Yes, it was hot midday at the Hinterland Festival, a bucolic venue carved into a cornfield south of Des Moines. But not as hot as it could be in August and the music yesterday was worth the sweat and sunburn. We finally, finally, got to see and hear Brandi Carlisle live and she was great! Full of energy and what a voice. She belted out one song after another with a crackerjack band and chatted warmly and confessionally with the crowd, making us feel special. (And maybe we were…) After singing her poignant song about motherhood, her young daughter Evangeline (the song’s namesake) ran onto the stage to give her a hug. That was a moment, especially for a rocker like Brandi. I always managed to be away during her previous visits to Des Moines so I was very happy to see her at last and hope to do so again soon.
Young and gorgeous Maggie Rogers also put on a high-spirited show, dancing exuberantly across the stage during almost every well-sung song. The folk rock group Dawes (a favorite of our son’s) and The War and The Treaty — a wife/husband soul group and one of the few Hinterland non-white groups — also threw everything they had into their show. Well done!
I have such fond memories of warm summer nights on the lawn of Meadowbrook Hall in suburban Detroit, listening to live music performed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Flash forward to Des Moines , which has a new outdoor stage in Waterworks Park for concerts by, among others, the Des Moines Symphony. Last night’s weather was not ideal – light intermittent rain – but what a treat to sit on a lawn chair on the green grass, watching clouds drift by in the sky, eating ice cream served from The Outer Scoop’s truck and listening to John Williams’ movie scores played by the Des Moines symphony. Oh, and did I mention that the concert was free? there were two free symphony concerts this year. Next up, performances by Ben Folds and Maren Morris …neither free.
Playing catch up post-vacation:
We walked eight miles today, according to dirck’s phone and I believe it. We met Francine and Russ at the Stronstall metro stop and used our 3-day metro pass to take a vintage tram circa the 1940s ( Russ loves!) to Djurgarden, a lovely island park with scattered mansions, museums, gardens and a very cool place to eat — in a greenhouse cafe with “biodynamic” garden called Rosendals Tradgard. We had salads and open faced sandwiches with produce from the gardens. Lovely. And full of locals on a sunny Sunday morning. Reminded me a bit of Central Park or Petersham Gardens at London’s Richmond Park.
Dirck and Russ went to the Vasa ship museum while Francine and I did the campy ABBA museum. We aren’t huge ABBA fans but it is a clever museum with fun interactive elements including an opportunity for visitors to perform on a darkened stage with holograms of the four band members. I couldn’t convince Francine to do it. We each auditioned to be a fifth member of ABBA by singing in a karaoke booth and having our performance graded. Not sure Francine or I made the cut.
In the late afternoon, Dirck and I found a hidden path down by the lake/canal to the west and south of our Airbnb that was like a hidden Bohemia. As we walked along a wooded dirt path, often lined with hollyhocks, we passed a huge and busy pool complex, a stage with salsa dancers, a guy playing a tinny piano, sunbathers and swimmers, mostly young and attractive, a few food trucks and small cottages that looked like something out of haight ashbury, and docked boats. Hard to believe the city was just above us.
Dinner was at 6 nytorget, (named after its address) in the bustling SoFo (South of Folkungagatan Street) neighborhood, which was well recommended by a young dad I met yesterday at the football match viewing. Popular local spot, packed with families and couples and friends, excellent innovative Mediterranean fare pork, tuna, and other fish and meat dishes. We shared a table with a very blond Swedish couple and their two very blond kids. And then with four people speaking French (brown hair).
Sad to say goodbye to Russ tonight and Dirck tomorrow morning. Francine and I get a little more time tomorrow. Hate saying goodbye.
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.
The Drake University Chamber Choir performs at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in 2010.
For my music-loving friends in London, here’s a treat from Des Moines – Drake University’s Chamber Choir will perform free concerts at St. Paul’s Cathedral at 5 p.m. Jan. 20 and at St. Martin-in-the-fields (Trafalgar Square) at 1 p.m. Jan. 21, as well as at Oxford and Cambridge during a 12-day concert tour January 10-22. These are some of the talented vocal students that my choir, the Drake University Community Chorus, sings with during our semester concerts. Closer to home (in Des Moines) the chamber choir will perform a free concert on Thursday Jan. 9 at 7:30 at Grace United Methodist Church. Here’s the scoop on the England tour from the Register: Drake choir to kick off series
While in England, the choir will to sing in the cathedrals of Gloucester, Coventry, and Ely, at both Cambridge and Oxford (St. John’s College Chapel, Cambridge; Merton College Chapel, Oxford), St. Martin-in-the-Fields and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, and at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, and St. Nicholas Church in Witham. The Chamber Choir was selected by the American Embassy in London to inaugurate its new series at St. Martin-in-the-Fields.
Dwight Yoakam San Diego County Fair 2008 in Del Mar.
Looks like it will be a perfect night on the Des Moines Riverfront to hear Dwight Yoakam in concert tonight! 7 p.m. Simon Estes Riverfront stage. Concert Details here