Brooklyn’s Great Caesar bring their love of community and great music to Iowa City

Great Caesar

The Mill — Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 8 p.m.

Photo by Makena Granger
Photo by Makena Granger

Great Caesar, the six-piece, Brooklyn-based band that blends chamber rock and indie soul, will be playing at the Mill Tuesday, February 23 at 8 p.m., as part of what they are calling a brief but triumphant Midwest tour. After performing in Chicago over the weekend, the group completed two live sessions with Audiotree and Daytrotter before rolling into Iowa City Sunday night. Iowa City locals James Tutson and JJ Alberhasky will open for the band.

While this is the first time Great Caesar has performed in Iowa, this trip marks the second visit to Iowa City for frontman John-Michael Parker. This past September, Parker accepted an invitation from University of Iowa Obermann Public Scholar David Gould to perform and guest lecture as part of his Life Design course. Hearing that the band would be in Chicago in advance of their March 25 EP release, Gould extended another invitation for the band to play in Iowa City.

“The story of Great Caesar heading west is really the story of Dave Gould,” jokes frontman John-Michael Parker. “I really don’t have words to describe how grateful I am to him for that.”

“I’ve never really met someone who has been so generous and welcoming, and who is part of a community that shares those values so strongly,” Parker continues to say about Gould. “I talk about my Iowa City visit all the time, and how much I can’t wait to get back — and the idea of bringing my band into this world … it’s amazing. I don’t remember the last time I was so excited about bringing the band anywhere. Really.”

Great Caesar has grown from a group of high school students in Madison, Conn., joined by their love of music, to a legitimate indie band making their name in the music world. The band’s upcoming EP features songs made this past year in collaboration with Ryan Hadlock in Seattle and Gary Atturio in Brooklyn. A music video for the song “Hey Mama” is in the works, which follows in the footsteps of the band’s widely successful “Don’t Ask Me Why” video. The video focuses on themes of social justice with parallels drawn between the civil rights movement of the 1960s and today’s fight for gender and sexual equality.

“‘Don’t Ask Me Why’ was amazing because it was a group of people, the majority of them outside the band, who came together wanting to do something bigger for the world, and worked incredibly hard to make it happen,” Parker says. “When we saw the impact of the video, and the song of ours that the video was built upon, we started to think differently about our band and what we thought it could actually be.”

Tuesday’s show at the Mill is an opportunity to bring together two of Great Caesar’s passions: community and great music. “We’ve got a lot in place to push us forward,” Parker says. “With all the amazing folks supporting us, many of our biggest champions are in Iowa City, I feel confident that this will be a big year for us.”