Prairie Pop: Former Angels of Light reminisce about the influence of their brother and son Hibiscus

Before George Harris III became Hibiscus and founded the genderfluid theater troupe the Cockettes, he put on shows with his family in Florida during the early 1960s. The oldest of six siblings — three girls and three boys, sort of an avant-garde Brady Bunch — George formed the El Dorado Players, named after the street they lived on in Clearwater, Florida.

“Hibiscus had real leadership qualities,” his youngest sister Mary Lou said. “He came out of the womb as the grand marshal. He was just like the leader of the parade — tons of ideas. ‘Let’s get it rolling. Let’s not even think!’” […]

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The Cool Kids bring their inventive approach to production to Flat Black

In 2008, the Cool Kids were “bringing ’88 back,” channeling a stripped-down eighties boom-bap rap aesthetic for a new generation. “When we started,” Sir Mike told me in advance of their appearance at this year’s Mission Creek Festival, “I was about seventeen and Chuck was twenty-two.” This led to a series of acclaimed singles and albums, a burst of activity that began with their debut “Black Mags” and abruptly ended after their 2011 LP, When Fish Ride Bicycles. […]

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Prairie Pop: Iowa City rockstars Younger bring new material to Mission Creek

For a band that was originally conceived as a goof, Younger has rapidly transformed into one of Iowa City’s best rock bands — exploding with energy, intricate arrangements, barbed lyrics and catchy hooks.

“We had talked about playing together for a long time,” drummer Sarah Mannix recalled. “I don’t think that we honestly believed it was going to be an actual band. I think we just got together more as a joke.” […]

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Prairie Pop: NPR’s Codrescu breaks down Dadaism’s ongoing influence

Andrei Codrescu: Documenting Dada/Disseminating Dada Shambaugh Auditorium — Saturday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. Dada was a volatile artistic, social and political movement that exploded in 1916 from the Zürich club Cabaret Voltaire, creating reverberations that can still be felt today. Its fuse was lit by refugees from World War One who decamped to Switzerland, […]

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Prairie Pop: Bibbe Hansen’s rebellious history and dynamic legacy

A single family’s artistic DNA can sometimes leave traces on the genetic makeup of the broader culture. Bibbe Hansen’s familial history, for example, also doubles as a survey of modern American bohemia and popular culture. It spans time and space, encompassing the 1950s Beatnik era and the present, New York and Los Angeles, Happenings and […]

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Prairie Pop: Sell your soul; you’ll feel better

Before Bart Simpson did it, though long after Faust, I sold my soul. This prank permanently cemented my status as a vaguely remembered factoid: “The guy who sold his soul on eBay.” I orchestrated the prank at the height of the late-1990s dot-com era, when eBay was the hot new auction website of the moment. […]

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Prairie Pop: Experimental rock pioneer Rhys Chatham gets Iowa City into the loop

Rhys Chatham Gabe’s — Saturday, Nov. 5 at 10 p.m. Tickets available here Punk pioneers the Ramones stripped their music down to three chords, creating an austere wall of sound that brought rock and roll back to its basics. Composer Rhys Chatham, however, might be the only artist who was inspired to use more chords […]

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Prairie Pop: ‘King of Nasty’ John Waters returns to Iowa City for one-man roadshow

John Waters — “Filthier and Dirtier” The Englert Theatre — Saturday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. Prepare yourself. Hide the children. John Waters — the Auteur of Ordure — is once again bringing his one-man roadshow to the Englert, on Oct. 1. “Filthier and Dirtier” is the latest iteration of his vaudevillian act, a freewheeling […]

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Director Brendan Toller talks ‘Danny Says’ ahead of its FilmScene screening

Danny Says, Art House Theater Day FilmScene — Saturday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. Danny Fields is a countercultural Zelig. The new documentary Danny Says provides a glimpse into an unparalleled life that connects the dots between Andy Warhol and the Ramones, teen magazines and Iggy Pop. As part of FilmScene’s celebration of Art House […]

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Prairie Pop: Honoring the kryptonite aura of the deceased, punk progenitor Alan Vega

For a man who fronted a group named Suicide, Alan Vega lived a very full life. When I spoke with him earlier this year, before his recent death at the age of 78, he was still bursting with creativity and impish irreverence. Vega — also known as Alan Suicide — was an original punk. As […]

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Prairie Pop: Flashback to ’70s SanFran drag with former Cockette Lendon Sadler

Lendon Sadler

Plenty of dicks have lived in Iowa City over the years, but only one Cockette. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Lendon Sadler was part of a notorious San Francisco drag troupe named the Cockettes, which filmmaker John Waters affectionately referred to as a bunch of acid freak bearded Marxist drag queens. Since that […]

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Rabble-rousing inside the FCC: Media’s mischief maker started subverting paradigms as a kid right here in Iowa City

Rolling Stone cover

Nicholas Johnson — who is likely the only Iowa City native who ever appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone, in 1971 — foreshadowed his career as a troublemaking FCC Commissioner when he was an adolescent boy in the mid-1940s. “My first experience with radio was Allied Radio in Chicago,” Johnson recently told me. “This […]

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