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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Second full-length album from indie "supergroup"

The Sioux Falls, South Dakota band The Tinder Box are in the midst of a Midwestern tour that will include stops in Lincoln, Madison, La Crosse, Morris (MN) and more.  The four-piece group stopped by IPR's Cedar Falls studios on March 9, bringing their folk rock/Americana songs and talking about their new album The Attic Sessions:  Volume 1.  It was a rousing set, with instrumentation consisting of guitars, banjo, trumpet and drums.  Have a listen! 

Malin Johansson via

The family of Jose Gonzalez (his parents and sister) fled Argentina in 1976.  They settled in Gothenburg, Sweden where Jose was born two years later.  He played guitar and bass in a variety of bands, and eventually released his first album in 2003.  In addition to records under his own name, Gonzalez has collaborated with a number of musicians, worked on different musical projects, and most notably has been a member of the band Junip.  The new Vestiges & Claws features his de-tuned classical guitar work and thoughtful lyrics.

It seems fitting that JD McPherson grew up in rural Oklahoma.  It was in that down-to-earth environment that he started playing guitar at age 13, and later began writing his own songs.  He went on to study, and eventually teach, visual art.  Musically, McPherson had been drawn to 1950's rock and roll, and he decided to pursue a career in music.  His debut album was released in 2010, and now comes the follow-up Let The Good Times Roll.  JD McPherson draws upon R & B, rockabilly and roots rock traditions for his own contemporary take on rock and roll. 

Facebook: Tinder Box

The Sioux Falls, South Dakota band The Tinder Box are touring around the Midwest.  Stops include Chicago, Lincoln, Madison, La Crosse, Burlington (Wisconsin), Morris (Minnesota) and...Cedar Falls.  I'll be hosting the band for a free performance in IPR's Cedar Falls studios, on Monday, March 9.  With their roots in the southeastern South Dakota soil, The Tinder Box play their own blend of folk-rock, Americana and self-described "BlueSgrass."  They have a new release out titled The Attic Sessions:  Volume 1.  ​You'll hear songs from that album and more on Monday night.

Facebook: Canby

What's it look like when I host a Studio One show?  You can find out this Thursday, March 5 at The Basement (901 Cherry Street) in Des Moines!  IPR is excited to be taking Studio One out on the road for the first time, partnering with the Des Moines Social Club for the entire 7-10 pm show.  I'll be playing new indie rock, singer-songwriters and roots-rock, plus a sprinkling of great older tracks.  It will be just like our usual great mix, except that I'll be spinning the discs live with an audience of Basement patrons.

Emma Tillman/Courtesy of the artist via

Rockville, Maryland native Joshua Tillman has been recording music for over ten years under his given name, as well as J. Tillman, and most recently as Father John Misty.  He was also a member of Fleet Foxes from 2008-2012.  It was after leaving Fleet Foxes that Tillman began releasing albums as Father John Misty, for the Sub Pop label.  I Love You, Honeybear is his second full-length under that moniker.  Tillman is a vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter with a distinct narrative voice.  He has described the new record as a concept album about himself.

Live At A Flamingo Hotel is the new live record from the Philadelphia band, Dr. Dog.  The group has been around since 1999, but this is their first official live album.  The performances are spirited, with 19 songs spanning Dr. Dog's career.  The material was recorded during the six-piece band's 2014 tour, drawn from shows in different cities, with devoted and enthusiastic Dr. Dog fans in the audiences.  You may have seen Dr. Dog last July in Des Moines- their 80/35 set was a highlight of the festival!   

IPR/Tony Dehner

The Iowa City trio Milk Duct Tape played an energetic live set for Studio One on Feb. 17, in IPR's Cedar Falls studios.  In the great rock tradition of guitar/bass/drums, the band played songs from their new release Styrofoam Tombstone and more.  Milk Duct Tape describe their music as "grunge rock from the Iowa desert."  Have a listen and find out what that means! 


Cjc13 / Wikimedia Commons

There’s a new music festival coming to Des Moines this summer.

Flickr / belles glasgow

Belle and Sebastian formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 1996.  Of course, the first thing to mention is that there is no Belle and no Sebastian in the band.  The name comes from a French children's book that later was adapted for television.  Long-time critical favorites, Belle and Sebastian have released their ninth full-length record, Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance.  Stuart Murdoch is the lead singer and songwriter in the group, lending his distinctive vocals and literate lyrics to their songs.

Conventional wisdom has it that the voters participating in the Grammy Awards are often out of touch with current music.  Those voters work in various creative and technical areas of the recording industry, nominating the finalists and determining the winner in each category.  One theory is that they vote based on name recognition, therefore they may be  biased toward artists that have been around longer.  A famous example of this is Jethro Tull winning the Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Performance award over Metallica in 1988.

The Portland, Oregon band The Decemberists have been creating their own particular brand of folk-rock/baroque pop since 2000.  What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World is their seventh full-length release.  The Decemberists have maintained their folky traditional instrumentation and idiosyncratic approach to writing lyrics, even as they have edged closer to being a "mainstream" band.  Lead vocalist and principal songwriter Colin Meloy is the frontman in the group.

Instagram: Sleater-Kinney

Sleater-Kinney formed in Olympia, Washington in 1994, and by the turn of the century the trio had come to be recognized as one of the best rock bands in America.  They released seven studio albums between 1994 and 2005.  In 2006, Sleater-Kinney went on a hiatus to work on individual projects and also to simply live their lives.  Corin Tucker (vocals and guitar), Carrie Brownstein (guitar and vocals) and Janet Weiss (drums) quietly reunited about a year ago to write and record the songs for a new album, No Cities To Love.  Their common aim was to reinvent the band.

Hey, does anyone remember the Shadow?  The  mysterious crime-fighter with psychic powers began his long-running career in the 1930's, as a pulp magazine character, and also as the subject of a memorable dramatic radio program (voiced for a time by Orson Welles).  The radio shows and the striking visual image of The Shadow have never really gone away, just faded into the...shadows.  The character certainly made an impression on Minneapolis/St Paul-area brothers Pat and Larry Hayes, who founded their band in 1969 and named it after The Shadow's alter-ego, Lamont Cranston.

Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper is the fifth full-length album Noah Lennox has released under his nom de plume Panda Bear.  Baltimore native Panda Bear is a co-founding member of Animal Collective, a band known for their musical creativity and experimentation.  The multi-instrumentalist has indicated that death and personal growth are lyrical themes of the new record.  The music has been aptly described as "swirling" and "as pure as a babbling brook." 

NPR Tiny Desk Concerts are intimate video performances, recorded live at the desk of All Songs Considered host, Bob Boilen.  Boilen's desk is located at NPR headquarters in Washington, DC.  Past performers have included Lucinda Williams, Rubblebucket, St Paul and The Broken Bones, J. Mascis, Tweedy, Pixies, Neko Case and many more!

Gravity Well is the new album from Rose's Pawn Shop.  The Los Angeles-based, five-piece group formed in 2006, and this is their third full-length album.  The sound of Rose's Pawn Shop can be categorized as Americana leaning toward the indie rock side.  In fact, the songs on Gravity Well have been described as rousing, fierce and anthemic; the music a "stomping interpretation of alt-country and Americana songcraft." 

Elliot Tensen

The Iowa band Beverly and the Accordion performed live in IPR'S Cedar Falls studios on January 13.  The six-piece group played songs from their new release The Porch Sessions, and more.  An appreciative hometown audience responded enthusiastically to Beverly and the Accordion's Americana-flavored music.  And yes, an accordion can be heard in the mix!    

Philadelphia's DRGN KING (pronounced "Dragon King") began as a duo in 2009, with singer and frontman Dominic Angelella, and multi-instrumentalist and producer Ritz Reynolds.  The duo later expanded to a four-piece band.  After recording a few tracks and releasing a few EP's, the debut full-length album from DRGN KING was released in 2013.  Baltimore Crush is the follow-up, with songs inspired by Angelella's youth in Baltimore, and highlighting the band's bright indie-rock sound.

The Heart Of A Dark Star is the fourth album from mr. Gnome, a married duo from Cleveland, Ohio.  The full sound of mr. Gnome's music is created by singer/guitarist Nicole Barille and drummer/pianist Sam Meister.  They have been recording as mr. Gnome since 2006.  Their sound has been described as "art rock", with songs that explore fantastic and mythical subjects, and a theatrical approach to their music and stage show.

James Mercer's band The Shins began as a side project of his then primary group, Flake Music.  The Albuquerque, New Mexico band was more collaborative than The Shins, and was active for much of the 1990's.  They only released one full-length album, When You Land Here It's Time To Return, in 1997.  Because of the success of The Shins (and another Mercer project, Broken Bells), interest remains high in Flake Music.  The album's songs, remixed and reissued now on the Sub Pop label, are enjoyable guitar-based indie pop.

Blind Boys of Alabama formed in 1944, and have stated that their goal is to "spiritually uplift audiences."  They have released many records over the years, and Talkin' Christmas is not their first Christmas album.  It is, however, the first to feature collaborator Taj Mahal.  Taj Mahal has been putting his unique stamp on blues and world music for nearly 50 years.  In Talkin' Christmas the singers and musicians have created a special blend of gospel and R&B for the season.

TV on the Radio

Several dependable bands, some innovators and a few pleasant surprises made the list of IPR's Studio One hosts' favorite music of 2014.

La Isla Bonita is the twelfth full-length album from Deerhoof, a band that formed in San Francisco in 1994.  In that twenty year span, Deerhoof have produced and managed themselves, creating an avant-garde pop sound that can be equally challenging and intriguing.  Japanese-born Satomi Matsuzaki is the band's distinctive vocalist.  Inspired by the high energy, to-the-point style of the Ramones, Deerhoof reportedly recorded La Isla Bonita live in the basement of guitarist Ed Rodriguez in a "weeklong sleepover". 

IPR/Tony Dehner

Pieta Brown, along with Bo Ramsey on electric guitar, stopped by IPR's Cedar Falls studios on Dec. 8.  The set list included songs from the new album Paradise Outlaw.  The live set was in advance of her Dec. 12 show at Des Moines' Temple for the Performing Arts, a night of music that will also feature The Pines, and is being presented by Iowa Public Radio Studio One.  Enjoy this wonderful live performance!

Ariel Pink is the stage name of Ariel Marcus Rosenberg, a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, songwriter and producer based in Los Angeles.  He studied visual art for a time at the California Institute of the Arts, and has been writing songs for most of his life.  He began making lo-fi recording of his songs in the mid-1990's, and has recorded over 500 songs since then, most of them unreleased commercially.  The new album Pom Pom is an entertaining mix of accessible pop songs and Frank Zappa style eccentricity.

IPR/Tony Dehner

Based in Central Iowa, Unknown Component is the project of multi-instrumentalist and producer Keith Lynch.  Unknown Component made a return visit to Studio One on Dec. 4, playing songs from the brand new release Arbitrary Ambiguity and more.  With a couple of guitars, a laptop and a few other pieces of gear, Lynch produced the full sound of Unknown Component.  You can listen right here!

Bob Dylan gave producer T Bone Burnett a batch of his lyrics written circa 1967.  Burnett gathered Elvis Costello, Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Marcus Mumford (Mumford & Sons) and Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops) to write music for those lyrics.  The musicians (calling themselves The New Basement Tapes) recorded an album in Los Angeles, and titled it Lost On The River.  The songs harken back to Dylan and The Band's storied Basement Tapes, but are also fascinating songs in their own right from this unique group.

IPR/Tony Dehner

On Nov. 20, Studio One partnered with The Des Moines Social Club to broadcast a live set from The Basement at the DMSC.  Christopher The Conquered was in fine form, playing for an appreciative hometown audience just days before leaving for a month-long tour in Italy.  We were treated to songs from the forthcoming record I'm Giving Up On Rock And Roll and more.  You can listen right here!