Music and Musicians

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. 

In this boot-stompin' episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Iowa's old-time jazz group The Dandelion Stompers stopped by The Java House in downtown Iowa City- and the toes were tapping. 

Lend an ear to the downloadable podcast below for some jazz standards steeped in New Orleans tradition.

Iowa City's favorite bluesman, Kevin B.F. Burt, will take up a familiar role on the Java Blend stage for another electrifying performance of his award-winning roots and blues. 

Stop by The Java House in downtown Iowa City at 2 P.M. this Friday, November 4th, to hear the booming voice and distinct guitar playing that has cemented Burt as legend in blues music. 

Twin Cities jam band Frogleg crammed all seven of its members onto a tiny Java House stage for this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," so it's no wonder why their music sounds so tight. 

Join Java Blend host Ben Kieffer and listen in to the free podcast below to hear the group's stellar musicianship, infectious grooves, and dazzling chemistry. 

The Midwest-based duo The Matchsellers bring their "vaudevillian" form of bluegrass to the Java House stage in this goofy episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend" with host Ben Kieffer. 

Download and listen to the free podcast below to hear about the group's German adventures, quirky songs, superb musicianship, and even some hamboning. 

Folk duo Famous October is half Iowan, half Swiss, and all talent.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," hear host Ben Kieffer chat with the couple on how they first met, how they became musical partners, and hear tunes off their newly released record, "One Day Baby.

Check out the free downloadable podcast below.

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation / Wikimedia Commons

The long-running public radio program A Prairie Home Companion will sound much different beginning this Saturday, as new host Chris Thile takes the reins on a permanent basis.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Iowa City bluegrass troop Slewgrass shows its tight harmonies and dazzling stringwork. 

Download the free podcast below to hear Java Blend host Ben Kieffer chat with the  group about their many other projects, as well as some high-energy original songs. 

Chelsey Hager

This Friday, October 7th, Twin Cities jamband Frogleg will pack their many members onto the stage in the Java House in downtown Iowa City. 

Join Java Blend host Ben Kieffer at 2 p.m. to hear about Frogleg's inception in 2012 and listen to their improvisational style. 

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Iowa City singer-songwriter Elizabeth Moen shows off her dynamic vocals and heartfelt songwriting at The Java House in downtown Iowa City. 

Download the podcast below to hear Java Blend host Ben Kieffer chat with Liz about her writing process, the family she has found in the Iowa City music scene, and the new tracks Liz is working on. 

Courtesy of Gaelynn Lea

In March a singer, songwriter, and fiddler from Duluth, Minnesota won NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert contest. Now, Gaelynn Lea is embarking on her first solo tour and bringing her music to Iowa.

On Friday, September 30th, Midwestern bluegrass group The Matchsellers will perform on IPR Studio One's "Java Blend." 

Stop by The Java House in downtown Iowa City at 2 P.M. to hear Java Blend host Ben Kieffer chat with the duo and listen to tunes off the group's new album, Songs We Made Up. 

ASK Studio

An area of north Des Moines that holds a nostalgic place in the hearts of many central Iowans is being remade into a site where future generations can build memories.

Riverview Park sat on an island near the Des Moines River and operated from 1915 until 1978.

Plans are now in place to convert it into an outdoor concert venue large enough for 10,000 people.

Des Moines Parks and Recreation Director Ben Page says in designing the project, it was important to celebrate the future while honoring the past.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's Java Blend, host Ben Kieffer chats with Des Moines singer-songwriter Christopher the Conquered. 

Tune in to the downloadable podcast below for a taste of Christopher's catchy melodies, soulful vocals and tasteful piano playing, showcased in tunes off his new record, I'm Giving Up on Rock 'n' Roll

Airing originally in December of 2014, this encore episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend" features Celtic-Soul group Switchback. 

Tune in below to hear the group showcase their uniquely Midwestern sound and learn about their creative process.

In this encore episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," originally aired in December of 2015, host Ben Kieffer chats with Greg Klyma. 

Listen in below for songs that will make you laugh and sing.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

After more than 10 years, Sean Moeller is leaving Daytrotter. He says it seems like the right time, and he’s ready for a new project. During this Talk of Iowa interview, he talks with host Charity Nebbe about why he’s moving on, what he’s built, and how Daytrotter began.

In this encore episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer chats with the activist-rock group the Muckrockers. 

Tune in below to hear the group's mission themed lyrics, set to a backdrop of catchy melodies. 

Local roots rock group The Mayflies join IPR Studio One's "Java Blend" in this special encore broadcast. 

Lend an ear to the downloadable podcast below to hear "Java Blend" host Ben Kieffer talk with the group- and to listen to the pickin' and grinnin' style of The Mayflies. 

In this summer encore podcast of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Indianapolis rock band Hero Jr. strip down their sound for an intimate, acoustic set. 

Download the podcast, originally aired on November 8, 2014, to hear "Java Blend" host Ben Kieffer learn about the band's then-brand new record, "Mixed Race Indiana Marriage." 

In this encore episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer welcomes Des Moines indie-reggae group Mighty Shady to the Java Blend stage. 

Download the podcast, which first aired on October 25, 2014, to bring Mighty Shady's grooves wherever you go. 

In this special encore episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Iowa City blues-rock icon David Zollo and his band, the Body Electric, stop by The Java House for a boogie-woogie filled afternoon. 

Download the podcast below to hear "Java Blend" host Ben Kieffer catch up with Zollo. This podcast originally aired on October 18, 2014. 

Music lovers of Iowa unite! Iowa has a growing summer music festival scene. To get a handle on the happenings, we've compiled this handy guide. If you see something missing, tweet us @IPRStudioOne. TO learn more about these festivals, and to hear interviews with many of the organizers, check out The B-Side, IPR's music blog. 

In this encore episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Minnesota-based artist Jack Klatt shows off his rolling Mississippi music. 

Lend an ear below to hear Java Blend host Ben Kieffer talk with Klatt about his extensive travel and the influence it has had on his songwriting. 

Pages