Hello, hello! Welcome back to the Weekender. Sometimes, this job is really easy as there might only be a couple of events happening over the course of the weekend. Most of the time, it’s actually pretty hard as there is a lot of stuff happening. This week is the latter. I have to skip over so many quality events this weekend to keep this column from going over 2000 words and turning into an academic essay rather than a crib sheet. To give you a taste of the things that are going on but not in the Weekender, there’s going to a loving historical tribute to Miles Davis featuring Iowa City Jazz Festival alumnus Ambrose Akinmusire and his quintet (Englert Theatre // 8:00 PM // $20-35, All Ages), local rockers Liberty Leg at the Mill (9:00 PM // $6, 19+) and art punks TV Ghost at the Blue Moose (8:00 PM // $6, 19+) on Friday, and old-time music by Marc and Brandi Janssen at Uptown Bill’s on Saturday (Free // 7:00 PM // All Ages). At this point, you should be wondering what actually made the cut. Let’s find out.
Deuce Ellis w/ Colorless, Imperfekt & Kool Taj the Gr8 // Blue Moose Tap House // 8:00 PM // $6, 19+
When you ask people about where hip-hop hotspots are, the generic answers you get will fall somewhere along the following lines: Memphis, Miami, Atlanta, New York, L.A., Houston, New Orleans, Minneapolis. If you ask a thousand people, a place that you will never hear is Buffalo, NY. The city that sits on Lake Erie and is better known for their chicken wings and an infamously futile football team (yea, they got to four Super Bowls, but they didn’t win any of them) also has a really productive and creative label in Deep Thinka Records. While that name sounds pretentious, the label has a strong grasp on hip-hop culture, injecting life into a currently stagnant genre with smart production and verbally dexterous emcees. One of the top artists on their label is Deuce Ellis. Hailing from Buffalo, Ellis has been touring relentlessly, gaining fans quickly, and getting attention for mixing his smooth, literate rhymes of his album Head in the Clouds with the riffs of Led Zeppelin on his mash-up mixtape Led in the Clouds. He’s one of the rising stars in the hip-hop underground right now. Sharing the stage with Ellis will be the Buffalo-based Kool Taj The Gr8 and local rhyme spitters Colorless and Imperfekt. If you are into hip-hop and/or are a backpacker (if you don’t know what that means, you aren’t one), this is a show that you should put on your radar.
If hip-hop isn’t your bag, its predecessor Jazz might be more of your speed. This week, Iowa City is spoiled with two excellent opportunities to hear Jazz. The first is the Miles Davis Experience that I mentioned above. The other is seeing the Joey DeFrancesco Trio. Easily one of the best jazz organists of all time and certainly one of the best working right now, DeFrancesco has earned his nickname of “The B-3 Bomber.” Culling standards and his own original work, DeFrancesco can pull some awesome sounds out of an organ and make thoroughly engaging, creative jazz music. If this weren’t enough, there are legends of him playing his organ with three limbs and a trumpet with the fourth. Is this true? You’ll have to go and see. He is playing two sets, but his first set at 7:30 is already sold out. The jazzy night owls will get a special treat at The Mill.
Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Grieves is working very much in the framework of other Rhymesayers artists like Atmosphere. Spitting conscious, emotional rhymes, he is supported by collaborator Budo on stage who provides a solid backdrop for his style. The two of them together make a sound that can be reminiscent of early 90s jazz-rappers like A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets, and Gang Starr but is still fully modern and original with solid, hard-hitting beats. Joining them on tour will be Minneapolis-based Prof and the comedy rapper Type. Fans of Atmosphere and the Rhymesayers stable should be all over this show as Grieves and Budo are right at your wavelength.
Alloy Orchestra // Englert Theatre // 8:00 PM // $12-15; All Ages
While movies have lost a lot of the allure that they once had, the films of the modern era have a lot to live up to. History shows us beautiful theaters that were full of red velvet which showed movies featuring the great stars of the early 20th Century like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. Because they were silent, accompaniment was provided on site by the mighty Wurlitzer organ or an orchestra. There are still some places where you can hear the soul-pleasing wheeze of those organs, but those times have generally passed…until now. The Alloy Orchestra is a Cambridge, MA-based trio of musicians featuring Roger Miller of Mission of Burma fame (everyone that likes rock/punk/art music: do yourself a solid and go get a copy of Vs. RIGHT NOW if you don’t already have one). Rather than writing songs about Max Ernst and Nancy Reagan, Miller works with Terry Donohue and Ken Winokur in the Alloy Orchestra to create new scores to classic silent films and reviving a lost tradition. For this Friday, the orchestra will be doing a beautiful soundtrack to a very recently restored mostly full (there are still eight minutes missing) version of Fritz Lang’s 1927 sci-fi classic Metropolis. This is a cinematic event that shouldn’t be missed by fans of film or those that want to get the full silent film experience like your great-granddad had when he was courting your great-grandma.
Northside Oktoberfest // Northside Marketplace (The square block of Linn, Market, Bloomington & Gilbert) // 10:00 AM // $20 or $40; All Ages
Since the seasons are turning from September to October, the German heritage that is ever present in this state is turning up for good—not to say that it doesn’t usually—and bringing us the majesty that is Oktoberfest. If you’ve always thought about going out to the Amana Colonies for their festival but worried about how you were going to get back home without footage of you embarrassing yourself on a police video show appearing, I believe I have an option: travel in town to the Northside. Don’t just travel. Ride your bike. The local beer connoisseurs at John’s Grocery will be running a beer tasting where you will be able to taste a variety of Marzens and other beer appropriate for the occasion. In addition to the beer, there will be soda for those that like to keep their edges straight as well as food and bands for everyone throughout the day until night fall. There will also be a silent auction to win a totally rad Schwinn cruiser. The profits from the auction will go to helping the Bike Library. A full list of merchants and bands can be found at the Northside Oktoberfest website.
A word of note: you can’t buy tickets at the festival. If you want to partake in the beer tasting, you need to buy a ticket from John’s Grocery either in person or over the Internet. The link to the online form can be found through the Oktoberfest website. There are a limited number, so time is not your friend.
DJ Abilities, Sector 7G, Carnage & Irenic – Iowa City Benefit for Eyedea // Gabe’s // 9 P.M. // $10; 21+
Finishing up Iowa City’s strongest weekend of Hip Hop in years is a show featuring the talents of another unlikely hip hop hotbed: Minneapolis. Headlining is DJ Abilities, who was one half of the Rhymesayers duo Eyedea and Abilities until Eyedea’s (aka Michael Larsen) untimely death last years. This show benefits the installation of a bench in Eyedea’s name in a Minneapolis park. DJ Abilities lives up to his name, having won two DMC DJ championship, and produced many CDs worth of conscious, head-nodding party music. The rest of the lineup (Sector 7G, Carnage The Executioner, Irenic, Gravity, Ion, and Iowa Citys johndope) should make it the third evening of serious lessons in the Hip Hop arts in a row.
Like I said, there’s a lot of stuff going on this weekend. Hopefully, you can find something that will tickle your proverbial fancy.