One of my bigger regrets is not going to see the real Prince when he performed years ago in Ames, Iowa (not far from where we live in Des Moines). So last Friday, we took the best we could get, especially now that Real Prince is, sadly, no longer with us. We went to a tribute band that rumor has it was the only fake that the Real Deal approved of.
Simon Estes Amphitheater was packed, with a sold-out crowd, and it was a lovely, albeit wickedly hot and humid June night on the river. “The Prince Experience” wasn’t bad. Fake Prince was a little shorter and thicker around the midriff than Real Prince but he sang well and proudly wore his white ruffled shirt and long purple sparkly duster . Fake Sheila E was working hard too. We didn’t understand why the keyboard player wore what appeared to be medical scrubs, looking like he just left his shift at Mercy Hospital. But he proudly announced several times he was a West Des Moines native so we gave him a pass. It was the kind of concert where you had to be prepared to laugh a little — at the band and yourself.
The invigorated Hoyt Sherman continues to offer great performances, most recently one last Monday by one-of-a-kind singer/songwriter Regina Spektor who soldiered her way through 2.5 hours of performing almost completely solo on stage, sometimes accompanying herself on piano or guitar, even singing a Capella, while battling bronchitis. Pretty gutsy and very talented. So pleased that Hoyt Sherman is once again offering phenomenal shows (Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, Ben Harper, Lucinda Williams, Regina…to name a few)!
I clicked on my computer at 10:01 this morning to get early bird tickets to this summer’s 80-35 Music Festival in Des Moines July 10-11 (rumors flying that among the performers will be Wilco and Jenny Lewis. That was enough for us) and secured them ($49 each vs. $59 each regular, which is pretty darned good for almost two days of live music). Ten minutes later I returned to the site and the early bird tickets had flown the coop. That was fast. Good to hear. click here for tickets. The lineup will be announced April 7!
This from 80-35 Facebook page:
Many lucky fans have already snatched up their 80/35 tickets. Our super discounted tickets and VIP passes sold out in under 10 minutes! The still-awesome deal of $59 two-day tickets are now available viamidwestix.com.
We have clearance to announce the lineup on Tuesday, April 7. We can hardly contain ourselves — so excited for you to see who will make 2015 one to remember.
We know those of you that take advantage of the early discounted tickets attend every year and that’s why you buy before we even announce the lineup. So THANK YOU, and we look forward to being able to release our lineup with you!
When I was last in Austin, about five years ago, my friend (and Austin social director) Pat took us to The Continental Club which was swinging on Saturday afternoon, full of lively two-steppers dancing to some band or other. This time we went to the sister (brother?) of the Continental Club, C-Boys, a little further south on South Congress. An old grey bearded guy Paul Oscher, who “played with Muddy” (as in Muddy Waters) was on the small stage with about four other musicians, playing a mean blues guitar and a small collection of dancers, including one particularly eccentric heavy set guy doing what looked like early Martha Graham improvisational modern dance. (he and his partner were later seen at a table by the bar molding globs of what appeared to be play dough around their spent beer bottles. No danger of Austin losing its weirdness, it seems.
On the weirdness front, the strangest sight during my bike ride along the river/lake today was a man who as I approached him was indeed completely naked. Except for what could most accurately be described as a penis pouch. Reminded me of Fire Island in the 1970s, when my little sister, then in grade school wrote this short letter home: We went to fire Island. I saw a naked man. love Jill.
The bike ride, by the way, was a great way to see the city and easy pedaling on my borrowed 3 speed from the way nice Hotel San Jose (which for some unknown reason did not charge me for the bike, as advertised; this on top of upgrading me to a suite priced over twice what I was charged.) I was sorely tempted to swim in Barton Springs, a huge spring water fed natural pool that appeared to be carved out of the river/lake and was open on a muggy day of on and off rain. I also stopped at the Whole Foods, the first ever, and it was indeed impressive. I particularly enjoyed riding along some ramps that are built into the south bank of the river/lake, past egrets and ducks and geese and an amazing collection of turtles crowded onto a log in the water.
Somehow it escaped my attention until now that Banjo player extraordinaire Bela Fleck and Brooklyn Rider are performing in Des Moines at Drake University’s Sheslow Auditorium on Thursday (Nov. 13). There are some tickets still available and I just grabbed two. For more info, check out the the Civic Music Association’s website
When you live in Des Moines, you get used to seeing music – often really good music – in really small intimate places on a Monday night at 11 p.m. because that’s when the really good people breeze through on their way to larger cities and venues. And so it was last night when we saw a fantastic show at a shoebox of a space downtown, Vaudeville Mews, by S. Carey – best known as the drummer for Bon Iver but who makes some great music on his own. We could have stood right next to him in front of the tiny ground-level stage but opted for a shared bar stool on the not-so-distant balcony, which offered a direct unfettered view. Maybe 100 people there max. A whole lotta sound – lots of percussion, hypnotic keyboards, lovely harmonious vocals and a psychedelic light show (I was sitting next to the little machine producing all those colorful blobs). Fun!
View from the Vaudeville Mews balcony of S. Carey