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‘Iowa City is weird, you know? And I was a weirdo.’ Artist Lauren Haldeman on ghosts, puppets and pandemic comics

Lauren Haldeman isn’t a mere double-threat, or even a run-of-the-mill triple-threat. No, Iowa City’s resident polymath has more tricks up her sleeve than I can count on both hands and a few spare toes. Working across mediums and forms — poetry, puppetry, animation, illustration, printmaking, painting, film and music, to name a few — she […]

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Battle rappers are making a scene in Des Moines

“Sometimes, it’s real beef or real grudges that need to be settled on stage,” $ANTHI said of the rap battles he’s been part of over the past two decades. “Sometimes rappers get called out, egos clash, shade is thrown. Some people are picky about who they battle. Some don’t care, and will attempt murder on […]

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Inspired by hymns, farmland and Enya cassettes, Des Moines musician Annalibera is a retrofuturist mastermind

Nebraska native Anna Gebhardt is the mastermind behind Annalibera — a decade-long recording project that is synonymous with herself, and which also performs as a band. She came across the name via Quaderno Musicale di Annalibera, the title of a piano piece by Italian 12-note serial composer Luigi Dallapiccola, which translates as “The Musical Notebooks […]

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Mission Creek performer Billy Dean Thomas: ‘I choose to stand confidently in my existence and truth’

Billy Dean Thomas, a.k.a. “The Queer Biggie,” is a quadruple-threat: a rapper, singer, instrumentalist and charismatic performer whose dynamic presence permeates their live shows and music videos. In “Rocky Barboa,” the Harlem-raised MC can be seen rhyming and bouncing to a sparse, retrofuturistic beat while dressed in unique, stylish outfits tailor-made for this gender-nonconforming artist. […]

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Who owns indigenous music? Psychedelic duo Heavy Color collaborate across cultures to make ‘world music’ less parasitic

Heavy Color, a beat-driven psychedelic music duo founded by Ben Cohen and Sam Woldenberg, makes “world music” by way of Toledo, Ohio. These composer-producers are very careful to distance themselves from that problematic term — world music often treats music made by people outside of a European or American context as exotic culture ripe for […]

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There’s something special about record stores

For those who view music as a vital necessity like food and shelter, being without Iowa City’s longtime institution the Record Collector leaves a gaping hole in the soul. “A record store isn’t really a record store without customers,” said co-owner Alissa Witzke. “It feels empty and sad, like we’re just a warehouse.” The store […]

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‘I was there’: University of Iowa performers, President Harreld to celebrate Stonewall, 50 years later

Seismic social change sometimes starts at a dive bar. In the summer of 1969, a spontaneous uprising that began outside the Stonewall Inn inspired the gay rights movement and eventually transformed the ways we think about gender and sexuality. The University of Iowa is honoring the 50 years that passed since that formative event with a […]

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