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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Spoon is one of the best bands working today, with each new release eagerly anticipated.  Lead vocalist and guitarist Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno formed the band twenty years ago in Austin, Texas.  Since around 2001, each new Spoon record has been an affirmation of the quality of the band's work.  Daniel, Eno and the others have been involved in more side projects in recent years, yet every three or four years we are treated to a new Spoon album.  They Want My Soul is another fine record, well-crafted and brimming with rock 'n' roll excitement.

Facebook: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

The East Coast band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are known for exemplifying the phenomenon of the Internet buzz band at the start of their career.  The band's totally self-made debut album rode a tide of blogger attention to great success in 2005.  Since then, there have been side projects, personnel changes and three more full-length albums of consistently well-crafted indie pop.  The new Only Run satisfies with both dance-oriented tracks and rockers.  

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It has been said that the closest and most enchanting vocal harmonies are created by siblings.  This is certainly borne out in the case of the Swedish duo First Aid Kit.  Sisters Johanna and Klara Soderberg are from Enskede, a suburb of Stockholm.  For Stay Gold, their third full-length album, producer Mike Mogis (of Bright Eyes fame) is back at the helm, having helped to make the last First Aid Kit album a great success.  Mogis showcases the sisters' beautiful Swedish-accented harmonies with rich indie-folk instrumentation.

The Orwells

Our featured release this week on Studio One is the second full-length album from the young Chicago band, The Orwells.  Actually, they are from Elmhurst, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago, making them that much closer to being a regional band!  Of course, their place of origin is not as important as the vital, tuneful garage rock that they play on the new Disgraceland​.  The five members of The Orwells have known each other for years, forming the band and getting signed to Autumn Tone Records for their first album while still in high school.

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Jack White has enjoyed both critical and commercial success since the late 1990's when he and Meg White formed The White Stripes.  Since then he has made his mark as a musician, songwriter, record producer and more.  White was also a founding member of The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather.  Most recently, he has been focusing on his solo career, releasing his album Blunderbuss in 2012.  The follow-up is Lazaretto​, lyrically inspired in part by stories, plays and poems White wrote when he was 19.

IPR/Scarlett Cerna

I had the pleasure of interviewing Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno of Best Coast when they stopped by the Iowa Public Radio Meet 'N Greet tent, prior to their main stage performance at the 80/35 Festival in downtown Des Moines.  Enjoy this July 4 audio interview!

spanishgoldmusic.com

South Of Nowhere is the debut album from the trio Spanish Gold, formed last year by former Hacienda guitarist and vocalist Dante Schwebel.  Schwebel had originally wanted to work as a solo artist, but soon decided to make Spanish Gold a band project.  Former Grupo Fantasma guitarist Adrian Quesada and My Morning Jacket drummer Patrick Hallahan completed the trio.  Their soul, rock and hip-hop influenced record was primarily recorded at Dan Auerbach's studio in Nashville, with additional recording in Austin, Texas.

Graham Gardner

The Des Moines-based band The River Monks formed in 2010 with founding members Ryan Stier, Nicholas Frampton and Joel Gettys.  Current members also include Drew Rauch, Mallory Heggen and Tommy Boynton.  Their second album, Home Is The House could aptly be summed up by a phrase they have used to describe their sound:  "wistful harmonious megafolk."  The River Monks combine beautiful vocal harmonies, intriguing songwriting and creative use of traditional folk instrumentation on the new album.  

IPR/Tony Dehner

Our IPR 80/35 Showcase series of live in-studio performances concluded on June 26, with two more fine sets.  Des Moines-based singer-songwriter Max Jury played keyboard and sang songs from his Something In The Air EP, as well as a haunting Neil Young cover.  Also from Des Moines, Dustin Smith and his new band The Maytags played a soulful set of new songs.  The Maytags EP, Nova, was recorded in Nashville and will be out this fall.  Enjoy these 80/35 Showcase performances here!

IPR/Tony Dehner

The IPR 80/35 Showcase series on Studio One continued on June 25 with two more bands performing live in our Cedar Falls studios.  The Des Moines/Davenport-based band Brother Trucker made a return visit, previewing their upcoming July 4 main stage appearance at 80/35.  Brother Trucker's solid Americana set included songs from their forthcoming fifth album.  Later, Des Moines' Cirrus Minor made their live Studio One debut, with their exciting progressive/alternative sound, including songs from the band's  latest album, The Division of Space.

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Singer-songwriter Jolie Holland was born in Houston, Texas, and has also lived in San Francisco and Vancouver, where she was one of the founding members of The Be Good Tanyas.  In her solo work, she has drawn inspiration from different genres of roots music to create her own unique sound.  Holland's fifth studio album, Wine Dark Sea, blends elements of folk, blues, R&B, and vocal jazz to great effect.   

Gretchen Dehner

Our IPR 80/35 Showcase series continued on June 19, with two more live sets in our Cedar Falls studios.  Des Moines' Gloom Balloon (Patrick "Tape" Fleming and Chris Ford) played songs from their debut album You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Disaster/ Fix The Sunshine Pts 1-7 (An Ode To Bill Doss) and more, including some new material that they will be performing on the Main Stage at 80/35 on July 4.

Mark's 80/35 Picks

Jun 20, 2014
80/35 Facebook page

When I talk to record companies and music promoters, and the subject turns to the 80/35 Music Festival, it quickly becomes apparent that the annual Des Moines festival has come to be regarded as an example of “getting it right.”  Around the country, weekend music festivals do not always succeed, and as we excitedly anticipate the seventh year of 80/35, props to the Des Moines Music Coalition and project manager Amedeo Rossi and his staff! 

IPR/Tony Dehner

Our series of IPR 80/35 Showcase live sets began on June 16 with two Des Moines bands performing live on Studio One.  The River Monks were first out of the gate, playing songs from their new album Home Is The House, with a sound they have described as "wistful harmonious megafolk."  Holy White Hounds came on later in the evening, demonstrating that sonically, and also in terms of attitude, they are a rock 'n' roll band.  You can hear both great performances here!

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The music of tUnE-yArDs is filled to the brim with interesting audio ideas and sounds, as befits a band that spells its name in such a quirky, stylistic fashion.  tUnE-yArDs is the project of New England native Merrill Garbus in collaboration with bassist and frequent co-writer Nate Brenner.  Garbus went to Haiti to study drumming, bringing some intricate polyrhythms to the band's third full-length album, Nikki Nack.  The new record is as creative and vibrant as past tUnE-yArDs releases have been, yet more accessible this time out.

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Upside Down Mountain is the latest album from Omaha native Conor Oberst.  In addition to records released under his own name, he has been a member of several other bands, most notably Bright Eyes.  Oberst has a very distinctive voice; both the sound of it and his literary voice.  Commenting on the new album, he said: "For me, language is a huge part of why I make music.

Studio One will be bringing you exclusive IPR recordings of live sets from the 2013 80/35 Festival during the week of June 9.  As we gear up for this year's festival, we'll revisit some great sets from bands that performed last year!  You can hear the live sets during the 7:00 hour of Studio One.  Here's the schedule:

Monday, June 9    Water Liars   (from Oxford, MS)

Tuesday, June 10   Escondido    (from Nashville, TN)

Wednesday, June 11   Strange Names  (from Minneapolis, MN)

Thursday, June 12     Prissy Clerks   (from Minneapolis, MN) 

IPR/Tony Dehner

The Iowa band The Host Country have expanded from the original duo of Ty Wistrand (guitar, vocals) and Diana Garles (keyboards, vocals), to a four-piece group with  bassist Tom Rue and drummer Ethan Weishaar.  On June 2, they brought their full band, folk rock sound and wonderful harmony vocals to IPR's Cedar Falls studios for a live broadcast on Studio One.  The Host Country played songs from their brand new full-length release, Walk Away.  Enjoy this podcast of their set!

Jake Michaels

Katy Goodman was the bassist in the Brooklyn-based punk trio Vivian Girls. That band called it quits earlier this year, making it possible for Goodman to devote all her attention to La Sera, the side project she had started in 2009.  A variety of different players have joined her for each La Sera album.  Hour of the Dawn is the third full-length release, showcasing Goodman's songwriting and very appealing indie garage-pop sound.

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The story of the band Woods follows a path that is not uncommon for some notable 21st Century bands.  Songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Jeremy Earl was in another band (Brooklyn's Meneguar), and began Woods as a side project in 2005.  He released his lo-fi music on cassette in the beginning.  Woods developed into a full-fledged four-piece band, with more refinement and better production on each new album.  The band releases their work on the Brooklyn label Woodsist, which Earl runs.

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The Black Keys'  Turn Blue is the eighth studio album by the Akron, Ohio duo of Dan Auerbach (vocals,guitar) and Patrick Carney (drums).  Actually, duo doesn't seem quite correct, as the co-songwriting and producing role of Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) has become an integral part of the the band.  The Black Keys have slowly and steadily grown as artists, while simultaneously extending the reach of their soulful blues-rock to a wider audience.  

IPR/Tony Dehner

The Austin, Texas band The Digital Wild are touring the U.S. in support of their debut album.  Lead vocalist Chantell Moody is originally from Des Moines, and while the band was in Iowa they stopped by IPR's Cedar Falls studios for a live set.  The band brought their Afrodelic trip-rock sound to Studio One on May 15, and you can enjoy their performance in this podcast! 

Thee Oh Sees began as guitarist and vocalist John Dwyer's side project, eventually evolving into a full band with various personnel changes along the way.  Dwyer relocated from Providence, Rhode Island to California in the late 1990's.  He became active in the San Francisco indie rock scene, playing in several bands, and releasing his experimental home recordings under names like Orinoka Crash Suite, OCS and Orange County Sound.  Since 2008, the name has been Thee Oh Sees.  

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The progeny of Apple Corps Ltd. founders, The Beatles, are apples that evidently didn’t fall far from the tree. The sons have taken up their fathers' trade.  Of course, the weight of such an endeavor is almost too ridiculous to contemplate, with the Fab Four holding such a lofty place in the hearts and minds of the music-loving world.  With the 50th anniversary of the Beatles landing in the U.S. this year, and the release of Sean Lennon’s new project, let’s consider the work of the sons.

the Soil and the Sun

  The Soil And The Sun are a seven-piece band from Grand Rapids, Michigan.  They were in Cedar Falls on Saturday, May 3 to perform at the College Hill Music Festival, and IPR had the opportunity to bring them in to record a live Studio One set.  They describe their sound as "experiential spiritual folk-rock/New Mexican space music."  That's probably as good a label as any for this beautiful, intricate, grooving music.  Enjoy this podcast of The Soil And The Sun!       

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The Wye Oak was the honorary Maryland state tree, believed to have been over 460 years old before it went down in a thunderstorm in 2002.  Perhaps aspiring to the awesomeness of their namesake, the band Wye Oak formed in Baltimore in 2006 (originally calling themselves Monarch).  Jenn Wasner is the vocalist and guitarist.  Andy Stack is the drummer and keyboard player, and adds backup vocals.  On their fourth full-length record, Shriek, the duo feature more synths and drum machines, and less guitars.

Mac DeMarco is a Canadian songwriter, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist.  Born in British Columbia (and living in Brooklyn since last year), DeMarco has been making music since 2008, self-releasing a series of albums under the name Makeout Videotape.  In 2011 he signed with the Captured Tracks label and began releasing his music as Mac DeMarco.  Salad Days is his second full-length record.  The tracks have a definite home-made, deliberately paced feel, yet his sound is tuneful and accessible.  DeMarco claims to still use the same guitar he bought for $30 when he was sixteen!

future-islands.com

In the great tradition of art school bands (mainly in England, but Talking Heads also come to mind), the members of Future Islands started playing music together while they were art students at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, approximately a decade ago.  There have been personnel changes along the way, and a move to Baltimore.  Then came the release of the first Future Islands full-length album in 2008, establishing the New Wave-inspired synthpop sound they have been refining ever since.

IPR/Tony Dehner

Land Of Blood And Sunshine are a band from Marshalltown, Iowa with three full-length records out, and more new music on the way.  They are appearing at a variety of venues across Iowa in the coming weeks, and brought their full (7 piece) band sound to IPR's Cedar Falls studios for a live set on April 16.  Enjoy this Land Of Blood And Sunshine Studio One podcast! 

Flickr: Seth Anderson

Spring will be sticking around for good any day now, and then summer will be right around the proverbial corner.  That puts one in mind of (among other things) new music! 

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