When Mrs. Des Noise was growing up in what she describes as a "one-horse town" that is now a sprawling suburb, the high school kids used to drive around Des Moines' empty downtown after football games in a teenage ritual called "scooping the loop." When we were back in Iowa two years ago for our wedding, a couple of our friends headed downtown one night just to see what was going on. They didn't find much. Now the downtown is a vibrant place, abuzz with restaurants and nightlife. Just ask The New York Times' Adam Nagourney.

One of the downtown spots I'm most looking forward to checking out: Vaudeville Mews. This music venue and bar has played host to Bonnie Prince Billy, Jens Lekman, Joanna Newsom, and plenty of other artists you'd have to take the L train to see in Brooklyn alongside crowds of arms-folded trendwatchers with blogs (um, wait a minute...). Ladd Askland is the booker for the Mews, and he kindly responded to my questions about Des Moines and the venue via e-mail. Our edited conversation is below.
1. How would you describe the Des Moines music scene?

LA: At this point, I'd say it's expanding musically. When I first started doing shows eight years ago, there was a heavy emphasis on hardcore, hard rock, and maybe punk. Over the years I've seen increases in folk, pop, noise, rock, and I'm really glad. I always wish there were more local bands floating around and especially styles I enjoy, but right now, I like the folks I work with and people seem excited about music with local festivals, 80/35 Festival, new DIY spots popping up, a nice camaraderie.

2. What are your favorite shows coming up this summer?

LA: Jonathan Richman [tonight] (June 10), Soy Un Caballo on June 21, Francis Harold and the Holograms on July 7, Josh Ritter on July 8, Poppets on July 14, Japandroids on July 20, Those Darlins on July 22, Theodore on July 30, Casper and the Cookies on August 6, Red Pony Clock on Aug 21, and It's True on August 28.

3. I've never been to Vaudeville Mews. What should I expect?

LA: Darkness :) It's a long narrow room with a full bar as you walk in. Usually, a friendly staff at the door and bar service. The clientele change consistently since we do a heavily eclectic mix of music. We have seats and tables lined up in the back and an open room most of the time up front near the stage. The stage is intimate in height, so very personal with an artist. We have a balcony so you can peer down. Additionally a pool table and some booth seating upstairs as well. You have to walk past the stage when entering the restrooms, but not as distracting as maybe imagined. I really love the space. It's a third home :)

4. Any local bands to watch?

LA: My faves: The Poison Control Center www.myspace.com/thepcc Wolves In The Attic www.myspace.com/wolvesintheatticband Pennyhawk www.myspace.com/katekennedymusic

5. What would you change or improve about what's going on musically in Des Moines?

LA: More bands! More folks creating exciting new music. Also, with the general public, giving new music a chance, exploring new terrain. Some open minded experimentalists, I want and love you!

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