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Counterfeit Madison is bringing the music and message of Nina Simone to the Witching Hour Festival

When Sharon Udoh first heard Nina Simone’s music, it was a revelation. “I was struck by our similarities,” said Udoh, who performs under the moniker Counterfeit Madison. “Here was this dark-skinned black woman who was a classically trained pianist, just like me, and with a similar vocal register. My head was spinning.” […]

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‘Punk was about action!’: A new documentary, 16 years in the making, charts punk history

“I remember first hearing about punk in Newsweek or Time magazine in the summer of 1976, when we were living in Afghanistan,” mused Minor Threat drummer Jeff Nelson, whose father worked for the U.S. State Department. Nelson was born in 1962 in South Africa and lived in other far-flung places before the family settled in Washington D.C., […]

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Yola has walked through fire — literally — to become a paradigm-shifting country star

Yola Codfish Hollow Barnstormers — Friday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. Walk Through Fire isn’t just a metaphor about perseverance. The title to the 2019 debut full-length from Yola also refers to a life-changing house fire she survived. In 2014, the British singer had been handling a bioethanol burner with a faulty fuel canister that, […]

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‘There is a time for every season’: David Berman discusses grief and inspiration in one of his final interviews

David Berman was a kind, sensitive artist with many formidable talents — a poet, cartoonist and musician who was often regarded as the best songwriter of his generation. He died at the age of 52 on Aug. 7, after a lifetime of struggling with depression and addiction. When he agreed to an interview about his upcoming performance in Iowa […]

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Cosmic cowboys, quarter beers and nightmarish bathrooms: The history of Gabe’s

In the beginning there was the Pub, opening inside a nondescript two-story brick building on East Washington Street in Iowa City, which previously housed ACT, Inc.’s offices, in 1970. The restrooms have been on a steep decline since then, but there have also been many highs, both musical and chemical. […]

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‘It kicks ass to still be around’: X’s John Doe and Exene Cervenka on song origins, LA punk and their new book

X, an original 1977-era punk band, has remained one of my all-time favorites for decades, but I never got to see them until a recent show at the Pageant Theater in St. Louis. It was fitting to watch X in Missouri, the setting for Road House — the craptastic Patrick Swayze vehicle that featured X co-founder (and actor) John Doe. […]

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Damon & Naomi, high school sweethearts turned alt-rock duo, hit the road again

Damon & Naomi’s career arc has all the makings of an indie rock jukebox musical. Think Jersey Boys meets Samuel Beckett, starring bassist Naomi Yang and drummer Damon Krukowski as post-punk New Yorkers who fall in love and become the rhythm section of a beloved band. Success for these children of immigrants turns bittersweet after […]

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Guerilla Toss on their chaotic origin story and psychedelic new album, ahead of Mission Creek

For a band that creates frenetic, rhythm-charged, psychedelic music, Guerilla Toss’s absurd origin story is perfectly on-brand. Back when Kassie Carlson first crossed paths with the group at a DIY basement venue named the Smokey Bear Cave, they initially had a saxophonist instead of a vocalist. Meanwhile, she was singing in a hardcore band […]

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Must-see acts every day of Mission Creek Festival 2019

I often suffer from option paralysis when attending music festivals. But the wonderful thing about Mission Creek is the way it has been carefully curated by the programmers, ensuring that you can have eye- and ear-opening experiences just blindly walking from venue to venue. Still, it helps to have some kind of exploratory roadmap. With […]

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From Judy! to Tom Tomorrow, Iowa City’s ‘revolutionary’ zine scene flourished out of Zephyr Copies

“Sometime during the early 1980s,” intermedia artist Lloyd Dunn recalled, “a number of people in many different places suddenly understood that they could afford to become publishers, as photocopy shops began to appear in cities around the world.” In the years before the internet, artists, outsiders and other weirdos connected with each other through a […]

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Public Space One celebrates 16 years of making art ‘radically accessible’

Public Space One, also known as PS1, evokes the idea of the commons, a venerable tradition that allows all members of a society to have access to the same materials and spaces. “The name has always struck me as challenge,” said John Engelbrecht, PS1 director. […]

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Book excerpt: The Fugs’ Ed Sanders incites a indie media revolution with his zine ‘Fuck You’

Ed Sanders grew up in western Missouri, in the small farm town of Blue Springs. After briefly attending the University of Missouri, he hitchhiked to the East Coast in 1958 to attend New York University. “I soon was enmeshed in the culture of the Beats,” Sanders recalled in his memoir, Fug You, “as found in Greenwich Village bookstores, in the poetry readings in coffeehouses on MacDougal Street, in New York City art and jazz, and in the milieu of pot and counterculture that was rising.” He also began volunteering at the Catholic Worker, a newspaper founded by activist Dorothy Day that was dedicated to social justice. […]

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