Begun as a side project between singer/songwriter Jen McClung and her husband, poet/musician Jim Coppoc, the Gatehouse Saints cover great lyricists from Leonard Cohen to Trent Reznor to the Dixie Chicks, and use these influences to build their own original music.
With story songs that search for community and shared meaning, Jen Chapin creates a funk and soul inspired kind of urban folk that has been called “brilliant and soulfully poetic” by National Public Radio and “addictive” by the Boston Globe. With five albums to her name, Chapin’s most recent release, ReVisions: Songs of Stevie Wonder debuted in 2009 and was praised as sophisticated and miraculous.
Nic Arp is a singer-songwriter. He writes songs, he sings them. Other people write songs, he sings them. You should write a song, and he'll sing it.
He often plays with the Magnificent Few--the outrageously talented and devilishly handsome Dave Rosazza on lead electric guitar and Jim Rossen on harmonica. And sometimes others, like James Goodrich on the bass, and maybe a drummer or something, who knows? He lives in Iowa City, Iowa, with his daughter and two yippy little dogs.
Originally started as a psychedelic recording project in 2004, Brass Bed describes their produced and performed sound with the words “sunshine, sarcastic and sullen.” With a light-hearted, indie rock sound, the band pulls influence from 60’s revivalist bands like Dukes of the Stratosphear and the Elephant 6 Collective mixing feel-good rhythms with vocal harmonies and foot-tapping keyboard and guitar solos.
With a cool, indie, calypso-timed, jazz sound, Bermuda Report features Abbie Sawyer, formerly of Iowa City’s funk band, The Diplomettes, on vocals. Little Village says the band creates a “vacation in the tropics” through bluesy lyrics accompanied by jazz reminiscent melodies. The band’s five-track EP features Paul Kresowik, drums; Billy Legrand, guitar; Nick Leo, keyboard and Jeremiah Murphy, bass.
Koplant No mixes jazz, electronic and rock stylings to create a mystic progressive sound influenced by Radiohead, Telefon, Garbage Factory and Happy Apple. Complete Life, the band’s debut album, was released in October of 2010 and is said to be one of the best jazz rock records released in years by Omaha’s KIOS 91.5 FM in Nebraska. The band’s unique jazz fusion sound features Brian Lewis Smith on trumpet, Drew Morton on bass, Rob Baner on drums and Joe Vanderheyden on saxophone.
Producing a brand of Americana-country they like to call “Genuine Cornfed Cosmic Iowa Roots Music,” Scott Cochran and Flannel join Java Blend for this week’s broadcast. Calling Eastern Iowa home, the group coins an alternative country sound playing mostly original songs with a few covers thrown in the mix.
Born from a scene in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Ivan & Alyosha have been an interesting pair from the beginning. The duo, originally from Seattle, Washington, released their debut EP, The Verse, The Chorus, in 2009 and has musically sought to debate the existence or non-existence of the idea of god ever since. This year, they are out with a new EP entitled, Fathers Be Kind.
Taking inspiration from her youth on a grain farm in rural Michigan, Whitney Mann released her debut EP, The Way Back Home, and garnered much attention in Madison, Wisconsin and quickly enticed the ears of listeners elsewhere. After the EP’s release in 2009, Mann performed with headliners Willy Porter and Bettye LaVette and was a musical guest on Michael Feldman’s Whad’Ya Know? on NPR and Wisconsin Public Television’s 30 Minute Music Hour.
Englishman is the song-vehicle for Lexington, KY native Andrew English (The Scourge of the Sea). Englishman’s self-titled debut full-length was produced by Justin Craig (These United States), a long time collaborator and honorary band member. It arrives after English and Matt Duncan (keyboard/vocals) spent a year sharing stages with Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Deer Tick, Vandaveer, Lost in the Trees, Frontier Ruckus, Sam Quinn, and many other fine folks.
Chicago-based Americana/folk-rock musician Ernie Hendrickson grew up on a steady diet of Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Cat Stevens, and The Grateful Dead. These early heroes opened the gates to the deep well of American roots music which he continues to draw inspiration from. For Hendrickson’s latest release Walking with Angels, he sought out famed producer and guitarist Bo Ramsey.
This week Java Blend welcomes Iowa blues artist Kevin “BF” Burt. A social worker by trade, Burt’s smooth and powerful voice soothes the spirit when paired with his soulful guitar playing. Burt’s special blend of funk inspired blues has come from almost two decades of touring across the Midwest.
Raised on a beef and wheat farm in North Dakota by folk musicians, Andra Suchy began touring and performing at festivals at a young age. Classically trained and a veteran of musical theater, the guitar-playing singer moved to Minneapolis in 1996, where she has gone on to make a name for herself as one of the finest vocalists around.
“Danika Holmes is a rising star in the heartland!” says Bill Sullivan of The Rock and Roll Report. American Picker Mike Wolfe of The History Channel says, “She’s a true American talent… I couldn’t stop listening!” Music critics agree that Danika is charming and energetic with a welcoming tone in her voice which is as gentle as a breeze.
The music of Iowa’s own BRIGHT * GIANT is the soundtrack to an as-yet unconceived documentary of every individual’s struggle between humanity and lesser desire, as seen through the disturbed eyes of one Josh Davis and interpreted by a brotherhood of the strangest souls in the American Midwest: Will Locker (drums), Noah Mass (guitar) and Justin Goes (bass).
Dave Olson is a Twin Cities-based singer-songwriter with a John Prine disposition, a heartfelt delivery, and a knack for catchy melodies. In his seasoned voice, Olson sings about old friendships, restless hearts, lost loves, and ordinary people trying to find meaning. He started writing and performing in Iowa, where he released #80 in 2001. His latest album, No October, was released in 2012.
Born on the bluffs of the Mississippi in Burlington, Iowa, visual artist Jordan Sellergren began actively songwriting in 2009 while living and working in Auckland, New Zealand. After returning to Iowa in the spring of 2010, she started playing her songs under the name Milk & Eggs.
While new to Chicago, Phillip-Michael Scales is no stranger to the Midwest nor to packing up a van and playing original music to a crowd. He is the man-behind-the-curtain of Briar Rabbit. Raised in a suburb of Detroit, Scales began playing music at a young age. By high school he was self-releasing records, fronting bands, and went on to formally study music at college in Boston.
Christopher the Conquered has always been the primary outlet for the musical explorations of Iowa songwriter Chris Ford, but The Fate Of A Good Man marks an important moment in the evolution of the project, as it is the first album to feature a full band, with Ford staying firmly seated at The Piano. He’s backed strongly by The Black Gold Brass Band, which is featured heavily on the album, with songs arranged to rise and fall with the energy of the five-piece horn section.
Ever since the release of her 2005 Machine Records full-length debut ...this side of yesterday indie-folk singer/songwriter Martha Berner has created quite a buzz in the music world. Not only did that release and her 2007 follow-up EP Ten Tiny Little Pieces garner a wealth of press accolades both nationally and abroad, including features in high-profile publications, such as Magnet, Performing Songwriter, Chicago Tribune, Hear/Say, and Out Magazine, but it also opened the door for worldwide radio play.
Los Angeles based Janiva Magness is one of today’s most talented and recognized blues and roots vocalists. A two-decade darling of the blues genre, Janiva’s vocal prowess is now being recognized by music critics at large.
Billboard writes “Magness carves out a niche by singing the blues with maturity and sophistication.”
Although her vocals are at times beautiful, this 49 year-old grandmother is best known for her sauciness and the bold, brazen beauty of her recordings and performances.
Patrick Hazell is "a legend in Iowa Music," according to The Des Moines Register and is referred to by many as the "Godfather of Iowa Blues.” Hazell began his professional career in 1961, and eventually created a wide repertoire of original compositions and rhythm and blues standards with over 35 recorded albums while touring extensively in the American Midwest, Europe, Russia, and South America. In 2000, he was inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame as well as the Iowa Music Association Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
In a very short time, Chicago-based singer/songwriter Daphne Willis has grown from a feisty neophyte into a self-assured, marvelously expressive artist with a bracingly seductive sound. The 22-year-old’s Vanguard debut album, What to Say documents Willis’ voyage of self-discovery, while also standing as a captivating introduction to a remarkably fresh voice with a distinctive point of view—one that both reflects and scrutinizes the social patterns of her generation.
FireSale is an original act out of Davenport, Iowa that mixes Reggae/Dub/Ska/Rock and many other personel influences into their own signature sound. They have been together since 2007 and have made many showings in the QCA playing events and venues such as River Roots Live, Riversance Art Festival, The Redstone Room, The Mill, Palmer College Homecoming, The IMU, and River Fest.
Born in Topeka, Kansas, and surrounded by a musical family, Noah Earle absorbed various strains of influence. His musical involvement began in early childhood when he would listen to the traditional country and country-gospel music that his family would play and sing at their gatherings. Between the ages of about 5 and 18 he underwent classical training for piano, voice and fiddle (his grandpa said "never let anybody call it a violin"). By the age of 10, he had decided that he wanted to write songs, like his uncle and grandfather.
Formed over 10 years ago, Cornmeal has grown from humble beginnings into a nationally recognized live music institution. 10 years together is no simple task these days, especially when the last five have seen the band spending over half the year on the road. Heavily influenced by American roots and folk music, Cornmeal blends lightning fast tempos and impeccable harmonies into an unrivaled live performance that continues to expand upon the five-piece acoustic-electric groups’ vast musical repertoire.
We listen back to some of the best new music of 2012 as Mark Simmet of Iowa Public Radio’s Studio One, talks with Charity Nebbe and shares some of his new favorites in alternative and independent music. Then, Bob Dorr, host of IPR’s Blue Avenue, shares some of the new and great tracks in the world of blues.