Our proverbial wheelhouse.  Songs of the oldest questions.

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After being in the game for over 50 years, Neil Young seems determined not to settle into professional old-fogeyism.  His new album Peace Trail was reportedly recorded in just four days, with most of the ten tracks recorded on the first or second take.  Many critics are saying this would have been a better album if the artist had just spent more time refining it.  Obviously, a spontaneous, off-the-cuff feel was what Young was going for.

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