Music and Musicians

Photo Courtesy of Justin Roberts

There is a lot of children's music out there, and some of it is really bad. But over the course of the last two decades, children's music as a genre has become a home for many smart, funny, and talented musicians. Iowa native Justin Roberts is one of them. 

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, he talks with host Charity Nebbe about his newest album Lemonade, which has been nominated for a Grammy this year. It's his third time being nominated. 

On this album, he has several laugh out loud funny songs, including one called "Valentine."  

Courtesy of Bob Dorr

Rock and roll babies, here's your best of list for 2017, according to Bob Dorr! He talked about his favorite releases and re-releases of the year with Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe. 

Elvin Bishop - Big Fun Trio

Elvin Bishop's Big Fun Trio combines Elvin's signature good humor song writing and guitar playing with Bob Welsh, the keys player in Elvin's regular band and Willy Jordan on Cajon, a South American percussion instrument. That disc came out in early 2017, I expect it to win some major awards.

Tony Dehner / Iowa Public Radio

Lots of new music was released in 2017; here at Iowa Public Radio, we received more than 2,000 albums. If wading through all of that sounds overwhelming, never fear. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Tony Dehner and Mark Simmet of Iowa Public Radio's Studio One about their favorite albums of the year. 

We've also had our most musically-minded staff curate their top five favorite albums of this year, including Morning Edition host Clay Masters. Check out our Spotify playlist and read album reviews below. 

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode – cropping and lighting changes made
Peter Shanks

As you ponder what to give as gifts for the music-lovers in your life, consider the expertise of some Iowa Public Radio music hosts. In this hour of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hears about the notable releases and recordings of 2017 from the host of IPR's The Folk Tree Karen Impola, as well as classical music host Barney Sherman.

Karen Impola's top folk music picks for 2017

1. Catfish Keith – "Shake Sugaree" – Mississippi River Blues

2. Al Murphy – "Steamboat Quickstep" – Hogs in the Cornfield

Camera Eye Photography / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

Stefan Shepherd remembers listening to ABBA and Herb Alpert as a kid; he did not grow up with "kids music." But now he has kids and he started reviewing kid's music on his blog, Zooglobble. In this segment of Talk of Iowa, Shepherd joins host Charity Nebbe to present a few options for good music for kids.

Here are three examples with some thoughts about the music from Shepherd.

Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, "Paletero Man" from the album Out of LA.

Image courtesy of IPTV

Music is a powerful medium, allowing us to access and experience an entire spectrum of feelings. For children, music is an important educational tool as well, and all too often, children's music has a tendency to become bland. Host of IPTV's Kids Club Dan Wardell and musician Jim Sieck are on a mission to create interesting kids music, while also teaching them valuable lessons. One song in particular teaches kids about the alphabet.

Photo submitted

Michelle Droe is the music teacher at Lincoln Elementary in Cedar Falls, Iowa. For a long time her students and colleagues have known that she’s a remarkable teacher, but now she’s receiving national recognition for her work. She’s a semi-finalist for a music educator Grammy award.

One special exercise Droe does involves sixth grade students pretending to be street musicians.  They work with a partner or come up with a performance on their own. 

www.theblueband.com

Since 1981, Bob Dorr and the Blue Band have played about 100 gigs per year all around Iowa and the Midwest. Over their 30-plus year run, they have become one of Iowa's most celebrated bands, playing their beloved, self-described brand of blues/soul/rockabilly/reggae/Creole/rhythm music at festivals and venues across eastern Iowa, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Omaha, and Chicago. They have shared the stage with such icons as B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor, and Bobby Rush.

University of Iowa Press

Bix Beiderbecke was a self-taught cornet player from Davenport, a white kid from the corn belt born in 1903.  He only lived to be 28 years old, but against all odds his musical influence has lasted for generations.  This hour, host Charity Nebbe speaks to author Brendan Wolfe, who grew up in Beiderbecke's hometown.  Wolfe's new book is called "Finding Bix: The Live and Afterlife of a Jazz Legend." (University of Iowa Press)

Phil Roeder / Flickr

This program originally aired November 18, 2015.

Jazz is American music. It was born in New Orleans around the turn of the 20th century, and it continues to evolve. During this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion about Iowa's jazz scene in the past, present, and future. 

Lisa Dondlinger

In high school and college, Lisa Dondlinger was seriously involved in music and academics, and at first, she hesitated when asked to participate in the Miss Iowa Pageant in 1998. She did so and won that competition. Later, she says she turned down offers to work as an orchestral violinist and instead moved to L.A. where she became a studio musician. She is included in recordings for many movies, and she has played with musicians like Celine Dion, Paul McCartney, and the band Kiss.

This time on IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Eastern-Iowa funkers Meteor Cat bring their rowdy, cosmic sound (all nine members of it!) to the coffee house. 

Check out the free podcast below to hear cuts off the group's debut album, "Earth Family Elixir," and gain insights on how the group crafts its distinct brand of funk. 

Ben Kieffer

Iowa singer-songwriter and children's book author Chad Elliott brings his knack for simple-yet-profound songwriting to The Java House stage in this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend." The accomplished creative also provides glimpses of his forthcoming album, "RINGGOLD." 

Download the free podcast below and hear Elliott's rootsy, gravely growl and impressive, tasteful guitar work. Plus, peek inside the artist's creative process with Studio One host Ben Kieffer. 

On this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Iowa City singer songwriter Nic Arp graces the stage with his band of top-shelf Iowa musicians. 

Download the free podcast below to hear the group tear through a set of songs ripe with Arp's emotive, wise lyrics and propelled by the band's tight sound. Studio One's Ben Kieffer hosts. 

Hear Iowa City's premier heartland rock group, Crystal City, play through a set of rich and universal songs on this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend." 

Download the free podcast, lay back, and listen to the group's feel-good tunes plus interviews and insights from Studio One host Ben Kieffer. 

Jordan Mayland and the Thermal Detonators rip through a set of infectious tunes in this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend." The Des Moines group— one of Mayland's many musical projects— released a new record, This Mess, in March.

Download the free podcast to listen to a live, stripped down version of the Detonators. Studio One's Ben Kieffer hosts. 

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Des Moines psych-folk singer Extravision brings his mesmerizing 12-string guitar work and existential lyrics to the Java House stage. 

Download the free podcast to hear host Ben Kieffer navigate Extravision's ambitious lyrical topics and distinct delivery. 

Iowa City's favorite Heartland rock group, Crystal City, will be gracing the Java Blend stage this Friday, April 28th, at 2 P.M. at The Java House in downtown Iowa City. 

Stop by to catch an intimate performance with Crystal City's entertaining "duo" installation, comprised of Dave Helmer and Sam Drella, all hosted by IPR Studio One's Ben Kieffer. 

The Java House stage in downtown Iowa City will be full of seasoned, top notch musicians this Friday, April 21, at 2 P.M. The Nic Arp Band, led by one of Iowa City's finest and most storied songwriters, will play tunes from throughout Nic's prolific writing career. 

Stop by Friday afternoon to catch this special performance from IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," with host Ben Kieffer. 

Iowa songwriting power-duo Society of Broken Souls— comprised of multi-instrumentalists Lauryn Shapter and Dennis James— shares vivid stories against lush musical backdrops on this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend." 

Download the free podcast above to hear the group's raw, fearless songs, as well as the story of their difficult-but-necessary decision to leave their day jobs behind and pursue music full time. IPR Studio One's Ben Kieffer hosts. 

Iowa City singer-songwriter Elizabeth Moen has it all: a killer voice, deft guitar chops, and catchy songs. In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," the soul-folk crooner showcases all three with host Ben Kieffer. 

Download the free podcast below to hear Moen's performance, as well as some wildly entertaining stories from her recent European tour and details from her upcoming full-length album. 

Ben Kieffer

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Des Moines singer-songwriter Ryne Doughty joins host Ben Kieffer for an hour of authentic Midwest folk music played by some of Iowa's best musicians. 

Download the podcast below to hear Doughty— joined by Iowa blues legend Pat Hazell on harmonica and Des Moines percussionist Will Locker— play a set full of catchy, feel good tunes that won't leave your head for days. 

The Iowa songwriting power duo of Society of Broken Souls— comprised of Lauryn Shapter and Dennis James— will grace IPR Studio One's "Java Blend" stage at The Java House in downtown Iowa City on Friday, March 24th. 

Swing by at 2 P.M. to listen to the group weave vivid stories with their lyrics while playing a wide range of sounds and instruments. Plus, hear the pair dive deep into their story-oriented approach to songwriting with Java Blend host Ben Kieffer. 

Most record labels find artists who already have an audience and then use their talent and following to make money. What if the business model worked a little different, and the label had the time to invest in helping an artist to develop their art and grow as a professional businessperson at the same time? That’s the same question Tobi Parks with Station 1 Records, which operates as a non-profit in Des Moines, had. During this hour, she talks with host Charity Nebbe about the label.

Quinn Johnston/Courtesy of the Cerney Brothers

Live music enthusiasts of Iowa, rejoice. Your options are expanding. There's a new start up in Des Moines that intends to match people who want to host house concerts with musicians. It's called HomeDitty. 

During this segment, host Charity Nebbe talks with Katie Byers, founder and CEO of a matchmaking service of sorts called HomeDitty, meant to connect artists with people who want to host concerts. 

Emily Woodbury

When you put together your perfect playlist, how much of the music comes from your youth?

A new study says that most people stop seeking out new music around age 33, and some people believe that our most important cultural tastes are set in our teen years.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Celtic folk artist Keith Reins and renowned Celtic violinist Tara McGovern take listeners through the anatomy of various folk songs of the British Isles. 

The fascinating performance comes as part of Keith Rein's multi-platform project, "Folk Songs You Never Sang in Grade School," which combines thoughtful essays, thorough research and, of course, performance.  

Listen to the podcast below for an engaging hour of folk songs, history, and chat with Java Blend host Ben Kieffer. 

Hang out with Des Moines indie-psych-rock band The Fuss in this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend." 

Listen to the podcast below to hear about the up and coming band's origins, its subsequent rise through the burgeoning Des Moines DIY scene, and its sonically adventurous tunes. 

The Homefires' Java Blend performance, scheduled for taping at The Java House in downtown Iowa City at 2 P.M. on Friday, February 24th, has been canceled due to bad weather. 

The next Java Blend live taping will be on March 10th with Iowa City's newest rising star, Elizabeth Moen, who will be fresh off a European tour. 

Stay tuned for make up dates for this event.

Effectively a "who's who" of the Iowa City bluegrass scene, this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend" features the classic, tight harmonies, deft picking, and quirky humor of Banjoy. 

Join host Ben Kieffer as he talks with the group- which consists of banjo legend Bob Black,  guitarists Kristie Black and Mark Wilson, and bassist Paul Wilson- about the many years of bluegrass they have under their belts. 

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