Music and Musicians

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. 

Photo Courtesy of Nate Sletten

Nate Sletten leads the band program at Earlham High School, and he has twice been nominated for a Grammy for Music Educator of the Year. This year, he was a semi-finalist, chosen in a group of 25 music educators from across the country. He did not win, but he’s done some amazing work building the band program in Earlham, in part by continuing to play in bands himself and letting students sit in with him. 

He says he chooses to stay in a rural district because of the relationships he has the opportunity to build there. 

Melissa Stukenholtz / Gorman House Photograph

Sixteen years ago, Patresa Hartman started writing songs, but she kept them hidden because she was afraid to let anyone hear them.  By 2011, she had enough of this performance phobia and looked for a place to play her music.

Photo Courtesy of the Des Moines Metro Opera

The Des Moines Metro Opera opens its run of Soldier Songs this weekend at Camp Dodge in Johnston. It will be the first time an opera has been performed at an active military base. 

Michael Mayes, the operatic baritone who will be performing the one -man opera, says it's been a unique experience to be rehearsing a piece like Soldier Songs in front of active military service members. 

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer welcomes the signature pop melodies and tight harmonies of The Well Pennies to Iowa. 

The folk duo, who recently relocated from Los Angeles to Des Moines, earned national acclaim for their rendition of the classic Beatles tune "All My Loving," featured on a 2013 release called "Beatles Reimagined." 

Download the free podcast below to hear The Well Pennies play their Beatles takes and well-crafted original music that spans the length of their careers. 

Paul Sabin Photo

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer chats with Iowa music legend  and visual artist Tony Brown. 

Listen to and download the free podcast below to hear Brown impressive command of a wide-range of styles from old school Blues to R&B, Soul, Ska, Reggae, Jazz, Rock, Fold, Funk and Latin flavors. Plus, here incredible stories of Brown's childhood in Waterloo, as well as his experiences abroad. 

When you think of the state of Iowa, you might not initially find yourself thinking about its music scene or rich musical culture. But there is a growing diversity of sound in the state and a “special sauce” that makes the music that’s made here unique.

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Dave Zollo, Iowa City based artist and founder of Trailer Records; Luke Tweedy, owner of Flat Black Studios and Tim Hankewich of Orchestra Iowa about music in Iowa.

In this special, outdoor episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Iowa music greats David Zollo and William Elliott Whitmore join together to perform at IPR's second annual Great Iowa Potluck. 

Download the free podcast below to hear host Ben Kieffer chat with the pair about their storied music careers, their Iowa upbringings, and their new project Middle Western. 

Kari Bedford

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Illinois singer-songwriter Ben Bedford tells  host Ben Kieffer about the his background in history has shaped his songwriting. 

Listen in to the podcast below to hear tunes from Bedford's new album, "The Pilot and the Flying Machine.

Courtesy of Bob Dorr

Looking for the best of Blues in 2016? Bob Dorr, frontman for Bob Dorr and the Blue Band and host of Beatles Medley, Backtracks, and Blue Avenue on Iowa Public Radio, shares his thoughts on this year's releases.

Courtesy of Oleg Timofeyev

After listening through new Iowa classical music releases from 2016, Iowa Public Radio host Barney Sherman says that Iowa tends to excel in classical genres and ensemble types that are a off the beaten path and under performed  in major metropolitan areas.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Sherman about his favorite new Iowa classical music for 2016. During this hour, we also hear about some of best new folk music for 2016, curated by Karen Impola, host of Iowa Public Radio's The Folk Tree and University Concert.

IPR/Tony Dehner

We received around 1,800 albums this year, and we put just under 900 of those into rotation on IPR's Studio One. There's been so much incredible music released this year; it's impossible to get to all of it. Never fear! We've created a guide. 

Below, you'll find lists of favorites from 2016 from all three of IPR's Studio One Tracks hosts, alongside lists from IPR's Sean McClain and Clay Masters.

Iowa City folk rock group The Recliners channels recent Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan from The Java House stage in downtown Iowa City on this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend." 

Join the group in reminiscing on their favorite Dylan stories, moments, and most importantly, songs, by downloading the free podcast below. 

In this episode of Iowa Public Radio Studio One's "Java Blend," Iowa blues icon Kevin B.F. Burt stops by The Java House in downtown Iowa City to croon and belt his legendary tunes. 

Lend an ear to the podcast below to hear some of Burt's new works, as well as some searing covers of B.B. King, Bob Dylan, and more. 

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Des Moines powerhouse Bonne Finken trades laid back acoustic arrangements for grand, sprawling electronic tunes. 

Download the podcast below to hear host Ben Kieffer chat with Finken on her decision to go electronic. 

Clare Roth / Iowa Public Radio

It’s 2007, “The World Spins Madly On” is a massive hit, and The Weepies are exhausted.

“We did a year of our car, coffeehouses, 180 shows in 190 days where we were at festivals in Europe and everywhere, and we were just exhausted. And we are like recluses,” says Steve Tannen, one half of the folk-pop/husband-wife duo.

So, after releasing and touring their second album, Say I Am You, he and Deb Talan escaped to a small cabin in a state park one hour outside of Los Angeles, to take a breath and regroup.

“For that time, it was a real refuge. Yea, we did run away a little bit. Partly in order to make our next record and not feel like we had something to prove, just to sort of get a little bit of a cave, where we could just sort of do what we do,” says Talan.

And while their move to Iowa City may make it seem like they’ve run away again, Tannen and Talan says it’s simply the right place for them and their three children.

“This felt more like a running to, to me,” says Talan. “We had two kids, we started looking outside LA. It was so expensive and so crazy, and we had really embraced the crazy for a bunch of years, and then we were just like, ‘I think we need to at least try to feel what it feels like to be outside.’”

“We’re vagabonds and we wanted to put roots down somewhere,” Tannen adds, “and every time we’d been through Iowa we’d say to each other, ‘This is amazing, we should buy a house here and raise a bunch of kids.’”

Their upcoming tour kicks off at the Englert Theater with “The Weepies: Completely Acoustic and Alone.” In this Talk of Iowa interview, host Charity Nebbe talks with Tannen and Talan about recording Sirens, living in Iowa, and how creating music and creating a family intertwine.

Four essentials and four bonus tracks to get acquainted with the folk-pop duo.

Somebody Loved

Tannen has said the key lyric at the center of this song--"You turned me into somebody loved."--is the Tannen-Talan family motto.

The World Spins Madly On

The song that catapulted them to folk-pop stardom.

"The record sold 238 copies the first week," says Tannen. "Then, three months later, it was the number one song on the folk charts of eight countries, including America, and it was on the strength essentially of people sharing that song. I didn't want it on the record, because it was my voice. I love Deb's voice. Mine is fine, I have a fine voice."

"You have a beautiful, emotional voice," Talan interrupts.

She continues, "We were very surprised with how it sort of caught. You put out music that you feel. You write songs that you feel and you produce them in a way that is 'feelingful' and you put them out in the world. And we have songs that are particularly personally resonate, but there's no saying what other people will sort of--what will resonate in their own lives."

Be My Thrill

In a Java Blend interview from May 2015, Tannen explained the origins behind this song were rooted in an argument he and Talan had.

"I just stormed out, I was like 'Fine!' in order to not admit that I was wrong. And I went out and I wrote a song about what I thought I wanted, and it was like the angriest song that I've ever-- and it was some of this song. And I played it for Deb, like 'Here, here's my apology.' [strums guitar angrily] And she said 'Oh my god, it's a love song,' proving what I thought, which is that she's insane. And then she took it and she fixed it and she made it like this, and she made it into an actual love song, and that is marriage as far as I'm concerned."

Sirens

The titular song from their latest album, Sirens was recorded in one take, in the midst of Talan's chemotherapy treatments.

"That was while Deb had chemo and we didn't know what was going to happen and she was extraordinarily tired that week and just impossible to live with, because she was like 'I'm getting into the studio today.' And she couldn't get up, so I helped her up the stairs, and we got one take. And that was that take. And it brought me right back there. And I think that that force of will is what got Deb through. I really do. Deb's ability to say 'This is what I'm doing with my life, whatever is happening.'"

"And your support through it," she adds. "It was a team effort. It was very much a team effort."

Bonus tracks

Jolene

From their first album, Happiness

Orbiting

From their third album, Hideaway

Can't Go Back Now

Also from Hideaway

No Trouble

This video for another hit off of Sirens features photos of the Tannen-Talans at home

Dubuque trio Cranes and Vultures brings its eclectic take on folk and alt-country to The Java House in downtown Iowa City in this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend." 

Download and listen to the podcast below to hear the band chat with "Java Blend" host Ben Kieffer and play some of their intriguing, highly original tunes. 

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