Saturday, November 22, 2008

Why I Love Iowa

So last week I went to play my second Mother Banjo show in two months in the great state of Iowa. I was reminded how much I love our neighbor to the south. Here are a few reasons why:

1) People there are generous. All the Iowans I've met tip musicians and baristas well, support homegrown talent, buy music and art and invite you to be a part of their communities, even if they know you are just passing through.

2) The audiences in big and small towns are fantastic--enthusiastic, engaged and participatory. I was blown away by my first show in Iowa. I played in Spencer at Shaky Tree Coffee, and the packed house started singing and clapping with "Wade in the Water" without any invitation. Incidentally, they had rhythm and nice singing voices.

3) Iowa is home to many great music venues like the legendary Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake and the Ritual Cafe in Des Moines, where I played last week. The Ritual has great food (try the sandwiches!) and is run by two very cool women. The Shaky Tree in Spencer, Iowa (pictured here) is a great coffee shop, music venue and art gallery. This unique space was started by singer-songwriter and painter Chad Elliott. It is a cozy place that brings together the community and invites a variety of touring musical talent.

4) It produces great writers and musicians--Greg Brown, Dave Moore, The Pines, Joe & Vicki Price, Radoslav Lorkavic and my pal Chad Elliott.

5) It is not Illinois. No offense to all the lovely people I know in Illinois, but driving through your state sucks. As soon as you cross into the state, you're hit up with a hefty toll, huge gas prices, congested traffic, constant construction and awful roads (where exactly do those tolls and gas taxes go anyway?). Obviously there are great things about Illinois--Lake Michigan, Chicago, our next President, the home to the great blog songs: illinois--but driving through it is not recommended.

6) It is politically engaged. As the home to the first caucus of every presidential campaign, Iowa is interested in getting to know our future leaders and takes the job of selecting their favorite candidate seriously.

7) Its evocative rural landscape has inspired many great songs--Dar Williams' "Iowa," Susan Werner's "Barbed Wire Boys" and countless Greg Brown tunes.

8) It's close to Minnesota!

1 comment:

Matt Winters said...

With regard to the fifth point and on behalf of my future fellow citizens of the great state of Illinois: THBBBTHTHTT, Banjo Lady!