February Favorites and Show Recommendations

I am really lucky that I have the ability to experience the music scene here in Iowa City. As a student, I have the freedom to go to whatever shows I want, and the pleasure of sharing what I do informally on the Little Village Mag blog. I keep making attempts at blogging a bit more personally and then months go by and I do nothing with this. So here is yet another attempt to get this blog rolling a little.

I bought my first DSLR in February which is more than a little intimidating, but is coming along little by little as I try to learn the technical aspects of photography. I’ve had a lot of encouragement and help from some unexpected people and situations and I am trying to glean as much as I can from all of this.

My new camera is a Nikon D5000.  I was terrified of it when I first took it out of the box. Both because I have never used an SLR and because I am not accustomed to holding items that cost as much as my monthly rent. She and I are getting to know each other and I have moved on from fear to excitement.  I am realistic about all this though. I don’t think my shots will be great right out of the gate, but I look forward to getting better as I learn how to use this baby.


February Recap: The Highlights

Some of these photos I chose to single out because I really like the way they look, others I like because they represent some nice memory now and not necessarily because they are great photos.  I only shot seven shows this month, since school and the cold have kept me in most nights. I look forward to a more saturated schedule this month…March means Mission Creek!!! Before looking ahead, let’s look back real quick.

February 17th, 2011: Sam Locke Ward played the Blue Moose Tap House with Liberty Leg, Coolzey and The Whether Report. It happened to be Doug’s birthday and one of the first shows I shot with my new camera. The photo is dark and Sam is pretty red from the stage lights, but here he is singing his song Ketamine at Doug’s request.

I took this on one of my first evenings with my Nikon. It was chilly, it was damp outside, there was snow on the ground. But I wandered downtown for, like, an hour just taking photos of everything anyway. My fingertips were frozen, but I just love the sound of the “shutter” click. I like this photo mostly because it includes a teeny skyline of the University Hospital, where I have spent the last 5 years working all sorts of insane hours doing loads of crazy things.

On Valentine’s Day, I threw a ladies only clothing swap. Ten of us packed into my tiny living room which we all filled with our unwanted clothes, accessories, shoes and coats for a giant finders-keepers session. When all claims were finalized, we had nine bags of really nice women’s clothes which were donated to the Domestic Violence Shelter here in town. For those of you who didn’t know, you can make donations to the Women’s Shelter via Gloria Dei Lutheran Church on Market and Dubuque.

February 11th, 2011: Slut River played with Acoustic Guillotine for Larry Sievers’ tape release at the Mill. This was literally one of the first photos that I took with my Nikon, and clearly I had no idea what I was doing. So this is labeled a happy accident. Yes the photo basically sucks on technical merit, but I still kinda like it. And, by the way, Slut River is seriously in my top 5 for favorite local bands. Maybe even top 3. no lie.

Anybody setting fire to anything is going to be a spectacle. Taterbug makes spectacles. So I snapped this shot before escaping the black smoke and stepping into the bone-chilling night air. Honorable mention: taterbug laughed out and entire ‘song’

Call me biased, but I had to include my fella in here both because I like the photo and because I want to give him props for his music. This self-taught musician makes earnest, genuine songs about some of life’s harder topics. Someone once said his music “breathes” and I think that is right on the mark. His name is Douglas Kramer Nye and I am sure he will be playing a show again soon.

This was taken at Public Space One during Pete Schulte’s Oceans and Sky exhibition which ran the entire month of February. I like this shot especially because it is one of the few photos that I have ‘staged’. Playfully, titled Cristin and Kristen (their real names), I felt the complete discomfort of telling someone how to stand while I took this picture. A first for me. The posing, not the discomfort. I much prefer catching people who are bouncing all over a stage, though this was a nice exercise in something unfamiliar.

The country in general had a very blizzardy winter this year. The day after our big blizzard, I took this. I have lived in the midwest my whole life. I will never get used to this shit. As of the time of this posting, I have irises poking up in my front yard. The end of this frozen misery is in sight.

Photographers get onstage with bands all the time. It is not earth-shaking news. But this was a first for me. The Wailers performed at the Blue Moose during Bob Marley’s birthday weekend and it was my maiden voyage to shoot on an actual stage with a band that could draw that big of a crowd. So this shot just represents a special moment for me, like most of these photos.

Not a bad month. Shows on my radar for this month include Brooks Strause, the Land of Blood and Sunshine and Mondo Drag at the Wherehouse tomorrow. Menomena at the Mill on Sunday the 6th. Liberty Leg, the Boxknifes and Solid Attitude at the Wherehouse on the 7th

Other shows on my radar:
3/11 Miracles of God, Wolf Wars, Ed Gray at the Blue Moose
3/13 Sam Knutson and Dan Bern at the Mill
3/17 Bitch at the Mill for St Patty’s Day!! (I am busting out the green stateen jacket for this one!)

Beyond that, Mission Creek is going to need a whole separate blog post. I’ll try to muster that one soon.
I don’t know if anyone besides my mother and my friends are reading this, but these shows are high priority in my opinion and you should try to make it to many of them.

Thanks for reading. Leave me comments so I know you are!

What shows will YOU be going to this month??



Make it up as I go….

Being a novice photographer, I am still kind of surprised when I get exactly the shot I intend. Don’t think I am tooting my own horn- there are plenty of ‘happy accidents’ where I am shooting into a dark warehouse and capture a great milisecond of a show. There are even more shots I disposed of upon first review because I didn’t set my camera right, or bumped the dial on the back while clapping. I know I still have a long way to go. Still I can’t help but get excited when I feel like I got some good shots and it wasn’t coincidence and it wasn’t the camera doing the thinking. And I am very glad at least a few people have noticed.

I strut like a peacock when I say that I am a ‘contributing blogger’, if that’s the right term, for the Little Village Magazine online….the go-to, free publication for Iowa City entertainment talk. I’ve read it for years. I even have a pile of old ones sitting under a chair somewhere. So needles to say, I am geeking out a little bit. It happens anytime I get to play with my camera, only now I get to show my photos to a bunch of strangers instead of forcing all my friends to look at them.  Check  out the Little Village,  if you’re not already a faithful reader.


The August issue is all over Iowa City right now. Pick them up in the doorway of your favorite downtown business or the rack of free publications at Hy-Vee.

Now that I’ve bragged, back to the photos. On 7/29, I saw Cheyenne Marie Mize at the Mill. and was happy I didn’t stay home on a Monday night. She played a long set, switched up instruments a bunch of times and ended strong with some pretty powerful folk-queen vocals and guitar playing. It was a true shame that there was hardly anyone back there listening. Shame on all of you responsible folks that have jobs to wake up early for….this was a good show. Cheyenne was joined onstage by Joan Shelley, making up two-thirds of their other musical endeavor, the Louisville trio, Maiden Radio.  Cheyenne was followed by Portland band, Archeology. They were energetic, melodic and gave us a good set. I think a band does well to start a set with an a cappella song — it grabs the audience and soothes them into submission. My only complaint is that the high-energy of Archeology makes them harder to photograph in the red lights of the Mill stage. haha. You decide how I did.


p.s. I LOVE getting comments and feedback on my photos. head over to flickr and blabber to me.


I should go to bed soon instead of sitting in front of the computer wondering if I am going to wake up with the Iowa River flooding in my front door.  Anybody got a boat to lend me?


New Virtual Beginning

This is my official changeover to wordpress, and so far I am happy with my decision. But what do I do about all this empty space I now have allotted for me…..recap the month of July, which I can’t believe is nearly over. I need to tighten my grip on summer. Let’s start from the top…

On the 3rd, I took a mini road trip with my favorite people to the 80-35 Music Fest in Des Moines. While I am sure there were likely many great acts that I overlooked, I was there to see William Elliott Whitmore and Holly Golightly.  They both played in the same afternoon, back-to-back on the free stage. So not only did I get to see them both perform, but I didn’t have to pay listen. Whitmore was amazing, as always, conversing with the crowd more than any performer I’ve ever seen, yet still being right on the mark with his songs. Holly Golightly’s set was lovely, though I am disappointed that the fellow that played with her outsang her a little bit. Maybe it was the sound man’s fault. Just the same, I’d have liked to hear more of her. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. All around, it was worth it to go to a festival  and deal with the heat and the crowds of Des Moines just to see these two.

That night we zipped over to the Vaudeville Mews to catch another great performance by Iowa City’s Lonelyhearts, full band in tow. The Mews is such a great venue and though much of the crowd potential was still down at the festival, the Lonelyhearts pulled off a great, high-energy show that kept the crowd moving. I’d head out of town to see these folks play anytime.

Three days later, the Lonelyhearts took the stage at The Mill in Iowa City and, of course, I was there. John claimed they were doing a set that was a virtual carbon-copy of their Mews show, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was not. They mixed up their setlist a bit, performed a new song and packed the Mill in the process.

But, wait, I can’t fail to mention the openers from that night, Emotron and Larry Sievers. They were both sights to be seen. When I first got to the Mill, Larry had already taken the stage with his series of burning candles and sudden, sporadic shots from his smoke machine as he sang along with his impressive keyboarding. I am a big fan of the feather in his hat, too.  Emotron was one of those acts that I don’t quite understand, but oddly enjoyed. His wall of tvs behind his fenced in kennel-like setup and crazy ‘wardrobe’ initially distracted me from the quality of his music — which was actually a very good combination of electronic melodies and his interesting voice. He even touched my heart with an Oasis cover that sounded nothing like the original except for the lyrics. Definately a sight to behold.

Three days after THAT show, I was a proud attendee of the Sam Locke Ward release party for his album Barely Regal Beagles. My sweetheart, Douglas Kramer Nye, opened with his powerful, sometimes catchy repertoire of sad bastard music. He was followed by the great Ed Gray, who performed my favorite of his songs, I Can Chew a Bone. Sam wrapped it all up with his usual style of witty lyrics and all-over-the-place, yet amazing, guitar abuse. Three of my favorite local sad bastards, all on one stage in one night. ❤

During the above show, I snuck out to get a few shots of Euforquestra, who was playing in the Ped Mall, and somehow ended up on a co-worker’s roof. Consequently, I missed Alex Body’s set, which was right after Ed’s. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t left the Mill and missed Alex and his newly chopped locks.

Here are the Euforquestra shots from the Friday Night Concert Series in the Pedestrian Mall.

On the 10th, I raced down to the Ped Mall again, this time to catch Cirque Stupendo and Dr. Eli Calico’s Medicine show. I was delighted to have some time in the setting sun watching them juggle,  belly dance, roller skate, and play tons of instruments while singing through victrola horns like megaphones.I had a dinner date, though, and was super bummed that I missed the firedancing that happened after the sun went down.

On the 18th, I stepped into a crowded Prairie Lights bookstore for the first annual roast of Iowa City. It was funny, with speakers poking fun of all the standard things people think are ridiculous about this City of Literature….newly adopted city ordinances on busking and smoking, binge drinking college students, the over-education, or rather lack of employment for those with degrees, etc… Funny, nothing unexpected, but overall a great event to initiate in our fair city of literature.

Last Saturday, the 24th, Downtown Saturday Night Concert Series featured Will Whitmore. Let’s just say the Ped Mall was packed, his show was amazing and the pink sunset was the perfect cherry on top.

And, finally, for now, Saturday Night at the White Lightning Warehouse was shocking and delightful. Old Scratch Revival Singers performed, complete with painted faces and green lighting, with every member plugged into an amp….what a fucking awesome show. They were followed up by Cirque Stupendo’s rated R show which can not be explained in a way that does it justice. The photos include juggling, (only this time in very little clothing), suspension, erotic dance, loud guitars and phallic imagry left and right. AGAIN I missed the firedance. And I left at 3am. Makes me wish I had stayed up til Sunday’s dawn to take it all in.

And the month has yet to be over….coming soon….

Cheyenne Marie Mize at the Mill……TOMORROW! Thursday, July 29th. Be there! I will.