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Album Review: Society of Broken Souls — Midnight and the Pale

Dennis James and Lauryn Shapter are an Iowan roots/country duo who tour constantly around the middle of the United States. Their music is based in the folk tradition that wouldn’t seem novel 50 years ago. […]

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Review: Nils Frahm’s show was riveting, and a big feather in the Englert’s cap

Frahm is a gifted composer and performer, but what was most engaging about this concert was the simplicity of the music he presented. The closest comparison would be Philip Glass, but Glass can try my patience, and Frahm instinctively knows when to ride a static groove and when to switch up. […]

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Album Review: Homogenized Terrestrials — Suspension

Phillip Klampe is a veteran of the dark ambient scene, self-releasing his first cassettes in the mid-1990s. His nom de ambient is Homogenized Terrestrials, which is a nod to his similarly long career as a grocery store dairy department manager. […]

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Fiddler’s Picnic thrives in its fourth decade

Fiddler’s Picnic Johnson County Fairgrounds — Sunday, Sept. 24 at 12 p.m. This coming Sunday, Sept. 24, at noon at the Iowa City 4H Fairgrounds, the Old Fiddler’s Picnic continues its four-decade tradition of celebrating folk music. The Friends of Old Time Music’s annual Fiddler’s Picnic is a casual, homemade event. So much so that […]

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Album Review: Rust Belt Union — Impromptu Musicals for the Skeptic

Trust a joker like Matthew James to open Impromptu Musicals For the Skeptic, his album with the Rust Belt Union, with a song titled “Goodbye.” Like Groucho Marx’s song “Hello, I Must Be Going,” it’s ironic but shows a restlessness mirrored in the lyrics: “But it’s just like before I’m always heading out a door and I never quite get where I’m supposed to go.” […]

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Album Review: Keith Reins and Tara McGovern — Folk Songs You Never Sang In Grade School

Some of the best musicians in Iowa City and environs are not chasing a career in music. Keith Reins, for example, is a player and collector of folk songs who also works as a professor of English at Kirkwood Community College. After hours, you’re likely to find him at folk music sessions around Iowa City: at Hilltop Tap, Mickey’s or Uptown Bill’s Coffee House.
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SassyBlack talks Michael Jackson, *NSYNC and science fiction ahead of Middle of Nowhere fest

SassyBlack w/ DJ Espina, Wolf Mixer, M50 The Mill — Friday, Sept. 1 at 9 p.m. SassyBlack (real name Cat Harris-White) is an artist in control of her own destiny. A singer with a warm, inviting voice, she also writes her own songs, produces her own music and even handles her own booking. As part […]

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Iowa City band Aseethe is taking its minimalist metal sound back on tour

Aseethe, the Iowa City band made up of Brian Barr and Eric Dierks, has been kicking around the Midwest heavy music scene for a few years now, with an evolving sound based around Barr’s exploration of the raw sound of guitar, synth and samples. Having caught the ear of Thrill Jockey owner Bettina Richards, they went from selling her a T-shirt, to Thrill Jockey distributing their 2015 EP ‘Nothing Left Nothing Gained,’ to releasing their current record, ‘Hopes of Failure,’ on the label. […]

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Album Review: The Fuss — The Fuss

The Fuss — a Des Moines-based rock band who have released a couple of EPs in recent years — make the kind of catchy pop rock music that reminds one of Tommy Tutone or The Replacements. Their self-titled debut album, which includes four tracks from an earlier EP, drops July 1. […]

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‘Quite a little fight’ — the Harris family’s move to Bever Avenue was an early step forward in Cedar Rapids integration

At Percy Harris’ Memorial Service on Jan.30 at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids, Ted Townsend, the president of St. Luke’s Hospital, began his eulogy for Dr. Harris by saying that before he met him, he’d heard so many good things about him that he was surprised to find out he was still alive. It was a funny line and on the edge of inappropriate for a memorial, but would have tickled Harris’ famous sense of humor. It would be difficult to find someone in Cedar Rapids who has a bad word to say about Harris. He devoted his life to serving Cedar Rapids, becoming its first black physician in 1957. He later served as the Linn County Medical Examiner, President of Medical Staff at St. Luke’s and for two terms as a member of the Iowa Board of Regents.

One of the most famous incidents of Harris’ life was the controversy that surrounded the 1961 decision of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church — where he was, according to fellow parishioner Carolyn Wellso, the only African American member — to sell him a lot on which to build his home. Robert Armstrong, owner of Armstrong’s Department Store, had donated land adjacent to his Bever Avenue home to the church as a contribution to its building fund; he proposed to the board that they sell a lot to Harris. […]

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